IRIS Software Group swoops for Grimsby payroll specialist Dataplan

Grimsby payroll specialist Dataplan has been bought out by one of the UK’s largest operators in its field.

IRIS Software Group has swooped for the town success story, having been transformed by chartered accountancy firm Forrester Boyd, with former partner Richard Rowell at the helm.

Founded in 1969, and once part of the Cosalt group of companies, it became a standalone entity three years ago, having grown dramatically as it developed in-house software solutions to support mission critical operations.

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It majors in education, healthcare, hospitality, retail and charity sectors, from a Prince Albert Gardens base, where 144 people are employed.

David Lockie, chief operating officer at Langley-headquartered IRIS, said, “Dataplan joining the IRIS family is another step in expanding both our payroll and HR offerings, delivering the best-of-breed software solutions schools, charities, hospitality and retail businesses need to succeed in today’s constantly changing landscape. It’s an understatement to say businesses have had a tough 18 months. With demand to continue delivering flexible and hybrid working along with changing regulations around pensions and payroll, they need software solutions that can be relied on to be right first time, every time.”

“We are delighted to bring Dataplan onboard to achieve this goal and will continue to support its growth and invest in its market leading people and products to benefit both existing and new customers.”

Last year IRIS turned over almost £200 million, serving 120,000 customers with six million monthly payslips, while four million parents use its apps to connect with schools.

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The Dataplan deal follows the acquisitions of payroll companies APS Global and PayPlus, and school management information system specialist iSAMS, as part of its long-term ‘build, buy, partner’ strategy.

Dataplan itself has more than 900 schools using its solutions to manage payroll, HR and pensions. A legacy of the Cosalt business, Grimsby’s last listed entity, Forrester Boyd had acquired what was a back office arrangement in 1989. Up until 20 years ago it remained a business of just 15 people. But technology adaption and dedicated leadership saw it dramatically ramp up.

Just prior to the pandemic outbreak Dataplan launched fintech spin-off Datacode, while also acquiring Kinetic Marketing & Design – a supplier to the group. Both are invlded in the undisclosed deal.

Stewart Waddell, operations director at Dataplan will take on the operational lead, with Mr Rowell moving into a consutancy role. Mr Waddell said: “The last 18 months have proven educators, charity workers and retailers need the right tools to connect all of their mission critical processes in one place so they can create a complete picture of their employees. “From payroll to pension management and sickness absence tracking, finance teams need to be able to break data out of its siloes.

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“We believe investing in people and technology creates the ‘perfect storm’ for excellent service. IRIS shares our vision entirely and with the incredible IRIS resources, we’ll be able to take our offering to the next level; ensuring our technology can do the heavy lifting of payroll processing, while our payroll heroes continue to add value through client relationships and delivering exceptional service.

“We’re delighted to be joining the IRIS family.”

IRIS, with offices in Manchester, Leeds, Peterborough, Stockton and Wigan, was itself bought out in 2018, in a joint investment by HG Capital’s Saturn Fund and Intermediate Capital Group. The former had first invested in the 42-year-old firm in 2004.

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