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Practice cloud: The quest continues

12th May 2016
Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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Practice cloud the quest continues

AccountingWEB editor John Stokdyk hit the Accountex exhibition hall on day one looking for vendors who could deliver a complete suite of tax and practice tools in the cloud, but found that it continues to be an elusive beast.

Accountex was set up to be the big showdown for the practice side of the industry as IRIS and Sage have jockeyed for the past year to complete work on their integrated cloud practice suites. But software development is a frustrating business that rarely proceeds as expected.

All IRIS needs to complete its OpenIRIS cloud suite is an accounts production tool, but it was nowhere to be seen at Accountex. IRIS product director commented, “We’re not talking about that this week. At Accountex our focus is on the benefits of integration you can get from our desktop Accountancy Suite.”

After joining the race late, Sage looks like it could be nosing ahead. Sage global vice president Jennifer Warawa told AccountingWEB that its online corporation tax application should be ready for launch by August to complete the Sage Impact portfolio of basic tax, compliance and practice management tools. Sage may have complicated things for itself by developing a separate cloud family, Sage Live, which will cater for accountancy firms with more ambitious cloud plans.

The other two big suite players, Thomson Reuters and Wolters Kluwer, have also joined the race. Thomson was parading its new Onvio platform, launched last week, while the launch of CCH’s new cloud play was held back until day two at the event by the company’s annual results announcement the day before. In both cases, all the compliance workflow and client management activities will continue to be run on the companies’ existing desktop systems.

TaxCalc, too, has signalled its hybrid strategy with the release of Cloud Connect, an online storage that seamlessly links to its desktop programs.

That leaves the field open for newcomer Capium to widen its footprint as the only provider of a functioning cloud practice suite. After attracting some flak for the quality of its user interface, Capium has not stood still. The main user navigation page has a clean, Windows 10 look and feel, and new document scanning and management modules have been added to the suite.

AccountingWEB member and technology enthusiast Glennzy confessed that Accountex was a bit of a disappointment this year. The number of visitors looks to be up, but there isn’t the same buzz around new product announcement, he told us. But he gave Capium the thumbs up after visiting the company’s stand. “I was really impressed - they’ve made very good progress in the past year,” he said.

If there’s a note of anti-climax to this report, it’s worth bearing in mind that the cloud practice race is a journalistic trick to add a bit of excitement to a slow, laborious process. In the real world, UK accounting software developers and customers are both affected by what might be termed change fatigue.

The theatres for technical sessions on the new UK GAAP and HMRC presentations on making tax digital were packed. The profession and its suppliers are dealing with so many regulatory changes at the moment that they may not have the time or capacity to devote to keeping up with the latest software trends.

Replies (16)

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By FirstTab
12th May 2016 23:05

Thank you. Great piece. As I expected, slow progress on by software providers.

Wolters Kluwer - Can't tell you till tomorrow. Good marketing and PR opportunity missed!

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By Tim Vane
13th May 2016 09:41

Sorry, but if you are going to base your reporting of Accountex on the empty announcements and marketing hyperbole spat out by suppliers who have come far too late to the cloud party and are trying to hide the fact with vapourware and meaningless promises, then you are doing the aweb community a disservice.

If you had taken a walk around the stands you'd have seen that taxfiler were there. No hype, no marketing fanfare, no empty promises, just a great value package for tax and accounts. To be fair I only spotted the stand myself toward the end of yesterday as it was not one of the bigger ones, and I had not realised they would be there, but surely any purported quest to seek a cloud practice solution should have found it.

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Replying to Tim Vane:
By mabzden
17th May 2016 17:21

No hype? Are you sure??

I saw plenty of dubious-looking posts about Taxflier on Aweb in the run up to Accountex. One or two looked as if they were either written by PR executives or by accountants who maybe should become PR executives as they seem very well suited for it.

So I don't believe Taxflier can play the "no hype" card. And why do you spend so much time plugging them?

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Replying to mabzden:
By Tim Vane
17th May 2016 20:59

That's an odd thing to say. If there has been any hype, it's certainly passed me by.

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By jlsmith
13th May 2016 14:19

I was surprised Taxfiler didn't get a mention in the write up. Esp as the Quickbooks team were referencing them in their add-on suite.

PS I have no connection with Taxfiler - other than as a (as yet) potential customer.

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Replying to jlsmith:
By Tim Vane
13th May 2016 14:36

And it's not the first time that Aweb have ignored Taxfiler. The last big article on cloud software a couple of months ago also didn't mention them at all either (though it did mention lots of software suppliers that do not have any cloud software). It doesn't seem to be harming Taxfiler though; their stand was very busy from what I saw.

