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REVIEW: Fixed Assets Software

Why would a small to medium-sized accounting firm be interested in using a fixed asset program? It is easy to get stuck on the fact that most fixed asset programs cost a lot of money. After all, in a smaller firm that money comes directly out of your pocket.
However, fixed asset accounting can be another good revenue stream for small to medium-sized firms. It is another service for you to offer current clients and is also another way to attract tax business to generate revenue throughout the year by helping them with their asset and tax planning.

Furthermore, in a climate where our politicians seem to be more and more confused about how to make successful tax policies for corporations, they tend to try to use depreciation as a tool. And as you know, every time there is a change to depreciation rules, we have to understand them and find ways to make the most of the changes for our clients. Having a solid, fixed asset program will help with tax issues. Such an application can also help you with disaster recovery.

Imagine that a client has experienced misfortune, be it a fire or a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado. How nice would be it be if you could make that situation a little better by giving the client a list of the assets that were just lost in order to support insurance claims and thus providing the funds to build the business back up? Now that is being a good business partner.

In this review, we examined the top four programs on the market. You would do well to use any of them. All use the spreadsheet-based model and all will allow you to quickly pull spreadsheets into the programs to get you up and running quickly.

Here are the  products that were reviewed:

• Fixed Assets CS, Thomson Reuters
• ProSystem fx Fixed Assets, CCH
• Sage FAS 2012, Sage North America
• Fixed Assets Web, BNA Software

The programs share several features. Each is very robust and all four offer very flexible and fully customizable report writers, and generally they have many similar features. However, when you actually use the program, how the feature worked is really where the difference is made.

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 extra steps and allow for the least amount of time to accomplish your engagement.


Fixed Assets CS
Dexter, Mich.
(800) (968-8900)
Price: Starts at $1,500.

Fixed Assets CS
Fixed Assets CS is marketed as a flexible way to manage assets and is quick and simple to use. In jthomson reuters logoust an instant, you can customize the way asset data is organized to meet all your asset management needs. It also shares data with the company's next-generation accounting software, Accounting CS, its tax software, UltraTax CS and Write-Up CS. Your asset information is always available, no matter which program you're in.

The company cites the following three items as standing out from the competition:

Streamlined Work Flow. A part of the CS Professional Suite, Fixed Assets CS shares data with the other suite applications, including the Enterprise Suite.

Flexible Reporting. Fixed Assets CS offers a library of standard reports or users can design and print custom reports. Built-in reports can be easily customized. A set of customized reports can be created for particular clients or a template can be utilized to create report profiles.

Wizard Tools. Several easy-to-use wizards are available to speed work. For example, the like-kind exchange feature in the disposal wizard quickly walks users through trading one asset for another. Other wizards include the method/life wizard and an association wizard.

Fixed Asset CS is another great product in the Thomson Reuter line of products. I would agree with the items mentioned by the company as some of the top features. The integration is seamless. In fact, the deprecation program and tax program actually share the files so there is no need to do anything but open up the program. And further, you can create custom report profiles (the ability to save frequently used reports) in the depreciation program, which are also available in the tax program.

Reports are truly flexible. You can use the reports already in the program, but if you desire a report with a different calculation you can easily create it. Charts and graphs show your clients their assets by any valuation you desire. The wizard makes adding assets easy: You pick the type of asset and the system automates the method and life. If you want to see how prior, current or future depreciation was calculated, you can do that too.

From the start, you can design templates that allow you to create standards so you can add assets quickly. Even cooler is that the templates can be used to update all current assets. This can be useful in many different scenarios, including ever-changing tax laws. In most other programs, you would have to manually update assets. And while other programs allow for data to flow to tax programs, this product doesn't just flow-it shares the same file so the data is already in the tax program.

The one downside is that the program isn't truly web-based. But, only one in this article is and there is Virtual Office, which provides hosting for the CS Professional Suite applications. This product has so many time-saving features that you should give it a hard look when making your decision on what fixed asset product to buy.


ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
Riverwoods, Ill.
(800) 739-9998
Price: $1,975 (first user); $175, each additional user.

ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
With ProSystem fx Fixed Assets, just a few clicks of a mouse can take your fixed asset accounting, depreciation, management and reporting tasks from overly complicated tocch logo new absolutely clear. The intuitive interface allows you to view the details of how an asset's current depreciation is calculated.

The company cites the following three items as standing out from the competition:

Integration. This is one of the top advantages that CCH touts for its products. Asset and depreciation detail can be linked directly into ProSystem fx Tax. When used with ProSystem fx Engagement, Fixed Assets accounting files and report PDFs can be stored in binders, streamlining and centralizing your document management. The Report Name/Subtitle can be appended when exporting to Engagement, and multiple fixed assets reports can be combined into a single bookmarked PDF.

Support. CCH believes its support is the best in the business. It includes a variety of tools, as well as a variety of ways to interact with CCH Support. CCH Knowledge Base, an online database of CCH software information, provides step-by-step instruction, along with information on critical known issues and product documentation.

Training. CCH offers onsite and online training for all levels of professional development, including courses that earn CPE credit. Course content and learning tools are available for novices and skilled users to provide the tips, tricks and solid explanations needed to transform your work processes. Available training includes on-demand or online self-study options; Web-based and onsite training; and a variety of seminars and conferences.

