IRIS apologises for PAYE-Master software complaints. By John Stokdyk

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IRIS group chief executive Martin Leuw is sending a letter to PAYE-Master users apologising for problems they have encountered with the most recent upgrade to the payroll program.

Issued to accompany a new release that includes bug-fixes and legislative updates for the 2006 Budget, Leuw's letter apologises both for difficulties users have experienced as a result of the program's migration to Microsoft's .NET architecture, and for longer than normal waiting times on IRIS's customer helplines. The full text of the letter is reprinted below.

IRIS copied the letter to AccountingWEB in response to complaints from Nicholas Myles and other community members who raised their concerns in Any Answers.

"We do want to make it clear this is an apology," Leuw told AccountingWEB. "We have been waiting for t...

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By Anonymous
24th Apr 2006 20:52

That's an apology?
I'm glad he told me, because it doesn't read like one to me.

He's blamed customers for leaving it late to upgrade. Do know why that was Mr Leuw? It's because when the new release came out, postings on Accounting web made it abundantly obvious that the program was causing big problems. We also found that people who'd bought it on our recommendation and installed the new version had problems.

Why would we rush to instal garbage on our machines? No, we waited and still got garbage.

But there again I don't care because as far as I'm concerned Iris is history. Had there been a shred of doubt in my mind the responses of Turner and Leuw would have sealed the decision.

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By marian
25th Apr 2006 09:37

I do not believe that Mr Leuw's letter is an apology. He does not say sorry. What is the point in bringing a product out at our busiest time of year? Could it not have waited to May??
It is not what you have done, but how it has been handled. NO support, no answering of calls, you may have more staff but have they answered the phones? They have been rude, no doubt because of stress but you cannot take your errors out on your PAYING clients.
Freeway was great. It worked, it was easy , it was supported by competent staff and it was reasonably priced.
Now you charge higher prices for a product that does not work and is not supported. What do you propose to do about this in light of not being able to file, making clients late possible penalties and no incentive payments. All in all a shambles.

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By stratty
25th Apr 2006 12:02

MS . net and IR accreditation
I thought that the Microsoft .net framework gives programmers a standard format to keep new developments 'future proof'. The errors contained within the current IRIS PAYE-Master would therefore seem to be programmer errors as many people have shown the same issues.

Why the software was not beta tested as is standard practice with other software houses I will never understand.

Martin's letter although not feeling like a true apology is recognition that IRIS perhaps realise they have a problem.

Its a little late in the day and we are moving to another package (as yet undecided) and will be requesting a refund for the remainder of our support contract from IRIS.

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By Anonymous
27th Apr 2006 13:22

Not only Iris but also the green one
As a long term user of Iris packages with the exception of PAYEmaster which we trialled and our staff rejected after two reviews two years apart (and how happy they were when they saw this correspondence), i had been feeling fairly smug that we had stayed 'green'. However, we have had many problems over the last two weeks with esubmissions where the program gets lost. As with the comments concerning Iris, the help line proves to be an oxymoron since they just repeat what we have said. Admittedly they state that this was the first time they had had 'that message' - but can this be truly believed? Maybe it is becasue we are a bureau with the progrma on the server and did not adopt the strict file structure names prompted by Sage - mainly beciase, until recently, we had to have two programs running with differnet years' data in.

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By stratty
27th Apr 2006 12:58

version 5.5.2
Seems to provide a little more stability (if you can call it that). The internet filing seems to hang for an eternity though and 20 mins into a submission we tend to stop it. Strangely enough we receive a successful receipt from the IR so it seems to be an issue with IRIS PAYE Master. The data files still seem to corrupt and the software will won't install on my pc. However it installs fine on two other identical machines in the office.

The internet filing seems to go better if whoever is sending the transmission stands on one foot and pats their head while rubbing their tummy. I doubt this is software related but it gives everyone else in the office some light hearted relief!!!

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27th Apr 2006 13:02

Iris Paye master
I am so cross it is difficult to tell about my experiences with the new payroll. I have never complained in writing about anything before but this has just pushed me too far. I am a one man band and just cannot afford to lose days/hours who knows trying to sort this. One of the anoying things is the fact that the technical people do not know how to fix your current problem without causing another one. Do not under any circumstances remove v1. It may solve one problem but then causes havoc with internet filing.
Does anyone know how to speak to someone without holding on for at least 30 minutes and having to listen to the annoying person telling me about error 1001 etc etc. I have sent numerous emails to sales asking them to return my call but they just appear to be ignoring me. or better still does anyone have the MD's email address.

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27th Apr 2006 13:17

Will Iris ever get it right?
We've used Iris payroll for several years as a successor to freeway. This last year has been a continual battle to have problems corrected by Iris, with the promise that "the latest update solves them all" , but never does. Despite repeated complaints to the company regarding the time taken to speak to someone in support, the response from them was to become an Iris Plus Member, pay them a premium fee and we'll give you a "Pin" number to get you through to a designated support line without having to wait on hold for hours on end. Unfortunately, even this hasn't worked as we still have to wait usually in excess of 30 minutes to speak to someone.
We have suffered all of the same problems as our other colleagues and to hear that the latest "repair" still isn't right horrifies me.

What makes this saga all the more annoying is that we were continually badgered with telephone calls from Iris sales to get us to upgrade to Iris Plus. Even at that time I suggested that the company transfer some staff from sales to payroll support!

Likewise we'll be looking to Iris for compensation for the vast number of wasted man hours attributed to problems with their software and attempting to obtain support.

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28th Apr 2006 11:10

Iris PAYEmaster
Like a previous correspondent I also seem to have escaped most of the problems described. So far I have filed 23 online returns without any problems. The only discrepancy I discovered was SPP payments for one employee showing as a different total on the P14 & P35 compared with the correct P11 figure. Fixed by altering the SPP total in the sundry tab on the employee's record.

I have had the experience of a client "disappearing" after restoring from backup. I always make an archive copy of the data sets before running the period end using the windows copy command as well as the backup facility in the program. Pasting the archive copy back to the data directory "revealed" the missing client.

The only current issue I have is that the year end procedure seems to have erased "average earnings" from a maternity pay absence record.

I agree that the level of support on Iris Business products is unacceptable. When you do get through the quality of the response is nowhere near that of the support on the Iris Practice software.

Having used other software packages in the past, Iris is not the only supplier whose support lines have proved to be inadequate or where problems have occurred with new program releases. This is not a defence of Iris but personally I will not be changing payroll supplier unless my current experience proves to have been luck.

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28th Apr 2006 11:36

Turner and Leuw
Could the real reason that Messers Turner and Leuw have managed to keep their jobs be that no-one at IRIS has the nerve to try and raise two P45s and risk bringing the whole system down?

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25th Apr 2006 21:38

when will it all end
I have received a personal call from some smoothie at Iris following an 18pt email of woes.
I have 48 payrolls to do and have patiently worked through this crazy week 56 'this year last year' maze with my payroll clerk who has had to retire to Tenerife for a week to recover from stress. We haven't dared submit one online yet. We are too stressed out from having to find everybody's start date before the program lets us out of the employee screen.But oh those delightful Microsoft Framework dropout messages! Don't they just turn you on?!
Form a queue behind guys: I'll want a full refund of the fee, about 5 hours of partner time and days of clerks time plus damages for stress and strained marriage whatever the contract says! (with Iris - not the wife)
Now 48 times £250 is £12,000.............Ooer!

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By Anonymous
26th Apr 2006 09:59

Being the CEO of Iris means.................
..........never having to say you're sorry.

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26th Apr 2006 15:12

In Defence of the Accountancy Software Industry
I was involved in accountancy software for over 12 years and moved on this year. A Director at Taxsoft and then later joined other suppliers. It’s an incredibly challenging market for a number of reasons:
1 The market is limited in size
2 The software is complex. Made more so by changes in legislation and underlying technology; usually completely outside of the suppliers control. Seldom a year goes by when it’s not necessary to rewrite thousands if not millions of lines of code.
3 There is little time to do full beta tests though some of the testing methods are now excellent. I can only liken it to improving London Underground and at the same time being expected to keep the trains running.
4 Clients are demanding and rightly so. Your businesses simply won’t function without these products. Imagine doing the work manually! Most of the suppliers have slipped up from time to time. At Taxsoft we got caught out with a Self Assessment release in 1998 that coincided with a move to Windows. Fortunately the Internet had not taken off, so few people had any idea of the scale of the challenge we faced to pacify our client base. We worked 24/7 for many weeks to put it right. I imagine Iris are doing the same now.
The biggest problem as I see it, is to do with 'price'. Prices have tumbled in recent years and margins get smaller. That’s fine when you have a product designed for millions of potential users that seldom needs upgrading, but long term that spells trouble for these sorts of niche products.
I have no idea what Iris payroll clients are paying for annual support, but for some it’s probably less then a weekend break for two in Great Yarmouth. If you calculate the cost per client, the software designed for accountants is usually fantastic value for money.
I totally sympathise with customer frustrations though. You are your clients most trusted advisers; you cannot afford to let service levels slip. But some of you are suggesting Iris should take on more staff, that you should be compensated, that fees should be waived or reduced! No wonder so many accountancy software suppliers have been acquired in recent years or develop strategies that allow them to grow revenue streams from more lucrative sectors.
This is not an attack on the client base; one reason I stayed in accountancy software for so long was down to customers. Most were incredibly reasonable, loyal, understanding and professional. It’s a great market to service. But 12 years of experience tells me that prices will have to increase substantially if you want to continue to get the levels of service and quality of products that you and your clients rightly expect.

