Thomson Reuters - Engagement CS
From the August 2011 Review of Engagement & Trial Balance Systems
Best Fit: Firms that utilize PPC Practice Aids should consider this product. The seamless integration with the PPC Practice Aids will allow for increased productivity and quality during the execution of engagement tasks.
Basic System Functions:
Engagement CS is an easy product to navigate, utilizing the familiar Microsoft folder tree user interface. The trial balance allows users to create financial statements in different bases of accounting (cash, accrual, governmental, etc.) with relative ease. When Engagement CS is set up, there is an accounting basis option that allows the user to choose the basis of accounting that fits the engagement being worked on. The product also allows for consolidations of multiple trial balances and funds.
The financial data from the trial balance can be linked to financial statements and footnotes. Financial statements and footnotes are created in Microsoft Office (Word and/or Excel), and dynamic links can be added to these files to automate the creation of these documents. A unique feature to Engagement CS is a Microsoft Office toolbar that allows for easier preparation of financial statements. Additionally, Engagement CS is fully integrated with the PPC Practice Aids and templates.
When a firm purchases the software, the vendor will show the users how to set up template engagement files that will allow for significant engagement efficiency year after year. In addition to setting up templates for each type of engagement, Engagement CS allows for customized financial analytics as well as detail analysis of the progress of each engagement.
Each file is secured with unique user names and passwords, and the engagement manager can limit and restrict access to each engagement file on a granular level. The basic file structure is very similar to the Microsoft Windows folder tree. The system fully integrates with the Thomson Reuters document management products and offers limited integration with most third-party document management systems.
Users and engagement managers can easily manage open items, and create, clear and delete review notes and tickmarks. An individualized view is available for each user to easily manage individual or a team’s workload to monitor the completion of projects. Engagement CS allows access to a budget template, and an automated timer is available that integrates with Practice CS to capture and track time. Users are notified when changes to reviewed workpapers occur as well when lockdown compliance rules are about to take effect.
Workflow & Collaboration:
Engagement CS is designed for multi-user engagements, with three distinct ways to monitor data conflicts: (1) Automatic Sync, an automatic sync that lets the last version of the document prevail; (2) Sync with a local copy, which allows users to check out different sections of the engagement file and the user determines which version is retained (the database file is normally save on a server in this instance); and (3) Online, a hosted solution that allows the user to sync with an online version of the database file. In all of the above instances, the user has the ultimate control to determine which of the conflicting versions of a file is retained.
Users of Engagement CS can use any engagement checklist or practice aid that they prefer, but full integration is limited to Thomson Reuters PPC Practice Aids (see below). Users can simply attach these documents to the engagement file each year. Limited integration with third-party practice aids is also available, but these must be managed manually (no automatic updates). The system employs an easy-to-understand file storage structure.