Iris defends online relaunch

Accounting software provider Iris has defended its decision to relaunch an
online accounting service, denying suggestions that it had proved unpopular
among practices.

Industry sources claimed that its online bureau service Iris Accounts Office
Online, initially launched in September 2004 as Virtual Accounts Office by Iris’
recently acquired subsidiary Exchequer, had failed to gain any significant

Although the first launch was made to much fanfare, Accountancy Age
understands that only two practices offer the service to clients.

Rob Steele, Iris business software product director, rebuffed claims the
response had been low, instead saying that Exchequer had underestimated the
service’s popularity and did not have sufficient resources to roll out at the
time. ‘It’s not so much that it didn’t take off, but there was too much
interest. We now have much greater resource and expertise,’ Steele said.

VAO provides accountants with online accounts and bookkeeping services, as
well as the outsourcing of credit control and automated report scheduling, on
behalf of clients. Steele described VAO as a ‘bureau service on steroids’ at the
first launch.

And the relaunch received unexpected support from another player in the

Rob Lambden, MD of internet-based accounting software company Online50, said
the market was ‘ripe’ for accountants wishing to provide clients with online

‘We see lots of people wanting this type of product. If Iris does well then
we will also do well. We wish them luck.’

The launch is the first major release by Exchequer since Iris acquired the
software provider in September 2004.

Iris said that the online service provides a ‘virtual FD, virtual credit
controller, virtual accounts adviser, virtual tax adviser and virtual bookkeeper
for a fixed monthly fee’.

Newbury-based firm Griffins has completed its pilot scheme for the product
and saw benefits in the low-cost model for using an online accounting

‘We are excited about the concept and, although some may see it as quite a
big change, it fits in well with what today’s businesses are looking to
achieve,’ said Toby Hollington, Griffins’ IT manager.

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