IRIS buys software rival Keytime
IRIS Software Group announced its acquisition of Keytime today for an undisclosed sum.
Following on from previous purchases of PTP, Drummohr and KashFlow, the Keytime deal represents another step in IRIS’s territorial expansion.
IRIS Group CEO Phil Robinson said, “Keytime’s practice software is a superb fit within our portfolio of solutions that provide market-leading solutions to UK accountants of all sizes.
“Together we are passionate about providing technology to support legislative changes, and continually inventing better ways to connect accountants, businesses and their employees. We look forward to welcoming the Keytime team to the group.”
Founded in 1989, Keytime was an independent software supplier of integrated practice software to more than 1,700 UK practices.
James Cryne, Keytime managing director said, “We have known and respected IRIS for many years, so joining forces with the business is a logical step in the next stage of our business growth. Not only can we utilise IRIS’s extensive resources but it provides an opportunity for Keytime to add value to the group and its customers.”
By joining IRIS, Keytime is following the example of other independent UK developers including KashFlow, PTP, Drummohr and Intex.
The results of these deals have not always been happy. Just as happens when accountancy firms merge, clients are never happy with change. AccountingWEB members have occasionally come to the site to moan about IRIS customer service in Any Answers, IRIS and PTP users discussion groups.
Long-term trends from AccountingWEB Software Satisfaction surveys confirm that IRIS has often struggled to sustain the satisfaction levels customers enjoyed when their programs were supplied by the acquired company.
For example, where Keytime enjoyed a 64% recommendation rating in our 2013 Software Satisfaction survey, the IRIS suite was back at 20%.
Looking at their tax applications, the Keytime was rated 4.53 out of 5 by users, compared to 4.13 for PTP (which had a 53% recommendation rate). The IRIS tax application scored 4.01 in 2013, with a 23% recommendation rating.
While PTP appears to have stabilised at that point, Drummohr, a multiple Software Satisfaction Award winner before IRIS acquired it in 2008, achieved a score of 3.79 out of 5 in 2013.
IRIS is no stranger to the growth-by-acquisition strategy. Keytime will add some extra weight to its user numbers and reach within the profession (a statistic the company regularly repeats). And it will have factored in the impact on user satisfaction as part of its calculations.
But it might be worth IRIS executives casting an eye in the direction of Sage, which pioneered this strategy in the 1990s. After Sage scooped up a bunch of smaller developers (Hartley, Taxsoft, CSM, Apex). Now, Sage is trying to migrate users of many disparate systems to a narrower set of software choices. IRIS indicated it has no such plan at the moment, but the time will surely come when it is faced with a similar strategic decision.
Further reading: Keytime 'business as usual' says founder