Best Fit: Firms using the ATX or TaxWise tax and workflow products who want an easy-to-use write-up package with after-the-fact payroll reporting, financials generation and optional live payroll are a match with Client Accounting Suite. CCH ProSystem fx Tax and Practice Management users are supported with a special integrated version, Client Accounting Suite Premier.
From the Sept. 2011 Review of Client Write-Up Systems
The CCH Small Firm Services Client Accounting Suite, offered for users of either TaxWise or ATX tax preparation and accounting systems combines general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable,
trial balance, after-the-fact payroll, W-2/1099 preparation and financial statement reporting in a desktop system that can be networked and used by multiple firm staff. The system offers import capabilities for most small business accounting systems, and also has an available free add-on called Client Checkbook that acts as a basic bookkeeping system that integrates with Client Accounting Suite. Live payroll functionality, including direct deposit and deduction management, can also be added to the system.
Basic System Functions:
The Client Accounting Suite consists of four core modules: Client Write-Up, AR, AP and Payroll. Each of these modules is accessible from separate program icons, but they share data with the GL and make appropriate journal entries during use. Additional program areas, including client archives, backup, lists and the master control center are also available. Within the main program areas, the system maintains similar work areas and data-entry functions, each starting with a client selection list. A check-in, check-out function prevents concurrent users from working on the same files at the same time. New client setup tools help guide initial client setup tasks, including charts of accounts, banking data and company defaults. Data can be imported from QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree, and new companies can also be created by copying data from existing files.
The core Write-Up module offers a text-based menu with options for check writing functions, working with journal entries, performing bank reconciliation and generating financial statements. Additional options provide access to statements, the GL and the Account Inquiry transaction lookup feature. Drop-down menus at the top of the screen offer access to standing data lists, After-the-fact payroll functions, activities, reports, and utilities. QuickLook summaries of account data are also created, and include employee payroll information, client status, a current period financial summary and voided checks. The other modules offer similar easy navigation functions. Some customization options are offered for basic user preferences, although the system does not provide alerts based on client data or pending/required tasks.
Client Accounting Suite supports any number of users within the same office, and firms can create user groups for managing separate client groups within the practice. However, there are no other user-level security limitations. The system can manage any number of client businesses.
Core Write-Up Features:
Journals are accessed via the Write-Up module and are presented in a spreadsheet view that allows users to select the specific journal (adjusting, general, regular entries, VGL bank reconcile, customs) and the fiscal period desired from selection lists. The work screen also offers links to account setup, the check register, batch posting options, recurring journals and a review of financials for the currently selected client. Buttons are available for bringing up the computer’s calculator and for going to an online research utility. The chart of accounts can be generated with Spanish language descriptions.
A unique feature is the ability to quickly scroll between periods using forward and back (previous and next) buttons. The day sheet journal also offers streamlined posting of daily sales and deposits. Most data-entry areas in the program offer heads-down keyboard entry. Client Accounting Suite includes the ability to create recurring journal entries, as well as batch processing. Bank reconciliation features are simple and guided, with the check register displayed side-by-side with the deposits and allowing for easy corrections, although the system does not include a bank statement import utility.
The check writer in Client Accounting Suite opens into the register, with tabs for viewing specific accounts, employees, vendors, journal entries and recurring entries. The default screen is a view of checks with multiple sorting options and balance and hash total information appearing on-screen. The system can manage any number of bank accounts. Check entry can be performed either on a register view or a check view, and can be split-posted to multiple accounts. Checks can be generated onto plain or preformatted stock, and printed individually or in batch.
The after-the-fact payroll options include the ability to manage workers’ compensation and deductions, as well as tip allocation and third-party sick pay. State and federal withholding tables are included as well as year-end preparation of forms 940, 941, W-2 and 1099. Additional payroll options, such as direct deposit, printing of employee checks and stubs, expense reimbursements and accruals management, are available with the addition of the live payroll add-on.
Reporting & Financial Statements:
Reports for each of the main areas of the program are found directly in their modules, such as payables, vendor histories, receivables, aging, multiple aged trial balance options, sales histories, payroll histories, state and federal reporting, W-2s, and analysis options. The core Client Write-Up module includes the chart of accounts, trial balances, detail GL, journals, cash activity reports, budgets, forecasting, ratios and full financial statement generation. Most reports, including general client communication templates, can be output into English or Spanish, and can be saved to Microsoft Excel, PDF, RTF, comma-delimited text formats, or viewed on screen. The system allows only light direct customization, but report results can be reformatted using Excel.
Invoicing functions can be found in the AR module, which provides sales management, payment entry, adjustments, finance charges and recurring charges. The system does not offer electronic payment acceptance options.
Client Accounting Suite has a utility for directly importing from QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree, with the ability to convert existing charts of accounts, vendor lists and other data. The program can also import and export to and from CSV and Excel, allowing it to share data between payroll, trial balance, tax and other systems. It also offers PDF output for document management.
The Client Checkbook module, which is offered at no additional cost, is intended as a basic bookkeeping and transaction management system, giving clients simple features for entering transactions, check writing, vendor management, and a basic GL. Data can then be imported into Client Accounting Suite, although no portals or live online synching is offered.
The program includes a traditional Help utility and index as well as a built-in PDF version of the user manual. Extensive right-click menus offer shortcuts, quick access to system functions and task-specific Help. The program also publishes lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs), release notes for each version, a year-end guide, import guide, and a data conversion guide. Online support also includes a knowledgebase, tutorials, online user forums and options for training. The system is designed for use on Windows PCs. Live technical support is free with program licenses.
Summary & Pricing
Client Accounting Suite is geared toward management of generally smaller business entities, but the program’s features, particularly in batch processing of journal entries, recurring entries, ratios and its financial statement generation functions, are adept for virtually any business’ needs. The program is best suited to users of ATX and TaxWise, offering solid integration and data transfer into those tax packages, but can be used as a standalone write-up utility, as well. Client Accounting Suite costs $520 for a site license usable by all in the practice. Client Accounting Suite with the live payroll option costs $795.
2011 Overall Rating: