Glide Practice Solutions Ltd was founded in 2010 by brothers Oli and Ben Norwell. Ben had worked in an Accounting Firm for 12 years, latterly managing a portfolio of OMB and SME clients. Oli already had 9 years working in the computer games industry.
The firm where Ben worked maintained high levels of client service and very rarely missed deadlines; however, the internal processes maintaining this created far too many headaches and lost time. Those responsible for clients simply didn’t have visibility over the workflow. The firm used a leading practice management system but all attempts to use the workflow functionality failed, it was in essence an afterthought on a system principally concerned with timesheet management. The end result was the mother of all spreadsheets, complex, in need of constant manual updates and offering little in terms of nice visuals. Of course behind this master spreadsheet each manager typically had several of their own personal spreadsheets. The idea for Glide was born. Oli would go on to take Ben’s initial idea and turn it into the system you can use today.
The simple aim was to give everyone in the office (but principally the partners and managers) an incredibly simple, visual view of job progress so that we could proactively keep on top of jobs. We wanted to avoid any situation at all where a client would feel we did not contact them / reply to them / act upon information etc etc in a less than satisfactory way. Of course we also wanted a reminder of the statutory deadlines should they come into play.
An early design decision was that aside from on the initial creation of a client, the Accountant should never have to anything in order for the system to be alerting him/her to jobs, targets and deadlines. The need to do things in spreadsheets and ‘roll forward’ created a very simple but easy to delay or forget task for an already busy professional. This has been critical and our automatic job creation remains a key feature today.
Word of Glide spread quickly and we were fortunate at this point to find ourselves with interest from a small number of firms of radically different shapes and sizes. This ranged from a 50 user firm with a massive volume of small clients, a larger departmentalised corporate, a smaller owner managed practice and a sole practitioner working alone. All these new users wanted something slightly different. Despite being in the same profession their particular clients were of course different as were the operational challenges they faced. They each had very different workflow challenges.
Glide was rebuilt. Version two was born.
Glide V2 was now based upon our own propitiatory workflow engine, where as V1 focused on Accounts and Corporation Tax (another key factor had been the need for the Accounts and tax teams to be more ‘joined’) V2 could in theory track anything. Whether that was PAYE, VAT registrations or remembering to do the washing up, anything. The high degree of configuration and flexible nature of the workflow system is often commented on and this is credit to both Oli’s work and the incredibly diverse nature of our 2nd-5th clients. This allows Glide to continue to offer packages to both the very largest and smallest firms around the world.
Of course it has had many thousand updates but V2 remains the core of the Glide system today.
Though not really planned, the original ‘client persona’ we were reaching out to was in effect a replica of Ben’s office, a firm using a leading practice management system (we integrate with CCH and Digita) but in need of a dedicated ‘best of breed’ workflow solution, where portfolio holders lacked visibility and felt there must be an easier way. To our surprise Glide attracted a lot of interest from a different type of firm. It transpired that the leading practice management solutions had not really penetrated the smaller firm market, with Glide being a multi tenant system distributed via (the far more economical) cloud, we were essentially providing a practice management system at a fraction of the cost of others available.
In 2015 Glide added features that had been requested by this audience. This included a fully customisable client database and most importantly of all, Glide Time, a timesheet solution designed to make it easy to record time and keep an eye on client profitability. Glide Time was later fully integrated with the increasingly popular Xero Accounting system, a benefit to firms looking to move fully into the cloud.
In 2016 another module was born, Glide Scheduler. Our business philosophy is to concentrate on one business problem and to provide an unbeatable best of breed solution, that said the case for adding scheduling capabilities was strong. Scheduler provides a staff planner (making redundant another often massive spreadsheet), this data when combined with the jobs data should provide for some excellent reporting opportunities.
Significant enhancements are planned for 2017, including e-mail templates and the ability to automate more communications with clients. We hope to further enhance our reputation and to become the ‘go to’ cloud based workflow and practice management solution for accountants, both big and small.
The Glide team is based in Peterborough and continues to grow with the popularity of the software.
Glide is relied upon by over 2000 users across the United Kingdom on a daily basis, spread over almost 200 different practices, as well as a small but growing number in the US and other countries.