AccountantsWorld — Accounting Relief
Best Fit: Firms who want to bring both their practice and their clients onto a web-based accounting system that gives the firm greater control over data and the ability to monitor and control what their clients can do with their collaborative bookkeeping system.
From the Sept. 2011 Review of Client Write-Up Systems
AccountantsWorld offers several web-based programs specifically designed for accounting firms. Many of these applications are integrated into a firm’s website through a related product, Website Relief,
which allows clients and staff to log in from the company’s site. Accounting Relief is an online accounting system that includes a professional/firm side and online bookkeeping functions for the firm’s clients. The accountant has full access at any time to the live bookkeeping system because it is actually a small part of the larger firm accounting system. Clients use a program that is monitored and controlled by the accounting firm. This eliminates the need to transfer large data files, and offers additional client collaboration tools. Other programs available from AccountantsWorld include payroll, after-the-fact payroll, practice management, document management and website development tools.
Basic System Functions:
Accounting Relief includes full GL, AP, AR, payroll, client management and financial reporting utilities. The suite of applications provides alerts and other tools that assist practitioners with the management and performance of write-up services. Its most distinguishing feature is the way it combines a SaaS professional accounting system with interactive client bookkeeping. One way to think of how the system functions when deployed is as if the accountant’s client interactions were modeled as a bicycle tire, with the center being the core professional accounting system, and each of the spokes allowing clients access to smaller parts that serve as their business’ bookkeeping system.
Using this model, the accounting professional and the client are actually working with the same data at the same time, although the professional has access to far more functions and features and is able to control which functions and features the client can see and use. The accounting firm and its staff can use Accounting Relief to manage the books, write-up client transactions for the month, reconcile accounts, and process live or after-the-fact payroll for any number of client businesses. Additionally, the application can support any number of concurrent accounting firm users, with checkout features preventing overwriting of data, and the ability to customize the access rights of each staff member at the firm, including access to specific clients or functions.
When used as an integrated part of a firm’s website built with AccountantsWorld’s website builder, firm staff and customers log into the programs from the firm’s website. Clients see only the bookkeeping functions they’ve been granted access to, along with collaboration features such as document and data sharing tools, and newsletters and other information that the firm wants to share with its clients. Accounting Relief is sold only to accountants who can then offer the customized and collaborative bookkeeping module as a service to their firm’s clients for a nominal fee. For firm staff, the system can also display employee information, news, social media feeds, firm news and other data.
The program’s web interface starts with a client selection screen and links to primary program areas, including client snapshots, document management, managing client bookkeeping options and firm settings. A Client Snapshot screen is also available, showing basic business data such as account balances and alerts, while the Dashboard view gives customizable details on a per-company basis, such as AR, summaries, recent transactions, payables, cash balances and projected cash balances. Within a client’s files, the system provides a navigation menu with access to banking, sales, job costing, expenses, inventory, trial balance, financials, reports and other features. Customization options allow users to set up system alerts, and a messaging tool provides built-in text-based communication between accountant and client.
Core Write-Up Features:
Accounting Relief uses the live data that clients enter as they enter it, automatically collecting all information and enabling firm staff to work with data at any time, without causing downtime for the client. The system includes more than 30 industry-focused charts of accounts templates or users can create them from scratch and can copy them when creating new clients. Custom transaction templates are also available for quick posting of recurring journal entries, and the system provides tools for making adjusting entries, including reclassifying and federal. Check writing functions occur on replicas of standard checks and can be printed onto plain or preformatted paper, with built-in support for MICR printing.
The system’s financial reporting tools and built-in trial balance offer drilldown to transactional level details for audit, review and when making corrections. The program can import transactions from client bank statements, as well as from credit card accounts and other institutions for use in reconciling the accounts. This module has simplified screen views for comparing, matching, and clearing transactions. Accounting Relief supports consolidated financial statement reporting.
Accounting Relief is integrated with AccountantsWorld’s after-the-fact and live payroll processing and tax compliance reporting. Tax tables are maintained by the vendor and updated as necessary. Wage and information reporting is available for federal and all state filings. The system includes 30 standard ratios that help analyze activities and current operating trends, and provide meaningful data for analysis and benchmarking. Ratios include gross profit margins, AR turnovers, inventory turnover, working capital, AR to working capital and return on assets.
Reporting & Financial Statements:
Accounting Relief generates customizable financial statement groups, including balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements. These reports can be accompanied with fully customizable tables of contents, cover letters and notes. Users can group multiple accounts; create supplemental schedules; generate comparative financials for periods; compare variances and percentages; and create separate statements to analyze equity account activities. The system offers more than 70 customizable template engagement letters. Documents and reports can be saved within the optional document management system, or saved into Excel or Word formats.
A firm AR module is included and offers client billing options, including full invoicing, receivables management, aging reports and recurring invoices. The system will store customized formats and logos for printing on checks, invoices and other forms. The Expenses module offers payables management, including recurring bills and client pass-throughs, the ability to split checks across multiple expense accounts, credit card data input, and the option to produce file-ready copies of Form 1099-Misc.
Since the program integrates professional firm-side accounting with the bookkeeping system in use by clients, no data transfer is necessary for these clients, and the accountant always has instant access to live client data. For those using other systems, Accounting Relief can import data from most common small business accounting packages, as well as from Excel and CSV formats for importing data from time clocks and payroll programs. It can export data and reports into Excel and CSV, allowing for import into tax, trial balance and other applications. Documents can also be produced in Word and PDF formats. Accounting Relief offers direct integration with the live and after-the-fact payroll programs from AccountantsWorld.
The web-based system and its bringing together of the client-side and firm-side accounting functions make the program very portal based at its core. Accountants always have access to client data, and the two sides can share documents and even work within the same files at the same time, which can help with troubleshooting or teaching a client the right way to do something. A chat feature allows for direct communication between clients and staff. Additional collaboration tools are available via the optional CyberCabinet document management system. Clients and firm staff members can attach documents to any transaction within the accounting system.
Accounting Relief includes task-sensitive Help and a built-in user guide. Also available through the system are links to support documents, publications and training options. The vendor’s website includes more than 20 short topic-focused videos and regularly scheduled live and recorded online webinars. The system is designed for use with Internet Explorer, but my limited testing on Firefox and Safari did not result in difficulties. Live support is free for as long as a firm uses the product, including phone, e-mail and chat-based options.
Summary & Pricing
As a write-up system, Accounting Relief provides an easy-to-use program that includes tools that reduce client errors, and simplify correcting client errors and corresponding adjusting entries, reconciliation functions and other related tasks. The system also offers check writing and options for after-the-fact payroll reporting. The key benefit to the system is that clients are using an extension of the program tailored for their small business needs, with their data actually living in the professional’s system. This eliminates the hassle of data transfers, and allows firms to stay in control of the data more proactively. The program costs $99 per month or $990 per year for the core accountant-centric part of the program, and $9.95 per month for each client using the business side of the application. First-year pricing specials are also available. Our editorial awards committee recognized Accounting Relief with a 2010 Innovation Award, and the system continues to be a very strong player in the SaaS client accounting market.
2011 Overall Rating: