[IMGCAP(1)]It hasn't quite been a year since our last report, but rest assured this year's list - though somewhat abridged in comparison - is equally indicative of what we believe to be the best new accounting and accounting-related products. And even though we may not mention certain categories, such as mobile applications or ERP, that doesn't mean there's nothing exciting happening in those areas -we just didn't see any individual products in these, or other areas we may not have mentioned, that warranted an award.
We did, however, find a few products that are worth keeping an eye on. For example, in mobile applications, Mobile CS from Thomson Reuters gives Practice CS users access to key firm and client data on a variety of Apple mobile devices, including the iPhone and the iPad. And while we haven't seen a major revolution in the ERP category over the past year, we thought the latest version of Sage ERP X3 promises to make a significant impact on the mid-to-upper-level ERP market.
We will continue to search for the latest and greatest in accounting technology developments, and hope you find this year's list useful and rewarding.
Handling invoices and payments without the use of paper is becoming more commonplace for small and midsized businesses and CPAs alike. Bill.com has proved to be an attractive solution, and this year took it one step further with its Zen or the Zero Entry Data bill management system. Zen allows users to fax, e-mail or upload bills into their Bill.com account. Bill.com then records the invoice information and synchronizes with the users' accounting system, so there is no need to manually enter bill information ever again.
An honorable mention goes to Taxport AP (Convey Compliance Systems Inc.), a cloud-based turnkey solution for 1099 processing and tax reporting.
PPC's Smart Practice Aids - Field Work
Our winner in the Auditing Category is the latest addition to Thomson Reuters' PPC Smart Audit Suite. The PPC Smart Practice Aid - Field Work ties the whole audit process together, with a navigator that guides staff through the engagement from beginning to end, a dashboard that displays status at a glance, and an Audit Design Program to tailor the audit to the engagement's specific risks. It automatically shares data throughout the engagement, and allows you to manage the whole show within the Smart Audit Suite.
Epicor Carbon Connect
Epicor Software Corp.
Stakeholders of all kinds are pressuring companies to report non-financial data more effectively, particularly when they relate to "green" issues, so tools that can identify, analyze, audit, track, manage, benchmark and report on carbon emissions and energy consumption are emerging, and one of the best new examples we've seen is from mid-range ERP software developer Epicor. Its Carbon Connect product is available in a hosted or on-premise version, and provides automated reports that demonstrate savings and provide measurement of sustainability initiatives, which can translate to justification of further investment and expenditures.
Collaboration comes in many different forms. For our Top New Product in this category, the Intuit Collaboratory, it means a Web site where the software vendor invites outside vendors and others to work on challenging business problems, with prizes and potential inclusion with Intuit products as the incentive to create great new solutions. It's an exciting foray into a form of "crowdsourcing," and we look forward to seeing the results.
An honorable mention in this category goes to Accounting CS Client Access (Thomson Reuters), an addition to the Accounting CS package that lets accountants and their clients work on the same data in real time - while allowing the accountant to control how the client interacts with the data.
NetSuite Advanced Revenue Recognition
Cloud-based accounting and ERP product maker NetSuite itself had to deal with FASB's complex rules for multi-element sales, and so was among the first to create a program to help other companies comply with the new rules - and it integrates with major ERP systems, so it's not just for users of NetSuite's accounting solution. It streamlines revenue management, and includes compliance with FASB and SEC regulations; decreases reliance on spreadsheets; and offers continual monitoring of all aspects of the revenue recognition process, including reporting on key data such as estimated selling prices.
Sage Simply Accounting English/Spanish Version
Sage North America
As the global economy expands, so too has the need for multilingual and multi-currency software - especially in the accounting space. Enterprise resource planning vendors in particular have recognized the demand for such features in their products, but rarely are they seen in entry-level accounting programs. Sage's Simply Accounting Hispanic Edition is a clear indication of where this software sector is moving. The company has seen great demand for the product in the Hispanic market in the U.S., so it has been marketing it here as a bilingual accounting product with multi-currency capabilities.
CCH Global Integrator
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
Handling tax provisioning for a far-flung corporate empire - whether it spans the globe, or just crosses state lines - can be a nasty stew of wildly different reporting standards, tax regimes, technology systems, currencies and languages. Our winner in this category, CCH's new Global Integrator, streamlines and systematizes the process to create consistent reporting formats, handle the necessary calculations and conversions, and generally make tax provisioning much easier and more accurate. Available in a number of different languages, it helps managers gain better control and insight into their global empires.
Checkpoint Learning Competency Model
One of the roadblocks impeding career development is that you often don't know what you don't know. This year's Top New Product in the Learning Category, Checkpoint Learning Competency Model, helps users hurdle that roadblock -assessing theircompetency and identifying knowledge gaps. Users in four career levels are able to identify the curricula required to progress to the next level, or identify alternative career paths, and lets management review individual learning plans.
Garnering honorable mention nods in the category were the Academy for Business Development (Upstream Academy), an 18-month program for new tax and accounting partners and senior managers, and the Firm CPE Center (CPELink), a CPE tracking system aimed at small and midsized firms.
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
Tax planning for business clients will reach critical levels of importance in 2011. That's where category winner CCHTax Plan comes in, as it showcases a comprehensive mix of planning guidance and interactive practice tools that will usher users through each phase of the tax-planning workflow. It also provides detailed explanations of the business lifecycle, integrates with the CCH Tax Prep Partner form prep series, allows access to a variety of interactive research aids, and offers the State Treatment of Business Entities Interactive Chart, which compares the treatment of business entities on a state-by-state basis.
Tax Prep Tools
We chose GruntWorx Gather as a Top New Product because it almost eliminates clients from one step of the tax prep process, by creating a secure Web interface where clients can connect with financial institutions and brokerages - after which, the tax preparer can automatically retrieve 1099 statements without their having to pass through the client first, and also get automatic alerts of corrected statements.
Honorable mentions go to products that also streamline the handling of client tax data: IDonatedIt (BMG CPA LLP), an iPhone app for tracking non-cash donations, is now available in a new, expanded version for the iPad; BizMile Tracker and BizMile TaxPro Edition (BizMile Inc.) help clients track and document mileage deductions; and YourOldMoney (YourOldMoney) helps investors determine lost cost basis information.
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