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Newcomers enter practice cloud race

11th Jun 2014
Editor at large AccountingWEB
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Like nature, the software industry abhors a vacuum. And start-up companies are continuing to come to market to challenge established practice software suppliers with cloud-based systems.

The latest contender to announce itself is Nomisma, a collection of cloud accounting of tools that emerged from north London accountancy firm DNS Associates.

The firm’s founder and managing partner Sumit Agarwal explained that when he set up in practice three years ago, he found himself using around five or six different accounting applications, which caused him trouble with data transfers, validation and staff training.

“So I came up with the idea of my own software and developed and tested it in-housen with the help of some IT friends,” said Agarwal.

Starting from £5 a month, Nomisma is promising to deliver “the lot” for accountants and their small business clients. In addition to basic bookkeeping, existing modules cover invoicing, expenses and reimbursements, and credit control along with CIS, personal and corporation tax.

Some features still need to be completed before Nomisma is fully equipped to go for a full commercial launch, but Agarwal said he plans to build in customer relationship management features, along with accounts production and payroll. The site itself is currently collecting details from prospective trial users, but does not give them access to the application to see which parts are actually working.

The other new contender, Capium, has been around for a while and has been refining its suite of cloud-based accounting, tax and practice tools for more than a year. It formally opened for user testing on 3 June of its bookkeeping, payroll, accounts production, corporation tax and practice management modules.

Around 25-30 firms have signed up so far, according to Capium director Tushir Patel. “Tax and accounts production seem to be quite a big thing, followed by practice management,” he told AccountingWEB. “The only thing we’re missing now is personal tax module. We decided to prioritise practice management but will make sure we get that done over summer.”

Though the two developers emphasise their functional differences, in organisational terms there are several similarities. Capium also grew out of a collaboration between a group of accountants and techies. After testing the waters at Accountex last year, Capium saw that the cloud bookkeeping market was getting crowded and focused instead on the “all-in-one” model for practitioners.

“Breaking into the market against Xero and FreeAgent is going to be pretty difficult, so we decided to pull back and focus on ehancements before we came to market,” Patel said.

Both newcomers are also going to have to find niches in a market where both IRIS and Sage are investing heavily to bring cloud practice tools to market during the next 12 months.

But having jumped into the water with accounts production and practice management applications, Capium reported positive feedback from early users about the program’s ability to follow through from bookkeeping to generate and submit final accounts, with quick data-entry fields to generate corporation tax returns.

Capium final accounts are given iXBRL-compliant tax within the system and can be submitted directly to HMRC and Companies House.

“That seems to be the quick win at the moment,” Patel said.

Capium has been challenged by AccountingWEB users to clarify its pricing strategy, but Patel said the company was still refining its commercial model while going through live user trials. “We are looking to offer certain parts for free such as bookkeeping and payroll. If you conduct that work in-house, we would give it to accountants. The interest really comes from moving on to accounts production and tax return generation.”

Replies (11)

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By carnmores
11th Jun 2014 18:28

you cant beat
Taxfiler. Hugely impressed

Thanks (5)
By AndrewV12
12th Jun 2014 10:48

Accounting software

Most accounting software is poor, and once the clients have used it, its a real mess.

Thanks (1)
By Old Greying Accountant
12th Jun 2014 10:53

I hate cloud ...

... it is VHS and BetaMax all over again.

Can't wait until it shakes down and there are just a couple of worthwhile options, there are just too many offerings to deal with at the moment, I don't have the time or inclination to learn myriads of different packages but am being forced to.

Worst thing is banks pushing producst on to clients, this will be the new PPI scandal, as you pick up clients with totally inappropriate software just because the bank get a nice back-hander.

Worst offenders are Barclays with FreeAgent, because Ii find more and more FreeAgent is too limiting for anything other than what it was designed for - computer consultants (or very similar), but for general "proper" trading companies it is entirely too limiting.

