PracticeAccounting FirmsAll talk, time for action

All talk, time for action

The business software industry received an embarrassing report card from accountants in practice this week, with the release of the ICAEW’s IT Faculty research study on software used in practice

Here are the facts: 700 accountants were surveyed; three-quarters of those
working in firms with seven partners or more use at least two different software
packages; and half the accountants operating as sole practitioners are in the
same boat. Given the large number of customers using separate programmes, one
would expect them to be able to integrate disparate programmes from rival
providers.

Yet the accountants polled by the ICAEW were emphatic in their view that the
sector was failing customers by not making it possible to integrate software,
leaving the profession with the tedious, time-wasting task of re-keying data
from one programme to another.

Why is that technology companies seem incapable of making this basic change?

There is no excuse for the industry’s dismal failure. The ICAEW’s extensible
accounting practice language (XAPL) ­ a programme outlining how to proceed with
integration ­ has been in place for months now, yet we are still stuck with
programmes incapable of linking up.

Of course, software companies have all spoken gallantly about how hard they
are working on integration, and how keen they are to have one big happy
industry, where all applications can talk to each other.
For all the promises and plans, accountants in practice are no better off now
than they were a year ago.

It is time for the software industry to shape up, cut the talk and start
delivering what their customers really need.

Nicholas Neveling is a reporter on Accountancy Age

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