CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business — ProSystem fx Engagement

From the August 2008 Review of Engagement & Trial Balance Systems

As a part of CCH’s ProSystem fx family of professional accounting products, ProSystem fx Engagement is focused on increasing efficiency with workpapers, enhancing collaboration among multiple staff members and enabling paperless engagement management. It can operate as a stand-alone system or as a fully integrated application, sharing data with the suite’s tax, trial balance, tax research, time and billing, practice management and document management systems. With this integration, the program delivers comprehensive data analysis and, ultimately, trial balances that can be forwarded into the tax system and complete financial statements. Pricing for ProSystem fx Engagement depends upon specific module additions, the number of users and available discounts, but generally the price starts around $1,275.

Ease of Use -- 4 Stars
ProSystem fx Engagement’s initial setup is quick using engagement binder templates, and the system can be set to pull trial balances automatically from ProSystem fx Trial Balance, if the user also has this system. Since the program uses Microsoft Excel for building trial balances and Word for reporting functions and financial statements, it should be intuitive for most professionals who already use these programs.

The primary interface is exceptionally designed, with the main area of the screen providing access to client binders and all workpapers of any file format and displaying information on users who have accessed or reviewed the file. A shortcut menu on the left provides access to the Workpapers folder, a Binder Snapshot, a Trial Balance Snapshot or CCH’s Knowledge Tools website. Additionally, icons and menus for primary system features are located across the top of the screen. This interface is very customizable, allowing users to set personal preferences while also limiting access to information by only displaying clients and documents to which a user has been granted access.

When documents have been checked out and worked on by a user, other users are still able to work with other documents within the same client binder, and changed or added data is automatically synched when the workpapers are checked back in. It includes drilldown functionality in the form of links from GL accounts to group and subgroup information on workpapers, lead schedules and tax lines, while links are also provided between trial balance data to financial statements.

Data Import/Export/Integration -- 5 Stars
ProSystem fx Engagement offers total integration with CCH’s tax, research, audit, write-up, practice management, document management and other professional accounting applications, which simplifies data transfer processes. The system uses Excel and Word for reporting and can output files and entire binders into multiple formats, including PDF. Data can be imported from most major third-party financial systems.

Trial Balance Features -- 4.5 Stars
The system’s trial balance functionality works through Excel spreadsheets, enabling linking directly to the GL and other source programs in which workpapers are generated, thereby giving drilldown access to key data and enabling instant viewing of the affects of tweaking this data. All workpapers are stored in intuitive binders, with the ability to open the documents in their native file format from within the engagement system. The program provides multiple options for journal entries, including adjusting, reclassifying, federal and state tax, and potentials. Additional features allow grouping of information in the workpapers, lead schedules and tax lines, as well as roll forward processes.

Financial Statement Preparation -- 4.5 Stars
With the ability to create a wide variety of financial statements, ProSystem fx Engagement uses Word and Excel with dynamic linking that allows trial balance data to be linked back to other applications and documents like tax returns or workpapers. Several templates are included in the system, and users have broad control over reporting elements, including extensive formatting capabilities. All reports and financials prepared through the system and can be saved to PDF and stored within ProSystem fx Document or other paperless systems.

Engagement Process Features -- 5 Stars
ProSystem fx Engagement centralizes the storage of all workpapers and includes excellent collaboration tools that help manage workflow, from compiling through review and finalization, while a “binder lockdown” feature prevents changes to a finalized engagement. Among the more noteworthy features in this arena is the ability for multiple staff to work with engagements simultaneously, while version controls ensure synchronization functions. The program allows even remote workers to view and work with client binders, and provides an electronic sign-off process and various Snapshot Views that allow senior staff to monitor the progress of an engagement. Staff can also insert notes, references and tickmarks into Word, Excel and PDF files.

CCH’s ProSystem fx Engagement offers a comprehensive engagement management system with outstanding collaboration tools, management options and security features that can help firms better manage the often complex and time consuming tasks associated with engagement workflow. The system offers the greatest benefit to practices using other components of the ProSystem fx suite.

2008 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars