Thomson Reuters debuted its new Accounting CS system earlier this year, offering a unified professional application that combines write-up, trial balance, financials reporting, and live and after-the-fact payroll processing and compliance system. It also includes web-based client-side accounting that integrates directly with the professional package, thereby enabling greater collaboration, streamlining write-up and payroll functions and increasing data accuracy. The system also offers integration with other applications in the CS Professional Suite and Enterprise Suite, including practice and document management, analysis and asset management. Thomson Reuters also continues to offer its Write-Up CS program.
Basic System Functions
Although the program retains some of the general functionality of other CS-branded programs, Thomson Reuters has designed an entirely new interface for Accounting CS that is centered on the Home Dashboard, a completely user-customizable screen that provides multiple panels for quick access to important information. It can be set to display client and firm information such as payroll activities, account balances, reporting options and other summary data. The Home Dashboard also offers tabbed access to the CS Professional Suite and Enterprise Suite home page, a knowledgebase and the ARNE online user community. Users can also add additional custom links.
Icon and pull-down navigation menus are available at the top of the screen, and a feature-specific menu on the left gives access to transaction functions, invoicing, reporting, reconciliation, vendor and employee management screens, payroll, and other program areas. Additional dashboards are also available for firm management and staff management, as well as client-specific dashboards, all of which can be tailored to include quick access to income statements, document management, payroll or other information. During program setup, the system guides users through a template interface for adding clients, setting firm-wide defaults and creating charts of accounts, with the ability to create templates and copy existing charts.
Work screens offer tabbed access to related areas and data-entry fields with automatically built selection fields and smart features that include built-in verification of SSN and TINs, along with automatic access to clients’ federal and state tax liabilities. Client and employee selection screens offer basic sorting options along with more advanced search capabilities.
The dashboard-centric interface in Accounting CS provides excellent navigation and simplifies management of multiple clients, including giving users the ability to work on multiple clients simultaneously, or to divide tasks among several professionals at the firm. The program can support any number of business entities and concurrent professional staff users, with custom security settings that allow firm management to grant or restrict user access to any part of the program. System alerts can also be set up to notify users of client issues such as payroll runs, account balances and workflow tasks. 5
Core Write-Up Features
The program can manage unlimited years’ worth of data, and staff users have quick access to the GL, chart of accounts and journals from the Client Dashboard. All data-entry screens offer smart entry features and selection lists for accounts, with journal views presented in a spreadsheet format with the ability to easily access transaction details and perform edits or enter adjusting entries. Transaction screens can also be worked with in a checkbook view mode and in customizable heads-down mode, with the ability to add vendors on-the-fly. Unlimited account categories, segments and groupings can also be managed, and recurring transactions can be set to post automatically.
Account reconciliation features provide statement import and simplified viewing of unmatched account and state transactions, with selection lists for moving between deposits and additions, checks and payments, direct deposit transactions, summaries and a reconciliation analysis feature. Data entry and review can be viewed on separate monitors. The system can import client transactional data from electronic bank statements. With the AP and payroll functions included in Accounting CS, full checkwriting features enable printing to plain or preformatted stock, including MICR-encoding.
The system offers comprehensive after-the-fact payroll processing, compliance and reporting capabilities, with paper and electronic filing of federal wage and information forms (and for CO, KY, MI, MO, NJ, OH, PA), plus all state and federal tax tables. Full live payroll is available free for one business (the accounting practice), and is available for client service use as an integrated add-on. A special Location Finder tool automatically finds applicable payroll tax rates based on employee zip code and employer location. Batch processing functions allow for processing multiple client payrolls simultaneously. A standard ratios report is included. 5
Reporting & Financial Statements
The reporting functions in Accounting CS are easily accessed from the various dashboards and from specific task screens, with more than 100 options that are completely customizable using the built-in report writer, which is similar to Crystal Reports. All reports, including financials, can be enhanced with logos, graphs, charts and other visual elements, and can be output to PDF, Excel, HTML and RTF. They can also be sent directly to FileCabinet CS or emailed from within the program. The system offers W-2 and 1099 generation and creation of forms 940, 941, 943, 944 and 945, with the ability to electronically file. Batch processing of reports are available across all or groups of client companies. The program includes invoicing functionality, as well as checkwriting and payroll. Setting up billing and fees involves setup steps at both the firm and client levels. Once you’re ready to print invoices for clients, the File > Print Invoices screen allows you to view the details of each individual invoice and choose which ones to print. 5
Accounting CS directly integrates with UltraTax CS and FileCabinet CS, with additional CS Professional Suite and Enterprise Suite integration being developed. It can import and export from/to QuickBooks, Excel and CSV, allowing for data sharing with third-party payroll, tax and accounting solutions, and can import bank statements from common bank formats like OFX, QFX and QIF. When used as a hosted, SaaS model, Accounting CS includes a client access option, which lets firms allow clients to access an online bookkeeping solution that is actually a limited extension of Accounting CS, as well as to enter payroll data, access reports or perform other accounting tasks. Client users only have access to the specific functions and data that the firm grants them. 5
Accounting CS and other CS programs share similar interfaces that offer excellent built-in assistance features such as wizards, task-specific Help, guidance, smart lists and a traditional Help index. Users can link directly to the ARNE online community of other Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting users. The Thomson Reuters support website also offers a knowledgebase, program updates, news, marketing tools, free and paid training options, and additional resources. Live technical support is free for the first 60 days and then available via subscription or on a per-incident basis. The system supports all modern versions of Windows, through Windows 7. 5
Summary & Pricing
Accounting CS provides excellent workflow tools and features that help streamline write-up tasks, from changing transactions and making adjusting entries, to reconciliation and batch reporting. Its after-the-fact and live payroll processing capabilities further add to its exceptional feature set that is best suited to firms trying to maximize their efficiency. A four-user license of the program, which includes the write-up, after-the-fact and built-in trial balance, costs $4,300 for the first year, with implementation and 60 days of support. Renewals cost $1,400 per year.
2010 Overall Rating 5