ICAEW open standard to liberate accountants

08 March 2005

Open standards will lead to a software revolution for accountants.

Digita has devoted technical effort to the ICAEW project providing a first draft of a standard which has so far been agreed by all the other suppliers. The standard uses XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language).

Simon Hurst, the ICAEW IT Faculty’s Chairman, who has pioneered the industry body to help ensure interoperability said:

"I am very pleased that the Institute’s IT Faculty has been able to act as a catalyst within this group of competitors, helping software suppliers towards an outcome that will enable thousands of accountancy firms to extract even more value from their computer systems. This should be of great advantage to the firms and their clients as well as to the suppliers themselves. The readiness of all the suppliers to work together to achieve this has been very encouraging and I would like to thank all those involved for their commitment and effort."

Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect at Microsoft substantiated the trend away from single platform applications in his widely reported email in February:

"The (solution) that yields the greatest success for developers today – is a strong commitment to interoperability. That means letting different kinds of applications and system do what they do best, while agreeing on a common ‘contract’ for how disparate systems can communicate to exchange data with one another."

Digita is working with Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting Group based at Microsoft’s HQ in the US and this experience has been put to good use in the development of the ICAEW Open Standard.

According to Digita, when accountants realise that it isn’t necessary to be locked-in to a single system, and that they can vastly improve the service they offer to their clients, without the trauma and cost of wholesale switching of software, there will be a revolution in software development.

Jerry Rihll, Managing Director at Digita said:

"Monopolies make for poor progress. That’s why we wanted to harness all the strengths inherent in practice software solutions and enable them to work together.

"The result is that accountants are free to choose the best software that suits their needs. We want to improve compatibility among disparate systems without compromising their distinctive underlying capabilities. In this collaboration with the ICAEW we are sharing our XML technology with a wide array of industry software suppliers, some of them direct competitors, to deliver solutions that work well together."

The participants in the group that is working on the better integration of accountancy practice software include: APS, CCH, Digita, Finapps, IRIS, MYOB, Practice Engine, Sage and Star Computers.

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