FDS’ second front

Tax software house FDS has diversified into the practice management market by setting up a joint venture with New Zealand-based Advanced Professional Solutions.

The two companies have invested ‘a six-figure sum’ to set up FDS Professional Solutions, which will offer a combined consultancy and software service for multi-partner accountancy firms that want to integrate their information systems around 32-bit Windows applications.

The FDS Advance package, developed by APS, combines a client database with contact management, diary and billing functions. The basic modules typically cost from around #200 per user to install, depending on the complexity of the practice’s requirements. This would translate to around #8,000 to #10,000 for a typical firm, said FDS managing director Ray Sieber.

Having succeeded in migrating its Taxpoint package from MS-DOS to Windows, FDS considered how to carry the business forward, said Sieber. Practice management makes a natural fit with tax software, particularly if client details can be interchanged between programs (see below).

The managing director of FDS Professional Solutions is Brian Coventry.

Until 1997, Coventry worked in the UK for Australian-owned tax software company Solution 6.

Coventry and managing partner Brian Armstrong left Solution 6 to found the Australian subsidiary of APS in June last year. Their defection coincided with a period of turmoil that saw Solution 6 fight off a winding-up order from one of its investors.

Rather than citing the financial situation, Coventry and Armstrong said the motivation for leaving was to join a company that was taking full advantage of Windows technology. When they came to assess partners to fill what they saw as a gap in the European market for a practice management product for mid-sized firms, they renewed many of their old acquaintances.

‘Solution 6 was out of the question, and CSM already has its Minuteman billing solution,’ said Coventry. ‘That left FDS and Taxsoft.

‘When we did our due diligence, FDS was the obvious choice. It had the same Windows-based open systems approach and their product philosophy is very similar, right down to the way we use our workflow engines.’

DIARY DATA FEEDS BILLING SYSTEM FDS Advance is configured by consultants using an interactive practice analyser that models practice procedures and measures productivity. The practice management database holds client details as well as contact information for managing client relationships and new business leads. Windows import/export facilities allow data to pass automatically between the graphical advance diary, work in progress, billing and system manager modules. The software works with SQL Server, Oracle, Ingress and Access databases.

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