Office Tools Professional
From the August 2011 Review of Practice Management Systems
Small to mid-sized firms not currently using a completely integrated suite of tax and accounting products.
Office Tools Professional is a comprehensive practice management solution geared toward small and mid-sized firms currently using disconnected applications. Its features include contact management, scheduling, workflow, document management, and time and billing. Repetitive data entry is avoided because of the program’s integration with software typically used in small to mid-sized firms, such as Microsoft Office, QuickBooks and Lacerte Tax. The objective of the software is to provide resources that help firm owners and accounting professionals become more productive.
The program was recently redesigned using the .NET platform, expanding its capabilities for integration with state-of-the-art technology. The redesign brought a new look and feel to the program, most notably a color scheme for calendars and alerts that automatically turn certain items red. The latest version introduced many new features, including a PDF print driver that provides the ability to print to an Adobe Acrobat format from any application and the ability to drag and drop files directly into the program’s window.
A distinguishing feature of Office Tools Professional is its non-proprietary document management system that firms may use as a repository of electronic files. By clicking on the documents tab, a user can add, edit, view and e-mail all types of files related to a specific client. Its sortable list view may make it easier to manage and find documents than Windows Explorer, for example. Documents can be dragged and dropped into the Practice Management window directly into a client’s directory. For an extra charge, firms can securely send documents to clients with a portal using the DropFolder.net service that integrates with Office Tools Professional’s document management.
Basic System Functions:
Office Tools Professional can solve the difficult problems of tracking workflow from the point that documents arrive and throughout a project’s progression to completion. It encompasses the processes of tracking employees’ time, scheduling and measuring productivity. The software helps maintain information about clients more like a CRM system, and less like a typical practice management application. For example, it has a tab completely dedicated to tracking every detail from client phone calls. Users have the ability to print customized client letters, envelopes and labels directly from the program.
The single screen interface makes it possible to access and enter data within a few clicks. The tabbed layout facilitates moving between the major sections of the program easily. Right-click menus can be accessed in many parts of the program. Certain parts of the program, including the calendar, have the ability to “undock” from the main screen and open in a new window on a separate monitor.
Time Management Capabilities:
In Office Tools Professional, time can be tracked in three ways: with a built-in timer, on a time entry spreadsheet, or on a time card upon the completion of a task. The timer, similar in function to a stop watch, has input fields for recording the client, project, work code and notes. The timer may be paused and started again for another project or client, so it is possible to have multiple timers running simultaneously for each task. The settings allow for automatic timecard creation when completing a To-Do, call, schedule, project, assignment and review. Billable time is moved automatically to the work in process and made available for billing.