We asked Lead Product Owner, Geoff Richardson, about his experience with adapting our software to FRS 102/105.
How did you undertake the huge task of incorporating the new FRS 102 formats within CCH Accounts Production?
Our first priority was to re-enforce our product development team with additional FRS102 expertise and forge links with 3rd party technical experts. Securing access to such experts from the very start of development gave us confidence to develop the FRS102 software update, particularly with so few pro-forma examples available to reference.
Once we had our team in place, we began to pull apart the new requirements for our software. In CCH AP we have the concept of a “master pack” – think of it as a wrapper that contains all the content needed to produce a compliant set of statutory accounts.
To implement FRS102 and the related standards, we decided early on to start with a new, blank master pack. This “clean sheet” design approach afforded us complete flexibility to implement the new reporting standards in an efficient way and ensured we weren’t constrained by any limitations of the old UKGAAP master packs. An essential element of this work was to provide a seamless transition of client data from old UKGAAP to the new FRS102 master pack.
How much of the software required redeveloping?
I always view AP as a product with two sides. The software itself, the ‘functional’ side of the product – how you create clients, input journals and preview the accounts, etc. – did not need any significant changes to support FRS102. The ‘reporting’ side of the product – the various master packs which are created by our domain experts using the software – required significant development effort, about 75% in total.
The business provided significant investment in the product to ensure we were able to deliver a market leading solution that our users could rely on.
What were some of the specific challenges you overcame to ensure the software was ready in time?
We understood that the adoption of FRS102 would be a huge change for our users and we set out with the intention of supporting them through the transitional period. Throughout the development we collaborated with our current AP clients to obtain their feedback and allowed them to influence our development priorities. As a result we focused on four key challenges:
Simplifying conversion – We wanted to ensure that the process of moving from old packs to new FRS102 packs was as painless as possible and avoided unnecessary re-keying of data and un-recoverable time.
Efficient adoption measures – our clients wanted the process of inputting and disclosing the transition adjustments required when first adopting FRS102 to be as efficient as possible.
Easy to adapt to – our clients needed to be up-and-running as quickly and with as little disruption as possible so we invested in creating extensive support resources to help with adaption, for example: Prof Serv training ,seminars, User Guides, FAQs, webcast videos
Where to start – based on our market research and experience it was clear that we should focus on developing software for limited company packs first and then use this as the foundation for the other specialist entity types such as LLP and Charity.
What improvements have been made to CCH Accounts Production that customers will benefit from?
The new master packs provide a much more consistent user experience across entity types. This makes AP easier to learn for new users, as well as easier to support and maintain.
The disclosure requirements for FRS102 are in many ways more onerous than the old UKGAAP requirements, so it’s been important to support the small company exemptions allowed under FRS102 Section 1A as well as the FRS105 micro entity regime.
The development of new master packs also allowed us include some new functionality that our clients had been looking for; we increased the number of share capital classes, provided bank/VAT offset within consolidations and made it easier to customise the final accounts presentation compared to the old UKGAAP packs.
We also introduced a series of guidance notes to the software to help the user adapt to or learn the new standards.
What feedback have you had from customers?
It’s been really rewarding to see our AP customers adapt to the new FRS102 regime. Being able to convert their old ukgaap data to the new FRS102 master packs efficiently has been my personal highlight, there’s lots of new functionality involved behind the scenes, but the user experience is very straightforward and slick with the users only having to understand how to process data relevant to the new standards, not having to learn new software. At User Groups we get to listen to feedback from a good cross section of AP clients and CCH prioritise reacting to that feedback in the next round of development.
What’s next on the development roadmap for CCH Accounts Production?
Now that we have delivered the FRS102 updates, the next developments for AP will focus on continuing to make the process of generating compliant accounts quick and accurate. We have some nice integration enhancements coming into the product, which allow you to integrate with the trial balance data directly from a range of cloud bookkeeping solutions such as Xero and Quickbooks.
We are about to release a new Working Paper Management module. This will be closely integrated with AP and provide a sophisticated tool for creating, reviewing and approving working papers to assist with the processes around the preparation of accounts.
We are continuing to enhance the reporting capabilities, so that users can mine their existing AP data to identify opportunities to prompt advisory conversations with their clients.
Further down the line we are looking to support Consolidated Charity accounts and improve the links between CCH Accounts Production and CCH Audit Automation.
Geoff Richardson - Lead Product Owner, Tax and Accounting
Geoff has worked with Wolters Kluwer in the Product Development department for over 10 years, involved with many different products and projects. His current role is the Product Owner for CCH Accounts Production, in which he is responsible for identifying the needs of the CCH Accounts Production users and ensuring that the development team deliver the necessary solutions.
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