Sinclair Scott pioneers IRIS Hosting

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John Stokdyk
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Ayr-based accountancy firm Sinclair Scott has entrusted its core software and office systems to the internet as a pioneering customer of the online IRIS Hosting service.

While Cloud purists quibble about whether or not a service based on running traditional desktop applications via Windows Terminal Server counts as software as a service, Sinclair Scott partner Andrew Sinclair had no such qualms.

“I wouldn’t have gone with any Tom, Dick or Harry. We went with IRIS because we were comfortable with them and they were the key to our business. There was an element of trust there and I still know if there’s a problem, I can ring one of their directors and they’ll get it sorted.”

One reason Sinclair is able to do this is because his firm has a habit of adopting new technologies  early. When we last covered the firm on in 2008, it had switched over to more paperless operation using the IRIS Practice Management module. It’s in the supplier’s interest to ensure that its reference site users are happy.

For Sinclair Scott, the main driver for adopting hosted systems was staff utilisation, and the unwanted presence of  a PC server in the corner of the office. “We’re all chartered accountants. We’ve got to be efficient. The changes we’re making are to be more efficient and serve an increasing number of clients with same number of staff,” Sinclair explained.

As far as the hardware issue goes, he explained: “We’d got to the stage where our server needed to be replaced. Conceptually I always felt it was wrong to have it in our office. When I switch a light on, I don’t have an electric substation in our office. I understand how computers work, but don’t have a great interest in technicalities. I want staff to come in, switch on their PC and it all works. Let someone else run back ups and mirrored drives.”

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06th May 2010 12:54

Round peg square hole ..

Since when has Cytrix/terminal Services been regarded as '.. adopting new technologies  early ..'?

It is not really about whether Cloud purists quibble etc.

The whole point of a Cloud platform means that there really should be a fundamental redesign of the software from the ground up to take advantage of the platform. Any other approach is simply a 'hack' to make legacy software work in an environment that it was not originally designed for.

Yes it will probably work as a cobbled together system, in the same way as a car with octagonal wheels will run - but it's not the optimum way of doing things.

Anyway why would anyone want to call this approach Cloud other than to gain traction in that market and jump on the bandwagon - call it anything you like (remote working, cytrix, t/services etc) but not Cloud.

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06th May 2010 13:08


well I only hope  that this is better than some of their accountancy/ tax  software and the backup at IRIS is a lot faster and complete.

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06th May 2010 13:52

Don't care what you call it

I'm keen to look at this as soon as my server starts making noises (or maybe a little before). 

It's only when Iris first mooted this that I realised how much grief & hassle & hair-loss I experience in keeping that box in the corner fed & watered (well you know what I mean).  I don't care about the technology and whether it's pure or mixed race, if it works I'll jump at it.

So congrats Sinclair Scott....s/he who dares etc.

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06th May 2010 14:44


Dares being the appropriate word given the current state of play re updates etc, and possibly no end in sight until at least June.

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By Anonymous
06th May 2010 20:48


 How do you manage to "ring one of their directors" and get them to fix it when you have a problem?

There are numerous problems with the Iris tax software, even after the latest bug fix update.  Nobody from Iris has even bothered to acknowledge the problems or respond on their own forum on their support website.

We have been given "solutions" by the support team on the phone, only to try it out and find it does not actually fix the problem.

If we all had the ability to phone a director for a personal solution the director's phone lines would be permanently engaged.

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08th May 2010 10:41

Interesting quote

I found this quote interesting…

“We’re all chartered accountants. We’ve got to be efficient. The changes we’re making are to be more efficient and serve an increasing number of clients with same number of staff,”

What about being effective?

Is having twice as many clients for the same resources really the answer to a profitable and sustainable future for the profession?  Prices are falling so isn't the outcome just more work done for the same net result?

The Internet through Cloud, hosting or emailing data between software which updates live and outsourcing is a massive opportunity for accountants to move their service range forward.  

This firm says on their Website “we also provide advice on how to improve and develop your business. Whether you need an integrated business strategy, access to corporate finance or specialist tax advice we are here to help you achieve your goals”.

In my opinion mixing these services with compliance IS the most profitable and enjoyable future…the challenging question for today is – what percentage of your clients goals do you know?  When you know this then you can start because accountants are probably best placed to calculate how close the client is and then (if appropriate) to offer the additional services and support to help clients close the gap.  

According to the Sage Accountant Business Collaboration survey the number one thing clients want from their accountant is understanding. Knowing what the client is trying achieve and helping them understanding where they are and what they can do to get closer seems to fit the bill.

The investment needed to do this includes training including consultative sales and business coaching.  The ROI on this dwarfs any other technology – cloud or otherwise.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing


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By Anonymous
11th May 2010 09:10

What is so special about this article - Apart from good ad for I

Why has it remained in the 'top slot' (banner) on Aweb for so long when in reality it is hardly ground breaking news (running old software over terminal services - 10 years old at least)

Excellent advertising for IRIS but doesn't really deserve this type of promotion

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11th May 2010 10:52

Ad for Iris?

Interesting point Anon, is it because Iris are the first in their market to jump into the hosting thing? Do others offer the same?  If they are the first to try it, whether out of date technology or not, I suppose it's "News"?

As I say, I can't wait to rid myself of the millstone of the washing machine sounding box in the corner and all the stuff that goes with it but if there are alternative solutions to those offered by Iris, this is the place to tell us all about them, even if they too turn out to be ads.

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11th May 2010 11:20

The technical configuration isn't the point of the story

I'm sorry if it offends you, but the article acknowledges the nature of the hosting arrangement and makes the point that this doesn't really matter to Sinclair Scott.

What is of interest to AccountingWEB and many of its readers will be the firm's thought processes and the experiences they've had with IRIS Hosting. You may not think they're technology pioneers, but as an early adopter of a new service, they are of interest. As I have mentioned before in our Cloud accounting discussion group, the influence of incumbent software suppliers cannot be discounted in this market and Andrew Sinclair's comments reflect that.

The fact that the article stayed in our home page top story "Rotator" is not through any commercial subterfuge - we just neglected to change it. Your comment was a helpful reminder to do so, so thanks on that score.

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