CaseWare International, Inc. - Working Papers
From the Feb. 2012 Review of Engagement Systems.
Accounting firms desiring a single platform to perform end-to-end work on tax and accounting engagements
- Fully contained, all-in-one product
- Easily adapted to any engagement client type and need
- Handles virtually any file type with ease
- SmartSync technology allows effortless collaboration when not connected to a network
- Some accounting firms may not require all included features, especially for smaller engagements
- A hosted solution is currently available through third parties in the USA. CaseWare International is working on their own hosted solution which will be available shortly.
Working Papers is the central software solution offered by CaseWare International, Inc. Working Papers is a comprehensive, all-in-one solution allowing accounting professionals to manage nearly any tax and accounting related engagement. From desktop installation for small firms to full network installation for larger firms, Working Papers may easily be adapted to meet the needs of accounting firms of all sizes.
BASIC SYSTEM FUNCTIONS (5 Stars)
Working Papers has a simple interface and is easy to navigate. The main screen is composed of three parts with traditional drop down navigation and shortcut icons at the top, the engagement structure in the middle and a recycle bin detailing any deleted documents at the bottom of the screen. The screen interface may not be altered though the recycle bin area may be minimized to allow more visibility of the engagement structure. The engagement structure is displayed much the same way as Windows Explorer, so there should be a high level of comfort by most users. The navigation with each engagement is accomplished through folders which may be added or deleted depending on the needs for the engagement.
As an all-in-one solution, a trial balance module is built in and offers a number of features. Data may be imported to the trial balance from over 60 accounting software packages, as well as from Excel and ASCII files. The trial balance module also allows users to create financial reports on virtually any accounting basis. Multiple entity trial balances and multiple funds may also be consolidated within the trial balance. Once the trial balance is imported, it may be mapped to various grouping schedules within Working Papers to produce a variety of financial and tax related reports. Once accounts are mapped, no additional user involvement is necessary for future engagements as the mapping rolls forward with each engagement.
Each engagement structure may be controlled by templates. Templates may be built based on existing engagements or from scratch by the users based on firm requirements. Users that require custom templates and do not have the time or resources to build them may purchase predesigned templates directly from CaseWare or a variety of third-party CaseWare support vendors.
ENGAGEMENT MANAGEMENT (4.75 Stars)
All user permissions within Working Papers may be tightly controlled. Working Papers provides full integration with Active Directory, for those on the Windows Server platform, and provides users single sign on access to both their Windows desktop and the Working Papers interface. All users may also be controlled globally, per engagement and even per file as needed. Working Papers allows for multiple users to be in files, based on licensing options, and any changes made by users are seen in real time throughout the system.
Working Papers allows documents to be imported from most popular third-party file types. Document import is achieved through menu options available within Working Papers or through drag and drop technology. All imported documents retain their native file format and may be edited within the default software for that file type. This allows users to retain the familiarity of editing documents within Microsoft Office or through a preferred PDF editor. An exception exists for image files, such as bitmap, JPEG, TIFF and PNG. Working Papers has the ability to view and perform minor edits to these image files directly within the software. Users may also generate PDF files within the software through the built-in PDF generation functions and files may be converted individually or in batches.
Working Papers has advanced review note, which CaseWare refers to as “issues”, and tickmark capabilities directly integrated with the product. Preparer and reviewer notes may be attached to nearly every document included within the engagement. These notes may also be directed to specific users to be addressed as appropriate. All notes may be set to roll forward with the engagement to a subsequent year or remain isolated in a current year engagement. A preset group of tickmarks is installed with the software and is accessible throughout Working Papers. Users may utilize the preset tickmarks, create or import their own set of tickmarks or use a combination of both.
