Acct1st Technology Group, LLC - Acct1st
From the June 2011 Review of Document Management Systems
Best Firm Fit:
Small to mid-sized firms that want a comprehensive solution, with a fairly predictable cost model.
Core Product Functions/Features:
The Acct1st interface has matured quite nicely in recent years. It features a graphical toolbar along the top of the screen and the document navigation panel along the left side. Users start with a global list of client names and can expand each client to see a list of their configurable folders and access documents according to their method of organization. The client’s list of documents can be reviewed, and an extended list of customizable data fields such as the engagement code, can be accessed by right-clicking on the file name. Each person can reorder the document window to view files in the sequence that works best for them.
Files can be uploaded by drag and drop directly from Windows Explorer. Users can also establish an “upload” folder, which is monitored and provides automatic upload of any files copied here directly to Acct1st with a pre-defined set of index tags. A unique feature is the ability to drag a file on top of an existing file to store it as a descendant of that file, which streamlines the index tagging process.
All of the metadata tags are fully configurable by companies using this application. The effective configuration and indexing of documents is a key success factor that will affect your ability to successfully deploy and use the system across your entire enterprise.
The primary method for integrating Acct1st with your software applications is through a feature called iQueue. Users establish a folder for automated upload to Acct1st, i.e., tax returns, and the files will be automatically tagged with metadata values established by the user. Other uploads folders can be created with some effort. Out of the box, automatic upload queues are available for ProSystem fx Tax, Intuit ProSeries Tax Professional and Intuit Lacerte Tax.
An add-in is provided that facilitates storing and retrieving files directly from within the MS Office applications, including Outlook messages and attachments. The workflow features let you route individual documents, as well as engagement file sets. Acct1st has extensive capabilities to filter the attributes the user searches on to view specific workflows. For each workflow, the sequence of steps used to route the documents is mapped and defined. The workflows are color coded for easier use. For example, purple might indicate that a comment sheet/points sheet is attached. This sheet tracks a complete list of comments that have been recorded relative to the engagement as it flows through the process.
The document security features include a complete history of the document activity and a list of all of a file’s revisions, as well as a history of workflow activity. Acct1st has a comprehensive document retention and archiving service. A document checkout puts files in a temporary drawer to a mapped destination. The document hit list automatically changes the file name to display red text, which identifies it as checked out. Users can check a document back in as a revision or a replacement, or can discard the changes. Permissions can be established to control system access at the folder and document level.
Acct1st made a significant improvement in their portal model by creating a fully integrated solution that allows users to publish and unpublish files to the portal with just a few clicks. Documents that are posted to the portal display in bold text so they are easily identifiable. Email notifications are sent to clients when files are published, and practitioners will receive emails when the client uploads a file. A batch feature for uploading multiple documents can be particularly helpful when completing the initial setup. An additional feature called NetMail lets users send a link to a document for secure access. This feature is free and can be an alternative to deploying the full portal. Acct1st is available as either a SaaS solution or for licensing as an on-premises solution.
Executive Summary & Pricing
I have reviewed Acct1st for a number of years and feel even more confident in this solution than previously. I am a big fan of SaaS applications as an alternative, so I like that Acct1st lets you choose. I think they are doing a good job at building out the workflow and portal functionality to make it a viable enterprise solution. The company continues with the pricing model of $1 per day, per user for either delivery option. This is an annual fee. The portal is offered for a fixed fee of $1,000 per year with unlimited users and storage capacity. Acct1st provides a bundled implementation service, which includes installation and configuration, along with web-based training, for a flat fee of $1,500.
2011 Overall Rating: