How long have you been using Wolters Kluwer software?
Since the mid-80s. Computerisation was uncommon back then so our approach was quite pioneering, and it means we’ve been able to reap the benefits of 30 years of efficiency and growth. Although the company wasn’t called Wolters Kluwer when we first installed the software, there’s an unbroken line of development that stretches to today’s fully integrated CCH Central suite.
You must have seen some changes over that time…
Definitely! Cost, speed and ease of use are probably the most obvious ones.
When we first bought accountancy software we had someone from the company on-site for about six weeks just to input the initial data and get the system set up. Nowadays it’s completely different. We have around six full time staff but we use sub-contractors at busy times of the year – perhaps another two or three at any one time – so the software has to be easy for them to use.
Although the software is much more complex now, Wolters Kluwer has done a lot of work to make the updates as simple as possible. With the new Central Suite Installer you basically just click a button and the system does the rest which makes it much easier to keep all the software up to date.
The other big change is integration. I always felt it was easier to deal with a single company rather than multiple suppliers, but now that individual programs in the suite share data seamlessly through CCH Central, there are major benefits for the practice.
What kind of benefits does integration bring?
The core compliance applications for us are CCH Accounts Production, CCH Personal Tax and CCH Corporation Tax. For our clients – who are all owner-managed businesses – it’s obviously more efficient if these three can exchange data, especially now that we need to generate and file iXBRL format abbreviated and full accounts with Companies House and HMRC.
When you add in CCH Practice Management, CCH Document Management and the new CCH Portal, you really start to see the benefits of integration in terms of collaboration, client service and efficiency.
CCH Portal has been particularly successful. Initially, I wasn’t sure what impact it would have, nor how many of our clients would want to use it. It doesn’t suit everyone – some clients will always struggle with new technology – but the ones that do use it have been very excited about it. Their first question was often “How much extra is it going to cost me?” When I told them it was all part of the service they were keen to try it!
So how exactly are you using CCH Portal?
The facility to exchange secure messages with our clients is useful, but our main use of CCH Portal is to get electronic approval for accounts, tax returns and any other documents that need authorisation. Clients really appreciate having access to this information online – for example, with accounts and tax returns stored securely in their own personal portal, if their bank or anyone else needs a copy they can always get hold of them straight away. As we add further years, this feature will become even more valuable to them. For clients using the portal we no longer need to print off the accounts at all so it’s significantly reduced our postage costs. So in all sorts of ways CCH Portal has proved to be extremely useful.
Overall, how would you assess the impact of the Wolters Kluwer software on your practice?
Over the course of 30 years, Wolters Kluwer software has helped our practice to grow several times over by increasing productivity and efficiency and by reducing overall costs in ways which wouldn’t otherwise have been possible. The fact that we’ve remained with the company for so long is testimony to their software, support and service and we’re looking forward to the next 30 years!