While there are bookkeeping packages that can handle multiple companies but that is not the intention of the design. Bookkeeping software does not necessarily handle after the fact payroll. And if you work with many clients and have many different kinds of engagements, you need a process that allows you to maximize your time to its fullest capacity.
In addition, most bookkeeping software does not allow you to fully customize your financial statements. Yes, we accountants love Excel. However, is playing with spreadsheets the most productive use of your time? Does the software you use to bill clients work with your accounting software? Are you able to pull in bank information online to eliminate manual bank reconciliations? How does data go from one program to another? How do you track who your clients are and what services you provide them?
Who are your best new prospective clients? The new entrepreneurs that have been texting and using computers since they have been very young. Are you going to impress them and get them as clients if you don’t have the right tools yourself? And frankly with many of the programs that are reviewed here, we are talking about providing clients with real time data to help them make decisions that can make the difference between staying in business and going under.
Long gone are the days when we can wait until the end of the year to find out what is new with our clients. The new tax laws, the new accounting rules, the new security issues make talking to your clients on a more regular basis almost mandatory. One of the most common requests I receive more and more is to act as a Virtual or Remote Controller/CFO. The Virtual CFO is a way for accounting firms to help clients that either can’t afford to hire a CFO or who trust the accounting firm and want to use the accounting firm's expertise to help grow their own business. This means an accounting firm must to find a way to instantly view their clients' data so they can manage accounts payable, accounts receivables, payroll, and coaching for their clients.
This service is now possible with changes made to many of the programs reviewed here. AccountantsWorld, Intacct, Intuit and Thomson Reuters all have the ability to allow for Virtual CFO services.
In the review we will share how each program is marketed, what each company feels is the competitive advantages, what it is like to do a monthly client on the system from a practical point and the downfall of each program.
Now that you are ready to really use the program, how good is it and can it help you save time so you can add more clients or are you then stuck with a program that is a time sink. 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.
Price: $99 per month or $990 per year.
Although AccountantsWorld has an excellent write-up product, it is promoting the Power Practice System, designed for a small public practitioner. Not only do you get an excellent write-up system in Power Practice System, you also get seven additional practical, innovative, powerful yet easy-to-use tools that work together seamlessly to solve the key problems accountants face today in their day-to-day work.
The top items they feel make them the best choice are the following:
1. Program tools to allow you to be a virtual CFO.
2. Client dashboards enable you to know what is happening with your clients all the time
3. Client collaboration tools let you work with your clients while staying in command, serving as a project leader and a coach.
What a difference a year makes. While the program was quite impressive last year when I reviewed, it is even more impressive this year. You can really tell that this company is working hard to ensure that the product is a top contender for accountants. If you are interested in being a virtual CFO, this product makes that very efficient. I loved the ability to attach files to most places in the program. While a file cabinet type program is included, the company understands that while reviewing either your client or your staff’s data entry, you just want to see quickly the source document. You have the ability to pull in bank statements so you can quickly and easily do a bank rec. You can do the same for the credit card statements.
The trial balance had a very unique feature. It has tickmarks but not in the way you might expect. Instead of needing to know that a red checkmark means an item was reviewed and a red x means it needs to be reviewed, you actually can note the status, so anyone reviewing the trial balance knows what it means. It is a refreshing feature.
The system comes with many “canned” statements. Or you can fully customize them. It is very easy to use. The integration between the other programs is something you can no longer just view as an added bonus; it is now what makes the difference between having a successful accounting practice or an accounting practice that may be unable to compete in this decade.
When you look at doing a quick monthly process, this was not the fastest system I reviewed. You must use the mouse and you have to enter data in different journals as there was no way to set up a standard set of monthly, quarterly or yearly financial statements that you can set up and then just select at the end of the processing period.
Overall, the system is very good. I am very confident AccountantsWorld is working hard to have the best program. If you are looking at a way to transform your practice into more than just another accounting firm, this product deserves a strong look.
Accounting XPert Enterprise Edition
Boca Raton, Fla.
