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IRIS World: Open IRIS10 launched

7th Oct 2009
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John Stokdyk reports from the IRIS World event in London on the razzmatazz surrounding the new IRIS tax/practice suite.
The tax and practice wing of IRIS Software is heralding the launch of its newly branded Open IRIS10 suite with a roadshow starting today in London and heading north for Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow in the coming weeks.
Phil Robinson, who took over as MD of IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions earlier this year, took the opportunity to address concerns about software quality raised by users on AccountingWEB by insiting that the company had boosted engineering and quality control by three times to ensure the new release exceeded customers’ expectations.
Included in the new version are the following enhancements:
  • IRIS Practice Reporting - the migration to Microsoft’s SQL Server database system has enabled IRIS to create a series of “business level” views that can be analysed and circulated using common reporting tools such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Report Builder and other third party applications. The IRIS practice management website  has more details.
  • IRIS Practice Hosting sees the developer moving closer to the Cloud Computing concept. The company will host versions of IRIS applications including Open IRIS10 on the web alongside Microsoft Office suite and Microsoft email. Available as a montly subscription, the service will include security, maintenance, upgrades, backups and software licence management, all packaged for UK accountancy firms that have limited IT resources, but want to keep up with technology trends. “With IRIS Practice Hosting, all customers need is a broadband connection and internet capable PC equipment,” the company said.
  • IRIS Company Secretarial 10 and Company Formations 10 - The Open IRIS10 suite will include rewritten Company Secretarial and Company Formations programs to cater for Companies Act 2006, the final provisions of which come into force this month. IRIS Company Secretarial includes 70+ new forms, but will retain its existing interface. The developer has also built an online resource centre with information on the Companies Act 2006.
  • IRIS Business Tax 10 - the business tax module features a new SQL Server-based Account Analysis tool that lets users select data from an individual IRIS Accounts Production file and provides an analysis of elements that have been disallowed for tax purposes. The analysis is provided as a schedule to the corporation tax computation, and where the level of detail required is not available, a manual analysis tool has also been provided.

According to Robinson, the new branding was an important step forward for the company and demonstrated how it was "taking the lid off" and opening up its application suite to third party reporting tools from Microsoft and other vendors. As if to reinforce the piont, he said this while standing in front of the stands of PaperShrink, Reflex and Invu, all scanning/document management system developers who had come along to IRIS World to demonstrate their wares to the delegates.

User reactions to IRIS Practice Hosting were somewhat muted at the event. Only around eight people sat in on the seminar to discuss it in detail at the London event - but the ones who were there took an intense interest and quizzed the presenter about the fine detail of licence arrangements and the charging structure.

IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions product director John Pattenden gave a low-key presentation of the new environment as part of the conference keynote presentation. A show of hands confirmed his assertion that few practitioners are completely pleased with their IT infrastructure and costs, so Practice Hosting offered them an opportunity to take it out of the firm and let someone else manage it.

The service is based on using a virtual private network (VPN) to plug into the hosted IRIS desktop using the Windows Remote Desktop Connection. When you get into it, what you see is a normal Windows desktop, Pattenden demonstrated. "What you get with a hosted system is exactly what you get with your system."

The service includes a Microsoft SQL Server licence and Microsoft Exchange if you want the service to host your email as well and you can log in using anything from a mobile phone to a Macintosh as your client system, he said.

"You've got all the applications there that you have in the office - Excel, Word, Outlook and all your practice applications, whatever the vendor. There's not much else to say," he concluded.
The price quoted for a 1-6 person firm was £100 per user per month, with lower rates available for larger numbers of users. "Typically we think it takes two weeks to get a customer from their current systems to IRIS Practice Hosting, with maybe a month of migration work," added Phil Robinson. "We think we can get you up and running in a short time."

Replies (6)

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By carnmores
07th Oct 2009 17:35

iris world indeed

a huge number of improvements John

but do they work and how long will they work for

what language is it all written in

will it become obsolete

who will buy them and when



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By User deleted
08th Oct 2009 06:45

Iris world indeed?

I'm interested to see how the cloud based services fair. Have any costing been released yet?

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
08th Oct 2009 08:55

Price quoted at IRIS World

In his keynote speech at IRIS World, IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions managing director Phil Robinson said the fee would be £100 per user per month for a firm with 1-6 users, but that the per user price would be lower for larger numbers of users.

The fee sounds a little high to me, and I haven't resolved how much of that would cover the IRIS application fees (there was a lot going on - I will try to do so in the next day or so). Robinson told me that IRIS introduced Practice Hosting in response to strong user demand, but I gather from conversations at the event that it's a very low margin service for IRIS and that to ensure that it's viable, the company will sign people on for three-year contracts.

IRIS executives gave the "Cloud" tag a very wide berth for Practice Hosting, and given the commercial and technical (VPN/Remote Desktop Services) approach they've adopted, it's easy to see why. I suspect that xIRIS will take a pasting on these points when the Cloud purists hear about it.
John Stokdyk, Technology editor

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By User deleted
13th Oct 2009 11:35

Another bug-ridden release

We waited a few days before installing Iris 10, to ensure any bugs were ironed out.

Unfortunately, despite Iris being aware of bugs in the initial Iris 10 release, the download was not withdrawn and so we installed a faulty product, which was very unprofessional of Iris.  

The 10.0.1 update has now been released, which fixes some of the obvious faults, but leaves others, including problems with fonts on the Tax Returns.

The level of testing done before such a major release was insufficient and continues to demonstrate Iris is trying too hard to be all things to all men, while failing to do the basics right.

At least you can get through to customer support quickly, even if all they can do is apologise for the product failings and recommend you wait for the next bug fix update.

I would not trust Iris to manage such a new concept as cloud computing yet.  They should be concentrating on their current offering first, in my opinion.


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By Paul Scholes
13th Oct 2009 13:07

Hosting? Count me in (eventually)

I would start by saying that, unlike the past few years, I came away from this year's event feeling as fired up as I used to after leaving Irisworlds of old.  The turnaround in Iris's approach and concentration on it's core products has to start somewhere and I feel that this is/was it.  Time will tell but "good on 'em"

It was a shame the Iris Hosting session clashed with the "Adding value to tax work" session (especially when the latter turned out to be more about adding value to PTP) otherwise I would have been there. Discussions over Iris hosting have been around for years but the concept has faced huge distrust/fear from practitioners not necessarily because it's Iris but because they see it as losing control (similar to swapping pen, paper & Tippex for a keyboard & mouse).

The fear of letting a faceless data centre run the software is matched by the fear of losing internet connection.  For my own setup, knowing little of what goes on in that big box in the corner, I have no problem in letting a a data centre take it over and I'm knackered if the internet goes down today without hosting but with hosting I can go home or to a cafe to work.

I'm convinced that hosted software will be the norm in a few years time and so the sooner someone starts the ball rolling the better. 

I too was confused by the pricing, ie is full IRIS included or not, and look forward to clarification but I can imagine a time when my server, workstations, MS Office etc all start running out, looking at a hosted solution requiring little infrastructure this end.

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By andrew_hughes11
14th Oct 2009 04:06


Paul, it's nice to hear about someone being fired up about Iris World! As en ex-employee I'm pleased Iris are going down the SaaS route, and I think it will benefit a lot of the smaller practices out there, and give them a lot more flexibility. I work in SaaS, but for web & security, and you're right, it will be the norm in a few years, we're already seeing a shift in our space. Less infrastructure to manage, less cost but same service!




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