Like all other CCH products, this is another wonderful product in the ProSystem fx suite. Of the features mentioned by CCH, I find integration is key. It is so much easier to add a product if you already know how the programs work. Tying into top-notch products like ProSystem fx Engagement and ProSystem fx Tax gives the CCH entry a lot of advantages. While CCH is known for excellent support and training, with all the features and ease of use, you really only need support and training to perfect your processes.

This is a feature-rich program that makes handling of fixed assets a much simpler task. You can customize the screen to view the assets in a way that is most comfortable for you. You can easily group or individually add or dispose of assets. You can have an unlimited number of assets and can calculate a negative depreciation if needed. You can duplicate assets as a way to quickly add new assets. This is a full-featured, easy-to-use system. You can fully customize the reports or you can just use the many standard reports in the program.

Like Thomson's product, this is not web-based but there are so many features that make this system so powerful, it deserves a really strong look, especially for current CCH tax users.


Sage FAS Asset Accounting 2012
Sage North America
Herndon, Va.
(800) 368-2405
Price: FAS 50, $1,495, FAS 100, $2,385.

Sage FAS Asset Accounting 2012
Sage FAS 2012 boasts a brand new experience by including several enhancements that make fixed asset management sage_logo.more pleasant than ever before. It also simplifies common accounting inputs, adjustments and fixed asset reporting while still providing the same powerful depreciation calculations that hundreds of thousands of users have come to rely upon.

The company cites the following three items as standing out from the competition:

Manage complete asset life cycle. The system allows you to start managing the assets from the moment they are purchased to the moment an asset is sold or retired. You can even start the asset while you are building it and creating the WIP as it is being made.

Ease of use. Through extensive usability studies, internal metrics and customer feedback, Sage has proven the product is extremely user friendly.

The Assistance Center. Resources, tools and help are available at your fingertips. Through a combination of in-software and online information, you can now get faster access to the tools and resources that will help you take full advantage of the features of Sage FAS via the Assistance Center. There you can learn tips and best practices for using Sage FAS, and interact with peers and other experts.

Sage has really done a great job with the updated version of its already excellent program. The system reviewed, FAS 100 Asset Accounting, is very comprehensive. When you open it, you can feel the system's power. You have an asset snapshot with the summary of assets. You can create charts and graphs if you prefer to see things visually.

I really liked the Resource Center. If you hire new staff, it gives them a quick and easy way to learn everything they need to know about depreciating and amortizing fixed assets. As with the other programs, you can customize the fields and reports to pretty much anything you want and/or need. There are Excel-like functions built-in such as freezing columns or rows.

With Sage FAS, you can track revenue generated from assets, such as support contracts, subscriptions, rentals and easements. You can easily identify an asset as amortizable property and use one or more of their numerous customizable reports to easily track the revenue you can recognize each period.

For clients that have been using the program, Sage has maintained the best features and then added more to give more tools to increase productivity. There is a built-in search-and-replace function that is great for tax law changes or any changes that need to be made to multiple assets.

The downside to the program is that while Sage's applications can link to other products, they lack the kind of integration that both Thomson Reuters and CCH have. If that is something that you don't need, this is an outstanding product. It has lots of functionality and features that make managing your fixed asset life cycle almost fun.

Fixed Assets Web
BNA Software
Arlington, Va.
(800) 424-2938
Price: Starts at $1,925 for one user.

Fixed Assets Web
BNA Fixed Assets, an easy-to-use, cost-effective application, enables tax and accounting professionals in companies oBNA Software logof any size to more efficiently manage the complete fixed asset lifecycle. With BNA Fixed Assets, you gain an end-to-end fixed asset and depreciation management system from construction and acquisition through disposal.

BNA Fixed Assets Web provides fixed asset and depreciation management expertise to meet the needs of any size organization. This Web-based solution reduces the burden on IT while improving the efficiency of the fixed-asset process.

The company cites the following three items as making the product stand out from the competition:

Expertise. BNA, a name associated with high-quality products, has a long history and has more than 60,000 customers including the IRS. Its tax expertise is built right into program.

Scalability. While Fixed Assets Web can handle the needs of a Fortune 100 company, it can also work very well for a small client with multiple assets.

Comprehensive fixed asset reports and forms. Unlike when you use spreadsheets, you'll never have to spend hours combining, merging and manipulating data to create comprehensive reports. BNA Fixed Assets offers the comprehensive fixed asset reporting capabilities, allowing you to quickly generate the reports that matter most to you and your stakeholders. Reconciliation-oriented reports support fixed asset accounting, tax, property tax and management needs. Fixed asset report wizards easily provide access to 30 fully customizable, predefined standard reports.

Fixed Asset Web, a very impressive program, is the first web-based fixed asset program. There is no limit to what can be done with this program. If you have a client that has several separate entities but you need to have them consolidated into one, this program handles it ease. You can keep entities separate and through a consolidation feature, you can combine them all into one and do all the reporting you need.

The system offers role-based security and you can set up policies for assets. For larger clients, there are power tools to help manage the data more effectively. You can set up templates for industries. The program handles multiple currencies. You can build assets and use Construction in Progress. This is a high-quality, easy-to-use program that can do it all.

The software does not integrate directly other write-up, engagement or tax programs. If you are comfortable with linking this program to such applications, it deserves a very strong look. It is one of the best on the market.

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.

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