Special Reports

Special Reports (145)

The Progressive Accountant is the leading online communit of public tax and accounting professionals focused on using technology to better manage and grow their practice.

Engagement Software Grows Up

When we first started looking at trial balance software ten years ago there was a laundry list of companies that we'd wade through for reviews. In reality, no company yet offered a complete collection of software  - trial balance, audit tools, paperless tracking - that we could label as engagement software.

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Mid-market Packages Mean Business

Mid market imageBusinesses outgrow their small business accounting package for any number of reasons. Surprisingly, it’s not a user count problem anymore– thanks to products like Peachtree Quantum and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions which offer multi-user solutions for small businesses. Rather for mid-market companies, system limitations tend to result from changes in the nature of their business –expansion into new product areas, new distribution channels, or new geographies. These are the business requirements that tend to separate the men from the boys and the business owner from her checkbook.

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Practice Management Software Critical in Tough Times

While any accountant can appreciate the value of practice management, this part of the firm's business becomes mission-critical in times of economic downturn. When new clients are harder to come by, and existing clients have greater needs but less to spend, the ability to track time, bill it effectively, and management receivables, all become crucial to the survival of the firm and its growth in the post-recession period.

Some firms, particularly small to mid-sized practices, have their greatest need in the ability to management the time spent by each staff member. Larger firms must fit this need within a larger context, and be able to integrate it seamlessly with other applications for document management, customer relationship management, and project management.

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Write-up Software: A Lot More Than a Necessary Evil

Back in 1994, when I started at a mid-sized CPA firm we didn’t offer write-up services, unless it was for a key client who begged for it. Write-up work was for new staffers and “bookkeepers”. While accounting software and technology has changed over the years, most accountants and CPAs still view write-up as a necessary evil. After starting my own practice in 2005, I no longer share this view and see all the work in my firm as being important. Each type of engagement is a way to ensure my clients are doing all they can to maximize profitability. This means enabling clients to focus on what they do best and what earns them the most revenue possible. The good news is that most accounting software now uses technology that embraces that philosophy and can provide the tools needed to change our focus to complement the new way of accounting for accounting professionals.

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Meeting the Needs of Small Businesses (and their Accountants) Is No Small Feat

confusingWhen talking about small business accounting software, the key word (or more precisely, phrase) has to be “ease of use.”  That’s what each of the vendors in this space is trying to accomplish.  What’s interesting is the diversity of approaches they take in achieving this goal.  Apparently one man’s “ease of use” is another man’s bloated screen; one woman’s need to pull out the right information is offset by another women’s desire to have everything at her manicured fingertips; and one accountant’s need for complete system access is another auditor’s independence nightmare. In short, there are competing needs for different users but thankfully, these vendors deliver something for everyone.

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2009 Tax Preparation Software Review

"'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." – quote by Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, (re-printed in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817)

Two-hundred twenty years later, we can be certain that tax practitioners must have tax preparation software.  Since the 1980s, tax software has continued to mature. It now serves practitioners of all sizes. Currently, we have evolved to the point where it would be unproductive to work without tax software as evidenced by this statistic: tax professionals e-filed over 57 million individual tax returns with the IRS in 2007.

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TPS Software

TPS Software Time and Billing is a local-install application designed for firms with moderated growth and 15 to 20 timekeepers.  While it may not have the best first impression with some design elements going back five to ten years, accountants don't really need the eye candy found in some of the competition.  Users can quickly recognize that the application is all about professional service business: record time, manage time, bill time, and collect money.  Dedicated to accountants, TPS has created a software package that meets the needs of its users by adding in those features most relevant to their needs (as gathered through an annual users' survey) and maintaining a strong client connection.

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Timeslips by Sage

Timeslips by Sage is a local-install time and billing application developed for professional-service providers. An additional web application subscription is available for online time tracking and expense slip entry; data entered via the web must be synchronized with the local application.  The central emphasis is case management, so it can be adapted for providers with engagements, but may not be a perfect fit.  Typically, firms using Timeslips have 3-7 users.

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Imagine Time

If you are already familiar with the Imagine Time application, the just-released update is a significant improvement over the previously available version.  For those looking at it for the first time, you’ll be introduced to a product that gives a remarkably unique look to time and billing that can quickly be recognized as accountant-specific.  Retaining functionality that makes it a good fit for small businesses in need of a desktop time and billing application, Imagine integrates new navigation concepts from Microsoft while retaining the layout of the data entry screens from their previous version.   The application caters specifically to its small CPA firm client base, and would fit well in a firm with 10-15 timekeepers.

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Caseware Time

Caseware Time is the central component of Caseware's practice management product, Time & Today.  Intended for local installation (or hosted from a Terminal Server), a module called Time Web Sheets that provides web-based time entry from the client's web server is now available.   Mid-size firms and firms with branch-office locations can use the scalable back-end recently released and the Terminal Server compatibility.  Setup includes the ability to import balances, client lists, and other user-specified data through text files.

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