Price: $995 (single user); $245 (each additional concurrent user).,
Accounting XPert Enterprise Edition
The Accounting Xpert Enterprise Edition sets the standard for write-up software in the market today. Easy-to-use, fast, efficient, and well documented, including on-line tutorials, the Xpert package is a complete integrated system comprised by of Write-up, Bank Reconciliation, ATF Payroll and the W2 /1099 Laser Module. Xpert can accommodate virtually any type of client and satisfy the needs of any size practice.
The company believes its advantages are the following:
1. Fast Data Entry. There are three main ways to enter data. Furthermore, you never have to use your mouse. You can enter data very quick and efficiently.
2. The Management Console offers a quick way to view your clients' information. It is fully customizable for each client and you can easily drill down to view details.
This is the latest and greatest version of the software from Micronetics. There have been made a lot of changes and the new software was impressive. I loved the management console. It is nice to come in and see what is going on and needs to be done next and you can schedule things out to the future to help guide your clients. The monthly processing is fast and easy.
In fact, it was one of the faster systems. You do have to go to different journals, you do have to post and you do have to select your financials every period. The main downfall of the program is that I personally believe you are no longer just doing write up work. When you are done with the month and process the statements, where do you store them? Is it really secure to email them to clients?
Overall, the data entry speed is very good. The financial statements are easy to set up and you can quickly print them every month. If you are looking for just a write-up system, this is a good product for you.
Intacct Accountant Edition
San Jose, Calif.
Price: Starts at $20 per month.
Intacct Accountants Edition
Intacct, the preferred Provider of Financial Applications for AICPA business solutions, marketed its offerings as superior financial applications that provide, real-time business visibility, an open, on-demand platform and a better way to run your business.
The company lists these strengths:
1. As an Internet-based product, it enables client and firm employees to collaboratively participate in financial workflow and frees firms and clients from IT burdens.
2. The Accountant’s Console for Client Management provides a unified Client view, configurable permissions and Inter-firm collaboration.
3. Robust Product Capabilities include reporting and financial statement flexibility and client dashboards and scheduled reporting.
Intacct has a very impressive program. Along with many standard features such as after the payroll, easy to design and fully customizable financial statements, this program has also gone beyond. You can manage your practice in one place. You can see who attached what supporting documents. As with Accounting Relief you can attach documents to the program which is a huge benefit and time saver.
While this system takes advantage of technology, you don’t need to use a mouse everywhere. It is a good balance of using the keyboard for your major data entry and then using the mouse on occasion. You can bookmark common journal entries. While several products have similar functions, Intacct has in my opinion does it better than most. There is a library of statements to chose from when you get started. The company also helps develop a deployment plan.
With most work done on the keyboard, you can quickly enter the data. You have the common bookmarks and you can attach the source document to the data entry. The downfall of this software is Intacct does not have a full suite of software. However, there are so many other benefits to this software that is worth getting a demo and seeing if it can work for your practice.
QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2010
Mountain View, Calif.
QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2010
QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2010 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 companies sees the following features as distinguishing this product from competitors.
Client Data Review. Users save time finding and correcting client entry errors all in one screen. You can troubleshoot and adjust beginning account balances and review changes and correct errors made by client to key QuickBooks lists, charts of accounts, items, Fixed Asset Items, Payroll Items. You can also clear open items in A/P and A/R. and clean up sales and payroll tax accounts.
The Statement Writer consistently creates accurate statements quickly, generate supporting documents such as letters in Microsoft Word using bundled templates, and work more efficiently using enhanced formatting features.
The updated 2010 version has some key improvements that really make using this program even better. As with some of the other programs in this review, it has the attach document feature. While I didn’t focus much on the set up in this review overall, QuickBooks added a feature that makes setting up your clients very easy.
There is also wonderful integration with Excel. If you have a vendor list in Excel, it can be cut and paste in the program making set up so easy it is almost not set up at all. If a client or a data entry person enters information in the wrong account, instead of going transaction by transaction and changing them you can quickly move them all at once. Just as other programs in the review, the company snapshot is very nice. You can set up the system to meet the needs of your clients’ individual tastes.They can see what they want to see right away without having to remember what report they are supposed to view.
