Accountancy specialist IRIS Software Group touted its claims to market leadership for cloud-based applications with the first public showing of its OpenPayroll product.
Announced last week, IRIS OpenPayroll is a new, entirely web-based program that sits within the growing family of IRIS “Open” products.
Along with the new payroll system, the Open family now includes OpenBooks - a rebadged version of the the FreeAgent web accounting system, the OpenSpace document portal, OpenTax, OpenAudit OpenPayslips and OpenWebsite web building services. All of these applications are linked by IRIS OpenPortal, a digital backbone that sits within the firm’s desktop software and ties it to the cloud services, explained IRIS CEO Phill Robinson at the company’s IRIS World 2013 event in Twickenham last week.
“Payroll is a big bit of functionality,” he said. “Today is about trying to paint a complete picture of our cloud strategy. You can see how they all link together as we release more modules.”
Also coming are mobile tools and a single application sign-on for all the Open software family. However, with Sage committed to delivering core cloud products within the next year, Robinson would not be drawn on any timetable for delivering Open accounts production or practice management tools.
“There’s a difference between talking and doing,” Robinson replied. “Sage has only just started spending now. I’ve been watching them say this for four years while we’ve been investing.
“We’re 2-3 steps through a process. We’ve released products that desktop users can access. Now we have three compliance applications and there are more to do. We started with a footprint that’s more relevant for smaller practices. Our PTP user base - around 5,000 firms, a third of our market - could be running in cloud today. Over time we will move the whole of the IRIS Suite to the cloud.
“We think we got a more complete solution than anyone in the sector,” Robinson told the IRIS World audience. “We think our leadership in cloud market today is protection for you. Any other technology supplier would be a big risk.”
Presenting the first public demo of OpenPayroll (above), IRIS SME division CEO Mark Paraskeva described it as the UK’s first professional cloud-based payroll product.
Many current cloud payroll systems “fall into the same bucket”, he explained, by catering only for single companies. IRIS OpenPayroll is different because it offers multi-company facilities, with separate sign-ins for each client business so they can look at the same figures and distribute payslips from the payroll system.
While describing it as “bureau-class”, Paraskeva said the IRIS developers had focused on making it easy to use, particularly for accountants who may not previously have run a payroll bureau.
“If you compare it to desktop products, they’ve got more capabilities that haven’t been built into [OpenPayroll]. But these are products that have been around for 30 years.
“This product was aimed at non-payroll experts from Day One. Our other products were built for experts, when only a small number of people ran payroll systems. With RTI, there were 1.4m companies that never run a payroll before.”
IRIS OpenPayroll is not yet ready to handle the next big challenge for such systems: tracking and recording pension entitlements and deductions under the auto-enrolment scheme. Corporate IRIS payroll systems such as Earnie already do this, but the typical business for which IRIS OpenPayroll is designed not be on the auto-enrolment staging timetable yet.
“We are going to add enrolment to this product, but all our early users were on 2016 staging dates,” said Paraskeva.
IRIS World video - CEO Phill Robinson discusses cloud strategy
You might also be interested in
AccountingWEB’s interim Editor in Chief has been with the site since 1999 and returned to the editorial hot seat in March 2020 to support the team through the pandemic. When not tending to the needs of AccountingWEB members and geeking out on their technology habits, he devotes much of his time to an oddball collection of stringed instruments...