From the Feb. 2012 Review of Engagement & Trial Balance Systems.
CCH Small Firm Services (SFS) produces a Trial Balance solution designed to integrate with their two flagship brands, ATX and TaxWise. The product acts and works in identical ways and integrates interchangeably with the respective tax and accounting suite offerings. Titled simply “Trial Balance” SFS developed the product with the accountant in mind and offers an easy and straightforward interface as well as flexible workflow method capabilities. Although intended for firms with 25 or fewer users, Trial Balance is scalable to fit the needs of most firms.
SFS includes Trial Balance as part of their respective write-up software solution but the program may be purchased as a standalone module. The standalone module is a scaled down version of the write-up solution offering, but still retains much of the capabilities. The interface is simple in design and intuitive in navigation. The navigation is done through the typical series of drop down menus. Upon entering the software, a shortcut list of the most common tasks is displayed and most data entry screens are displayed in a familiar spreadsheet format.
When setting up new clients, several wizards are available to step users through the process. The process consists of entering general and demographic client information. After setting up a client file users may import data through a variety of methods. Data import and conversion is available for many popular third-party accounting packages, including QuickBooks, Peachtree and Creative Solutions as well as through Excel and CSV files. One feature unique to SFS Trial Balance is the Trial Balance Pick-Up. This feature allows current balance data to be imported and automatically adjusted to account for the net difference from prior periods. This helps prevent the time necessary to run multiple reports and manual adjustments to the data prior to import. The program also allows all data to be segmented based on department or location.
Small Firm Services’ Trial Balance provides capabilities to perform book, tax and recurring journal entries. Journal entries may be entered through account numbers as well as account descriptions. Journal entries may also be made directly within the On Screen Working Trial Balance module included within the software. This allows users to immediately see the impact of a journal entry on specific accounts. Users also have the option to toggle tax basis entries on or off to see the net effect of any tax journal entries made.
Reporting options are available through the Reports drop down menu and while the default reports are limited in nature, theygenerally center on the trial balance and chart of accounts. Users may, however, customize these reports based on need and save the custom layout for future use. Although the customization options are limited, they significantly increase the reporting capabilities. Financial statements may be generated from default templates or through program tools to create custom financial statements. Practitioners performing compilation reports may generate required cover letters within the software, reducing the reliance on word processing software to produce these statements. All reports may be exported to Excel, PDF and a variety of text formats as well as directly to clients via email. Direct integration is also provided with PaperlessPLUS, Small Firm Services new paperless document management system.
As an added benefit, Trial Balance provides adjustment export integration with QuickBooks and Peachtree. This allows practitioners to adjust data within the program and then provide a file for the client to import into their accounting system. This also reduces the responsibility for clients to enter any necessary adjustments. Tax system integration is limited to solutions offered through CCH Small Firm Services and is currently designed only for their ATX and TaxWise softwares. For practitioners utilizing third-party tax solutions, reliance on tax reports will be necessary along with manually keying in data.
Help and support is included with the license cost and all phone based support is offered through a dedicated call center located in Georgia. Online based support is available and includes a searchable knowledgebase and practitioner community site. Pricing for the standalone trial balance module is $250, with an annual renewal price of 50% of the current retail pricing. Pricing is all inclusive and allows installation on a network structure with multiple users.