WORKFLOW & COLLABORATION (4.5 Stars)
Working Papers employs a complex technology, named SmartSync, which provides engagement collaboration between multiple users. Using the SmartSync technology, any user may work on a local, or checked out, copy of the entire engagement client file. All data is synced in the background when connected to the network and is updated in real time based on other user activity. For users that are not connected to the network, data can be synched remotely or upon return to the office. The underlying syncing technology works very similar to that of the Microsoft Outlook and Exchange relationship.
Working Papers stores all engagement data files in a native file structure. Through additional licensing, CaseWare Collaborate may be used instead and provides data storage on a fully scalable SQL database server. CaseWare Collaborate is a web based solution that integrates directly with Working Papers and allows anytime, anywhere access to engagement data files. CaseWare Collaborate relies on the SmartSync technology, as described above, and provides all users with real time data. CaseWare Collaborate also provides staff and client portal capabilities and tools to create custom dashboards.
Working Papers has advanced review capabilities and may be fully customized based on the needs of each accounting firm or specific engagement. The review process may be set up in a predetermined order to follow a traditional workflow process. This allows reviewers to control what pieces of the engagement may be worked on at any given time, as a review process may be necessary before staff continues work in a particular area. Up to eight levels of sign-off may be setup for each individual file and each user may be assigned a different color. Any changes made to documents after reviewer document sign-off are displayed in red and reviewers may drill down on the files to see what changes were made and which user made the changes. Full file lockdown is made during year-end close processes. Review milestones may also be setup within each engagement which allows partners and management to quickly see the progress and status of the engagement.
INTEGRATION/IMPORT/EXPORT (4.75 Stars)
The CaseWare product lineup offers a number of other products separate from the Working Papers capabilities and focus. Working Papers tightly integrates with these products, but the additional products are not required to maintain core functionality. Working Papers is a fully inclusive product and unlike many competitor products is not licensed in separate modules. CaseWare Connector, however, offers one of the biggest integration components. CaseWare Connector, available with a minimal separate licensing cost, offers direct integration with Microsoft Word and Excel. Through CaseWare Connector, users may perform a majority of the engagement functions within the familiar interface offered through Word and Excel and still maintain access to underlying information housed within Working Papers.
Working Papers also directly integrates with PPC Practice Aids. The PPC integration provides connection to the engagement file data as well as access to Working Papers. Strong PDF features are included within Working Papers, including a built-in PDF generator. Users may also use the PDF generator to scan documents directly into the software and annotate on any PDF contained within the engagement. Working Papers includes full tax data export to most major tax software vendors including ProSystem fx, UltraTax and GoSystem Tax. One other item of note is that, unlike most competitors, Working Papers allows direct integration with web based document solutions available from Microsoft and Google.
HELP/SUPPORT (5 Stars)
Working Papers has an exhaustive list of help and support options available, most of which may be found through the drop down Help menu. Through this menu users are provided links to traditional program help as well as web based links for online support options. The traditional help includes a table of contents and full searchable index. The web based links include a variety of manuals, getting started guides and fully searchable frequently asked questions and knowledgebase articles. Short videos are located on the support website to introduce users to products and various features that are available. CaseWare also maintains a YouTube channel for Working Paper users. Live telephone and email support is available to users as well during normal operating hours.
Due to the platform, Working Papers is supported through a variety of third-party vendors for training and add-on custom modules. CaseWare works with instructors across the country to develop in-house and online training courses. These courses are typically NASBA certified and are more hands-on and may be specifically tailored to meet users training needs.
SUMMARY & PRICING
CaseWare Working Papers is a fully comprehensive engagement management system and provides flexible installation options. Built on a single platform, Working Papers is built for use by accounting firms of all sizes and client focuses and easily adapts to meet required needs. Working Papers is priced as an all-inclusive solution and multiple pricing options are available. For accounting firms, pricing for a single user desktop license is $500. A five user network license is $1,500 with additional users priced at $290 per user. Annual renewal licenses are heavily discounted from original license costs. CaseWare Connector, an optional add-on that offers direct integration with Microsoft Word and Excel, is priced at $60 per user.