IRIS Elements marks final push into the cloudby
With the unveiling of its full Elements suite, IRIS hopes to capitalise on growing app fatigue among accountants and win over the next generation of firm owners with an integrated all-in-one cloud solution.
IRIS lifted the curtain on its much-anticipated and long-awaited Elements platform this week, providing what it calls “the most integrated and powerful cloud-based accountancy solution in the market” and promising to solve accountancy’s “patchwork” technology approach.
Through a series of modules on the IRIS Elements platform, accountants can onboard, service and advise clients and manage their practices in the cloud. According to Jonathan Priestley (pictured above), head of product (accountancy) at IRIS Software Group, the Elements cloud suite gives firms a complete 360-degree view of the client without having to move data between disparate applications.
“There’s huge frustration and growing app fatigue in the wake of greater demands being placed on professionals,” said Priestley. “Today’s patchwork of applications doesn’t help accountants manage their practices in the digital age. Instead, they often increase complexity, duplicate data and require time and technical know-how to ensure delivery to the level of security and compliance you need as a business.
Priestley added that he felt Elements changes the game. “Firms want and need a single core platform that puts the client at the heart of the company. Elements is a genuinely integrated suite of modules, from first engagement with a prospect, ensuring you can do business with them then supplying the service you’re signing off for.”
Pieces in the Elements puzzle
The full suite includes IRIS Elements Tax & Accounts, a solution that includes personal, partnership, corporation, and trust and estates tax returns, as well as final accounts production for small limited companies, LLPs, partnerships and sole traders, with electronic filing to Companies House and HMRC. It also includes a bridging solution to cater for Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT.
An addition to the platform new to the company’s user base is IRIS Elements Proposal Manager, which creates and prices quotes for prospects, offering customisable engagement letter templates and a pricing matrix that can be switched on and off. Practices can then track and manage the process.
As and when clients accept, this generates a notification with Elements and the firm can start the onboarding process, with integrated tools such as Elements Anti-Money Laundering (AML) check kicking in to ensure compliance with current AML legislation.
2021 acquisition Senta is now a fully paid-up member of the company’s cloud platform under the banner of IRIS Elements Practice Management, providing the workflow engine for practices to organise and manage tasks across the firm.
IRIS confirmed to AccountingWEB that users of products such as Senta and Taxfiler will be able to continue to use them as standalone products and if they want to move over to the new Elements versions, they will be able to.
The full Elements suite is now out of production and with customers for testing. Those who want to sign up will be able to get access from 6 June 2022. Initially announced in September 2019 following a two-year research project, Elements has had a relatively long gestation period, but IRIS chiefs are insistent that the exhaustive testing process behind the project will pay dividends for the Hg-owned software group.
”IRIS is a compliance company first and foremost, so we’re pretty conservative,” said chief marketing officer David Turner. “We cannot be flaky or go wrong. It’s taken longer to release than we’d have liked, which has caused frustration, but no one else has a cloud platform this powerful and this extensive.
“There’s a whole sector of users out there who don’t use IRIS,” he added. “Our job is to excite them and make them realise life isn’t just about Xero and QuickBooks. While those are important tools, they won’t transform their business or cope with the tidal wave of compliance brought by MTD.”
IRIS confirmed to AccountingWEB that it is signed up to HMRC’s beta programme for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax across all its products, and will be keeping pace with HMRC when it begins to roll out the project in earnest.
With more than 24,000 practices using IRIS software, the majority of which still use its desktop offering, the challenge of shifting a loyal customer base is considerable. To help customers start to move clients across to the cloud, IRIS has built migration tool kits but has also provided bridging technology back to its desktop tools.
“Nobody else has made the investment to bridge from desktop to cloud – this investment we’ve made into the platform is unique,” said Priestley. “We have plenty of larger firms as customers that don’t want the risk of a big migration, that want to plot their move over time. We have a partnership with these firms and have drawn up a delivery schedule.”
One of the key things about the Elements platform, concluded Priestley, is that IRIS will not be sitting on its laurels when it comes to further development. “We’ll be pushing the platform really hard,” he said. “We’ll not only take care of core parts of the business, but we’re also looking to make the integration pathway smoother and create an ecosystem around it with API pathways and developer kits.”