How to choose the best accountancy practice management software

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By Jenny Strudwick | 16th November 2020 | 15 min read

Accountancy firms have many filing deadlines for their clients to keep on top of every week.

Whether it’s monthly payroll submissions, quarterly Making Tax Digital for VAT returns, annual personal or corporate tax returns, or Companies House submissions, there’s a lot to track.

This means it’s crucial to have an efficient and easy way to manage workflows.

And that’s why many accountants choose to use accountancy practice management software to help them, but how do you know which one is the best for you?

Read on as we take you through the basics of software built for practice management, and give you some important things to consider when choosing the best system for you.

What is accountancy practice management software?

Accountancy practice management software is a program that enables accountants to keep track of a multitude of different jobs and filing deadlines for clients and upcoming deliverables.

When used correctly, the system becomes the accountancy practice’s backbone, increasing efficiency and profits, and enabling you to report across all your data, from workflow to tax, company secretarial, to accounts production.

Sometimes, you may see it referred to as accountancy manager software, practice management software or cloud-based accountancy practice management software when it's software as a service (SAAS).

How does an accountancy practice management system help your firm?

Let’s look at an example – submitting a client’s corporation tax return (CT600).

In general, a practice would take the following steps, from information-gathering to submission:

  1. Review the client file, including the prior year tax return and accounts, noting any ongoing issues or carried forward amounts
  2. Send an information request to the client relating to the current year’s tax return
  3. Review the information received and ask any follow-up questions
  4. Prepare the corporation tax computation and return and send to the client for review
  5. Submit the computation, return, and supporting materials to HMRC before the relevant filing deadline

As you can see, there’s a lot to track here, and this is just for a corporation tax return, most accountancy practices deal with so much more. This is why it’s important to make sure you choose the best software for the job.

How would it work without accountancy manager software?

Typically, the above steps take place over many months, and multiple members of a team might be involved at various stages of the process.

Without practice management software, it can become difficult keeping track of which team members are involved with that client, and what the status of the return preparation is.

But with the right software, a firm can keep digital track of the status of a particular task, as well as which team member is assigned to that client.

Is it important it links with accounts production software?

The best practice management software will integrate seamlessly within your business. That means that all the software you have and use can easily link up.

So, when you make changes in your accounts production program, it automatically updates in the practice management system too.

Why does accounts production software help with compliance?

Compliance is key to selecting the right one. Is it up to date with the current legislation now? Will it be constantly updated to remain in line, no matter what changes occur? The answer needs to be yes, so you get peace of mind that you are fully aligned with current legislation.

How do you select the right software for your accountancy practice?

By now you should feel much more confident in choosing the best software for managing your practice.

Take your time.  Don’t just hastily buy, based on one factor such as price.  Consider your entire firm and assess all of your challenges short and longer term, rather than focusing on a single issue. 

Find a solution that integrates with all your systems to create a single source of truth and avoids the need for duplication of tasks.

How can IRIS help?

We have decades of experience working with software for accountancy practices. Our accountancy practice management software, IRIS Practice Management, provides a centralised hub for storing, sharing, and tracking all your client data and communication. This has made our software the best choice for hundreds of accountancy practices in the UK.

Benefits of IRIS Practice Management include:

- time savings: customers say it saves 2.5 hours per person per month

- a real-time, single, unified view of your clients and your practice

- the ability to plan, allocate, track, and monitor progress and workflow

- instant views into performance and immediate access to up-to-date client data

- powerful data mining and analytical tools

Contact us today for help choosing the best options for your practice or browse our range of practice management software.

About the author

Jenny Strudwick

Senior Product Manager

Jenny is Senior Product Manager for Tax at IRIS. She has been with IRIS for over 18 years working across many different departments including Support, Engineering and now Product Management. During this time she has been instrumental in major tax changes from FBI to iXBRL and now MTD. Jenny works closely with HMRC on major changes in taxation especially now as they develop their MTD strategy. Prior to joining IRIS, Jenny spent a number of years in practice and has now accumulated over 21 years’ experience in UK taxation.