While there was a minor flurry of fixed asset activity surrounding the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and its depreciation and tax impact on businesses, the major focus in fixed asset software packages for 2008 continues to be in the areas of audit and compliance.The goal continues to be a melding of asset inventory, construction-in-process accounting and asset accounting into a cohesive and coherent application, but increasingly the demands of faster, easier and more sophisticated audit support are also garnering attention.

Also strong is the support for emerging technologies, as technologies such as RFID move beyond the retail business segment and into manufacturing and government organizations, and database systems become more flexible and powerful. There's also a stronger move afoot to separate fixed asset solutions from their tight integration to specific accounting packages, to create better and more flexible stand-alone solutions.

Overall, though, the marketplace for fixed asset management solutions is stable and mature, with change coming incrementally. The list of the top applications remains the same as last year, and all remain strong competitors in the market.

BASSETS FIXED ASSET SYSTEM

For 2008, Bassets has released two evolutionary fixed assets programs that build on its 17 years of experience, while at the same time substantially enhancing its support for both CPAs in audit practice and the internal audit/risk assessment departments of corporations.

EDepreciation, released this year, is built on the Microsoft .Net and C#.Net platforms. It offers the ability to view fixed asset data through three dashboards called "Home Views." The management home page offers seven summary views, presenting critical data in a simple format; the ability to view information for any accounting period(s) during current, prior and/or future tax years; and drill-down capabilities to the detailed data.

An asset administrator detail home page provides simplified data entry; complete or partial transfer and disposal with detailed audit trail and reporting; and intelligent data entry and built-in error checking to ensure compliance with the latest tax and GAAP regulations and Sarbanes-Oxley internal control requirements.

The asset manager view is the operational-level dashboard that allows management of capital assets for the entire organization by month, quarter or year, with the ability to view smaller subsets of the fixed assets in any combination of fields. This is a spreadsheet-style column-and-row presentation of the data.

Also new for 2008 - and of interest to auditors - is Basset's AuditDepre System for comprehensive audits to generate a federal tax and financial book. AuditDepre consists of four books - Processing Questions to present options for processing the audit of the data and the specific test(s) to run; a Fixed Asset Data book with information passed from a fixed asset spreadsheet; Depreciation Detail, with a complete analysis of each individual asset record; and an Audit Results book listing all compliance errors found based on selected tests.

EDepreciation provides a next-generation asset management system, while AuditDepre addresses shortfalls in the typical audit process that may not ensure complete tax and GAAP compliance. Both programs are aimed directly at helping accountants provide accurate, detailed and compliant fixed asset information in a format that is flexible, scalable and streamlined.

BNA FIXED ASSETS

BNA Software differs from other products in its extensive depth of experience, its substantial base of 35,000 users and its ability to create tax forms that can be directly filed. BNA offers three levels of fixed asset management - an asset inventory program, a system for small-to-midsized companies, and a system for larger enterprises.

BNA Asset Inventory is a compilation of databases for different kinds of assets and multiple databases for different types of assets (IT, furniture, artwork, machinery and equipment, etc.), with the ability to enter an unlimited number of assets and unlimited user-defined fields for customization. It has more than 100 pre-defined reports and a custom report writer; barcode support; a detailed audit trail; and straightforward data export to common file formats.

BNA Fixed Assets for Small/Medium Businesses is a wizard-driven system with over 30 pre-defined reports, including five fileable tax forms and supporting worksheets. It includes a validation engine to automatically enforce compliance with tax laws and GAAP rules, and features a built-in audit trail with an open timeline feature for historical records.

BNA Fixed Assets for Large Organizations is an expanded system that permits unlimited assets, users, companies, divisions and locations, and a consolidation capability that provides easy reporting and tax form preparation without the need to move files or data.

Recent enhancements to the BNA software include a construction-in-progress feature that allows tracking of multi-component equipment, machinery upgrade, building construction or the accumulation of invoices prior to placing a fixed asset into service. Other updates include custom depreciation methods, depreciation methods keyed to production, and updated Section 179 amounts from the Small Business and Work Opportunity Act of 2007.

BNA Fixed Assets software offers a modest price, extensive support based on 75 years of experience in tax and audit compliance, and the flexibility of either desktop or Web-hosted platforms. And its strong focus on compliance makes it one of the most popular fixed assets systems for accountants.

FIXED ASSETS CS

A part of Thomson Reuters' CS Professional Suite, Fixed Assets CS is a fast and flexible management system that also functions as a superior asset management system in its own right.

Fixed Assets CS offers the ability to enter fixed asset information throughout the year, eliminating the single-inventory approach to asset management or the need to re-enter data during that time. The most current depreciation calculations are also offered throughout the year, ensuring compliance with changing tax laws.

Fixed Assets CS provides custom sorting of asset data and flexible report-writing in a package that can calculate depreciation in a variety of ways, including MACRS, ACRS, straight-line, 200/150/125 percent declining balance, sum-of-the-years' digits, units of production, amortization, and up to 99 user-defined methods. An optional inventory module is available for conducting physical asset inventories. Several wizards, including the method/life wizard to quickly set up new assets and the disposal wizard to quickly get rid of them, simplify data entry.

Fixed Assets CS provides more than 90 pre-defined asset classes to help assign methods and lives. This and other limitations, such as the limit of 7,000 clients and 32,000 assets per client and lack of barcode support, are of significance only to the largest of accounting firms and clients. For most firms, features such as the ability to attach digital photos of the asset and automatically transmit data from the client site to the accountant for use in tax calculations are of far greater import.

Recent enhancements include the ability to print Fixed Assets CS reports through UltraTax CS; streamlined import from Microsoft Excel; an option to display gain/loss calculation; enhanced vehicle information data entry; and the ability to print the summary report sorted by a variety of criteria.

Fixed Assets CS uses a simplified file-folder organization structure, and offers substantial flexibility in the processes of adding, changing and disposing of assets. Though clearly tied to the CS Professional Suite through its ties to Write-Up CS and Ultra-Tax CS, it is also a strong choice for accountants seeking a flexible, stand-alone asset management system.

INTELLITRACK FIXED ASSETS

IntelliTrack differs substantially from the other packages in this roundup in that it focuses less on the issues of depreciation, tax reporting and SOX compliance than on the physical inventory of the organization. That makes Intellitrack software a front-end system critical to asset management.

IntelliTrack uses barcode, wireless and RFID tracking technology through handheld mobile computers, PDTs and PDAs, among other technologies, to provide solutions for warehouse management, fixed assets tracking and stockroom management.

IntelliTrack's most recent version of asset tracking software, IntelliTrack Fixed Assets RFID, reconciles an entire room of identified assets all at once. Fixed Assets RFID also improves data verification with a single form, providing a constant status of inventory progress. Users can automatically record moved assets when found in an unexpected location, ignore and exclude unwanted reads from future inventories, and add new assets as needed.

IntelliTrack maintains asset inventories in either MS Access or SQL Server format, for simplified export into more sophisticated accounting applications. It offers integrated asset tagging with barcode and RFID support, and will save pictures of the asset in the database. For enterprises with multiple sites, IntelliTrack DMS-SQL with NetSync provides remote database synchronization over a wide area network. Each site can process transactions, which are then stored in a centralized database.

Though different from accounting-oriented fixed asset systems, IntelliTrack offers five methods of depreciation and 17 pre-formatted reports. It is written in Microsoft Access XP, and the source code is available for customization. It also can handle an unlimited number of assets and locations.

IntelliTrack Fixed Assets is software with a different mission - physical inventory and reporting - that may appeal more to internal accounting and audit departments than to accountants in private practice. Nonetheless, it provides the depth of inventory and warehouse management tools that form the basis of an effective asset management system.

PROSYSTEM FX FIXED ASSETS

ProSystem fx Fixed Assets uses an intuitive interface, and contains ready-to-file Internal Revenue Service forms and customization options for entering asset information, importing, converting, viewing data and producing reports.

The fixed assets solution for the ProSystem fx Office suite of products, ProSystem fx Fixed Assets handles an unlimited number of assets, up to eight different books, and up to three user-defined depreciation books. It provides easy access to details of how an asset's current depreciation is calculated, or allocation of a specific percentage of a disposition to each asset. It also integrates with ProSystem fx Tax, Global fx and ProSystem fx Engagement for management of client files and report PDFs in Engagement binders.

