by Carly Lombardo
Like what you see? Click here to sign up for Accounting Today's daily newsletter to get the latest news and behind the scenes commentary you won't find anywhere else.
Even though Intacct has significantly raised the initial fees for accounting firms that join its e-Practice program, the company says firms are getting more services for their money. It’s something of a pay us now, don’t pay us later program, as the company says the tools will get them up and running more quickly.
“We found accountants were taking too long to set up the system. Now, we’ve bundled in all the seats for the staff members at one location, and we send a team to provide on-site training for its e-Practice members. We want to make it as simple as possible for them, and now they know they’re not getting nickeled and dimed,” says David Thomas, president of the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company.
Although annual fees climbed from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on which membership a firm chooses, firms are joining at a rapid rate. The program has 360 firms that sell Intacct’s Web-based system under their own name. Intacct is adding about six member firms per month. “We want to increase to about 400 firms, but we’re not promoting this—it’s just been word of mouth,” says Thomas.
Intacct’s goal has always been to provide CPAs with instant connectivity to their clients. With the e-Practice suite, CPAs can provide their clients with a full range of services. Intacct’s Accounting on Demand features both core and specialized applications. Some include general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management, employee expenses, inventory control, and time and billing.
To make this even easier, Intacct teamed up with IBM e-business Hosting to provide Big Blue’s Accounting on Demand. While Intacct supplies the online accounting services, IBM provides the servers and manages the database security at one of its hosting centers. The facilities offer high-speed Internet connections and back up data each night to ensure business is never interrupted.
The partnership started about a year ago and hosting fees start at $200. Thomas says, “We formed this partnership for two reasons. IBM provides a full suite of hosting from servers to bandwidths, and it adds credibility to the Intacct program.”
Intacct has expanded its services by providing three online accounting packages: Intacct eLedger, Enterprise, and Mega. If the name eLedger looks familiar, that’s because it belonged to a Findlay, Ohio-based online company named eLedger, that folded during the dot-com craze. Intacct purchased the name from SecureLedger, the successor to eLedger.
E-practice members can subscribe to all products and set them up for their clients. Intacct eLedger provides accounting capabilities for small businesses. The subscription gives users a company console, general ledger, accounts payable, cash management, employee expense, online bill payment, and online documents delivery. The suggested set-up fee for members to charge their clients is $1,000. Craig Remy, Intacct’s marketing director, says, “There is no charge for the member to set up the packages. The suggested set-up fee goes straight into their pocket, providing an extra revenue stream.”
Intacct Enterprise, designed for mid-size companies, adds inventory control, professional time and billing, online delivery for invoices, statements, and payments, plus the features found in eLedger.
Finally, Intacct Mega, the Multi-Entity General Accounting solution, helps assemble any collection of business units into a unified multi-entity accounting system. Organizations that have entities with a homogeneous nature, such as a chain of restaurants, can take advantage of the shared-services infrastructure. Revolving around a centralized integration that operates across the entities, the package is ideal for entities that have the same general ledger accounts, as well as shared vendors and customers. It enables the corporate office to manage activities for multiple entities at either the corporate or individual entity level.
For example, a vendor bill that applies to multiple entities can be paid by corporate from a shared bank account, with the appropriate portion of the expense being automatically distributed across all applicable entities. The system automatically posts any necessary compensating inter-entity transfers without users needing to make adjusting entries in the general ledger.
E-Practice is broken into two programs, Standard and Platinum.
The Standard membership, suited for firms with fewer than five employees, is designed to help assist firms in expanding their client base while increasing efficiency and profitability.
Members are entitled to the accounting suite, marketing tools, initialization, two staff user seats, and access to the live help system. On the back-end, Intacct provides what it calls a practice console, which gives the CPA the ability to see all of the client’s processes. That includes the ability to manage staff and access client accounts. The firms’ staff members can work online with colleagues, bankers, and investors simultaneously, with all parties able to view and interact with the most current accounting data and reports.
In addition, Intacct offers a variety of business applications to enable firms to offer their clients more services. For example, Intacct’s integrated online assurance service, co-developed with Deloitte & Touche, gives users access to audit resources. In fact, Intacct claims cost savings of up to 40 percent compared to what a firm would spend, making audits cost-efficient for small and midsize accounting firms. Also offered are payroll processing, retirement services, and financial analysis. One-time set-up fees for the accounting services cost members $1,500 each. A monthly fee of $50 gives e-Practice staff user access.
The Platinum membership adds unlimited staff seats, an initial training package, and a practice development seminar. Platinum members must attend a training/certification seminar. Intacct hosts the full-day seminar, which must be completed within 90 days of membership. Platinum membership fees include the one time set-up fee for accounting services of $1,500, and e-Practice training, also priced at $1,500.
Joesph Sachetta, partner with Everett, Mass.-based Sachetta & Co., has been a Platinum member for about a year. Although he is “just getting his feet wet,” he wants to learn how to use the software and then teach his clients. “This is a huge market for us to tap into. It’s going to be the wave of the future,” he says. In fact, the firm has 150 clients who want to convert, which is at least two-thirds of its client base, and Sachetta thinks with Intacct he’ll be able to double, if not triple, his client base.
According to Thomas, another plus is the recently introduced security audit program. In a recent survey conducted by IBM about e-business, security was the No. 1 issue. Intacct has faced this head on, and allows members to private-label a security audit questionnaire that helps members record and evaluate their clients’ security systems.
“Members can email the questionnaires to their clients, and it helps the CPA educate clients on backup, implementations, and other security issues,” says Thomas.
Intacct realizes the importance of providing their members with the ability to integrate the accounting packages with other business applications.
In response, Intacct has teamed up with several companies in addition to IBM.
Intacct’s services integrate with tax preparation programs, payroll programs, and financial programs.
For example, Intacct has developed integration with Boston-based OpenAir. OpenAir offers OpenAir Complete, a Web-based suite for mid-market and enterprise customers. It streamlines project-related processes and enables real-time collaboration. The integration between the two companies allows users to move data from the GL, such as client codes or project codes, to OpenAir.
Tax preparation partnerships include Intuit’s Lacerte and CCH’s ProSystemfx. Through the Intuit partnership, Intacct subscribers can export clients’ tax data into Intuit’s Lacerte tax software via the Internet. The CCH partnership also allows subscribers to export clients’ tax data into CCH’s ProSystem fx Tax. In addition, subscribers will also have access to CCH’s publications in print and electronic form for the accounting, legal, human resources, banking, securities, insurance, government, and health care fields.
Carly Lombardo is Associate Editor of Accounting Technology and can be reached at email@example.com.