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No one can deny the importance of good accounting software, and the next wave of innovative and cost-effective solutions is, and will be, 100-percent cloud-based. For what most small to midsized businesses and accounting firms need to do, Intacct's Accountant's Edition and recent offerings from NetSuite are our winners in the Accounting/ERP Category. Cloud accounting may be a relatively new concept, but these companies have been building their brand and services for over a decade. Their products have matured, and their newest offerings are among the most user-friendly and effective accounting solutions in the space.
What's more, unlike on-premise technologies, these Web-based offerings are essentially version-less - updated a couple of times a year. Both have clear differences in their approach to accounting, but the depth and breadth of their offerings are what makes them the top products in this field.
For Intacct's part, the company's main focus is on core accounting - for anything outside of that, it has a network of over 30 accounting-related service providers. The Intacct Accountant Edition is a set of cloud-based financial management and accounting applications that is currently in use by hundreds of accounting firms to support thousands of business clients. The company's endorsement by the American Institute of CPAs' marketing arm, CPA2Biz, via the Trusted Business Advisor Solutions program, has also helped its reach into the accounting community.
NetSuite's overall service offerings have matured since its days as the Oracle-born application service provider NetLedger. It currently has a partner network of over 200 ISVs, traditional VARs, and a growing number of accounting firms. Through one of the company's latest additions, NetSuite OneWorld, it can serve the needs of multinational businesses, while its newest offering, SuiteFlow, allows for customizable workflow management, allowing companies to go far beyond basic accounting.
There were also several products that we felt were worthy of honorable mention, whether for improvements to their features, or because they are representative of where accounting software and services are going. These include: FinancialForce.com (FinancialForce); Sage Peachtree Quantum (Sage North America); Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 (Microsoft Corp.); Outright.com (Outright); SaaS for Professional Suite (Thompson Reuters); and Power Practice System (AccountantsWorld).
ProSystem FX Knowledge Coach
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
Once viewed as one of the basic foundations of an accountant's services, audit and audit management have come under intense scrutiny over the past several years, courtesy of mega-billion-dollar frauds and the specter of increased government regulation. As a result, audit software has assumed a higher level of expectation and demand for functionality - factors that have earned ProSystem fx Knowledge Coach our nod as Top New Product in audit software.
Knowledge Coach wears a lot of audit-related hats - it's a planning tool, workpaper generator, audit workflow management app and risk overseer as it guides the auditor through each step - from the planning stage to its completion. Knowledge Coach associates specific program steps with each risk encountered. The results in each workpaper are flowed automatically to all of the impacted workpapers, and can then be rolled forward for the following year.
Adaptive Planning Inc.
With the availability of lower-cost offerings, and a user base more educated about what business intelligence is and can do for them, BI is becoming an understandable, usable and affordable initiative for small and midsized businesses and CPA firms. Our Top New Product choice in this category also represents where BI software is going. Adaptive Planning's Version 6.5 features on-demand budgeting, forecasting, reporting and "what-if" analysis. It represents an alternative to both manual, Excel-based processes and costly, complex enterprise software. Like all true cloud-based offerings, it does not require any new hardware, software, or IT support, and deploys quickly, averaging just two weeks of consulting for implementation.
Adaptive Planning 6.5 introduces numerous features that improve usability, including enhancements to data presentation, data access, and administrative roles and permissions. Additionally, its "Cell Explorer" feature allows users to thoroughly analyze any cell within their financial model by drilling down into the sequence of values and formulas used to calculate the final result, and is now available within the reports module. It also extends its integration with NetSuite's on-demand business management suite.
Honorable mentions in this category go to Cougar Dtails (Cougar Mountain Software) and Indicee (Indicee Inc.). Cougar Dtails is a new financial dashboard that provides an at-a-glance visual representation of a company's financial performance. It is tied to the general ledger so users can easily view their profit and loss, cash flow, and key financial indicators. It is also built into the company's Denali 2.9 accounting system, and its CMS Professional nonprofit software.
Indicee is a true SaaS app from the makers of CrystalReports - the reporting backbone of many of today's ERP systems. Indicee's offering is simple: It sits on top of existing ERP and CRM solutions and extracts specific reports for specific people within a company or organization.
Calculators have evolved light years since accountants and other financial professionals rushed to purchase such long-defunct electronic handhelds as the Bowmar Brain in the early 1970s. An example of that quantum leap in functionality is Judy's Tenkey, the Windows-based calculator used by many of the top-tier accounting firms, as well as users in 45 countries, and our unanimous selection as the Top New Product in the Calculators Category.
The newest version of Judy's Tenkey showcases such features as an editable tape that automatically recalculates changes, a multi-level undo function, better PDF integration, a zero-install option, optional sounds and the ability to use numbers in other Windows applications, or paste results into a report.
Company IQ SEC Comment Letters Solution
When you think of comparability in public company financial reporting, it's usually from the perspective of the statement user. But those doing the reporting can benefit from comparability, too, if it helps them figure out how other companies have reported things before. Our Top New Product in financial reporting, LogixData's Company IQ SEC Comment Letters Solution, helps develop that kind of comparability for filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They've taken SEC staff comment letters and broken them down into a database of over a million individual comments, which they've matched with registrant responses and made searchable by word, phrase, accounting literature, form type, and over 20 other variables. Search responses include links to the full comment letter, company response, the actual filing in question, and more, and comments can be traced through multiple rounds of correspondence. It's an excellent way to profit from other companies' successes - and mistakes.
One of the critical components to charting a successful career path in the accounting profession is completing the required hours of CPE. In a large firm, the difficult and time-consuming logistics of ensuring that your staff members are meeting their mandated CPE requires a sophisticated tracking platform like our Top New Product in the Learning Category: Checkpoint Learning.
Checkpoint Learning consolidates Thomson Reuters' other CPE and CPE-tracking platforms - MicroMash, PASS Online, Reqwired and Checkpoint - into one central learning management repository. It includes the CPE requirements for all 50 states, as well as 15 specialty affiliations, and features a personalized dashboard and allows firm administrators to select and design individual CPE curricula. Checkpoint Learning's interactive courses include video and audio clips, animated graphics, and case studies.
Earning honorable mention in the category was Whetstone Growth Academy (The Whetstone Group Inc.), an online sales training and leadership program tailored for all levels of a CPA firm's hierarchy, from the first-year employee to the managing partner or shareholder, to help them develop a common marketing and sales approach.
Sage Fundraising Online
Sage North America
Much like its for-profit counterpart, the nonprofit world is moving towards cloud-based solutions, and the winner in this category is representative of how the move can benefit government and other nonprofit organizations - in this case, in the area of fundraising. Sage's Sage Fundraising Online is a SaaS-based application that allows nonprofits to create multiple giving forms with marketing messaging to better reach new and existing donors. Multiple giving forms can help organizations boost results for event-based fundraisers, rapid response campaigns, and annual appeals. Sage Fundraising Online integrates with the on-premise Sage Fundraising 50 Version 8.2, and is expected to be able to do so with future Sage products. The service also integrates with Salesforce.com, and maps to a number of other customer relationship management products in the nonprofit software market.