Comprehensive import and conversion capabilities automatically convert data from major asset management programs and import data from spreadsheets and other common file types. Fixed Assets handles up to eight different books, including financial, federal tax, AMT, ACE, state tax and three user-defined books - viewable side by side on one screen.

It is also Vista-, MS Office 2007- and 64-bit compatible, and the font, font style and size, and column widths of reports can be customized. Reports can be printed to a file for export to another program.

The program can calculate negative depreciation and project all depreciation types for the depreciable life of an asset. It computes gains and losses on the disposition of an asset, and can print Government Disposition Form 4797.

The software simultaneously computes and maintains asset depreciation using different methods of depreciation for different basis. It also calculates depreciation for short tax years, bonus depreciation, and Section 179 depreciation. Gain or loss on asset disposition, ITC basis adjustments, and prior-year depreciation are also automatically calculated.

ProSystem fx Fixed Assets offers a comprehensive approach to both fixed assets management and compliance that should interest accountants in both private practice and internal accounting departments.

PROSERIES PROFESSIONAL FIXED ASSET MANAGER

The ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager is an optional module to Intuit's popular ProSeries Professional tax software lines.

Intuit released an update to handle the impact of the Economic Stimulus Act. That act, in addition to the consumer stimulus payments, includes a special 50 percent depreciation allowance for 2008 purchases and an increase in the small-business expensing limitation for tax years beginning in 2008. It also increases automobile limits and impacts bonus depreciation.

ProSeries FAM is a module designed to automate depreciation calculations; provide separate values for book and tax depreciation; record asset purchases and sales throughout the year; offer a variety of MACRS depreciation methods; provide reports for property tax filings; and provide clients with an easy-to-understand depreciation schedule, including categories.

Tax and compliance capabilities include printing of tax worksheets for Forms 4562, 4626 and 4797; Section 179 expense tests and mid-quarter determinations and calculations; and automatic calculation of tax preference amounts, prior-year depreciation, and gains and losses on asset sales.

Depreciation may be calculated on up to six different asset bases: book, federal, state, AMT, ACE and custom, projecting depreciation through the life of the asset and automatically calculating tax preference amounts, prior-year depreciation, and gains and losses on asset sales. It offers the ability to use over 35 pre-defined reports, including GL reconciliation, personal property projection and several depreciation reports - or to create custom reports with its report wizard.

ProSeries Fixed Assets will be of interest primarily to users of the ProSeries tax software, since it functions as a module of that system. But it is in all respects a fast, flexible and economical asset management system that integrates well with the ProSeries family of products.

SAGE FAS FIXED ASSETS 2008

Sage Fixed Assets System is a powerful and comprehensive suite of asset management solutions that integrates easily with accounting, inventory and reporting applications and offers direct links into general ledger systems that include Sage Software's ERP and accounting products.

Available in versions for business, government and nonprofits, the 2008 version of Sage FAS also incorporates changes brought about by the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 that affect depreciation and asset management. FAS CIP Accounting is also available for construction-in-progress projects, and FAS Compliance Advisor helps Sage FAS customers produce 16 of the most commonly requested auditing reports to assist them in demonstrating compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley security requirements.

New in the 2008 versions are links to other Sage Software brands that extend functionality into specific markets, including Sage PFW ERP, Sage BusinessVision and Sage BusinessWorks Accounting. Also new is the Compliance Advisor, which automates the production of the most commonly requested IRS auditing reports that demonstrate SOX compliance. This version includes all the latest IRS and GAAP rules, as well as forms and depreciation methods, and updated tax tables that comply with all new tax laws.

The newly released Version 2008.2 offers a new Asset Snapshot with a graphical summary of critical fixed asset information in FAS 100 Asset Accounting and FAS 500 Asset Accounting; expanded FAS reporting capabilities via a Crystal Reports XI engine; and a new Form 4562-Y to reflect the 50 percent special depreciation allowance enacted in the Economic Stimulus Act.