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By JCresswellTax
13th May 2016 16:54

Hmmm Picking and choosing who they mention? I wonder why....

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Replying to JCresswellTax:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
13th May 2016 17:53

I appreciate the feedback on any article I write, but please don't misrepresent what I say and twist it into some malign conspiracy.
I'm aware of Taxfiler and am sorry they did not make the roll call of new products at Accountex or my "cloud practice suite" quest. But during preparations for the event we didn't hear about anything new from them, and as far as I'm aware Taxfiler is designed for filing taxes - so not currently even in the race that I'm writing about.
The thing that I was looking to pin down is a complete, cloud-based suite that you could use to set up and run an accountancy firm. Currently only Capium (and Nomisma, who recently updated their system and turned up to promote it at Accountex) can supply this.
When I come to look more specifically at tax tools in the cloud, or if Taxfiler makes a play for the complete suite, they will certainly be at the top of my list.

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Replying to John Stokdyk:
By Tim Vane
14th May 2016 00:30

Sorry John, I certainly did not mean to suggest any malign conspiracy, I just think you have to recognise that there are many smaller practices that don't have the need for all the bells and whistles of full blown PM/CRM/DMS systems. I am sure that like me, many sole practioners run happily with just accounts production, tax and payroll. I have yet to find a cloud payroll solution I am happy with, so I (like many others) use Moneysoft, but Taxfiler gives me everything else I need.

You may see "filing taxes" as unimportant, but for a lot of small practices the preparation and filing of accounts and tax returns is what we need software to do and Taxfiler is a good value cloud solution for doing exactly that. I just don't need the extra stuff that other providers are constantly trying to sell me.

I hope you do pen an article on cloud solutions for us smaller practices as I think many would find it useful.

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By sarah douglas
13th May 2016 19:01

Hi John
I agree with Glenzy. To me the Accountex show seemed flat not enough variety. I enjoyed the Microsoft stand ,Sage and the Exact and ICB stand my Paye . I met so many accountex attendees on Thursday that ended up going to the business show and the marketing show. Many of their stands would have done well in Accountex.

I ended up having a great chat with the Institute of Export re my clients and Aldermore Bank re business savings and Commercial Mortgage again for some of my clients and a company called Givvit which allows you to send gifts to your customers. The problem is these were of interest to me running a accounts practice but they were in the business show and the marketing show.

Accountex needs much more variety. I went expecting to be inspired and I was but by different shows that were held beside Accountex. If they had not been there I would have been really disappointed after travelling from Glasgow.

On a note that did bug me a guy from IPCA came up to me and just tried to scan my ticket with out me even going to their stand I was just walking by. I have to say I was not happy. I had to turn my ticket around so he could not scan.

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By Moonbeam
17th May 2016 15:40

Taxfiler told me that their next innovation is going to be a practice management bolt on. Surely that's worth trumpeting.

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By carnmores
17th May 2016 18:26

@Mabzden is still at it wrongly criticising Taxfler which is fantastic. I think he said that he looked at it 2 years ago and didn't like it it or similar , still repeating the same old tosh; try chatting to a couple of users and see if you can find someone else who is unhappy - what is your gripe?

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By yaakovgrant
18th May 2016 11:13

John super reporting - a short punchy article followed with interviews of all the big players in this field. What else could we ask for? Maybe a slot on the BBC!

Question for anyone there on Capium.

I was very impressed by what I saw of the Capium suite at Accountex.

I know that's not nice thing to ask, but it seems at face value that Capium does everything, apart from make the coffee.

Do any users have major quibbles with it, (I'm not interested in comments from non users) ?

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Replying to yaakovgrant:
By Glenn Martin
19th May 2016 14:18

If Taxfiler are looking to produce a full suite that could shake the tree a bit as with their pricing its something you have to look at.

The big boys need to look at the likes of Capium and Taxfiler as potentially serious competition.

Capium have added CIS to its bookkeeping software in last few weeks, along with a lot of other nice features accross its suite including full e signing of accounts, tax returns and letters, something that bigger firms have struggled with. I am currently buying some fees which I want to independtly of my own practice and might give Capium a go and see whats its like, as need something cheap and easy to get up and running while I assess the clients. Interesting times.

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By carnmores
19th May 2016 16:09

what about GBooks

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By carnmores
19th May 2016 16:09

what about GBooks

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