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By laronde123
12th Jun 2014 11:18

Poor service from the start oh dear

 Capium Registered for trial

Called go Vodafone answering machine

Not a good start then


Not sure you would want your practice dependent on someone who was un-contactable


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Replying to raybackler:
By kazbor
12th Jun 2014 13:26


 I am surprised,I have emailed them at night (working late) and had a rely back the same night. They have also phoned me quite promptly after leaving messags. The software package looks very promising.  

Thanks (3)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
12th Jun 2014 13:30


@OGA wasnt long ago and Barclays used to push high end versions of SAGE which you had to unmuddle, at least now its a bit easier with Freeagent. 

I am glad to see the new entrants but I remain "eyebrows raised" that a small team can deliver "the lot" in terms of all the taxes plus the accounts prep plus the underlying accounting software.  Its a huge and ambitious reach even the larger players don't do well.  They tend to do one or two things well then something else really badly. 

more competition the better however as the current big players must be raking it in and there must be a huge gap there in terms of price if you can get some volume going. 

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By laronde123
12th Jun 2014 14:00

If your going to leave yourself feedback then you should do it form a Ghost account !!!Capium!!

Thanks (4)
By Old Greying Accountant
12th Jun 2014 16:44

It might be easier ...

... but not when you have to move to a new package that can do what you need, complex things like reportng for a given period.

It is fine for tracking debtors and creditor and bank balance, and for year end figures, but very limited for anything else

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By Paul Scholes
13th Jun 2014 05:49

In defence of FreeAgent again

OGA, we have been around this block 2-3 times now.  Not one of the 2 dozen offerings will ever be a perfect fit for every business so you pick 1-3 that you think will be the best fit for your clients and mix & match accordingly.

The situation you describe therefore is almost entirely the fault of Barclays and an ignorant customer, not FreeAgent's.  It is no different to the new Barclays customers who used to turn up to my door clutching their Saga CDs.

My first FreeAgent client was a £1M turnover consultancy with a dozen staff and it suited them down to the ground, saving them £12K pa in bookkeeping fees because, being so straight forward, they found it easy to maintain their own books, with us monitoring. None of my current 5 FA clients are computer consultants but they are in the service sector and FA make no secret about what their system can & can't do and so it's been easy for us to match it to the clients it will suit.

So, if your client is such a poor match to FA why prolong the agony, either tell them to switch to something you feel will do the job better or lose the client, that's what I've always done with Sage users.

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Dermot Hamblin
By Dermot Hamblin
16th Jun 2014 08:54

I for one welcome the innovation that we see in the online accounting space at the moment - it's a very exciting and fast moving space.

I too have "eyebrows raised" that these new entrants will be able to deliver all the functionality promised, let alone compete with the 4 Big Boys - Intuit, IRIS Kashflow, Sage and Xero.

I also have to agree with Paul Scholes - why do you think that any of the products will be able to cope with all of your clients. FreeAgent have a very clear definition of their target clients and are very clear about communicating that to the market.


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By Old Greying Accountant
16th Jun 2014 16:40

@ Paul ...

... I wasn't blaming Freeagent, if you read my post I was blaming Barclays, although IRIS have mis-sold it too. Freeagent's blame is in selling out and allowing their product to be mis-represented, and my feeling is they are regreting this and are not playing ball with IRIS, hence the KashFlow acquisition and IRIS not really pushing FreeAgent anymore, or at least anything near as hard.

Of all the ones I have looked at apart from the hosted benefits none are any better than tried and tested desk-top packages - in fact are still a way behind in many areas. I know a part of it is learning curve but ironically I find cloud applications very slow and cumbersome on teh data entry side, even with bank feeds.

I think Tim is on the Money and there will be no great leap forwards until the banks co-operate fully, ideally the BBA need to get on board, agree an industry standard template so that a client can "code up" their transactions at source, and even put in the suppliers choice of code if required. Then all software houses can design round an industry standard.

But it is hassle moving from a mis-sold program to a more suitable one, the clients don't have the ability and I don't have the time at a price they can afford!

I also don't have the time to destruction test every piece of cloud software at the moment, it takes time to learn new software, to try out all the scenarios you need, and my practice, as I am sure many others, doesn't have the luxury of so doing, or the inclination as frankly I find it tedious beta testing half baked software that has been brought to market to soon.

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