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IRIS expands Elements platform with new release

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In its latest Elements release, IRIS has unveiled new compliance, integration and workflow solutions, broadening the cloud platform’s reach to a wider cross-section of the accounting firm market.

9th May 2023
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IRIS Elements Professional targets mid-tier to larger accounting firms, or those with complex client or business needs, and according to the vendor’s VP of product marketing Jonathan Priestley, is “probably the biggest single release” since the start of the Elements project.

Product-wise, Elements will now service more complex customers across the tax landscape, offering personal, partnership and trust tax, alongside VAT compliance. 

The release also features a complete rewrite of its accounts production capabilities. “We want to change how our users think about accounts production,” said Priestley. “Instead of the historical compliance piece at the end of the year, we’re trying to change the thinking into a go-forward, constantly thinking about the business mindset.” 

Through the creation of a data abstraction layer, the system also offers a stronger reporting capability without having to export report data into spreadsheets.

Platform pathways

IRIS also announced that the development of its Elements cloud accountancy platform will follow three distinct pathways.

Released last June, Elements Essentials marked IRIS’s first integrated accounting solution in the cloud and was specifically aimed at smaller practices. This connected and integrated software previously acquired by IRIS such as compliance tool Taxfiler (now Elements Tax & Accounts), practice management solution Senta (now Elements Practice Manager) and IRIS’s own onboarding, AML and company secretarial capabilities together in one product. 

Announced today, Elements Professional scales up the level of complexity the cloud platform can handle, while the final piece in IRIS’s web-based jigsaw, Elements Enterprise, is due for release at an unspecified date, and will provide users with enterprise-level compliance. 

Integration means different things

App fatigue among accounting firms was a theme for last year’s IRIS Elements release, and the vendor returned to it with this year’s release. 

“We find on average, customers coming to us are using 12 different apps,” said Priestley. “Increasingly customers are saying it’s a nightmare: 12 different pieces of software, 12 different logins, 12 different security exposures – it’s an overhead to do basic business. Essentials takes that away with a single sign-on. It’s all connected so there’s no need for multiple logins and passwords, different user interfaces and contact lists. Elements stores the data in one place”

IRIS has added a data aggregation layer into its platform infrastructure, which allows different components to communicate together, allowing smoother integration between products.

“Integration can mean many things in accounting software terms, from an API call to a CSV import-export,” said Priestley. “Our infrastructure allows users to share information seamlessly between each part of the platform. For example, a basic tax return. You need a piece of data from the client and they haven’t given it to you. The client needs to know you’re waiting, they need a prompt. The fact that the data is missing gets sent to the IRIS communications system, which can prepare this prompt ready to send.”

Another example flagged by Priestley was around workflow. An IRIS user creates and sends a proposal to a potential client for basic tax work, which they are happy with. Once that proposal has been accepted, IRIS Proposal sends a message into the general system that a prospect has been converted to a customer. Behind the scenes, IRIS Practice Manager then starts to set up all the jobs required to service that client, while the system prompts the next person in the chain within the practice to finalise the onboarding process. 

“This is intelligent, next-level automation and our customers will really start to see efficiencies from it,” said Priestley. “The trouble with artificial intelligence is that can only help you if you have a massive amount of data to look at. Without that, it’s really difficult to make it give you anything useful. The advantage we have is that we have a massive pool of data at the heart of the practice.”

Hybrid-by-design approach

With more than 24,000 practices using IRIS software, and many still using its desktop compliance solutions, the vendor has taken a pragmatic view of its architecture and opted for a  hybrid-by-design approach – bridging technology that allows customers to run desktop suite and cloud solutions in sync with constant data exchange via its IRIS Anywhere hosting solution.

“It’s a choice,” said Priestley. “Customers can come across to our cloud-native environment as and when they choose, and they can move clients across on a service-by-service basis. They simply move across to the next tranch.

“A customer might have a complex range of clients and like the IRIS desktop compliance suite but really need cloud-based practice management solutions to run their business, manage jobs and tasks, communicate with clients, engage prospects, monitor exactly where they are.”

Replies (5)

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By AdamJones82
09th May 2023 17:33

As fully expected, within less than a year the Elements Tax & Accounts product has been ceased for new customers (what was like Taxfiler but was far more clunkier than Taxfiler) and now a sub-standard tax return-lite app only available for the same price as before (examples being Tax Essentials doesn't allow foreign tax credit relief) and only for 100 clients.
The accounts is a separate product at a cost and again for only 100 clients.
Anything else you have to call for a price, which when companies say this means it costs a lot.
Same old same old HG Capital acquistion routine.

Thanks (2)
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By Hugo Fair
09th May 2023 19:09

“We want to change how our users think about accounts production,” said Priestley. “Instead of the historical compliance piece at the end of the year, we’re trying to change the thinking into a go-forward, constantly thinking about the business mindset.”

... or, ' we invested a lot in preparing for MTD and we need to get our money back'?

Thanks (3)
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By norstar
11th May 2023 09:22

Unfortunately, use of it would mean dealing with IRIS. Until a few days ago, I didn't know who my account manager was after yet again, another person I was introduced to, left. Every year I have a traumatic renewal experience with them and have to fight to get the right amount charged. Starting with Elements has also been difficult. I have been holding off use of an Elements product on the advice of their support, pending a new feature being introduced to assist in switchover. I'm now six months on and it still hasn't been done so I've served notice to cancel it.

Thanks (1)
Replying to norstar:
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By AdamJones82
11th May 2023 09:27

I did the same (cancelling renewal). Kind of feels like I've been a beta tester for them. And I'm not sure how a company could take the Taxfiler code that worked so well and balls it up

Thanks (2)
Replying to norstar:
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By bendybod
11th May 2023 10:48

I feel your pain. Going through that renewal process right now. Currently on iteration 3 of the invoice and still not right. I was contemplating Elements as an alternative since other partners here are extremely reluctant to change. Sounds like I need to wait a while. Mind you, I have at least a year to get out of the current contract or will they move you mid-year? I'm interested to know how the cost has compared in real life for people who were using their desktop version.

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