Case Study:


Fathom and Informanagement – "Sharp tailoring" for accountancy firms

Informanagement creates tailored content for accountancy firms. A team of writers produces articles covering changing tax, accountancy and business advisory regulations and new precedent-setting cases. Accountants provide the content as a value added service to their clients in the form of printed and email newsletters and RSS feeds.

Informanagement was looking to automate its tailored content delivery so that accountants could offer fresh and innovative marketing to their clients.

The content is also used to provide weekly updates to the accountants’ own practitioners. Yet Informanagement was constrained by its legacy platform, which was very unstable and inflexible. If one line of code was changed in one place it tended to affect something apparently completely unrelated somewhere else. A complete revamp was required.

In 2009 Informanagement approached Fathom to partner with it on a major overhaul of the existing system. Flexible hosting was key, enabling content to be delivered anywhere to any device. It also planned to develop a digital print platform that could process multiple digital print files for hard copy print runs.

Hybrid approach

Fathom recommended a hybrid approach. The content for email newsletters would be migrated to the cloud. Meanwhile, the processor-intensive activity of creating multiple digital print files continues to be carried out on dedicated local servers.

In order to build this flexible hybrid solution, Fathom had to completely restructure how and where data is sited and consolidate data held in six different databases. The immediate challenge was to understand all the pitfalls and loopholes of the existing system. Fathom experts spent six months getting to grips with the legacy code and preparing it for the new platform before migrating data across using the latest version of .net to a SQL server platform structured to be more stable and more maintainable. As the phased project progressed, Fathom created a stable infrastructure and recommended upgrades to the system along the way.

Now email newsletters are generated automatically from the database of articles according to tags that each accountant has selected as appropriate to individual clients. Bespoke newsletters go to the accountant’s clients and are branded as the accountant’s own. Tailoring includes personalisation such as salutation, practice articles, client manager details, introductory and footer text. Accountants also get the chance to approve the email newsletter before it goes out.

Around 30 new articles are written every month, but while thousands of newsletters go out it is rare that the same combination of articles appears twice, as each newsletter is tailored to each individual client. The articles are also searchable on a dedicated website, providing accountants with an up to date information resource. In addition, Informanagement, with the support of Fathom, supplies articles as an RSS feed to accountants’ websites so that their websites look fresh and regularly updated and pushes the articles on to the accountants’ Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

Informanagement also now benefits from a complete digital print platform. The platform generates a bespoke glossy brochure that accountants can use to display in their offices and send to clients. Relevant articles are selected and laid out automatically into newsletter format ready for printing out. Articles are of varying length so automating the design of multiple tailored newsletters was not a trivial task, but Informanagement is delighted with the results.

Reaping the benefits

Fathom’s work to consolidate the system, tidy it up, and host it on more stable hardware has paid off. In the past two or three years the number of users of Informanagement services has increased by 100%.

Previously, it seemed that if you even breathed on the code, the system would fall over. With a more stable solution, Informanagement was able to realise its ambitions to develop the business into new areas.

Fresh ideas to grow the business emerge all the time from monthly brainstorming sessions between Fathom and Informanagement. Fathom works with Informanagement on its wishlist, prioritising what to work on next, and contributing ideas and expertise that will drive Informanagement’s business forward and make the conceptual concrete.

Informanagement is well placed to get an insight into what existing accountant customers need and to meet those needs with new products and services. It was clear that accountants increasingly must offer secure backup of client accounts and have a secure medium within which to share client files and information. Informanagement decided to offer such a service based on its new secure and flexible platform.

It now offers a white label ‘File and Sign’ service to accountants, hosting a secure server for accountants’ clients to upload and download documents. File and Sign allows accountants to get legally binding signatures on stored documents. Fathom manages the servers on behalf of Informanagement who in turn provides File and Sign as a service to accountants who brand it for their clients.

Accountants need to keep themselves up-to-date and renew their accreditations every year. Fathom is now working with Informanagement on creating a product that uses the articles to create a learning resource that will enable accountants to gain the points they need to maintain their accreditation. So, for example, when there is a new tax or VAT law, Informanagement can put together a learning pack that links to

Informanagement came to Fathom with a significant backlog of ideas to build its business. Its inflexible legacy system had hindered business growth but now, in partnership with Fathom, Informanagement has been able to implement many of its ideas.

Together, the partners have transformed a very staid and fixed piece of software into something flexible that can allow added value bolt-ons such as File and Sign. Fathom works hand in hand with Informanagement to provide high-end services underpinned by a sophisticated hybrid solution.

Fathom handles anything technical, from day-to-day technical support through to innovative applications development that makes new ideas a reality, freeing Informanagement to drive the business from strength to strength.

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