2012 Review of GruntWorx, LLC

Copanion, a Drake Enterprises Company - GruntWorx
800-291-2136
www.copanion.com

From the January 2012 Review of Tax Document Automation Tools.

 

Best Firm Fit

Firms that want a user-friendly solution for receiving an organized and bookmarked PDF of source documents, regardless of the firm’s tax and document management software. Firms using the supported tax software will benefit from the Populate product. Firms using the Drake professional tax software should also consider it because integration for Drake will soon be released.

Strengths

  • GruntWorx is a completely SaaS application so there is nothing to install locally, and it will work on most devices with a web browser and an Internet connection.
  • Web interface for uploading and downloading documents is simple and easy to use, even for users with little computer experience.
  • The new expanded rights management features make it easy to use the product in large multi-location firms.
  • Integration with Tic, Tie & Calculate, a popular Adobe Acrobat add-in among tax and accounting professionals.

Potential Limitations

  • The service level agreement calls for a maximum of 24 hours to return an organized PDF file to the user (though average times were much less, with a two to four hour average during the peak of tax season in March 2011 for Populate jobs). This may make it unsuitable for the “one-hour interview” retail tax preparers.
  • Forms containing amounts that could be reported in various parts of a tax return (such as a 1099-MISC) are populated to a point sheet instead of directly to the tax software. Unlike with other systems, the user’s placement of these amounts in the tax software is not carried forward to future years.

 

GruntWorx is a web-based application that provides relief to tax preparers from the “grunt work” of organizing tax documents and data entry. Priced separately, the products offered are as follows:

  1. GruntWorx Organize uses optical character recognition (OCR) to create a bookmarked PDF of a client’s tax documents from scanned tax documents uploaded by the user. The end product groups together tax documents by type (wages, interest income, deductions, etc.) and form, and identifies the issuer of the tax document in the bookmark name.
  2. GruntWorx Populate performs the same functions as GruntWorx Organize and then imports numbers from supported tax forms into tax software packages. Currently, the tax software packages supported are UltraTax CS, ProSystem fx Tax and GoSystem RS (Drake Software and Lacerte soon to be supported).
  3. GruntWorx Trades extracts information from consolidated brokerage statements, puts the information into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet where it can be tied out to a 1099-B, and then imports the data into Schedule D of the tax software.
  4. GruntWorx Gather automatically aggregates 1099 information from financial institutions on behalf of clients. Since the product was still in beta at the time this review was written, it is not covered in the remainder of the review. More information about Gather is available on the GruntWorx website.

Core Product Functions/Features - 4.75 Stars

With a clean and uncluttered appearance, the GruntWorx dashboard is easy to navigate and understand. Even inexperienced computer users should have no problem selecting a client, selecting a file to upload, and then downloading processed files. The client list on the dashboard is searchable, filterable and sortable. Clients can easily be imported into GruntWorx from CSV files.

From the dashboard, users with administrator privileges can create other users, assign them to specific accounts, and adjust both global preferences and individual user settings. This year, GruntWorx added the ability for a firm to have multiple administrators and multiple accounts within a firm. Each different account can be using a different tax software application. These new features may be especially helpful for large and multi-location firms.

Paperless Workflow - 4.5 Stars

Unlike some of Copanion’s competitors, no pre-organization is required of the source documents (though multi-page documents should be scanned sequentially). The person doing the scanning can be someone with little to no tax knowledge.

GruntWorx offers an option to repaginate organized documents. This setting is important because it puts the pages in the same order as the bookmarks, which may make the PDF document easier to navigate. However, some firms prefer to keep the pages in a PDF document in the same order as they were scanned.

The Populate product generates a point sheet in Excel format with every piece of information that is extracted for ProSystem fx Tax and UltraTax CS. This Excel spreadsheet also contains a list of diagnostics for possible errors in the data, such as a mismatched social security number. The point sheet also warns the user about data that may be missing based on the information received for the prior year. GruntWorx Populate extracts data from most standard IRS forms and bank issued documents, and then pushes that data into the tax software. For certain forms that could be reported in various places in a tax return (such as a 1099-MISC), the data is only extracted to the Excel point sheet, where professional review is required to enter the amounts in the proper places.

Turnaround time on Populate jobs averaged between two to four hours for tax season in March 2011. The service level agreement calls for a maximum 24 hours turnaround time. This may make it unsuitable for the “one-hour interview” retail tax preparers, but it works great for most accounting firms where clients drop off their source documents and the tax returns are prepared later.

GruntWorx has a partnership with Tic, Tie & Calculate, an Adobe Acrobat plug-in designed specifically for accountants that can be used to add bookmarks that correspond to the GruntWorx bookmark hierarchy. Some of its other notable features are multi-colored tick marks and a calculator that functions like a 10-key adding machine. Tic, Tie & Calculate is offered at a discount to GruntWorx users.

Integration - 4 Stars

Regardless of the tax software or document management system a firm uses, GruntWorx Organize creates an organized and bookmarked PDF.

GruntWorx Populate currently imports data into GoSystem Tax RS, ProSystem fx Tax and UltraTax CS. Earlier this year, Copanion was acquired by Drake Software, a large developer of tax preparation software. While still supporting all of the other integrations, Copanion is building a deep integration with the Drake tax software and its document management system in the near future. Integration with Lacerte is also on the product roadmap.

GruntWorx Populate for GoSystem Tax RS has an additional integration where a specific naming schema is assigned to the PDF so that when it is saved locally to a specific drive, GoFileRoom ES automatically pulls the PDF file into the document management system and eliminates the step of manually uploading it.

Help/Support/Training - 4.5 Stars

The resources page of the GruntWorx website contains whitepapers that cover a variety of topics including scanning, security and Adobe Acrobat tips. These whitepapers are helpful for any firm operating or becoming paperless, those just those using GruntWorx. A comprehensive user guide can be downloaded from the website with step-by-step tutorials for the program’s major functions. Customer support is available by phone Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during tax season). GruntWorx also provides e-mail support at any time, including weekends. For additional Help and information, users can collaborate through its LinkedIn group, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Pricing

The pricing model for GruntWorx is simply on a per-use basis, making it an attractive option for firms wanting to test it on a limited number of tax returns without a big up-front investment in the product. The Organize and Populate products retail for $5 and $30 per use, respectively. Volume discounts are available for firms with a commitment of 100 or more uses.

2012 Overall Rating: 4.5

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