Thomson Reuters has been a source of tax information with its RIA division for many years. The vendor’s publication divisions provide integrated advisement for tax, audit and other client-facing services.
On the front end, the Engagement CS product has a very seamless interface to read QuickBooks files and to build trial balances for business returns. Engagement CS has superb import capability for UltraTax CS. On the back end, Thomson Reuters has both FileCabinet CS and GoFileRoom to serve as the repository for all of the processed documents. Both products offer very seamlessly connected portals so you can choose to give clients access to their information. The NetClient CS portal received a number of upgrades this year, which is certainly worthy of your review.
SurePrep, LLC (sureprep.com) — SurePrep has provided 1040 workpaper automation for a number of years through multiple products. 1040Scan is its fully automated product, but the vendor also has offerings from outsourcing to light workpaper organization. Outsource lite, Outsource, SurePrep Express, SurePrep Express lite as well as other products round out the vendor’s product offerings.
This product has the most complete automated 1040 workpaper scan, collate, organize and entry capability today. It interfaces with GoSystem Tax RS, CCH ProSystem fx Tax and Lacerte. The recognition of brokerage statements and other supporting documents is another key attribute of this product.
Copanion GruntWorx (copanion.com) — Any size firm can afford 1040 workpaper automation with the pricing model from Copanion. At $5 per return, and the ability to try 5 returns for free, this Software as a Service (SaaS) product provides scanning and organization to workpapers. The Pro version of the product interfaces the data into GoSystem Tax RS. If you are considering 1040 workpaper automation, this product is a low-cost option.
A key caution if you choose to use 1040 workpaper automation: You need to review your procedures and make sure that you use trained clerical people to make the initial pass at the tax documents. You do not want to unnecessarily use a tax preparer’s or practitioner’s time. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is not perfect, and not every form will get classified accurately. Names are not always reported or entered the same, for example with abbreviations, and a person still needs to make some of the decisions for organization.
XCM Workflow (xcmsolutions.com) — One of the great last frontiers for productivity is workflow automation. There are three products for tax and accounting firms, and XCM can be used with products from any of the major publishers. The product can control workflow for tax, audit and bookkeeping. Requests for client documentation, review points and many other time-consuming issues are handled with this product.
There are a few other products that are important to tax automation that I mentioned last month: Such products include ShareFile (sharefile.com) for secure transfer of files and a portal capability. It is so critical to keep your data backed up! Abacus Backups (abacusbackups.com) is a good hosted backup, and NetRescue (netrescue.net) is an in-house appliance-based backup that can copy any or all data in an organization every 15 minutes and then back that data up off-site. If a major failure occurs on a server, that server can be restarted on the appliance. And for those large-scale failures, remember that Agility Recovery Solutions (AgilityRecovery.com) covers the four key recovery elements within 48 hours of any interruption: power, technology (computers and phones), space and connectivity.