CCH, A Wolters Kluwer business — ProSystem fx Practice Management
800-739-9998 opt. 1
From the August 2011 Review of Practice Management Systems
Firms wanting powerful time, project, marketing and client management features, particularly those using other components of the ProSystem fx Suite.
The ProSystem fx Suite from CCH offers an integrated set of income tax, accounting and workflow software designed to streamline information sharing and productivity across all applications. The practice management piece provides tools for effective tax and accounting firm management and includes functionality for timekeeping, billing, accounts receivable, project management and marketing.
ProSystem fx Practice Management, with a foundation built on .NET technology, is sold in three different editions: the Basic and Office editions run on Microsoft SQL Express or Standard database, and the Enterprise edition runs on Microsoft’s Standard or Enterprise SQL database.
This year, CCH launched ProSystem fx Practice Intelligence, which takes the data from Practice Management and puts it into a graphical interactive dashboard. This business intelligence software enables firm owners to analyze financial performance at a step above the dashboards provided with the software. Since it has drilldown capability and can instantly display data by partner, department, location and client name, Practice Intelligence has proven to be particularly helpful for mid and large multi-partner firms. (ProSystem fx Practice Intelligence is an add-on product that is sold separately.)
Basic System Functions:
By default, ProSystem fx Practice Management opens to a clean and uncluttered main menu that contains links to open the various modules of the program: time entry, billing, accounts receivable, projects, contact management, administration, reports and report writer. Table views in the program can be sorted by clicking on the column headings, and several filtering options are available by right clicking on cells, along with the ability to quickly export to Excel.
Time Management Capabilities:
The time entry screen shows a calendar in graphical format and provides fields for entering a client name, service code, hours, project name, and a memo field, which can either appear on detailed invoices or marked “internal” to never appear on invoices. For quick data entry, the user can type the first few letters or numbers of the client’s name and service code, and the program will perform auto-complete functions. Or the user can select items from a drop-down list.
An unlimited number of timers, which run independently of ProSystem fx Practice Management and appear in the Windows Tray, can be used to accurately track the amount of time spent on projects. Users can review the amount of time entered for a period and then release them to the database. Internet time entry is available as an add-on feature. Benefits such as paid time off and CPE hours can be measured in the system, as well.
One of the stronger aspects of ProSystem fx Practice Management is its features for marketing and tracking prospects. Prospects can be created with the same contact information as clients, and the program can store referral sources, marketing methods, and employees assigned to prospects. Time and expenses can be entered for prospects, but they cannot be billed.
In the billing screen, users have the option between the following: quick bill, which bills all WIP and reduces it to zero; partial bill, which bills a selection of transactions; and progress bill, which creates a credit against WIP. The user can then enter an amount to bill to override the standard WIP amount (or enter a percentage of the WIP to bill), then select a reason for the write up or write down from a drop-down list. Within the billing review window for quick reference, there are tabs to view a client’s invoice history and a 24-month view that summarizes billing, production and accounts receivable by month.
During the process of generating an invoice, a user can change the wording and style in a built-in application that has the look and feel of popular word processing programs. The user then has the option to print the invoice, e-mail it, do both or skip invoice output altogether. Practice Management comes with 70 standard reports, which users can customize or create their own using the built-in Report Writer.
Included in the time entry window is an alerts tab with a list of warnings that can include when a client reaches an accounts receivable limit or when a project reaches a certain percentage of budget. It can also alert to approaching due dates. Alerts can be customized and can appear in pop-up windows when the program is opened.
For quick view and analysis, there are two types of dashboards built into the practice management program: the firm dashboard, which shows a summary of the firm’s work in process, billing, and accounts receivable for a period and can be displayed by partner as well as in a pie chart or other graphical summary. The employee dashboard shows a weekly and monthly recap of both posted and billable time, displaying the daily totals as well as budget and actual productivity ratios. The employee dashboard also shows total CPE, vacation and sick time that has been taken.
Though the default security settings are at the lowest level, they can be set on an employee-by-employee basis to grant or deny access to almost any type of action and data for each feature of the program. Security settings can be easily copied from one employee to another. The software can require passwords at log in, and supervisors have the ability to reset passwords or make them expire.
Integration & Data Management:
Other programs from the ProSystem fx Suite integrate thoroughly with Practice Management. It can export employee hours to Sage Abra Payroll and export WIP, billing and receipt totals to the GL of Sage MAS 90, 200 and 500. Reports can be sent as e-mail attachments or exported as PDF, RTF, HTML or Excel files.
ProSystem has a built-in SQL utilities feature, with which a user with administrative security privileges can perform data file tasks such as backing up the database. Program updates are not automatic and must be maintained by the firm.
CCH has a knowledgebase on its support website, which is ideal for solving error messages and known issues. The most recent additions to the support site include tutorial videos and a community forum, though there has been little activity since it was launched in March. CCH also provides support by phone, web ticketing, real-time chat and remote support, proclaiming on its support site, “You can go to lunch or work on something else while we [remotely] fix the issue.” Live technical support is included in pricing, and CCH provides extended hours and weekend support during tax season.
Summary & Pricing
Because of its strong integration capabilities, ProSystem fx Practice Management is a solid choice for firms using other components of the ProSystem fx Suite. Several firms not using the suite purchase the practice management portion as a standalone product because of its powerful time, project, marketing and client management features. The price of a 10-user basic system that does not include contact management is $2,260. The version that includes all components is $4,325.
2011 Overall Rating: