Estimated reading time: 17 minutes, 16 seconds

If you are like me, you are receiving at least two to three emails a day with information on you how to build or grow your practice. Typically, these emails come from leaders in our industry who are experts on what it takes to have a successful accounting practice. There is a very consistent message in these emails. That message is simple: keep your client satisfaction high by providing outstanding customer service. One of the best ways you can do this is provide your client with write-up services.

Think about it. Does the thought of doing accounts payable and accounts receivable excite you? Do you think it excites your clients that have absolutely no idea on how and why they are doing what they are doing in his/her accounting software? While, this may not at first excite you, hopefully we can show you how you can use this service to add more profits to your firm.

As in everything we do, process matters. If we can reduce the time it takes to perform a write-up we can increase our profits. The good news is we are very lucky to have some really good software available to help us with this process. Between the technology now available and the software company's listening to our needs we can now do work that used to take hours to do in about half the time.

With the simplification of the processes also comes the reduction in the time it takes to get a new employee up to speed. All of these factors increase our profits. And now that we have "cloud" or web-based or whatever technology term you like use, we can even do this work from your vacation home. Although, I wouldn't recommend it, it is possible.

I would, however, recommend that you take advantage of the technology to think outside your local city and your typical market. See if it makes sense to expand your services, as you now have the tools to allow you to do so if it makes good business sense. The technology has now been around for many years. It provides another way to greatly improve your collaboration with your clients wherever they are or wherever you are. These are the kinds of advantages that can really help us grow our practices and offer our services more efficiently.

If you are still not taking advantage of the wonderful write-up software packages out there, now is time. The companies in this review have really listened to our industry and have designed some really good programs to help you. There are programs that use the excel formats to customize financial statements for those of you who love Excel. They are programs in here that you can enter all your data without using your mouse. Whatever your particular hang up for not switching sooner, is sure to be addressed by one of these software packages. This review will get you started. But you will need to pick your top three and go from here. As it really does boil down to some individual preferences.

Here is a list of the Write-Up products that were reviewed:

• Accountants Relief, Accountants World
• Intaact
• Client Accounting Suite /Client Accounting Suite Premier, CCH
• QuickBooks Accountants Edition, Intuit
• Accounting CS, Thomson Reuters

In the review we will share how each program is marketed, what each company feels is the top competitive advantages, what we felt were the best features and what the downfall was of each program. As is expected, all the companies felt their own product was easy to use. Every program also had very flexible and fully customizable financial statements. Every program had similar features, however, when you actually get in and use the program, the how the feature worked is really where the difference is made.

Depending on the services you provide and your past software experience will determine the best software for your firm. As all of us know and appreciate, time is very precious. The only way for a firm to grow and be profitable is to maximize every process as to eliminate any extra steps and allow for the least amount of time to accomplish your engagement. The wait is now over, let the testing begin.


Accountants Relief

AccountantsWorld
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
www.accountantsworld.com
Price: $99 per month or $990 per year.

Accountant's Relief
Accountant's Relief is marketed as the only Web-based Accountant-centric accounting system that includes a comprehensive write-up and trial balance system for your firm, AND a full-featured bookkeeping module for your clients.  The company cites the following three items as standing out from the competition:

1) Accountant/client collaboration. The system takes full advantage of the web-based technology. It allows professionals to design a system that works for them and clients. It's designed with a single focus: to provide control over client accounting so that professionals can work more efficiently. The accountant works collaboratively with clients, remaining full command, serving as a project leader and a coach. You defining what tasks each client can (and cannot) do, and giving them access only to the functions they can perform.

2) Best practices. The application streamlines workflow and makes accounting virtually paperless. Invoices and source documents can be scanned and stored online. Once transactions have been entered, the accountant uses the same data to perform trial balance work. All source documents are available with a mouse click and then finished financials are prepared quickly.

3) Client satisfaction. By working closely with clients and providing them with internal solutions they can use, accountants build strong relationships. Moreover,  the efficiency gains and the strong ties lead to an increased revenue stream.

Each time I review this program there are more features added that make this program one of the top products. The system is very easy to use. If you are at all comfortable with a web-based application, it will be very easy for you to start using this program. The program is laid out well so you know where you are and how to go to the next task. There is no need to import or export files back and forth .

With a sophisticated set of permission on every item in the program you can control what your client and staff has permission to see and what they can do. The working trial balance provides the ability to add notes, an excellent way to keep track of work done on each. The program also eliminates the need to leave the program to communicate with clients since emails can be sent from inside the program.

The program is truly an up-to-the-minute financial update for your client. There are transaction templates, which is a way for the system to save recurring transactions so you can just grab them whenever you need them. This year, the company has added job-costing and departments.

You can fully customize the financial statements. In addition, you should keep in mind while reviewing this program that Accountants World has a fully integrated suite of products that make this system even more powerful.

There really isn't a downside to this program. You need to get in and review yourself to see if it works for all your clients. This program deserves a very strong look, between the technology used and the advantages it has for the price of the software, it is hard to beat.


Intacct Accountant Edition

Intacct
San Jose, Calif.
(877)968-0600
www.intacct.com
Price: Starts at $20 per month or $60 per year, per client.

Intacct Accountant Edition
Cloud-based Intacct is marketed as being able to improve company performance and make finance more productive. With its status as a preferred software provider for the American Institute of CPAs, the company cites the following as strengths:

1. Cloud-computing-based system. The firm and clients can simultaneously access the same information as all that is needed for access is a web browser. This enables both to be highly productive and allows firms to standardize on a single platform.

2. Depth of Financials. Users can personalize key metrics, dashboards and reports to help clients better run their businesses. There is no limit to what can be done, including multiple currencies, groups and departments.

3. Advanced multi-entity support. The ability to make automatic inter-entity entries reduces the burden of bookkeeping and ensures accuracy. There are many built-in capabilities for managing clients that have multiple locations.

Intacct does a wonderful job of offering not just a software program but a solution for accountants. When you open the program you really feel its impact. Like Accountant's Relief, this is a fully web-based system that eliminates the need for importing and exporting. Intacct really focuses on being client centric. Collaboration between the accounting firm and clients is top priority. The dashboard-like system enables users to define what they want clients to access.

If you like bookmarks, you can move through the system that way. If you want to use a mouse, you can or you can use keystrokes to move through the program. The reconciling process is very nice and has many different features that help you save time. The report writer is fully customizable and easy to use. After creating financial statements you can publish them to the client dashboard and the client can access these. You can allow clients to do accounts payable but limit their access to certain accounts. You can attach documents right on the fly when you are entering payables or receivables

Intacct prices its system on a per-client-per-month month, which makes it easy to start using it whether yours is a new practice or one that has been around for a while.

The downfall of this software is that you will have to rely on other vendors for other types of programs. However, since Intacct is focused on process and your efficiencies, it has the capability to import and export to many other vendors This program is very good and for a very low price you can start putting your clients on it right away to determine if you should move them all over.

CCH Small Firm Services
Kennesaw, Ga.
(866) 345-4171
www.cchsfs.com
Price $520 Client Accounting Suite

Client Accounting Suite/Client Accounting Suite Premier
Client Accounting Suite is the latest version of a long-standing write-up product from the CCH suite. Originally launched as CPAS, marketed by a company that was acquired by CCH, the program was updated by CCH and made available to CCH Small Firm Services customers as Client Write Up.

With the latest improvements, the product was re-branded as Client Accounting Suite and added the Client Accounting Suite Premier option for CCH customers who need integration with ProSystem fx Tax and Engagement.

Client Accounting Suite is marketed as a comprehensive accounting system designed to handle all your firm's needs. The company offers its top advantages over competing packages as the following:

Financial Statements. Quickly create professional and powerful financial statements using templates or customized layouts. The user controls statement appearance, including orientation, number of columns, placement of underlines and dollar signs, and custom headers and footers. The program offers professional client letters and GAAP-compliant statements.

Streamlined workflow. The system supports heads-down data entry or client data can be imported from third-party general ledger software. There is one entry point for payroll and check information and the application provides for faster and more precise data processing. The system speeds up daily sales and cash deposits entry through a simple Day Sheet Journal.

Integration with tax programs. Year-end balances can be exported to the company's ATX and TaxWise tax software to complete the client's tax return, saving time and ensuring accuracy. If you are using the premier version integrates with ProSystems fx Tax software.

Client Accounting Suite, a solid write-up program, has been expanded to be more comprehensive. The standard windows look and feel makes you very comfortable when first starting to use the program. It has the ability to also handle after-the-fact payroll, live payroll and a client checkbook. The data-entry portion of the program enables you to quickly enter multiple transaction immediately from one screen. You can maneuver around via keystrokes instead of using the mouse. You can fully customize the financial statements through an Excel-based system.

An important feature the ability to turn your English financial statements into Spanish ones via the click of a button. This capability could help you gain clients you may not have been able to service in the past.

The downfall of this program is that unlike the other programs it is not web-based. That means when you put a client on client checkbook you have to import data back to your program. However, if you like technology but are not ready to go fully web-based, you need to have Spanish financial statements and/or you are looking for a lower priced solution that still offers power you need to give this product a good test run.

QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2011
Intuit
Mountain View, Calif.
(877) 683-3280
www.intuit.com
Price: $399.99.

QuickBooks Premier
QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2011 is marketed as an integrated accounting solution with all-in-one bookkeeping, write-up, and financial reporting solution to help accounting professionals work efficiently with multiple QuickBooks clients. The company lists its three attributes as the following:

Client File Manager. It manages ALL your clients' files, passwords and company file upgrades in one place and streamlines how the organization of QuickBooks files, and sees all QuickBooks files on a PC from one easy-to-read window. Files are organized by type, location, version year and last date modified. Clients and their QuickBooks files can be grouped by common characteristics and add notes for each client. That means the accountant spends less time managing and finding usernames and passwords with the built-in password vault. The time needed to upgrade QuickBooks files is reduced via use of the automated batch upgrade tool instead of needing to upgrade files individually.

Client Data Review. Users can save time finding and correcting client entry errors all in one screen. You can troubleshoot and adjust beginning account balances. The accountant can review changes and correct errors made by client to key QuickBooks lists: chart of accounts,  fixed assets and payroll Items. Open items in A/P and A/R can be cleared and sales and payroll tax accounts cleaned up.

Multi-Currency. QuickBooks Accountant supports all global currencies, making it easier for you to support clients, who conduct business with international customers and vendors. The application automatically converts foreign transactions into the home currency designated by the user. Use reports, like "Realized and Unrealized Gains & Losses," to analyze the effect of currency fluctuations on your clients' businesses.

QuickBooks Accountant 2011 has made some improvements that really help an accounting professional use this product as a true Write-Up package. Data entry is very user friendly. If you are comfortable with journal entries, you can enter that way. If you are comfortable with a check register, you can enter that way. Features like client file manager take this program to the next level. Once you set it up, you can find clients more easily. One of the biggest headaches of using the program had been clients on multiple versions and in multiple locations on your hard drive. This is now eliminated.

The client data review screen is another great tool that helps for managing your clients' data more efficiently. You can go in and fix multiple errors at once, a huge time saver. Furthermore, clients can send files while you continue to work using the accounts copy of the file. In 2011, they also eliminated the need for clients to have to import changes. The process is now streamlined so once they receive the email that the file is available, they can just import the changes with no extra steps.

The downfall to the package is that the web0based versions are not quite ready for use for most clients. However, if you are looking for a program that is easy to get in and use, that has many features and is affordable, this is a great product for you. It deserves a very strong look.

Accounting CS
Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 968-8900
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
http://cs.thomsonReuters.com
Price: $2,900 non-network, includes Payroll Compliance; $1,400 (four user), $600 (additional four users).

Accounting CS
Accounting CS is a single powerful accounting application that combines write-up, trial balance, payroll, financial reporting, and client accounting into one platform, one database. The  company lists these items as making it the best choice for accountants.

Revolutionary collaboration features. Accounting CS Client Access redefines collaboration with a shared database that enables you and your clients to access the same data in real time. This makes imports, uploads, transcription errors and client data clean-up a thing of the past.

Powerful cross-client and multi-user processing. The task-based structure allows multiple users to process multiple clients simultaneously. This frees you to divide workloads in new ways and allow staff to specialize by task rather than by client. And a single, unified interface spans the whole process, shortening the learning curve and accelerating productivity.

Unparalleled reporting power. New report options and a custom report designer make it easy to analyze data and add value. Powerful grouping and printing features make it easier to print and distribute reports.

Accounting CS is the next generation of write-up software from Thomson Reuters and is a very impressive program. Those using Write-Up CS will be very excited by the changes.

Accounting CS has a dashboard interface that takes you into the program. While the system is very powerful, the interface is very user friendly. It is easy to move around and accomplish the tasks that needed to be completed. There is one area for entering all your data, which can be done quickly and easily. You can enter it by date and chose your balancing entry. If you are like many accountants nowadays, you are using multiple monitors, this system understands that and takes advantage of that.

Trial balance is now included in the standard product. The charts of accounts have been revamped and have a standard account mapping that makes setting up financial statements much easier than it was in Write-Up CS. An new Accounting CS client allows you to have a checkbook for your clients. As soon as your client does any work, you see it. And the system will track different events, so for instance, if your client or staff makes a change you can still see the old value in the tracking. This is an extremely powerful feature.

From a pure data-entry processing viewpoint, this product is the best I reviewed. There is one data-entry screen and this can be setup up to enable you to work the way you want to - you never have to use a mouse unless you like using the mouse. Once processing is complete, you can just hit "print" and send your financial to your clients portal and/or to your file cabinet. Or you can do process data for multiple clients and then print for different clients .

The downfall of this program is that payables and receivables is not in the program yet. However, I believe that will be remedied shortly. Overall, this is really the best product on the market. If you are looking for ways to streamline and improve your processing and want to take advantage of the latest technologies, this truly is the system for you. This product is a wonderful addition to the other top-notch products. It is worth spending your time reviewing this and seeing how it can benefit your firm.

Julie Lepper, EA

Julie S. Lepper, EA, MBA is the Principal of Julie S. Lepper, Accounting & Tax Service, LLC, a small local accounting firm in Pinckney, MI. She earned her Master's of Business from Eastern Michigan University and her Bachelor's of Accountancy from Walsh College in Michigan. Julie has over 16 years in consulting with client not only accounting and tax issues , but also on software and sales engagements. She specializes in focusing on start-up businesses and small to medium client needs.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2013
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