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Practice management tools compared by real users

26th Sep 2018
Editor in Chief AccountingWEB
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Responding to a couple of years of intense activity in the practice software market, AccountingWEB has opened up a new practice management software comparison service based on user reviews.

Our new practice management software comparison is based on more than 630 individual product reviews posted in the Accounting Excellence Awards software survey. The practice edition is accompanied by two other category comparisons: data and expenses management and forecasting, planning and analysis (FP&A) software.

This trio of software reviews will be followed in successive months by accounts production, small business accounts and Making Tax Digital filing tools as part of a rolling programme of software reviews.

Each product has been rated by users for functionality, support, ease of use and value for money and their willingness to recommend the product to other users. The rating questionnaire remains open, and all of the individual product pages will be regularly updated with new reviews and insights from users.

The information AccountingWEB members provide through the software survey allows us to monitor the shifts taking place in the market and to identify fast-growing newcomers such as last year’s practice management award winner, AccountancyManager.

AccountancyManager is part of a new generation of specialist cloud tools that have eaten into the established camps of integrated suites from the likes of Wolters Kluwer, Thomson Reuters, IRIS and Sage.

Integrated suites in decline

Ten years ago, practitioners argued about the benefits of integrated suites versus unlinked “best of breed” alternatives. Led by the example of IRIS, the biggest players in the practice market built or bought complete software collections to integrate all the tools practitioners needed.

Larger practices still appreciate the advantages of integration, but they are fewer in number than the smaller practices that have been buying software and voting in our survey. With Xero, QuickBooks and ecosystem allies such as Practice Ignition and Receipt Bank offering flexible cloud practice management options, the integration wave is beginning to recede. According to our surveys, the proportion of tax applications to integrated suites dropped from 32% in 2017 to 24% this year.

Our data also suggest the rapid growth cloud practice management software was one of the side-effects of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative. The need to get clients organised and track the progress of different client groups on a quarterly basis prompted a stampede last year, but after the government pulled back from its original MTD timetable, the proportion of practitioners rating practice management applications in our survey dropped from 55% in 2017 to 36% this year.

Do you use an integrated suite? Then tell us what you think about its practice management capabilities in our continuing software survey. We’d love to hear from users of specialist cloud tools and to hear about the other programs that you use. It only takes a few minutes. And if you’ve got time, let us know what you think about the new software reviews service by commenting below.

Replies (6)

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By wilcoskip
26th Sep 2018 20:55

No mention of KarbonHQ? It looks quite good, and I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who's using it. As a Xero user, the Xero Practice Manager option is an obvious move, but I can't seem to get on with it.

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By AndrewV12
02nd Oct 2018 10:32


Call me a plonker (alright thats quite enough) but, is practice management software for just workflow and planning and budgets, or does it include Vat, Accounts production, Payroll etc.

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By mabzden
02nd Oct 2018 10:33

John, sorry I don't understand this stat: "the proportion of tax applications to integrated suites dropped from 32% in 2017 to 24% this year". What does that mean?

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By indomitable
02nd Oct 2018 14:28

For a very long time the large providers have not given best of breed or best of anything.

I think nowadays if you want to give your clients the best service with up to date tools you have to move away from integrated sofware. As an example many of our clients, use Xero, but your only option if you want this integrated into accounts and tax filing is you have to go with digita.

Also many of these so called integrated providers have numerous flaws with many complaining about lack of functionality in certain areas or they just don't work properly. You may like for instance the self -assessment module but dislike the accounts production.

Sometimes you spend more time with these integrated systems than you do with best of breed. Additionally many of these best of breeds have great links which enable you to integrate with other systems.

I for one will never go back down the integrated route any more as they all lack functionality in one area or another. Also once they capture you it is difficult to escape.

I am a sole practitioner with around 200 clients and growing

We use Senta, VT, Taxfiler, Inform direct, Autoentry and receiptbank, Xero, Quickbooks and moneysoft payroll

I have trialled most software and found this bunch the best for what I need based on price, functionality and flexibility (ability to import and export data and tk to other systems)

This doesn't of course mean that there aren't any other good systems out there

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Replying to indomitable:
Mark Telford Chartered Accountant
By Mark Telford
02nd Oct 2018 17:44

@indomitable - BTC (Accounts production and tax) does have a link to Xero.

Pulls across the TB from Xero easily but I've found that the accounts production, specifically the notes, is very clunky - slow, frustrating and hard work.

While I love BTCs tax solution I couldn't work with the accounts production so I've gone back to using VT.

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By indomitable
02nd Oct 2018 16:02

And what annoys me most is that the large providers like Digita won't let you trial their software!

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