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AccountantsWorld — Practice Relief
From the September 2012 review of time and billing systems.
Best Fit: Small practices seeking a fully web-based suite that includes time and billing functions, along with optional add-ons for write-up, client bookkeeping, payroll, document management and their firm’s website.
- Full integration with other programs in the AccountantsWorld suite
- Intuitive web interface and anywhere access with mobile app
- Client communications tools, calendaring and client portals
- Invoice customization options are limited
- No attaching of scanned receipts to expense entries
- Minimal project management capabilities
AccountantsWorld was one of the first developers of web-based solutions for public accounting professionals, offering a full suite of cloud solutions for full accounting with write-up and trial balance, payroll, payroll compliance, document management and website building, in addition to the Practice Relief time and billing solution reviewed here. The system can be used either as a part of the Power Practice Suite or as a stand-alone system.
Practice Relief includes accounts receivable management, time tracking, invoicing and analysis and reporting tools, which can help a firm analyze their productivity in terms of clients, staff and services.
Basic System Functions: 4.5 Stars
As with all of AccountantsWorld’s products, Practice Relief was designed specifically for accounting firms, with navigation and data entry functions that match general firm workflow processes. Many of the system’s screens and data fields can also be customized as needed. The program is accessed via the user’s web browser, opening into an interface with a menu bar across the top for accessing core system areas, such as time tracking, billing, a built-in scheduler, reporting, an email utility, program setup functions and firm management utilities. When selected, each of these areas provides menus of specific tasks the user can jump to.
Additional links, which stay present on all system screens, show the user if any messages or notes have been sent to them, and access to help functions. Client and staff data selection screens include selection lists for client codes, status and several additional fields, with options for managing retainer/trust clients.
Time Management Capabilities: 4 Stars
Practice Relief’s time tracking functions allow for entry either on a multi-task spreadsheet view or by transferring information from the built-in calendar function. The task entry spreadsheet view shows all entries the user has made for a selected day for all clients, and the user can simply add new entries to this list on the fly. A task list view that offers a similar screen, gives users the ability to filter by date range, client, staff or specific tasks. Firm management can also view the activities of multiple firm staff at the same time.
Practice Relief also offers the Time Tracker utility, a timer tool that can be run separately from the web-based system, giving users an additional method of quick entry that can be even when mobile or offline, and then have the data synced into Practice Relief when back in the system. The system has limited project management capabilities, but separate engagements for a client can be managed by entering them as separate clients.
For client management functions, selection screens make it easy to quickly drill down into a client’s details, histories and other data, with the ability to email directly from the program. An email broadcast function can be used to send individual or batch invoices or reports to clients, and can also be used to easily create firm newsletters, since it includes a built-in web editor.
Firm staff can be set up in six role-based categories ranging from basic data entry to full access, and many individual functions can be made accessible only to specific users. Practice Relief does not offer human resources-related tracking of time off accruals or other information, but users can perform basic tracking of such items by setting them up as non-billable tasks.