Write-up Power Hitters

Each software package, like each player, has something to offer.


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This past summer, I had the dubious privilege of assistant coaching the men's recreational software team I had played on for several years. My responsibilities included creating the weekly lineup. That involved choosing from our 15 players which 10 would play where each inning. Each player had different strengths and shortcomings, so I had to assess their respective capabilities to ensure that the players chosen would maximize our chances at defeating that week's opponent.

After much deliberation, I came up with three different traits to evaluate the capabilities of each player-flexibility, efficiency, and integration. I rated how agile and reactive (flexible) each player was in different game situations. I also evaluated how quickly (efficiency) they fielded the ball once put in play by the batter. And finally, it was important that they support and work well with other players (integration). Carefully analyzing these specific elements provided the information I needed to create a starting line up to reflect the talents of each player.

As I began to evaluate the various write-up packages for this review, I quickly realized that these same attributes of flexibility, efficiency, and integration were relevant in assessing the products relative strengths and weaknesses. The more flexible the chart of accounts and financial statement set up, the more accommodating the end result. Products with quick, simple data entry provide efficient processing and analysis. Integration with other vendors' products and with those in the same software family data sharing and eliminates redundant data entry. As was the case with the players on my software team, many of the write-up products reviewed excelled in these areas, some were barely passable, but all, in some way, contributed to providing an effective and profitable write-up solution.

Partner Insights

Write-up software has always been a fairly straightforward accounting software application. Its primary function is to organize clients' receipts and disbursements in a meaningful fashion in order to create trial balances and financial statements. Many solutions go beyond the basics by providing after-the-fact payroll, vendor payments, bank reconciliation, and fixed asset tracking features. A few even cross over into workpaper preparation and analytical review. However, at the end of the day, it is the fundamental ability of write-up software to proficiently compile transaction data into meaningful financial statements for review and distribution that determines their ultimate adoption and success within your firm.

Keeping this in mind, flexibility is a key trait as the very nature of write-up software is to accommodate the wide array of client account structure and reporting scenarios within your firm's population of clients. Important characteristics to consider here include the size and segmentation of the chart of account number, the number of fiscal reporting periods, the ability to modify data-entry screens and reports, the availability of user-defined fields and default set-up choices for transaction entry and posting options. One item to especially consider is if the financial statement formats are part of the chart of accounts set up, which somewhat limits flexibility, or if they are independent, thereby using report writers capable of producing a wider variety of multiple financial statement reporting scenarios.

Efficiency relates to how quickly information for new clients can be created and transactions entered. Most of the packages reviewed provide the ability to quickly copy set up, account, and financial statement information from similar clients or templates. The ability to import account and beginning balance information from other software products also expedites the set-up process considerably. Standard, recurring, reversing, and automatic journal entries all contribute to reducing the number of data-entry steps. Summary reports that allow drill down to detail account information expedite research and reconciliation processes. Wizards facilitate transaction and report creation by providing the user a consistent series of steps to follow and pre-defined lists of options to choose.

Integration measures how well the product fits in and works with other software products sold by the vendor as well as popular accounting and productivity software. Primarily, these other applications include tax, payroll, depreciation, and spreadsheets. Eliminating the need for redundant entry of shared client information promotes effective use and reduces the likelihood of errors. In some cases, the vendors offer Web-based software options to promote shared responsibility between your firm and your clients. In many cases, firms will choose a write-up system based mainly upon which other applications work with it, making this as a priority above all other features.

When evaluating the many various write-up packages, keep in mind that they all provide varying levels of functionality-the challenge is to select the package most appropriate for your needs. If your firm concentrates on a high volume of clients in a few select industries, then the ability to copy standard set-up information from one client to another is of vital significance. On the other hand, if you have clients in quite a few industries, flexible reporting is more likely a more important concern. Strategically evaluate the attributes of each write-up package. In doing so you will most likely select the one whose feature set is most capable of providing you a solution that's a winner.

CPAAccounting Manager

CPAAccounting Manager is a full suite of integrated accountant oriented applications. Within this group, the CPA Client Write-Up module provides robust write-up functionality capable of meeting the requirements of most firms with clients in a wide variety of industries.

The main CPA Client Write-Up window is divided into the four main tasks of check entry, journal entry, account reconcile, and financial statement printing. The Client set-up window shares data entered with other CPA Accounting tax and financial applications. Five custom fields track information specific to your firm's clients. Transaction set-up choices include choosing between batch or real-time posting. Fiscal period definitions provide the appropriate defaults for transaction entry. You can create a new client chart of accounts or copy a chart from an existing client or sample industry. The account number consists of two parts, a main and department segment. Budget set up accommodates multiple year entries for both balance sheet and income statement accounts and can be based on previous-year budget or actual amounts. Additional set-up options include after-the-fact payroll and vendor set up.

The Activities menu provides different options for entering transactions. These include journal entry routines, batch posting, bank reconciliation, import, and export functions, voiding and correcting entries and the working trial balance. Data entry allows you to switch between single entry of checks or multiple entry through the check register-a method that also allows deposits, transfers, and voids. Additional transaction entry items include journal entries, recurring journal entries, and deposits. You can import data by mapping to your client's general ledger software and then verifying or adjusting the information using the onscreen working trial balance.

CPAClient Write-Up provides several financial statement templates that are easily copied and modified. The financial statement set-up functions like a spreadsheet with columns, rows, and cells. Creating new statements is an intuitive and flexible process, involving selecting the columns from a pick list of multiple choices and then creating the specific row detail. Print queues organize specific statements by client for recurring printing. Financial statements allow on-screen drilldown from the displayed summary balances to the account level detail.

Import and export capabilities include links to payables, payroll, depreciation, and tax preparation programs. Web-based processing is also offered as an optional method of entering transactions and processing or accessing reports.

CPAAccounting Manager
Sage Software
Pensacola, Fla.
(800) 966-1347
Price: $1,285 (unlimited users, clients).

ProSystem fx Write-Up

ProSystem fx Write-Up provides easy integration with other CCH products, including tax, engagement, and trial balance software. Several keyboard shortcuts provide quick navigation to copy, paste, edit, delete, undo, and display.

The New Client set-up wizard facilitates creating data for new clients. This data includes the client code, fiscal period start date, federal tax ID number, tax entity type, and contact information. You can enter or import the chart of accounts, including opening balances. The import wizard also accommodates vendor, customer, and employee information.

Extremely flexible, the account number can be up to 64 alphanumeric characters. Classifications, groups, and subgroups allow you to define the level of detail for the financial statements and tax returns. The chart of accounts display (grid) can be filtered to display accounts by group, subgroup, or classification.

The General Journal transaction grid serves as the central point for journal entries. You can view transactions grids side by side and arrange the grid to closely resemble the sequence of information in your source documents. Errors will display for transactions entered outside acceptable date parameters. Reports are based on transaction dates, and not periods, which eliminates the need for monthly closing and balance forward entries. You can use batch data entry for cash receipts, disbursements, and general journal entries. ProSystem Write-Up offers a bank/account reconciliation wizard to facilitate research and inquiry.

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