When looking this from a purely monthly data entry process, it is one of the better and easier systems to use. You can go into the check register and just drop in the checks if you haven’t printed the checks out of the system. You have memorized transactions you can use. The downfall is besides the check register view for data entry you have to create a double sided entry, whereas all the other programs allow you to set up what account to balance to and then enter dates separately. Which if you are truly doing “Write-Up” work, you need in a system.
Over all, it is a solid program that has made a lot of improvements and will continue to be one of the top sellers on the market.
Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting
Price: $2,900 includes Payroll Compliance.
Accounting CS is marketed as unprecedented collaboration between accountants and clients, as a new generation of professional accounting software that combines powerful functionality and unprecedented collaboration capabilities into a single, integrated, unparalleled package.
The top items they feel make them the best choice are the following:
Powerful Cross-Client and Multi-User Processing - The task-based structure of Accounting CS 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.
Flexible Document Creation and Output - Use standard reports and financial statements or create an unlimited variety of custom report formats. Then, group those reports into firm-wide report profiles that can be used over and over for multiple clients. When you're ready to print, it's easier than ever to get exactly what you want the first time.
Accounting CS is the next generation of write-up software for Thomson Reuters. And boy has Thomson Reuters hit this product out of the park. As it is relatively new, I really wasn’t expecting much to be in the first version of this software. Wow! This is a very impressive program. Those using the Write-Up CS will be very excited to change to this product. Those not using this product really need to take a look at it. You have one area to enter all your data, it is quick and easy to do. 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 and is on screen at all times. The chart of accounts have been revamped and have a standard account mapping that makes setting up financial statements much easier than it has ever been in this system. It is the only system I reviewed that allows you design your financial statements and then set up a “profile” that can be run every period without extra steps.
From a pure data entry processing this product is the best I reviewed. You have one data entry screen you can enter your data ( you can set the screen up to work the way you work), you never have to use a mouse unless you like using the mouse. Once you are done processing you can just hit print and send your financial to your clients portal and/or to your file cabinet. The downfall of this program is that payables and receivables and check writing is not in the program yet. It will be there shortly and I believe it will be like many of the other products on the market.
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.
Price: $499 (single user); $1,399 (five users).
CaseWare is marketed as enhancing performance and extending core capabilities of accountants, auditors and financial managers in over 13 countries For smarter, smoother engagements.
The top areas that they feel they are better than the competitors are as follows:
Revolutionary Report Writer - Use standard reports and financial statements or create an unlimited variety of custom report formats. Then, group those reports into firm-wide report profiles that can be used over and over for multiple clients. When you're ready to print, it's easier than ever to get exactly what you want the first time.
Electronic Review and Monitoring - Working Papers lets you track and monitor specific history events so you are always up to speed. To easily go back in time, a copy of the file can be saved automatically at specific milestones. Interactive issues/review notes can be created, assigned, tracked and controlled for any document in the engagement file. Sign-offs accommodate up to eight signatures and utilize a color-coding to quickly assess the status of the review process. The Document Manager provides filters allowing for quick review of the completion status of documents and issues.
CaseWare is a very good program. It really has more of a work papers type of focus but it also makes a good write- up product. The program has many features that the other systems don’t have. If you have a transaction that requires sales tax, you can set it up so that it calculates it out automatically for you once it is set up. It has a built in document manager so there is no need for attaching files. You can drag and drop information to the manager. You can annotate right in the program and hyperlink to the documents and view in the internal image viewer. It makes very good use of the technologies available to allow the program to be user friendly.
As far as monthly processing goes, it really is designed more for a work papers type program. That has some interesting advantages. When you are entering data you can see the account balances of the accounts you are posting to, and you can see total balances for each month. You go to the journal you want you have the ability to have quick look ups and drop down lists, you can set up the system to have you either enter in debit and credit columns or to just use the minus key for the credits. It is not one of the fastest or most efficient systems for handling monthly processing. However, depending on the type of engagements you provide this is a wonderful program with many advantages. It is worth a strong review.
In conclusion, this is a great time of year to look at your processes and engagements and decide if you really have the right tools to operate your firm to your fullest potential. Once you review your processes, you should have enough details to chose one or two software programs to review. Now is the time to make some changes and take advantage of these wonderful programs and start to improve your firm’s bottom line. Enjoy and good luck with your personal review.