Interview: IRIS, Cloud Integration Product of the Year finalist

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Interview: IRIS, Cloud Integration Product of the Year finalist
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Interview: IRIS, Cloud Integration Product of the Year finalist

IRIS saw the strength of a strategic, rather than tactical, response to cloud

The finance landscape is complex and can be confusing. Cloud Excellence Awards finalist IRIS focuses on simplifying and automating essential tasks so its customers can focus on their core business.

We interviewed Jonathan Priestley, head of portfolio modernisation, about the company's entry into this year's Cloud Excellence Awards.

Jonathan Priestley

Please provide some background on IRIS for our readers

IRIS is one of the UK's largest privately held software companies. Our purpose to be the most trusted provider of mission-critical software and services.

IRIS takes the pain out of processes and lets professionals focus on the work they love and building their businesses. Its software solutions and services for finance, HR and payroll teams, educational organisations and accountancy firms helps comply with regulations, drive productivity and better engage with key stakeholders. 

By simplifying, automating and providing insights on everyday tasks, IRIS ensures customers can look forward with certainty and confidence.  

What makes you different from other technology companies?

IRIS is trusted by over 120,000 organisations, from FTSE100 companies to micro-businesses. IRIS' software and services are used in many sectors across the globe, delivering compliance, productivity and engagement solutions for audiences including accountancy firms, education trusts, academies and schools, charities, legal firms, HR leaders and teams, and public sector organisations.   

Currently, 90 of the top 100 UK accountancy firms and more than 21,000 UK accountancy firms trust IRIS to help run their business, which is more than any other accountancy suite vendor in the UK.  

What helps set IRIS apart is making life easier for customers through deep integration. Thanks to IRIS' single central database, which creates a single source of truth, once information is entered, the suite of products can use and share this information, providing true integration across shared workflows and processes.  

IRIS fully understands and embraces the power and potential of the cloud across its services and solutions. Its newest innovation is IRIS Elements, a cloud platform for Accountancy firms that enables accountants to choose how and when they start their digital journey and transition to the cloud at their own pace.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

When IRIS saw the cloud software trend accelerating some time ago, it knew accounting practices could gain demonstrable benefits from it. The business also understood that accountancy firms did not want a tactical, piecemeal response to cloud but a strategic, future-ready and scalable solution. IRIS Elements is the answer to this need. 

Even before Covid-19, the product team could see accountancy professionals wanted to embrace cloud technology, reduce technical complexity, increase agility, support flexible working and improve their ability to respond to changing customer demands.  

IRIS has a customer base of over 20,000 accountancy desktop users; IRIS Elements offers the best of both worlds with a client-centric adaptive platform that allows accountants to choose how and when they start their digital journey and progress at their own pace. 

Rather than a typical waterfall style creation and release approach to development - consulting customers before going away for a year to build it - IRIS took a different route. A design community of over 300 accountancy practices was recruited to assist, and for every piece of development work a group of 10-12 clients assembles to collaborate with the IRIS team.  

IRIS Elements is a platform created and controlled in partnership with customers, it has been built by accountants, for accountants. This continual talking and testing demonstrate a customer-focused approach to design and development by the IRIS team.    

Customers also want open and harmonious systems, and IRIS has created an innovative platform that links with other best-in-breed apps to create a system with versatility and value. In this data-driven, agile world, IRIS constantly innovates so customers can thrive in any environment.   

What are you working on this year?

The new Making Tax Digital (MTD) regulation coming into force in 2022, represents one of the biggest shifts in how firms will work with their clients - moving from filing once a year to a minimum of six times a year. IRIS is working with its customer design community to provide a data consolidation layer within IRIS Elements MTD, enabling customers to benefit from a single workflow for all their clients irrespective of their record keeping solution.  

IRIS will continue to develop IRIS Elements to support all sizes of accountancy practice and will be expanded in coming months with new modules driven by the requirements of IRIS' customer community. This constant innovation helps accountants remain compliance and improve workflow efficiencies so they can continue their crucial role in supporting clients.  

The role for accountancy professionals is evolving. With the commoditisation of compliance, clients are seeking business advice. IRIS is responding to this evolution with the development of IRIS Elements Financial Performance Review. This is one of the technology pathways to advisory functions and builds upon the existing five-year reports within IRIS Accounts Production, allowing access to this information from anywhere.  

The scope for the business landscape is huge; IRIS Elements has the capacity to grow to become a global platform. It has the ability to expand and broaden the scope of the services provided, from pensions and wills, or talent retention and HR advice, to enable businesses to work more efficiently and offer more. 

Why are events like the Cloud Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

Events like the Cloud Excellence Awards allow us to celebrate our achievements and how far we have come as innovators in the space. The value isn't just the winning; it's the taking part. Being recognised is rewarding for our employees; it enables our customers to build trust in our software and finally, we are able to learn from and share with other incredible vendors.

The Cloud Excellence Awards take place tonight at the Montcalm London Marble Arch. We'll see you there!

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