Have you heard the one about Taylor Swift, the Game Boy, and the accountancy software firm?
It’s 1989. Four major births are about to happen. These include a future pop sensation, a new gaming craze, and almost certainly the most important invention of our age.
We’re talking about Shake It Off singer Taylor Swift, the hottest gadget of the time – the Nintendo Game Boy – and Tim Berners Lee’s world-changing creation: the internet.
So, what is the fourth newcomer, you say?
A software system that more than 2,000 businesses would come to rely on thirty years later. A company that would soon be trusted by accountancy practices up and down the land.
Yes, it was the year that Keytime came into the world.
Reaching 30 years (which we will do this summer) is no small feat for any company. Especially one that grew from humble beginnings.
We started life under a different name - MAP Computer Products. Born in Oldham, the product that got our name out there was an old piece of Microsoft DOS based software for bookkeeping.
We started challenging the heavy hitters, with MAP products proving popular with small firms and a contender to rival the then-popular Sage Sterling. Things have changed hugely since those days and now we’re part of the market-leading IRIS Software Group.
But looking back again to the early days, 1996 was a big year for us. It was when one of our first payroll products, TABULA, was written as the first Windows application and a predecessor to what is now Keytime Payroll. Self-assessment – one of the largest changes in tax administration for decades – was introduced on 6 April 1996. We created SB Publishing to help clients meet this new requirement.
Keytime’s longest serving team member, Alison Ford, came on board the year after. Now Product Manager for the business, Alison has helped introduce scores of new products to help us grow and develop to where it is now. The growth of the business and customer base saw a surge in new product innovation, with Corporation Tax added around 2004, Tax Trust in 2008 and various early taxation and payroll modules.
Of course, there have been periods of turbulence, with recessions and financial crashes rocking the UK in the 1990s and 2000s. Yet these have also been good trading times too, with businesses seeking reliable and cost-effective support. And out of the ashes of recessions have been times of business formation and growth, where reasonably priced software has been a huge help to fledgling firms.
In 2015 IRIS Software Group acquired Keytime. The partnership was a no-brainer, with both firms passionate about providing the best technology and striving to invent better ways to connect accountants, businesses and their employees.
The last few years have seen plenty of integration between the two companies with IRIS OpenSpace and KashFlow. It has also led to us adapting to integrate with other bookkeeping providers, like Xero and QuickBooks, to give customers more choice and flexibility. Pre-empting and reacting to industry needs, to create reliable and flexible products, has always been part of the Keytime ethos and will continue to be.
Alison sums it up, saying: “Our expertise is in understanding the needs of small firms and sole practitioners, it’s what we have done from the very start and successfully continued to do ever since.
“We want to say thank you to the team and customers that have joined us on the journey, so far and we hope you’ll enjoy the next chapter just as much.”
So, as Taylor, the world wide web and Nintendo get ready to break out the champagne for their own milestones this year, we hope you will join us in raising a toast and saying ‘Happy birthday Keytime - here’s to the next 30 years!’