A funny thing happened on the way to workflow tools in the Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite. CS Engagement, which has been primarily an application for audits, turned into the tax and accounting unit's best-selling software product. At its recent users conference in Texas, a room for demos of Engagement regarding workflows for non-audit engagements was packed with attendees spilling into the hallway. Similarly, when the company held its signature roundtables at the conference-always conducted from 8 p.m. through 10:30 p.m.-the Engagement Table was one those that became was crowded, with circular tables pushed together, and attendees were still squeezing in extra chairs.
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The development seemed to have surprised the officials of the Dexter, Mich.-based operation. But they noted that Engagement had always been able to handle engagements other than audits.
Over the years, many practitioners have looked for ways to get more out of the engagement packages, including the CCH ProSystem fx Engagement, although the discussion had been primarily toward turning these applications into document management systems. The vendors insisted there was a difference between these products and full-fledged document management systems.
The key here is not how appropriate the products are--it's about how much the tax and accounting market has awakened to the need for improving workflow.
Bigger organizations would call it business process reengineering, and that's really what it is for small firms, but that's a term that would leave many intimidated.
However, whether it's high-end business process management tools or the lower-end workflow tools, what is going on is that businesses of all sizes have realized that they are armed with great technology applications, they need to retool the way their businesses work - or at least understand how their businesses work - if they are going to get the most for their technology dollars.
The vendor community is fully aware of these trends. On Sept. 25, CCH president Michael Sabbatis, one of seven executives to make a presentation at a Wolters Kluwers investors' day, talked solely about the company's workflow strategy.
In a companion Year Ahead supplement to this issue of Accounting Technology, we labeled 2009 "The Year of Workflow."
Perhaps we are hitting this message a bit hard, but the supplement was written before the CS Suite user conference and it became apparent just how mainstream concern over workflow has become.
And, hey, maybe we're right about 2009.
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