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The pace of adoption of Web-based programs by tax and accounting firms is accelerating. But can a application like fixed asset software, which changes with regulation but not so much with technology innovation, be a worthwhile part of the Software as a Service trend. The answer is yes from a vendor point of view. Whether users are as enthusiastic remains to be seen, but the software publishers are betting they will be.

BNA Software has a Web-based version of its fixed asset program, but it's more often used by large corporations that do not enter data manually, says Rashid Nur, the fixed asset product manager. However, he sees a change in the market and BNA is readying a Web-based fixed asset application for accounting firms.

"Over the next year, you will see a majority firms going to the SaaS application," says Nur, who reports that Moss Adams and some other large firms are using the early version of the product. And the Web, he says, provides a good fit for firms that have many offices.

"For firms with multiple offices, it makes no sense running client software," he says

But for most of the this year, the major change to the BNA line has been something more traditional as the company has provided a third way of entering data into its fixed asset products. Previously, there was a data import and there was also a wizard that queried users about essential facts about fixed assets, such as when was purchased and the date of acquisition.

However, so many firms receive Excel spreadsheets from their clients that earlier this year, BNA Software implemented the Add Asset feature, that has the look of a spreadsheet and lists users cut and paste Excel spreadsheets into the BNA software. The system puts the data in the correct fields and if there is missing data, the software produces a message.

Sage hasn't seen a big demand for SaaS versions of its FAS line, says Kelly Clark, director of product management for the company's fixed asset products. Most customers are happy using Citrix or Windows Terminal Services to provide remote access to applications, while keeping the data under their control.

Where the Web has come into play is the establishment of a FAS community site, similar to communities Sage has created for other products. That site offers screen shots and information on upcoming release so that users can weigh in on new product plans.

This year's releases have offered the typical tax updates, but are also providing additional reporting tools. For example, there is an asset snap shot that enables users to produce graphical views of asset information.

"It shows different classes, you can get a look at spending you’ve had over quarters and months," says Clark. A user could also produce a graph that shows the remaining life estimated for assets by years, such as those wife lives of more than 10 years, five to 10 and less than five. Additionally, the latest version uses Crystal Reports XI, which provides more ways to export data, along with more charts and graphs.

Tips for Considering Fixed Asset Products

What should firms look for in a fixed asset product? CPA Wayne Schulz, who has reviewed fixed asset applications over the last few years, has thoughts on the subject and provided a check list of features that he believes firms should consider.

Templates. Most assets fall into a handful of categories such as furniture and fixtures, automobiles, office equipment and computer equipment. Because of the relatively small amount of assets, templates are helpful in such offices to make the data entry clerk’s life easier when adding assets and this is especially true if someone else has to take over the chores. Templates can remember the life method and classification and let the user pick the proper configuration.

Report Writing. General reports aren’t much help. Those that are tailored to your needs, such as the group of detail or detail shown, are what you want and that means using a report writer. Industry Standards like Crystal Reports can provide the reports you need and you won’t have to fall back on Excel or other ad hoc measures.

Integration. Private companies and public accounting practices have different needs because private organizations want to want to integrate the journal entries to the general ledger and perhaps even add assets from payables. These needs are different than those of a CPA firm who typically don't do either of hose and therefore wouldn't rate that features as highly on their "must have" Accounting firms want to have asset data transferred to tax preparation, working paper analysis and reporting software..

Printing of tax fileable schedules.  Being able to print forms from within the system for inclusion in the working papers eliminates the need to run copies of the tax forms when you return to the office.

Support for Citrix/TS sessions. In the mobile world of the modern professional, you need access from elsewhere. Your software should support tools such as Citrix and Windows Terminal Server which enable users to access the application via the Internet and utilize it as if they were in the office.

Fixed Asset Software Resource List

CCH ProSystem Fixed Asset Manager
Torrance, Calif.
(800) 739-9998

Fixed Assets CPA, Fixed Assets Small Business, Fixed Assets Large Corporations
Arlington, Va.
(800) 424-2938

Fixed Assets CS
Thomson Reuters
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 968-8900

Fixed Asset Manager
Rome, Ga.
(866) 345-4171

Fixed Assets Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366

ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager
Mountain View, Calif.
(800) 934-1040

Sage FAS Fixed Asset Accounting, FAS Fixed Asset Inventory, FAS CIP Accounting
Sage Software
(800) 368-2405

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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