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Jonathan Preiestly, IRIS senior product director, accountancy
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IRIS updates Elements practice, tax and AML tools

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IRIS Software Group took to the virtual airwaves this week to showcase the latest enhancements to its cloud-based Elements practice integration platform.

5th May 2021
Editor in Chief AccountingWEB
Columnist
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No production tricks were spared for the IRIS Believe the hype event on Tuesday, when CEO Elona Mortimer-Zhika and senior colleagues unveiled upgrades to IRIS Elements. Their announcements included new AML and SmartTax features alongside the first steps towards full integration of the Senta practice management app into the online platform.

Mortimer-Zhika set the tone for proceedings with her introduction: “We have listened to you, we have taken action and we have delivered a next generation accountancy platform designed to change the way accountants run their practices.

“It has been designed so you can move to the cloud at your own pace.”

Every speaker echoed the same refrain. But behind the slogans, what new was actually on offer?

Senior product director for accountancy, Jonathan Priestley, carried most of the load when it came to the compliance modules. The new features he unveiled follow.

SmartTax

This interactive widget is hosted online within IRIS Elements. It picks up data entered on the IRIS Personal Tax desktop application and beams it up to an online tax calculator that updates the desktop widget. The widget comes into its own when running simple what-if scenarios, which can be generated simultaneously.

SmartTax made its first public appearance a year ago, but has moved from testing to readiness for a full roll out in the next month or two – and interested IRIS customers are invited to contact the developer if they want to get their hands on it now. After the big build-up, Priestley commented, “Up to this point we’d been sharing ideas. Now we’ve got it completely piped in with the cloud and desktop. Now we’ve got this piece completed and 180 customers onboard, we can use the cloud calculator to do a lot of additional work.”

IRIS Elements AML

Following its initial launch in the autumn of 2019, the latest IRIS Elements AML module represents a big jump, according to Priestley. “One of the key requirements when synching with desktop was to ensure that a company secretarial software user could trigger the correct filings, even if the AML module was being used in the cloud. Now we can give that to anyone on the IRIS platform.”

The AML app also features a new look AML dashboard, a customisable template for logging client ID and AML checks, risk profiles, various client management widgets and an annual process to identify and document key risk factors within the firm.

Practice productivity

IRIS managing director, accountancy, Jim Scott took over to lead viewers to the next step of the Elements programme. “Beyond compliance lies practice productivity,” he said.

With the growing trend towards cloud solutions, IRIS has been investing heavily in this area, with the acquisitions of Practice Engine, Star Practice Management and Senta, Scott explained.

Senta, the winner of the 2019 Accounting Excellence Award for practice management, brought with it tools for job tracking, workflow and customer communication that will accelerate delivery of IRIS’s integrated cloud practice management suite by 12-18 months, product director Priestley told AccountingWEB.

“Light” links are now in place between Senta, IRIS Elements and the IRIS Accountancy Suite, so that ID checks can be carried out from within Senta. By the end of the year full data synchronisation will be in place.

To cater for smaller practices Priestley and his 24 groups of developers are working to integrate Senta fully into IRIS Elements, so that it can share data with Taxfiler and the AML module.

A spectrum of users

IRIS Elements is the company's software strategy to cater for a broad spectrum of customers, Priestley explained.

For the upper end of its customer base, IRIS Elements is being configured to support Tier 1 practices that need much greater control over workflows, documents and client engagement. At the same time, Senta, Taxfiler (tax and accounts production) and Staffology (payroll) are being refined to offer a cloud-based “practice in a box” solution for startup and “nano” practices.

“The middle part of the market is our existing customer base. So everything we’re doing in Elements – like SmartTax – brings a lot of value to those customers. We get to give them new technology and new value within their desktop product,” said Priestley.

Making Tax Digital is driving a lot of activity in the tax and practice software market and IRIS Elements feeds into that effort. “MTD will put more pressure on admin and due date management,” said Priestley.

“Making that investment now with the IRIS Elements architecture makes sense, because it will allow us to do things in the way that customers want. We don’t charge desktop clients for any Elements functionality they already have. IRIS Elements will only cost money when we add something. That incentivises us to deliver things you don’t have.”

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