IRIS not commenting on sale speculation

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Accountancy software company IRIS refused to be drawn on a speculative report by the Daily Telegraph that the company is to be sold or floated.

The newspaper reported over the weekend that Hg Capital, the company's private equity owner, recently held a beauty parade of investment banks. IRIS underwent a management buyout in 2004 with the assistance of Hg Capital, which now owns 62% of the company. Lloyds Development Capital also owns a 12% stake.

With Hg's backing, IRIS has acquired the payroll software houses Freeway and Intex, along with mid-market accounting specialist Exchequer Software and tax specialist PTP. IRIS now operates three separate divisions offering practice, small business and enterprise systems.

If the press speculation is true, it represents a potential cha...

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19th Feb 2007 09:31

I was the author
forgive the oversight, Euan. This item was a bit of a joint effort as the news emerged, but as the technology editor for AccountingWEB, I was the one who brought in a lot of the background information (and reference to the tax computation problems).

We have recently put less emphasis on including by-lines on short news items, but will be more careful with attributing controversial items in the future.

You make a good point on IRIS's behalf about the availability of the personal tax software upgrades - but if the development work and testing had been really vigorous, would IRIS have shipped an edition containing dud calculations in the first place?

For the moment, we will continue to ferret around to see whether last week's speculation translates into reality.

Thanks, as always, for your contributions.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor

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16th Feb 2007 14:52

Yes, but
I generally agree with you, jc, but the link to "complaints" in the anonymous article above is to the thread about the people who do not download updates. Incidentally, may I complain that AWeb is not applying its own policy of discouraging anonymous contributions.

I disagree about the timing of the PAYE-Master upgrade. Users should have done it in November/December 2005 when the upgrade was published, not leave it until it became essential because the old version was no longer being supported. Would you wait 5 months to install a Microsoft Windows or IE security fix? The only case when you might not wish to implement an upgrade immediately is when Sage brings out a new version of Line 50, but that is another story ...

I entirely agree that users should not need to concern themselves with the underlying programming of the software, but they do have to understand that things move on and be prepared to implement new technology. The upgrade instructions did not explain the new methodology very clearly, even for standalone installations, and were totally silent about network installations which I guess is what most accountants logging in to AWeb would have. It was the upgrade instructions that were flakey, not the new software itself, which works fine.

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16th Feb 2007 11:38

What complaints ?
That two users had not bothered to download regular program updates from the IRIS website or subscribe to e-mail alerts that updates were available (the facts that IRIS had published the updates and provided an immediate notification method are an indication of the quality of their customer support)? Or that IRIS was not calculating 2006/07 tax correctly 2 months before the end of the tax year and the issue of 2006/07 tax returns for which the tax calculation would be required?

As to last year's PAYE-Master upgrade, it certainly raised complaints, but only from users who did not have the foresight to implement it in the 5 months it was available before the tax year-end and left it until they were under pressure from the filing deadlines. It was never a quality problem with the software which handled the 2005/06 online filing as well as in previous years. IRIS could only be faulted for not making more efforts to encourage users to implement the upgrade earlier and for their telephone helpline being swamped because it was geared up only to handle the normal increase of support for year-end filing and not for those trying to implement the upgrade at the same time.

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By Anonymous
16th Feb 2007 13:13

More than a few complaints ....
Obviously those who don't help themselves by downloading regular program updates or subscribing to e-mail alerts only have themselevs to blame

However I seem to recall ..... (believe largest resonse ever!)

Surely 'shrink wrap' applications should work first time out of the box? That is the whole purpose of these apps; the user does not have to employ consultants or go to excessive lengths with implementation plans 5 months ahead of time or allocate valuable resource to checking the application works as expected.

As I understand matters the Software House took a basically stable product and then introduced a major re-write in NET, which quite understandably had teething problems. Nervertheless these problems belong to the Software House and should not inconvenience the user base.

Frankly it is not up to users to understand the nuances of different Operating Systems or technologies; all they want is an app that works when they want to use it. This is where IRIS failed and in the process alienated a large number of their users

Again one simply cannot defend their lack of resourcing for the help desk - with any foresight (planning) at all they could have foreseen the last minute load on the help desk. But let us not forget the help desk was swamped solely because the software upgrade was flakey (i.e. someone delivered a product that did not operate as expected); if it had been OK the issue would not have arisen and the help desk would have been able to cope

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