Sage FAS Fixed Assets solutions are adept at the full range of asset management chores - identifying, tracking and reporting out the assets of the organization in a manner that integrates smoothly with the tax, audit and compliance requirements of an organization. FAS is a powerful solution that scales and adapts to meet the needs of virtually any organization.

VISUAL ASSET MANAGER

NetSimplicity's Visual Asset Manager offers an organization a unique visual accounting of what they own, where it's deployed, and what it is worth.

Visual Asset Manager allows views of assets and locations from a floor plan or other graphical representation and offers customizable categorization of assets to represent the organization in terms that make sense to different departments. VAM also offers migration of data from legacy spreadsheets or other databases, the ability to gather data on networked PCs and laptops and import employees from Microsoft Outlook, handheld barcode scanning support, and the ability to deploy with both a Web client and a local client.

VAM tracks a wealth of information for all types of fixed, mobile and IT assets, including basic identification; manufacturer, model and configuration detail; purchase, lease and warranty information; and depreciation or other valuation information. The assets are then presented visually on a floor plan (in JPG format) of the organization.

Designed for enterprise-level applications, Visual Asset Manager provides a graphically oriented framework for tracking and mapping all of the organization's tangibles in a single system that is easily customized. It is scalable to tens of thousands of assets at no additional cost, and accessible from any Web browser. Multi-server database synchronization capabilities make it possible to manage and track assets across the entire enterprise.

Specialty characteristics of the VAM system are worthy of note: Asset Check-Out manages rental, loaner and mobile equipment within the organization, and a Network Discovery function makes an accounting of Windows-based hardware and software on the network, which is useful for auditing functions. VAM also provides an accounting of warranty information, lease renewals and maintenance schedules, and facilitates movement and sharing of assets by allowing a quick and easy transfer of any asset for a stated period of time.

Visual Asset Manager from NetSimplicity is a unique and valuable program that offers PDA/barcode/RFID tag support and exceptional asset-tracking and management. Its price, sophistication and capabilities mark it as an excellent investment for large and diversified organizations, though its lack of stronger audit and compliance features will make it necessary to use VAM in conjunction with a more robust accounting system.

Dave McClure is the president of Kent Associates, in Alexandria, Va., an independent testing laboratory and evaluation service.

Vendor Information

Bassets Fixed Assets

Decision Support

Technology Inc.

P.O. Box 665

Ramsey, N.J. 07446

(201) 995-9500

www.bassets.net

Pricing: Starts at $2,495; annual maintenance - starts at $595. Client/server version - starts at $6,695.

BNA Fixed Assets

BNA Software

1801 S. Bell Street

Arlington, Va. 22202

(703) 341-3600

www.bnasoftware.com

Pricing: Desktop - starts at $1,675; Web-based - contact vendor.

Fixed Assets CS

Thomson Reuters

7322 Newman Blvd.

Dexter, Mich. 48130

(800) 968-8900

http://cs.thomson.com

Pricing: Renewable - $1,100; perpetual license - $1,500. Modules - start at $200.

IntelliTrack Fixed Assets

IntelliTrack Inc.

224 Schilling Circle, Ste. 130

Hunt Valley, Md. 21031

(410) 771-3060

www.intellitrack.net

Pricing: One workstation - $1,795; three-workstation SQL version - $3,995.

ProSystem fx Fixed Assets

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

21250 Hawthorne Blvd.

Torrance, Calif. 90503

(800) PFX-9998

http://cchgroup.com

Pricing: First user - $1,760; each additional - $155.

ProSeries Professional

Fixed Asset Manager

Intuit Inc.

5601 Headquarters Dr.

Plano, Texas 75024

(214) 387-2000

www.proseries.com

Pricing: New license - $549; renewal - $219.

Sage FAS Fixed Assets 2008

Sage Software

2325 Dulles Corner Blvd., Ste. 800

Herndon, Va. 20171

(800) 368-2405

www.sagefas.com

Pricing: Single user - starts at $2,395; network - $3,055.

Visual Asset Manager

NetSimplicity

108 Wild Basin Rd.

Austin, Texas 78746

(866) 248-0480

www.netsimplicity.com

Pricing: Enterprise - $2,999, plus $99 per user; annual support and maintenance - 20 percent.

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