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REVIEW: Client Write-Up Solutions 2013

In the crazy days of the past decade, it has often been hard to separate old-school manual procedures from the cutting edge accounting requirements of the clients we serve today.

Corporate misdeeds have ushered in a new era of compliance and accountability. Storage of paper documents has virtually disappeared, and computing is done in the cloud. Mobile devices rule the work place, and more than a few accounting offices now have multiple monitors for each professional.

But Client Write-Up is still a critical accounting service.

That didn't seem to be the case just a few years ago, which the preparation of un-audited and unverified financial statements seems a sure course for disaster. Or at best a menial, manual task on the same order as bank reconciliation.

But an interesting thing has happened over the past five years – clients actually expect their accountants to be partners in their firm. To identify problems before they hit the bottom line. To help correct compliance issues before it is mandated by a court. To give management a heads-up before a line item becomes a crisis. And in this process, the simple financial statements of Client Write-Up have become the first line of defense.

Fortunately, this class of software has improved over the past decade, and today offers superlative results worth of the accountant and the firm's management. Here, for 2013, are the top contenders in their class.

Accounting CS
Thomson Reuters
Dexter, Mich.
(800) 968-8900
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: Starts at $2,900.

Accounting CS
Accounting CS uses a single database to put write-up, trial balance, financial reporting, payroll compliance, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, after-the-fact-payroll and client accounting applications on a single platform.

Accounting CS is designed with the ability to add accounts and vendors on the fly, store information for an unlimited number of years for general ledger balances and other transactions, and edit transactions that have already been entered.

It provides a task-based structure that gives multiple users simultaneous access to client files, giving the firm greater flexibility in assigning workloads, and allows users to create and process reports across multiple clients at the same time.

Meanwhile, Accounting CS Client Access provides firm clients with a full-featured small business accounting system that is integrated with the accounting firm, creating a seamless, secure, automated workflow. It shares deposits, checks, payrolls and other client transactions with the firm instantaneously, eliminating imports, exports and cumbersome integration with third-party software.

New for 2013 are a Print Reports Screen that automatically saves previous adjustments; new report filtering options; the ability to import vendors and customers from a spreadsheet file; the ability to quickly set up recurring accounts payable transactions; and an optional "transaction date defaults posting period."

Accounting Relief
Hauppauge, N.Y.
(888) 999-1366
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: $990 per year or $99 per month for unlimited clients. Client bookkeeping module, $9.95 per month per client. First Year pricing: $149/month for Accounting Relief and unlimited client bookkeeping.

Accounting Relief
Accounting Relief, a unified accounting system that provides traditional business accounting features, also includes write-up, trial balance and financial reporting systems for use by accountants. Accountants are able to work collaboratively with their clients, supervising the entire accounting process and letting clients perform only the functions they can perform comfortably without making errors.

Write-Up services include reconciliation, reporting, check writing and general ledger along with trial balance capabilities and options for after-the-fact payroll, live payroll, and a collaborative bookkeeping system for the firm's client. Dashboards, analytics, alerts and other tools allow accountants to act as a virtual controller or CFO for their clients, and all are integrated into the cloud-based application.

Accounting Relief was initially introduced in 2007, but was rewritten in 2012 using Microsoft MVC. With its new redesign, Accounting Relief now has a revamped user interface, greater usability and 100-percent compatibility with all browsers, including mobile devices. A new app, Accounting Relief Mobile, also provides access to many program features, including running exception and GL reports, viewing registers and transactions, managing payables, customer balances and income expense summaries.

Accounting Relief is seamlessly integrated with CyberCabinet— the company's online document management system and client portal. This enables users to make their accounting system paperless, and allows accountants to give clients 24x7 access to their financials and reports.

CCH ProSystem fx Engagement/ATC Client Accounting Suite
CCH Small Firm Services
Kennesaw, Ga.
(888) 455-0183
Price: Client Accounting Suite, $599. Client Accounting Suite with Payroll, $899.

ProSystem fx Engagement/ATC Client Accounting Suite
CCH Small Firm Services offers two write-up systems – Client Accounting Suite, a write-up system designed for accountants and integrated with the ATX and TaxWise product lines. one within its ATX Client Accounting Suite, and the other as part of its Engagement system in the ProSystem fx Suite.

Key features of the ATX Client Account Suite are its Spanish-language capabilities; integration with  Small Firm Services' line of accounting and workflow products; and the flexibility of its financial statements. Users may create statements using templates or customized layouts. The user can control the 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-required statements.

CCH Small Firm Services also offers Client Accounting Suite Premier, which provides all the functionality of Client Accounting Suite plus integration with the CCH ProSystem fx Tax and Practice Management solutions.

ProSystem fx Engagement can be used to import raw client data, prepare adjustments, create financial statements and export completed data to tax returns. It also functions as the central location for tracking, reporting, review, sign-off and archiving.

CaseWare Working Papers 2014
CaseWare International
(800) 267-1317 (press 3 for sales on the main menu)
Price: $515 (single-user license); $1,550 (up to five users); $300 (per each user after five). SmartSync, optional add-on, $105 per user. Connector, optional add-on, $65 per user.

CaseWare Working Papers 2014
CaseWare Working Papers offers features for document management, real-time collaboration, direct scanning, online review, efficient clean-up, sophisticated lockdown and advanced roll-forward.

Financial statements can be easily turned into client-ready reports that automatically link to the client data using either the built-in report writer, CaseView, or by linking information to Microsoft Word and Excel. Documents can be converted to PDF format for communication with clients.

