Thomson Reuters expands ONVIO cloud portfolio

Thomson Reuters Onvio cloud suite launched
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The tax and practice software house formerly known as Digita has added an MTD for VAT module and is poised to launch a company formations companion to its Onvio online firm management suite.

At its Synergy conference in Hinkley today, the company set out its roadmap for Onvio, a long-term project to create an online suite with similar capabilities to the Windows-based Digita suite. For the time being, Thomson Reuters is charting a “hybrid” path, where it will progressively enhance the desktop Digita systems with cloud functionality. The specific modules taking customers in this direction are slated to appear between now and 2021.

Onvio VAT was the top priority for delegates at the conference looking to meet the requirements of the new Making Tax Digital regime for both business and advisers. “As a tax and practice software developer, VAT wasn’t our thing. But when we surveyed customers it was clear that we needed to add a bridging tool to the product,” explained Thomson Reuters tax product manager Mark Purdue.

Onvio VAT integrates with the rest of the suite, he continued. “You can save a VAT report into Onvio Docs and once you’ve imported it, you can send it to the client for a secure signature.”

As well as managing documents, Onvio can create specific project templates, When a new VAT job arrives, the user can specify the next due date and the work will automatically be added to their to-do list to recur quarterly. The software will then track the return workflow each quarter until the client’s approval is obtained, the return submitted and the job marked as complete.

AccountingWEB stalwart Nigel Harris was at the Synergy event and was most impressed by the “zero-effort time recording” feature in the Firm Management module. It passively records how long a user spends in each application, for each client and task. That data can be turned into a timesheet entry at the click of a mouse. “For firms still using timesheets, that could be a huge game changer,” he said.

The first phase of workflow development in Onvio began a few years ago with routines for income tax reporting under MTD. While that side of MTD has slowed, the project templates could be adapted for VAT.

New formations module

Next in the frame, due to go live this week, is ONVIO Formations, the developer’s first venture into company formations. It uses a six-step workflow going from the initial formation and registration with Companies House and follows through to the share register which can be adjusted to meet any mix of owners. The software also outputs share certificates, memorandum, and articles of association that can be stored and shared securely in the system’s online document portal.

Product manager Ian Cooper said the new online formations module “a perfect compliment to our hybrid strategy”. ONVIO Formations can run alongside desktop Digita tools, but share the data and documentation with clients.

“They can have access to all the documents in their portals. They can download, bookmark or send a link from there to anyone they want to send it to,” said Cooper.

ONVIO Firm Management

Thomson Reuters Onvio first appeared three years ago with the document portal opening the way to online practice tools. Thanks to the complications surrounding MTD, progress has not been as fast as the company intended, but there were signs at the Synergy event that the momentum was picking up.

During demo sessions, Cooper previewed the heart of the new system, Onvio Firm Management. An entry-level Essentials edition combining the client portal with basic tracking and billing tools will be available “between now and the end of the year”, he said. An Advanced version would follow with full task and workflow management and the ability to report project costs and fees against budget.

“We’ve kept our tinder dry so we could announce them all together,” Cooper said. “We’ve been collecting partner feedback to be absolutely sure that people with be pleasantly surprised with how feature-rich the first release of the product is.”

An Onvio Accounts module is also on the drawing board for release around the turn of the year.

Onvio is part of a global product development exercise to cover both common and local needs at three levels of user: essential, advanced and premium, explained Dave Pearson, Product Lead, Tax Professionals UK at Thomson Reuters.

“Different elements can be done globally and some locally. For Onvio Firm Management, there are a lot of consistent requirements across the globe, which allows us to get the functionality early without slowing down development of things like UK tax and accounts,” he said.

“We’re committed to keeping our Digita desktop suite compliant and competitive, but Onvio lets us do things we couldn’t do on the desktop, like collaboration, data requests and the document portal. We can integrate some of that into those desktop tools as we develop them, so all our users get the benefits of that new capability.”

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight

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.

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By jackpot
24th May 2019 11:57

Interesting times in tax compliance!

The new Onvio software looks great in practice, will need to work hard to get our date right before moving across, and then getting buy in from clients to change the way they provide us with information. Exciting times ahead!

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By Mr_awol
24th May 2019 14:16

The thing about Onvio is it still (three years after launch) seems to be an 'indication of where TR are heading' rather than an actual product.

It's got the e-signing and doc storage, and now the VAT (bridging) software, and tax was seemingly all but ready (and looked like desktop) until they decided not to bother until IT gets the MTD treatment (which kind of makes sense if that WILL be 2021, but what if it gets pushed back?). In reality though, Tax and Accs are the core components of the suite and seem that they will be the last to be introduced.

Auto time record looked ok - but I suspect that for people like me that leave about ten windows open across two or more screens, it could be misleading - assuming it tracks (as it appeared) all open windowns and not just the main/selected one. Also, when I get a phone call, go to lunch, pop into a client meeting for ten minutes (which could turn into an hour) etc my computer will, I assume, still be merrily clocking up time to whichever poor client I had on screen last. I appreciate that you have to manually accept the time etc but I can envisage it telling me I've got twelve hours' work to select from, even though I've only been in the office for half a day.

I'm impressive with the new Onvio time machine though - this article is dated 21 May (Tuesday) whereas most of us had to wait until Wednesday 22nd for day one of synergy...………..

Thanks (1)
By iandc6
to Mr_awol
28th May 2019 15:49

Hi @Mr_Awol - thank you for taking the time to reply and provide your thoughts on the products, it's great when people engage with our company, processes and products.

I wanted to offer some reassurances on a couple of your comments, it's great you raised them on this forum to be discussed.

"assuming it tracks (as it appeared) all open windows and not just the main/selected one."
The product's actually clever enough to only track the active window, ie. the one you are working in. That's the beauty of the solution, we know that you're often in and out of 5+ programs and keeping track of that is hard.

"when I get a phone call, go to lunch, pop into a client meeting for ten minutes (which could turn into an hour) etc my computer will, I assume, still be merrily clocking up time to whichever poor client I had on screen last."
There are a number of user configurable options in this area. Such as 'Minimum minutes before being considered inactive'. Also when you get back from lunch a message will pop up asking if you want to post time or discard time.
There is a manual 'stop watch' function as well as the auto-timer.

If you'd like to take a look in further detail and let us know any other areas of improvements, please feel to get in touch as I'd be happy to help out.
All the best

[email protected] - Product Manager

Thanks (1)
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By Mr_awol
to iandc6
28th May 2019 16:24

Thanks for taking the time to respond Ian.

The demos at Synergy didn't make it clear that it would only be tracking the active window - but equally, I didn't bother to stick my hand up and ask :)

I'd imagine the only way to tell if the feature fits a user's working style is just to use it. At the very least, it could act as an aide memoire at 5pm when i'm having one of those 'what the hell did I do today' moments (even if the answer ends up being "spent too much time on BBC news and Aweb").

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