Step right up, ladies and gentlemen… AccountingWEB’s tic-tac man John Stokdyk is here to give you the rundown on the runners and riders in accountancy’s hottest software race for years.
Coming into the spring of 2016, followers of the software trade are in for a treat with a raft of contenders lined up to claim the cup for cloud applications that cater for all the needs of a modern accountancy practice.
As is often the case, some lesser known names have already got there first, but even though they’ve made the early running, do they have the stamina to last the pace over the long term?
To inject a bit of extra spice to the subject, this article is presented as a form guide, reviewing the runners for you and identifying strengths and weaknesses that may influence the result as the cloud practice race evolves.
But first a couple of handicapping notes: true cloud applications made their first appearance on AccountingWEB in 2006 but the technology remains firmly rooted in the bookkeeping side of the profession. Tax and practice tools have lagged a long way behind - partly because the developers have been preoccupied with other priorities such as the need to comply with iXBRL, RTI, CIS and other HMRC initiatives during that period.
The imminent arrival of personal tax accounts and quarterly reporting is the latest twist, but rather than hampering developers in their quest to deliver cloud tools, HMRC’s digital strategy may encourage accountants to review the market for tools that will help them operate efficiently within the new regime.
The second complicating factor is the relative dearth of holistic practice management tools within the profession. IRIS carved out a lucrative niche with its integrated suite of practice tools, but figures from AccountingWEB’s 2013 software satisfaction research showed that a minority of firms had invested in practice management software. In many cases, client management tools are bundled in with compliance tools, so firms don’t really see much need to invest extra in client record databases.
With those markers in mind, here’s how the form book looks at the moment.
Gbooks - reigning champion
Other stables are making so much noise at the moment that it’s easy to overlook Gbooks, which has been running this course with a full suite of practice tools for a good three years. While Gbooks has been out on its own for most of that time, the race is going to become a lot more intense as the year progresses.
Word from the stables is that Gbooks is pretty relaxed about that prospect. “Our system is aimed at small accounting practices that may not be the main targets of the big providers,” said our source. “We don’t feel threatened by [them]. It would be good if they did launch their cloud services. It would put the idea of a cloud accountancy suite into the minds of accountants. When they’re looking at those products, clients might also look at other alternatives out there.”
Capium - the young pretender
Hot on the heels of Gbooks comes Capium, another suite from a small accountancy practice that decided to enter the software stakes. It’s taken Capium a few years to put the product through its paces, but with a full set of modules available online (tax, bookkeeping, accounts production, CRM and document portal) it now looks ready to enter the paddock and take on the wider market.
Contenders for the 2016 cloud practice crown
Which contender do you think will win the race? Sign up for free or log-in to read the rest of this article and share your tips by commenting below.
About John Stokdyk
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.