CCH - ProSystem fx Scan
From the January 2012 Review of Tax Document Automation Tools.
Best Firm Fit
Firms using other ProSystem fx applications to prepare individual income tax returns, as well as firms that want the OCR and organizing processes to run on premise with a fast turnaround time.
- With the right hardware and recommended scanning procedures, the OCR processing should only take a few minutes, making it ideal for firms that want to scan and begin preparing a tax return immediately.
- Autoflow Wizard is an easy validation process for users to follow and is customizable. Side-by-side view of electronic values and images from source documents is also convenient.
- Offers PDFlyer, a solid Adobe Acrobat add-in for annotating, bookmarking and repaginating PDF documents.
- Firms can use the scan and organize process with any tax software, but the Autoflow Wizard only imports data into the ProSystem fx Tax application.
- The up-front investment in the scanning software and hardware may make it cost prohibitive for firms that prepare a very small volume of individual income tax returns. Firms should also consider that Autoflow is additionally priced at $12/return.
Originally developed by a CPA firm in 2004, ProSystem fx Scan is the tax document automation component of the ProSystem fx Suite of products from CCH, an integrated set of applications for accounting firms. It is one of only two products covered in this review that offers a version that can be installed on a firm’s local computer or server, unlike other products where tax documents are uploaded to the vendor’s site for OCR processing. While this may significantly decrease the processing time, it may also require a firm to purchase additional hardware to process large volumes of documents in-house.
ProSystem fx Scan launched a web-based solution in December 2011. The SaaS version has a 24-hour service level agreement for returning organized tax documents, but the average turnaround time is expected to be two hours for the upcoming tax season. This review focuses on the version that is installed locally on a firm’s servers.
Core Product Functions/Features - 4.75 Stars
ProSystem fx Scan has two separate principal functions:
- Scan uses OCR to create a bookmarked PDF of source documents. Documents do not need to be scanned in any particular order, but the user should indicate which documents are single pages and which have multiple pages (such as brokerage statements).
- Autoflow extracts information from the source documents, puts it through a validation process (explained later) and populates it to the tax return. This last step is optional, and firms should set their own standards for validating data.
CCH also offers PDFlyer, a popular Adobe Acrobat add-in for annotating and bookmarking PDF documents. PDFlyer provides the ability to merge and append PDFs, which is helpful for late-arriving documents. It includes an on-screen 10-key calculator with an option to copy its calculations to the PDF. Connector stamps are useful for many practitioners and allow hyperlinks to annotations on other pages of the workpapers. A new feature recently added to PDFlyer is the ability for multiple users to sign off on documents, putting a stamp with the user’s name in the corner and highlighting the bookmark with the same color. PDFlyer is licensed separately from the Scan application, and only works with Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional versions 7 and above. PDFlyer will not run with Adobe Reader.
Paperless Workflow - 4.75 Stars
After documents are scanned, ProSystem fx Scan’s Autoflow Wizard takes the social security numbers found in the source documents and matches them up with tax returns in the tax product. After the user selects a tax return to link the data, the Autoflow Wizard compares the scanned tax documents with the information entered for the client in the prior year and attempts to flow the data to the correct form for tax documents that may apply to various forms of a tax return (such as a 1099-MISC or a 1098).
At this point, the user can choose either to validate the data or just push it directly to the tax return. The data validation screen shows the source document at the bottom and at the top, a pane with the field name, the electronic value of extracted text, and an image of the extracted text. This layout is very convenient for the user reviewing the accuracy of the OCR since it shows these fields side by side instead of in separate windows. ProSystem fx Scan is only one of two tax document automation solutions (along with Intuit ProLine Tax Import) to use this layout in the data validation screen.
The validation screen also highlights certain amounts in different colors to show the data that was imported to the tax software and bring potential errors to the user’s attention. For example, fields highlighted in red may have an invalid tax identification number. Users can customize the layout of the validation window to their preferences, although the colors used are standard.
The software embeds a diagnostics spreadsheet (that can be opened in Excel) into the organized PDF, which includes a list of missing information, skipped forms and invalid fields. A separate embedded spreadsheet contains the gains and losses detail extracted from the source documents, which can be imported into the tax program.
Integration - 4.5 Stars
ProSystem fx Scan populates information from source documents to the following CCH applications: ProSystem fx Tax (its flagship product), ProSystem fx Suite - Tax (SaaS product), and Global fx Office - Tax (a second SaaS product). Importing the data using the Autoflow wizard is licensed on a per-return basis at a list price of $12 per return. For firms using ProSystem fx Document, Scan publishes the PDFs it generates to Document folders.
Help/Support/Training - 5 Stars
A comprehensive and easy-to-follow user guide is provided with the ProSystem fx Scan product. Getting the hardware and software configured takes a little work, but the guide provides helpful step-by-step directions. CCH offers both web-based and onsite end-user training, and its consulting group can assist firms with implementation. Users can also receive assistance with the product through online Help files, the CCH Support Knowledgebase, online chat and phone support.
Pricing for the ProSystem fx Scan application varies, with a starting price around $4,200. The Autoflow component is priced at $12 per return. The SaaS version is sold in bundled quantities.