Taxfiler Practice Management goes live
With many accountants’ eyes focused elsewhere, IRIS’s cloud-based practice software subsidiary Taxfiler rolled out its new Practice Management module in mid-March.
IRIS chief marketing officer Nick Gregory explained that with the exception of around 200 customers with more complex client databases, the new Taxfiler practice management functionality had been made available to all 8,362 Taxfiler subscribers. “That makes it the largest practice management deployment in the UK,” he said.
By wrapping basic practice management functionality around integrated cloud bookkeeping, tax and accounts production, Taxfiler has been designed for essential everyday work in micro-accountancy practices, he continued.
Thanks partly to the growth fuelled by MTD over the past two years, the market for cloud tax and practice tools among the smallest firms was “larger than most people realise,” Gregory said. “There was an explosion in accounting startups after the last financial crisis and the ability to work from home is part of what we are seeing today [with the coronavirus outbreak].”
What it does
The main functions of Taxfiler Practice Management are listed under task and job menu options that are built around standard service templates for the typical tax return and accounts preparation work that is undertaken by small firms.
The tasks are driven by the service templates and will be triggered back from their due dates and assigned to particular members of the team. These tasks will be flagged up on the user’s screen, and clicking on the link will open the related activity screen in the dedicated module - for example, accounts awaiting review would steer the user through to the Review & File tab for that client.
There is a History tab showing what tasks were undertaken, who processed or updated a task, and when the change was made. The Practice Management program does not actually generate invoices, but the data from the History tab can be compiled into tasks completed and hours spent to output commentary and totals to an invoicing application.
After simmering resentments over price rises ahead of the practice management module release, Taxfiler customers on AccountingWEB gave the new module a lukewarm welcome.
Ohgoodgodno was “disappointed” at their first sight of the app two weeks ago: “We'd hoped that it would include auto requests for client data, for tax returns, VAT returns etc, but this doesn't seem possible.”
This view was not isolated. Other customers complained about the amount of set-up work required and features they would have preferred to see added in the core modules, such as editable account codes. “I see no reason [for] dumping my own systems to which we have been used so many years to spend time on this,” said Neanderthal on the same thread.
Charlie Carne took a broader view: “I wish companies would stick to what they are good at and stop trying to be a jack of all trades,” he wrote.
“There are already great PM tools for the small accountancy practice. Senta, Accountancy Manager, Karbon are the three key products in this space and none of them attempt to prepare tax returns or file accounts; they focus on building the best PM tools that they can.
“Taxfiler is excellent at preparing tax returns and final accounts production. But now, instead of perfecting that important service, they lose all focus and instead choose to produce a second-rate PM tool. Taxfiler - when will you allow me to file LLP accounts online? When will I be able to rename the P&L accounts headings? When will you improve the navigation between years and clients without having to head back to the start each time? Be the best at what YOU do and stop trying to be average at everything else!”
The IRIS view
IRIS executives emphasised that Taxfiler was designed to address the small and micro firm market. “We don’t feel the need to grow that functionality into mid-market accountancy practices, because we’ve got that sector covered.”
On some of the missing workflow functionality, JF Sullivan added that “workflow” means something very specific among larger firms about who works on which task at a particular point, assigning different job codes for different activities and using the data for generating bills.
As mentioned, the Taxfiler Practice Management pricing formula means that it is only available to customers using the Solo and Pro editions costing £20 and £30 a month respectively. The Solo package includes MTD for VAT, Practice Management and a link to OpenSpace Link, while Po includes integrated practice and document management.
A single-user Startup edition is available for £10/month that does not include Practice Management. And for larger firms, a Team edition catering for 10 users with unlimited is available for £199/month.
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