Data can be directly imported directly from most accounting software packages. The review process is automated with history tracking, milestone creation, issue/review notes, diagnostics, a full annotation system and online sign-offs, with no need for paper. Reports are created via "smart technologies" that automate formatting, rounding, diagnostics, account amounts, text, account balances and even financial notes based on set preferences.

New for the 2014 version are the ability to import adjusting journal entries from the import wizard for ASCII and Excel files; two new customizable adjusting entry types; the ability to display long and short entity names for consolidated client files; and support for "retained earnings"-type journal entries.

Add-ons include CaseWare Connector that enables users to quickly and easily link data between the engagement file and Word and Excel documents; CaseWare Financials that allows you to prepare GAAP, GASB or IFRS financial statements; SmartSync that improves team collaboration greatly by allowing users to sync engagement files in real time, from local or remote locations; and CaseWare Collaborate, a web-based tool, that can be used to manage all Working Papers engagements through a simple to use web interface as well as provide Client Portal, Document Management and social networking abilities.

Client Write-Up 2013
Drake Software
Franklin, N.C.
Phone: (828) 524-8020
Price: Free with Unlimited version of Drake Software; $295 with pay-per-return version; $445 for non-Drake customers ($295 Annual Renewal).

Client Write-Up 2013
Drake Client Write-Up is a full-scale accounting package with additional modules for payroll, bookkeeping, contractor payments, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and "on-the-fly" forms.

The Payroll module provides live and after-the-fact employee payroll with additional portal access available on the Internet. With the Bookkeeping module, users can set up a custom chart of accounts, import from an existing client or use a template. During setup, it is possible change account information as needed, add account levels, enter current, budget and starting balances, and export to Drake Tax Software.

Direct Deposit is available for Employee payroll and contractor payments. Intercept EFT provides processing for files that go to the banks. The Accounts Receivable module may be used to send invoices and customer statements and to post customer payments, penalties, and service charges.

With the On-the-fly Forms module, easily create for printing or e-filing federal Forms 940, 941, 941SS, 941X, 943, 943X, 944, 944SS, 944X, 945, 945X, W-2, W-2G, 1098-Mort and the following 1099 forms: A, B, C, DIV, INT, MISC, PATR R and S.

Recent enhancements include upgraded security features; import capabilities from spreadsheets; the ability to print all forms and documents in PDF format; and the ability to print mailing labels using roll labels.

Intacct Accountant Edition
Intacct Corp.
San Jose, Calif.
(877) 968-0600
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Price: starts at $20/month per client.

Intacct Accountant Edition
Intacct Accountant Edition, a unified, cloud-computing based accounting system, provides CPA firms with the opportunity to deliver a wide variety of accounting services to their clients.

From write-up to collaborative accounting to outsourced controllership and CFO services, the product is designed to facilitate trusted, advisory relationships between CPA firms and their clients.

Intacct Accounting Edition supports write-up capabilities such as financial statement generation, attestation and compilation as part of a broad range of capabilities that a CPA firm may offer their clients. It includes automated tools to extract financial data from QuickBooks, flexible utilities to import data from other accounting systems, or the client may use Intacct as their bookkeeping and accounting system.

The CPA can automatically generate compilations of financial statements, charts, graphs, key performance indicators, benchmarks and compilation letters for their clients. The firm's staff can access and manage all of their clients from centralized, web-based consoles.

The write-up capabilities are designed to help CPAs deliver value-added services to their clients. With the opportunity to offer much more than just financial statements, such personalized metrics, benchmarks, dashboards and interactive reports,

Intacct Accounting Edition is designed to be a gateway for trusted advisor services. It is designed to help migrate clients from write-up to higher value, more strategic and higher-margin services like collaborative accounting, outsourced controllership and CFO services.

QuickBooks Accountant for 2013
Mountain View, Calif.
(800) 765-7777
Price: $499.95 for single user; $1,399.95 (three users). Monthly subscriptions, $49.99 (one user); $149.99 (three users).

QuickBooks Accountant for 2013
QuickBooks Accountant Edition for 2013 is Intuit's bookkeeping, write-up and financial reporting solution for accounting professionals who support multiple clients using QuickBooks for their accounting software. The 2013 solution provides expanded tools for productivity and collaboration, with significant incremental changes over the 2012 version.

Key features include the ability to batch-enter transaction, and to paste and save more than 1,000 Excel spreadsheet entries into QuickBooks; the ability to email journal entries to clients directly from QuickBooks; and the ability to integrate third-party apps with fewer steps to download and install.

Enhancements in the 2013 version include enhanced navigation via a new ribbon and left-hand navigation bar; bigger fonts; the ability to write off multiple invoices all at once instead of one at a time, generating a corresponding sales tax credit memo at the same time; the ability to quickly set up new clients using templates; and improved Customer, Employee and Vendor centers for improved contact capabilities.

Dave McClure

David P. McClure is a technologist and business consultant whose career has included eight years with the NASA Space Shuttle Program and assignments in marketing, environmental services, software publishing and broadband.  He founded the US Internet Industry Association, the nation's primary trade association for Internet and broadband companies.  In 2004 he was awarded a Cornerstone Award for leadership in the broadband industry.  In the same year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Corporation, the non-profit corporation that oversees the nation's $8 billion universal service telecommunications fund.  His areas of expertise include software management, strategic and market planning, global technology policy and technology audits.  He is the author of more than 100 white papers on business management, technology, customer service and strategic planning.

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