The Keytime team is celebrating a big birthday; this summer we are 30 years old! Currently the software partner for around 2,000 businesses and part of the market-leading IRIS Software Group, we have travelled a long way from humble beginnings. Join us on a trip down memory lane to find out more about our journey.
Starting out as MAP Computer Products in Oldham in 1989, the product that got our name out there was an old piece of Microsoft DOS based software for bookkeeping. The Keytime spirit started then, challenging the heavy hitters, with MAP products proving popular with small firms and a contender to rival the then-popular Sage Sterling.
One of our first payroll products, TABULA, was written in around 1996, as the first Windows application and a predecessor to what is now Keytime Payroll. A busy year, self-assessment –
one of the largest changes in tax administration for decades – was introduced on 6th April 1996, which saw us create SB Publishing to help clients meet this new requirement.
Moving forward just a year to 1997, when Keytime's longest serving team member, Alison Ford, came on board. Now Product Manager for the business, Alison has helped introduce scores of new products to help us grow and develop to where it is now. She recalls joining as Tax 97 was created and released to aid individuals filing their own returns.
As the internet became more mainstream, online filing was added in 2000 in time for a brand-new millennium! This era of the early 2000s was to be a big one for us; we acquired the firm Objective Tax. As Alison remembers it, "Up until then, most of our success had been with individuals, but this was a massive switch away. It launched us into the accountants' space to sell to practices, which transformed the company and what we offered."
The growth of the business and customer base saw a surge in new product innovation, with Corporation Tax added around 2004, Tax Trust in 2008 and various early taxation and payroll modules. The following years saw us add an entire suite of integrated software, including Accounts Production, Practice Management, Company Secretarial and P11d.
Of course, there have been periods of turbulence, with recessions and financial crashes rocking the UK in the 1990s and 2000s. Yet these have also been good trading times too, with businesses seeking reliable and cost-effective support. And out of the ashes of recessions have been times of business formation and growth, where reasonably priced software has been a huge help to fledgling firms.
In 2015 a big change was on the cards, as industry heavyweight IRIS Software Group acquired Keytime. The partnership was a no-brainer, with both firms passionate about providing the best technology and striving to invent better ways to connect accountants, businesses and their employees. The Keytime team seized the opportunity to tap into the expertise of the market-leader to add value to the brand and customers.
The last few years have seen plenty of integration between the two companies with IRIS OpenSpace and KashFlow – it has also seen us adapt to integrate with other bookkeeping providers, like Xero and QuickBooks, to give customers more choice and flexibility. Pre-empting and reacting to industry needs, to create reliable and flexible products, has always been part of the Keytime ethos and will continue to be.
Three decades of heritage and experience is something we are exceptionally proud of, especially in such a crowded and fast-paced business environment. Alison sums it up, "Our expertise is in understanding the needs of small firms and sole practitioners, it's what we have done from the very start and successfully continued to do ever since."
We are thrilled to celebrate this major milestone this year and are grateful to the team and customers that have joined us on the journey, through the decades. Happy birthday Keytime - here's to the next 30 years!