The Future is Mobility, Collaboration & SaaS

2011 Awards Honor Advances in Technology.

Most professionals who rely on technology to perform their jobs and provide client service (isn’t this everyone?) would likely agree that we’re in an age of constant technological evolution. Here at CPA Practice Advisor, we’ve chronicled many of these changes during the past 20 years, not only noting their passing, but also evaluating and advising on the most beneficial developments.

When we started the Tax and Accounting Technology Innovation Awards in 2004, the profession was in the middle of the process of going paperless, and since has moved toward integrating more advanced workflow tools, enhancing their client collaboration capabilities, broadening their service offerings and continuing to streamline their processes.

One of the greatest continuing advances in technology developed for tax and accounting professionals is the adoption of web-based and mobile tools and applications. The 2011 Innovation Awards, announced at a special reception at the California Accounting & Business Show & Conference in June, reflected many of these trends, with honors going to an online receivables management system, a mobile app for practice management, a portable mini-scanner, a cloud-based solution for managing IRS responses, and an audit workflow system.

“Modern tax and accounting practices must continue to drive their firms toward greater efficiency and productivity in order to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment,” said CPA Practice Advisor Executive Editor, M. Darren Root, CPA.CITP. Root is also the managing partner of the Bloomington, Indiana, accounting firm Root & Associates, LLC, and CEO of his technology consultancy RootWorks, LLC.

“At the heart of this mission must be a focus on implementing not only the most effective resources and technologies, but also a redevelopment of best practices and workflow strategies that enable firms to achieve the greatest results. CPA Practice Advisor will continue to provide information, advice and other resources that help firm decision makers realize a greater level of success.”

In addition to the award winners that follow, Honorable Mentions were also extended to FreshBooks and to CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business for its CCH Mobile app.

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2011 Innovation Award Winners

Bill.com Accounts Receivable

www.bill.com

Well-known for its self-named accounts payable solution, Bill.com recently introduced its completely web-based Receivables system, which can work with the payables side to offer all the features small businesses need for managing cash flow and billing.

Features include an intuitive dashboard overview of all payables and receivables customers and activities, a cash flow calendar that shows money going out and coming in, and data synching for customers, items and invoices with QuickBooks.

Bill.com offers an easy way for small businesses to send invoices and reminders, track their responses and, most importantly, an easy way for those customers to make their payments electronically using the ePayments feature, which also supports recurring and automatic payments.

Businesses report receiving customer payments two to three times faster when using Bill.com, which makes it automatically appealing. Plus, that helps reduce trips to the bank, eliminates lost checks and enhances accountability since payment data is automatically entered into QuickBooks.

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CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business – Knowledge Coach

tax.cchgroup.com/knowledgecoach

Rather than spending time managing workpapers, checklists and administration, CCH’s Knowledge-Based Audit (KBA) software streamlines the process, saves valuable time, and gives auditors the opportunity to get back to the investigative work of auditing. It has received a positive peer review by the AICPA Peer Review Committee.

Among its features, Knowledge Coach provides dynamic planning tools that increase audit efficiency, as well as built-in risk management functions, such as expert guidance to help tailor plans and ensure program steps are addressed. The program also links procedures to identified risks, and offers extensive drilldowns, workflow links and real-time messaging. Knowledge Coach’s extensive diagnostics ensure accuracy and thoroughness.

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Fujitsu – ScanSnap S1100

scansnap.fujitsu.com/america.html

Scanning is a critical part of the paperless office paradigm, but for frequently mobile professionals, this can pose a challenge. Fortunately, the new ScanSnap S1100 is the most portable professional scanner on the market, packing powerful features into its ruler-sized, 12-ounce frame that can easily fit in a computer bag.

The S1100 is a mobile marvel, drawing power from a USB cable attached to a laptop or desktop. Its OCR capabilities create searchable content, and users can even highlight documents, with the system then automatically creating keywords. When scanning business cards (or even plastic ID cards), it finds and pulls the contact information and can sync with Outlook. It’s PC and Mac friendly, and includes the ability to scan directly to a file or an email, to be printed or sent to the cloud.

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New River Innovation – Beyond415

www.newriverinnovation.com

Beyond415, is a completely web-based technology that promises to change how firms handle IRS issues and notices after the April 15 deadline. Designed to help professionals quickly address IRS issues and respond to notices for clients, Beyond415 automates post-filing IRS issues from start to finish, helping practitioners save time, get it right on the first attempt, and better serve their clients.

In 2009, the IRS issued 201 million notices to taxpayers, a six-fold increase, and proof that firms will need a new, automated way to handle these processes, which can often be frustrating, time consuming and even confusing. The system is comprehensive, providing expert guidance for analyzing a client’s situation, options for client IRS account research, and tools for solution evaluation and comparison. The technology is built so practitioners or a member of their staff can easily select and customize a response to an IRS issue. The system then pre-populates the necessary documents, including IRS forms, customized cover letters, worksheets, cover sheets, and document request forms — all in the IRS’s accepted formats.

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Thomson Reuters – Mobile CS

cs.thomsonreuters.com/mobilecs

Mobile CS is an accounting app for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch that lets professionals access the data they need to make decisions and run their practice every day. With this mobility, the information is always available, from anywhere. Currently, Mobile CS lets users access Practice CS content but will soon expand to include other CS Professional Suite and Enterprise Suite product data.

On-the-go information, including helpful client and staff data, as well as key firm data such as WIP and AR, empowers users to review client interactions before an important meeting, to check staff availability while they’re out of the office, or to quickly see the status of a project. A free, fully functional trial version of Mobile CS, which includes sample data, is available in the iPhone App Store and on iTunes. In order to access Practice CS data, the user must be licensed for Practice CS.

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PQ: “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat.” ~ Steve Jobs

PQ: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” ~ W. Edwards Deming

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