Twinfield show their vision of the future of accounting

Two weeks ago I was part of a modest International stream as part of  Twinfield‘s very impressive National Accountancy Day in The Netherlands.  They have been running this Annual event for 6 years and it has grown from 30 attendees back in 2005 to 500 last year, and well over 600 attendees this time, along with an exhibition area where around 40 companies showed their Twinfield connected applications and services.  There was a buzz of excitement, and a feelgood vibe you might expect from a Salesforce event, but not necessarily with a collection of mostly accountants as the audience.

The event was significant, both because of the size and the fact that this was the first event following Wolters Kluver‘s takeover of Twinfield earlier this year.  It gave me a chance to gauge the progress they’ve made and  judge how well Twinfield will thrive under their new parent’s regime.  The initial indications are very positive.

The International stream was attended by UK customers like Goodman Jones, CWM, and Wingrave Yeats.  Twinfield’s Irish partner presented their Ezora reporting system.  P2D explained their document scanning solution that is now live linking purchase invoice scans and automating data input for 2 UK practices.  I was over there talking about Newbase, an ERP solution integrated with Twinfield, as well as about building websites and web communities, but the most interesting session for me was from the CCH team.  They’ve got a lot further planning integration of their practice applications with Twinfield than I expected.  

CCH, the most prominent Wolters Kluver company in the UK sent 3 people – Wendy Rowe, Head of Product Management, Nick Longden, Head of Sales and Paul Brace, who looks after accounts and audit software.  I didn’t check how many local WK employees attended, but they had some of their senior guys from Europe.  Within the CCH practice management family of products, Central is the hub that connects things together.  Twinfield will have single sign on with Central and a home page inside for fast access to summary data.  Creation of users and employees will synchronise between the two systems.  Clients will be created in Central and transferred in to Twinfield.  The Chart of Accounts will synchronise, and summary transactions from Twinfield will be pulled in to Accounts Production. Adjustments from Accounts Production will be transferred back to Twinfield.  You’ll be able to drill down from CCH back into the Twinfield transactional data.  Of course you’ll need a connection from your desktop PC or server out to the Internet to make this happen.  All of this integration the CCH team presented is at the design stage, with development expected to start in January for delivery before the end of Q1 2012.  I asked about CCH’s own plans for the cloud.  Their UK products are all on premise today, with no published plans to go cloud but they all said how excited they were by the opportunities to go online with Twinfield.  I know they have already introduced Twinfield to some of their largest UK customers, and they are putting sales plans and incentives in place.  All of this took me a little by surprise.  It was what I hoped for, but not what I expected.   Maybe my preconceptions of how conservative CCH would be are unfounded.  It bodes well for Twinfield’s future in the UK and inside Wolters Kluver Internationally.

Although the main conference was almost all in Dutch, you got a flavour of Andre Kwakernaat’s vision (Andre is Twinfield’s co-founder, CTO and driving force) from the “Tron” style video he played to the audience.  I’m delighted that they have rush released a UK version which you can see below.  Take a look at where Andre expects accounting to be using his time machine to jump forward to 2014.

Early last  week I had a session with Andre on the Twinfield product roadmap.  He is taking an aggressive but very open approach inside Wolters Kluver and encouraging the various parts of the organisation to get involved supplying “sprint” development teams to add the functionality they need for their division or territory.  He is re-architecting Twinfied with an activity timeline, that he calls the bus.  Applications from the WK family, or external apps like Twitter or Facebook, will be able to plug in and exchange data for that point in the business process.  It’s an approach that will help integration beyond the current comprehensive web service API and allow Twinfield to jump ahead of their regular competitors with social and collaboration tools plugged in to the process timeline.  

Twinfield had a great proposition before the Wolters Kluver takeover, but these plans, along with the extra resources of a 3.5 Bn Euro company behind them, make the case even stronger.

Tweet stream from the event

My photos from the event

Disclosure: My company D2C has been Twinfield’s Partner in the UK  since 2005.

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