Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Onkho Inbox expands practice collaboration

17th Jul 2019
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Onkho inbox

Online practice management software developer Onkho is readying the final piece in its collaborative platform – an email and message management Inbox that brings together all client and firm conversations.

Banking technologist Emanur Rahman designed Onkho around the needs of his wife’s accountancy firm KWSR & Co and set out to rewrite how accountants interact with their clients.

After a period of early user testing, Onkho’s Inbox went live on Monday 8 July. It plugs into the underlying “social platform” on which the whole suite is built, Rahman explained. This incorporates a social feed into which collaborators – clients, staff and external partners – all contribute notes, comments and other files. “We’ve added email as a contributor to that feed and expose it within Inbox,” Rahman explained.

“Inbox is an email client in which you can receive, manage and organise messages in what is now called an ‘omni-channel communication platform’. By year end, will be able to receive email, reply with an SMS, add a comment, possibly receive another WhatsApp comment and have it as part of all one conversation.”

Tackling practice communications and workflows using email as the engine was in the news last with Pixie’s online CRM package. But Rahman is keen to set the bar a little higher.

“Pixie aren’t emulating us, they’re emulating Karbon, where you control the practice through email – all the tasks emanate from email. That’s not true in our case. Email is a communications mechanism; it’s not designed to show you bulk workflows. Most people who try use Outlook Tasks or appointment diaries come unstuck. Can you manage workflows in Pixie without email? No. Nor in Karbon.”

Onkho is based on the design principle that accountants should communicate with clients the way clients want to be communicated with, Rahman said. “As a service provider, you need to be sensitive to that. How people communicate with you is largely irrelevant – what matters is that it gets there. That’s why we built Inbox.”

Once a message arrives, the key task for accountants is to file them effectively. Onkho uses labels to organise the collaborative conversations. These can also be connected into the program’s CRM engine, which will associate particular email and message addresses with the appropriate client.

So if a message comes in about a tax tribunal, the accountant can give it a label – “Tribunal” say – and it will start a new conversation trail in the client’s record, along with any reply mailed out. “Once you’ve made the linkage between label and client, then incoming messages will link to that client. All that history will be built up in the CRM record,” he said.

Users can also activate tasks and workflows from any message in a labelled conversation, he continued, and that task will go on the assigned staffer’s graphical planning diary.

Rahman dislikes the term “features” and talks instead about “capabilities” that can be mixed together to solve specific practice requirements. Another of these capabilities in Onkho are insights, where the user can ask the practice management system a question to produce an report or overview. Once the user has specified, “Show me all tax returns assigned to me that I need to do by 31 January 2020”, you can save the insight as a widget on your dashboard, Rahman said.

“That is your widget and you can come in and look at it to track how you’re doing and where you need to focus next,” he continued. “When you click into results, you can start/stop jobs, write notes and add to the conversations.”

Because it is so configurable, Onkho is a complex product and the developer’s big challenge is finding the accounting firms who welcome this kind of flexibility.

“Like most software startups, our journey has been a bumpy one. During our first phase, we focused on the product/customer fit and underlying engineering. We started with a vision and Inbox completes that journey,” Rahman told AccountingWEB.

“Now it will be all about the product depth and integrations. Our biggest fans are the early adopters, the ones who are all about non-compliance revenue streams. We want to find our tribe.”

Replies (5)

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By usepixie
18th Jul 2019 10:13

Thanks for the mention Emanur Rahman.

Just to correct a couple of details:

> Can you manage workflows in Pixie without email?

Yes, yes you can. You don't need to turn on email sync at all.

> Pixie aren’t emulating us, they’re emulating Karbon.

A few people asked us to build them a cheaper Karbon. We said no. I'd like to think that we're actually doing our own thing, not emulating anyone.

All the best for Onkho!


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Replying to usepixie:
Emanur Rahman CEO at ONKHO
By emanur
18th Jul 2019 10:30

I didn't write the article but agree with you - no one writes software to emulate another solution. I think we all bring our own nuances and slants to particular business problems. Ultimately it's customers who benefit from the landscape of choice.

Good luck to Pixie as well - cool name :)

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By Charlie Carne
18th Jul 2019 10:14

Onkho may be an excellent practice management (PM) tool but I don't understand the obsession by some PM software developers like Onkho and Karbon to base their product around an "improved" email solution. Are they seriously claiming to compete with Microsoft's billions and create a better email tool than Outlook? I narrowed down my options for PM to Senta and Accountancy Manager, as they focused their development on real PM functionality and didn't try to out-do Microsoft.

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Replying to charliecarne:
Emanur Rahman CEO at ONKHO
By emanur
18th Jul 2019 10:33

We're not hosting mailboxes, we're handling email in a way that is more efficient, productive and natural to the way accountants work. We're absolutely not competing with Microsoft and Google! Why not book a demo to see what is so different?

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Replying to charliecarne:
18th Jul 2019 10:45

I'm an Onkho user (previously used Karbon).

Onkho isn't competing with gmail, it takes our gmail accounts and allows us to then make sure that all email communications are directly linked to clients, jobs and visible to all the team.

Being able to convert an email into a task, and then delegate within a few clicks is also a huge bonus, not only does it save time, it also improves service, keeps a record of everything we have done for clients, and also acts as a trigger to pick up on scope stretch.

Everything is so much better when its in one place.

The services and workflow functionality in Onkho is awesome by the way, I've tried pretty much all the alternatives, and the Planner section and Insights in Onkho is head and shoulders above the traditional to-do list method that others use. This was the reason I left Karbon, it just became an unmanageable to-do list, albeit with a pretty email triage section.

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