IRIS is retiring the cloud tax platform OpenTax and transferring users across to its desktop alternative, Keytime.
News about the future of OpenTax started circulating last month as AccountingWEB members took to Any Answers to find out whether IRIS was pulling the cloud platform completely or just delaying the 2016/17 tax returns.
Answering these questions, Sion Lewis, chief executive officer of IRIS’s accountancy division, confirmed to AccountingWEB that IRIS will be withdrawing OpenTax from April 2018 and will instead offer those customers Keytime or the IRIS Accountancy Suite for larger firms.
At the start of the April word spread on Any Answers that IRIS was delaying 2016/17 tax returns until late May. One AccountingWEB member complained that the delay could cost them money and clients. In response, Lewis assured customers that although the SA100 personal tax update won’t be available until the end of May, OpenTax will remain compliant for another year.
Users want enhanced experience
Lewis made the decision about OpenTax after speaking with IRIS users when he joined the business last September. “We surveyed over 1,000 of our OpenTax customers and unfortunately, the response was that they needed better client management, better reporting, better and more efficient data entry - they wanted an enhanced user experience,” he said.
“The thing about Keytime and IRIS Accountancy Suite is that it is a better user experience, better functionality, it's incredibly sophisticated, and I thought I'd give them what they wanted.”
The feedback from these discussions convinced Lewis to move OpenTax customers to Keytime at a “commercially parallel” price. When Lewis spoke with AccountingWEB last week Keytime had 250 users with another 500 in conversations to adopt the desktop software.
The switch was not motivated by one being cloud and the other being desktop, but more a response to “what the customer wanted”, Lewis said.
“The guys living and breathing tax returns every day, they are office-based. They wanted to do it more efficiently and quicker and Keytime or IRIS will allow them to do that. “By talking to the customer you find out what you need to do with your product and they actually wanted a more sophisticated product than the cloud tax product could provide,” Lewis said.
“If you're looking to efficiently use a tax product you need to be on the desktop.”
While Lewis sees the future of tax return compliance in a “rich desktop environment”, some IRIS customers turned to Any Answers looking for alternative software hosted in the cloud.
AccountingWEB member dantray said: “[Desktop-based Keytime] poses problems for me as my staff work remotely and a lot of my sole trade clients are CIS rebates, and definitely not going to wait until June for me to file their returns.”
Meanwhile, AccountingWEB contributor Richard Sergeant spoke with OpenTax customers at the recent Thomson Reuters Synergy conference and Sage Summit and found they were keen to evaluate their options.
“They were clearly committing time to reviewing their options on the basis that they were unhappy about the OpenTax discontinuation,” Sergeant said.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.