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27th Apr 2006 13:29

IRIS - Payroll
Your corrrespondents are very polite - is this accountant's natural reticence?

We have had an absolute nightmare since the upgrade. Data has been lost, tax has been recalaculated for previous months so that cumualtive totals do not agree with payslips issued, etc, etc.

Howeverm whilst we do not expect any suppliers to be correct at all times where we feel very baldy let down is IRIS' total refusal to acknowledge their problems - or at least to make any attempt whatsoever to effect a remedy.

This farce has been going on for over 2 months yet they have failed to add any customer support advisors. My payroll manager held on for 3 hours on Tuesday afternoon evening until 7.30 when they went home and just cut our call.

THIS IS ABSOLUTELY USELESS!! IRIS have behaved in an appallingly arrogant manner without ANY consideration for us customers whatsoever.

Cynically, we now fully undertsand why IRIS were pushing their discounted renewal offer in February! We were tricked and conned in to taking that so we have now paid for 2006/07 although our previous annual renewal date was next week. If we had not paid for this renewal already we would be seriously considering other suppliers!

We now consider IRIS to be on a very strict trial for 06/07 and any repatiton will certainly result in us dumping them.

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27th Apr 2006 13:42

IRIS - compensation
Dont forget to add the time it took to install the wretched V.5 programme. I have 10 companies and had to reinstall the whole bloomin lot over and over on different computers because the programme just wouldn't work and I was concerned that it might corrupt the harddrive with all the crashes and errors. I haven't filed yet, I am afraid to. I was told to download the new version but now hear there is a disk coming. I dont want all my records wiped out by the download. Hope it soon arrives, 10 x £250 = £2,500 plus all telephone waiting for non existent help, burning the midnight oil, literally, to get a reply via Email. Its getting more expensive by the minute.

Dont get mad - get even. Write to the Revenue and get Iris taken off the accredited list, they certainly do not deserve to be there. Its our fault? Only for using them in the first place but there has to be an element of trust, surely. Anyone who is still using Iris has to be a masochist[***].

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27th Apr 2006 14:12

Iris PAYE Master
We have never had so many problems as this year with Iris PAYE Master. Our telephone account has increased by nearly £50 in a month due to 0845 numbers being dialed and having to wait upto 1 hour to speak to someone on the help line. Please pass this message on to PAYE Master.

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27th Apr 2006 14:37

Weasel Words
It looks as if IRIS is as good at apologies as it is with software.

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By lerryn
27th Apr 2006 15:18

Online Payroll Services - the future ?
As MD of a software development company, I know how difficult it is to get software which installs and runs correctly on computers which have an almost infinite combination of hardware and software configurations. We have found that only extensive investment in automated test tools which can run thousands of tests in a few hours can give the sort of software confidence that users have a right to expect. The problem of implementing updates on user's sites is one of the key reasons why we developed our payroll offerring (MyPAYE) as an online service so that users don't have any updates to do.

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28th Apr 2006 14:47

More about the software industry...
It's true that the software industry has changed in recent years, especially as prices have been driven down as the market becomes more competitive. A couple of years ago, when AccountsVision was conceptualised, we were looking at a price point that was much higher than what we can sell for today.

Writing a system from scratch must be easier than having to maintain compatability with legacy versions, especially if your code is vastly different between versions. Moving to a new development platform often means using new concepts and languages. Often you're not in control of these - advancements like the introduction of .NET and Windows force them upon you.

Then consider just how rich your user experience is these days! Old DOS systems were very linear in their use, making them relatively simple to code and maintain. Modern applications offer many interactions, especially as you demand more from them. This is on top of umpteen versions of Windows, service packs, drivers and other configurations!

With regards to support, the pressure on prices means that software companies have to be smarter these days in providing it. For example, we have built a forum into our site that contains frequently asked questions. Users are encouraged to post to the forum, so if anybody else has a similar problem, it can be seen that we're dealing with it and what the solution is (thankfully, we've not really had any serious issues). We're also experimenting with LiveHelp, which means you can speak to someone directly from our site.

