ITA expands: Within two weeks of separating from the American institute of CPAs, the Information Technology Alliance has added 14 new member firms, including five accounting firms that made Accounting Today’s Top 100 list.

The Top 100 firm members are BKD, of Springfield, Mo.; J.H. Cohn, of New York; Larson, Allen, Weishair & Co., of Minneapolis; Wipfli, Ullrich Bertelson, in Wassau, Wis.; and Schenck & Associates, of Appleton, Wis. In some cases, the firm’s technology practice is the ITA member.

Other new practice firm members are: The Aston Group, of Vancouver, B.C.; DSD Business Solutions, of San Diego; Automated Accounting Solutions, in Eagan, Minn.; Williams Young, of Madison, Wis.; NexTec Group, of Houston; Oates and Co., in Greensboro, N.C.; and Perryman & Associates, of Deland, Fla. ITA also added a new vendor member, Open Systems Inc., of Shakopee, Minn., and a new "consultants to the profession" member, OneSource Professional Services Group, of Rockville, Md.

New Solomon version released: Microsoft/Great Plains Business Solutions has released a new version of its Solomon IV business management software line with new features designed to help end users "quickly adapt to changing business conditions."

The vendor said that it has enhanced Solomon’s distribution management capabilities by adding three critical modules: purchase order that provides "one-step" processing; inventory replenishment, which is designed to more accurately track and replenish inventory levels; and a landed cost module that can track costs beyond the merchandise cost incurred in purchasing inventory items.

Prices start at $4,500 for a single-user edition. MS/GP will be distributing the new line via a channel of about 550 certified Solomon resellers.

Accpac on new track to accounting profession: Accounting software vendor Accpac International is the middle of a new strategy of offering systems that are designed for accountants to use to run their businesses. It’s a departure from accounting software vendors’ more traditional role of using accountants primarily to resell accounting software.

Accpac’s latest product release, Business Analysis Suite is at the core of the new strategy. The package of financial diagnostic applications is designed for accountants to use in analyzing their business clients’ financial numbers, thereby "creating a range of follow-on billable services" that can then be offered to those clients, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Accpac said.

The analysis tools can be used for a wide variety of consulting-type services, such as assessing clients’ new business opportunities, evaluating their overall financial health, benchmark comparisons to competitors, business valuations, recovery and insolvency services, among many others. The program also conducts what-if analysis of various business scenarios.

Accpac’s other accounting business initiatives include PassOnline, which provides access to an Internet-hosted accounting software program via links on participating accountants’ Web sites. The vendor remains committed to its core business of developing, accounting, enterprise and electronic commerce software and to recruiting accountants and non-accountants as resellers.

Boomer bashes CPA2Biz: Gary Boomer, one of the accounting industry’s best-known technology consultants and a former chairman of the American Institute of CPAs Information Technology Committee, is the latest to weigh in with criticism on the CPA2Biz Internet portal.

"A lot of people have lost confidence in CPA2Biz because it has changed direction," said Boomer. He cited CPA2Biz’s recent acquisition of Rivio and its plans to make that Internet company’s online services available to CPAs as an example of a directional change.

"Many of these services [Rivio’s] are already being delivered by competitors in a more efficient manner," said Boomer, who is a member of the AICPA’s governing Council. He also criticized the portal’s recent loss of personnel: "They lost a lot of people I have respect for including Mike Harnish [former CPA2Biz chief information officer]," he said.

Boomer made his comments during a teleconference of the Advisory Board consortium of industry practice management consultants, about a week after the AICPA Technology conference, where CPA2Biz senior director Wayne Harding said that the upcoming launch of the payroll program and additional services should propel CPA2Biz’s acceptance by accountants and businesses.

"Our goal is to provide the best tools and solutions for the CPA and their clients. We feel that that the new Rivio payroll solution adds a new business solution to help CPAs better support their small business clients in a cost-effective manner on an easier-to-access service through our revamped CPA2Biz Web site," Harding said in response to Boomer’s remarks.

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