Tax and accounting giant Wolters Kluwer hit the road this week to show customers its new online integration environment, CCH OneClick.
As the name suggests, CCH OneClick is a web portal (pictured above) that links a range of new online features including document sharing and authorisation and messaging with the on premise CCH Central tax and practice management suite.
A single log-in gives both client and adviser access to their own workspaces, which presents a set of app tiles opening the door to shared documentation and a range of other activities.
The Documents and Messages area is a web implementation of the existing CCH Document Portal, but OneClick includes new cloud tools including a trio to handle data collection, quarterly reporting and VAT filing for Making Tax Digital (MTD). From the web OneClick also connects to existing CCH Central tax and practice programs and will display the tasks and deadlines generated from these modules in a workflow timeline. It also has a social media-like activity feed to keep the user up to date with what’s happening around the firm.
The MTD tools are the most eye-catching elements in the new system, but they also draw on its underlying open integration layer to connect CCH’s systems to clients’ HMRC digital tax accounts. Similar application interfaces also plug CCH into leading bookkeeping systems to read and write at transaction level. A mobile app is also available so accountants can access all their client data and tasks while they’re on the move.
Amid all the hype this spring about the application platforms from cloud bookkeeping and app developers, accountants may have forgotten that Wolters Kluwer first laid out its plans for this concept in November 2016. And don’t call it a platform around CCH product director Wendy Rowe.
“It’s a workspace, not a platform,” she told AccountingWEB after presenting the new system to accountants at The Bristol Hotel on Wednesday morning,
“OneClick is all about helping you to become digital by connecting you with your clients and the wider ecosystem - all the other systems you need to connect with in future, including HMRC and other places where there’s data for you.”
Wolters Kluwer first linked its accounts production software to its subsidiary Twinfield’s online accounting system in 2012 and has been working on underlying open integration layer for more than three years. That investment now means that OneClick can set up permanent two-way data exchanges with all the leading cloud accounting applications as well as HMRC’s digital tax accounts.
Work will continue to expand those connections, Rowe explained, and central to the OneClick concept was having a single sign-on for the linked apps.
Returning to the underlying purpose of the application, Rowe explained: “When we started looking at new cloud tech for OneClick, part of my role was to look at the pain points our customers experienced and how cloud technology could make a difference.”
The issues that drove product development included problems that have been addressed with specific elements in CCH OneClick:
- Multiple accounting systems, because only a handful of accountants support a single bookkeeping system (open integration)
- The difficulties of collecting tax data and the inefficiencies of reviewing the information and chasing what’s missing (data collection and collaboration tools)
- Access to on premise and cloud data all in one place (client and advisor workspaces).
Don’t forget MTD
The general data protection regulation (GDPR) has stimulated interest from practitioners in portal systems that by-pass the need to email documents, but according to Rowe, MTD has played an even more significiant role in intensifying the pains that practitioners are experiencing.
“With MTD, you need to keep digital records for clients and data collection processes will be more complicated, so the digital data collection tools we built into OneClick are key to this,” she said.
“Quarterly reporting will affect responsibilities – who will be reporting? If some clients already do their own bookkeeping, their software will have quarterly reporting and they may want to do it themselves. How do you track and keep control of all of that?”
At £20 a month for a base package that can support up to 20 client integrations and document stores, OneClick costs more than the platforms being offered elsewhere in the market. But by linking to both the bookkeeping systems and HMRC’s application programming interfaces, OneClick has taken a visible step forward to its rivals, because it can show a dashboard of clients due for filing, and whether they have done so or not.
Rowe explained that the 15-month gestation period was needed to adapt the underlying processes to handle Making Tax Digital and made a passionate case to differentiate CCH OneClick from its younger rivals
“Developers like Xero and Receipt Bank are trying to add value to their propositions to make them stickier. But you have got to be clear about what your purpose is; people need to see the value within the organisation,” she said.
“Our research shows that importing data from the digital tax return to the CCH Personal Tax module could save 8mins per return. If you multiply that by your charge out rate and the number of clients, everybody wins. We charge for that and our customers get integration. We’re giving them choice. They don’t need to make these homogenous software decisions anymore. It opens up the door again.”
About John Stokdyk
John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and AccountingWEB.com.