It's a fascinating business to be in, and no doubt will change again over the next couple of years.

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28th Apr 2006 15:41

Brave New World
I started using computers in private practice with an Olivetti P652 scientific computer using mag cards attached to an electric typwriter. Later we had a vast WANG[***] VP with 32k memory and big 9" floppy disks (yes they really were floppy!. Point is, we had on the 32000 byte machine an accounts producing programme which had features like a this year/last year Trial Balance comparison in 1981 and Iris hasnt even got round to providing that useful facility for hands on account chefs. You want your silly heads knocking together to produce robust, error free programs. Accounts Tax and payroll are as old as the hills. All these multi millions of bytes have done practically nothing in real terms since my wang[***] days except cure colour persistence of the eyes. Nothing changes for sole practitioners in real terms. Its rather like the barmy idiots who sit on the 'Urgent Issues Task Force' What on earth is 'urgent' about counting the same beans since Moses days. Remember the hoohah about current cost accounting. What a farce. Its little overpaid boys and girls justifying their existence. In the software world, its pandering to the numpties who go around with a plastic excrecence coming out of their ears and jumping into their Beamer 4x4's dahling. This really has been a good blog.
The 5.5.2 payroll version has just caused my computer to go onto 100% memory usage and fire of lots of pretty .net messages. Reloaded it and it cured it. Made the tea, walked the spaniel while the initial screen wound up and there we go. A jolly pretty little screen again. How naice.

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05th May 2006 10:58

The last word on Iris Payroll
I have now given up trying to file 05/06 from Iris. I have literally shed tears over this but finally came up with a solution. I had the foresight to print out all the year-end details for all my bureau clients before changing to version 5.5 as I had problems before and continued to use V4 for daily payroll. I then logged on to the HMRC website and used their software to file. Successful first time and every time! It meant a lot of data input but well worth the grief it saved me not to mention money. Heaven help me, I have just renewed my Iris licence but I might decide to cut my losses now and just bin it!

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27th Apr 2006 17:00

Iris Payemaster
What am I doing wrong? I am a sole practitioner with 30 bureau payrolls on PAYE master. I have filed half of them online and the only problems I have had are needing to run a year end fix on two of them before I could run routine processing and re-entering my email address of each payroll company details. I havn't needed to log out in between the re-entering contrary to Iris' recommendations. I'm worried I might wake up on May 22nd to find it was all a dream!

PS I do hate some of the new proceedures, but I can backup wherever I want to, unlike some correspondants.

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27th Apr 2006 12:22

Kate "total exasperated" of Bromley
Sorry to say guys that the new "Budget" Version still has problems! It lost three of our clients completely which had to be re-instated by backups, the front end has lost the Boolean messages but now has "I can't find the database" What next?

Come on Mr.Leuw just who do you think you are kidding, you authorised the release originally, without any serious testing in the market place and your whingeing apology is too little too late, be a man and do us all a favour, including your staff, bite the bullet and step down now.

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25th Apr 2006 20:22

I'm sure he's right
when he says "We are committed to ensuring that next year’s year end will be much easier for you in every respect."

They'll probably be so few customers by next year he'll be able to send one of the support team out to each one to enable them to process year end.

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24th Apr 2006 16:24

Well it is a start
i am a little disappointed with the letter as i do not believe that it apologises anywhere! it is however not to be dismissd out of hand: as Martin has said

'We do want to make it clear this is an apology'

pity the letter didnt say it..

still i am delighted that users concerns are now being urgently addressed, and i have fingers crossed, for users and iris, that the new release works as intended.

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26th Apr 2006 22:15

Fascinating comments about the industry
of course everything has changed and will continue to do so and your comments about cost are theoretically fair especially as accountants are demanding people and usually very cost conscious but if prices go up they must be matched by better more stable software and at t least reasonable support.

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By dallman
27th Apr 2006 11:17

Contact details for Mr Leuw
Will Mr Leuw please provide a contact email address and postal address?

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29th Mar 2012 09:29

Iris Paye Master Software, Delete Company


I have just solved a problem with Iris PAYE-Master software, I have looked and cant find the fix on the Internet so I am posting this on all forums that cover Iris PAYE-Master.

the customer had loaded a backup from there flash drive, when they remove the flash drive the software complains that there is missing data.

So I tried to delete the company and start again but the delete/undelete menu option was grayed out.

If this has happened to you, follow the steps in my article I have posted the link below.


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