AccountantsWorld – Accounting Relief
From the Nov. 2012 Review of Client Write-Up Systems.
Best Fit: Professionals wanting to take both their firm and their clients to a cloud-based, always-accessible accounting system with which there is no need for data transfer, since both sides are always working with the same live data.
- Newly redesigned interfaces support all web and mobile browsers
- Integrated web-based professional and client-side bookkeeping
- No data transfer, or accidental overwriting of data
- Client portals and collaboration features
- Customizable client letters, templates and financial reporting
- Batch processing functions are limited
AccountantsWorld has been developing technologies for professional firms for almost 30 years, and was one of the first vendors to adopt cloud technologies. The company currently offers a completely web-based suite of programs for firms, ranging from Accounting Relief, the professional accounting and client write-up system reviewed here, to practice management, document management, payroll, payroll compliance, website building tools and other systems.
Basic System Functions: 4.75 Stars
While there are now several web-based client accounting systems on the market, Accounting Relief was the first to tie in a client-side bookkeeping program with the professional’s system. In the past, I’ve likened it to a bicycle tire, with the center being the professional program, and spokes extending out to each individual client. This gives each client access to a small amount of the overall capabilities of the program that are designed for their use, with the firm having control over what clients and their individual employees can access and perform.
With this method, the live data for every client is always accessible to the accounting firm and the individual staff members who manage those clients. No data ever has to be transferred or synched, so the firm is always working with the most up-do-date real data. This also helps when troubleshooting client transactions and entry errors in real time.
After initially logging into the program, the navigation screen offers text-based menus for moving to areas for adding clients, client overviews, firm options, document management or opening clients from a list. For 2012, the web-based interface for Accounting Relief has been redesigned to allow for greater usability on all major browsers and mobile devices. Screens have been enhanced and now include information buttons for quick access to pop-up help.
A new app, Accounting Relief Mobile, also provides access to many of the program’s features, including running exception and GL reports, viewing registers and transactions, managing payables, customer balances and income expense summaries.
The system offers full GL, AR, AP, client management and financial reporting tools, and also offers alerts that can remind users of pending tasks. The system can be used to manage any number of clients, including full customization of charts of accounts, managing general journals, write-up and reconciliation functions, processing live and after-the-fact payroll (with an optional module), and customizable client invoicing.
Core Write-Up Features: 4.5 Stars
As noted previously, a key advantage of the integrated client bookkeeping systems is that firm staff are always working with and have full access to live client data. It includes fully customizable charts of accounts, as well as more than 30 industry-type templates and the option to duplicate charts of accounts that have been created for existing clients when creating a new similar client.
Transaction templates can also be customized, and firm staff can create recurring journal entries and invoices, with tools for quickly performing adjusting entries and reclassifications. The program includes MICR check printing functions that allow for printing checks to plain or preformatted paper. Direct deposit options are included in the payroll module. For client check printing, business logos can be included, and available this year are pressure-sealed checks to eliminate the need for separate envelopes.
Job costing features enable tracking of costs and income by job, as well as tracking phases, sub-parts and job categories. When viewed on screen, financial reporting and trial balance tools allow users to drill-down to individual transactions for audit and review. Reconciliation options include the ability to import transactions from client bank statements, credit card statements and other institutions, with spreadsheet work screens for performing reconciliations. The program supports consolidated entities and can produce consolidated financials.
The optional live and after-the-fact payroll systems include processing and compliance reporting, including automated wage and information reporting to federal and all states that is performed, and guaranteed, by AccountantsWorld staff. Accounting Relief includes 30 financial ratios that to help identify unusual activity.
Reporting & Financial Statements: 4.75 Stars
The program financial statements offer full customization and include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements, with comparative options showing current versus prior periods, variances and percentages. Separate statements of retained earnings or partner’s capital statements can also be produced.
The system also offers template letters, tables of contents, title pages and notes. Financials can be customized to all clients, groups or individual entities. Documents and reports can be saved to Excel or Word formats, or saved digitally to the optional document management module.
The built-in AR module includes client billing functions, with full invoicing, receivables management, aging reports and support for recurring invoices. The system now includes purchased order functions that allow them to be entered for vendors, with the ability to create invoices from purchase orders. The AP functionality includes management of recurring bills, pass-through billing, splitting payments across expense accounts and printing of form 1099-Misc.
Import/Export/Integration: 4.75 Stars
Better than integration, the Accounting Relief system’s client bookkeeping functions are actually an extension of the program the firm is using, so the data is always live and exactly the same, whether the client or firm is working with it. Clients and individual employees at the business, can only access the functions, reporting and data that the firm has given them access to.
Because it is web-based, additional collaboration tools are also included, allowing the firm and client to share documents via secure portals. Additional client collaboration tools can be found in the optional document management system.
Accounting Relief also offers data import most small business bookkeeping systems and from Excel and CSV formats, which allows for import from time clock and payroll systems. Data and reports can be exported to Word, Excel, PDF and CSV.
Help/Support: 5 Stars
The built-in assistive functions in Accounting Relief include new information buttons for quick access to task-specific help, as well as a built-in user guide, links to support documents and publications, and training options. The support website provides video how-tos, live and recorded webinars, FAQs and other options. With its recent redesign, the system now supports all major browsers. Live phone and web support is included with overall system pricing.
Summary & Pricing
Accounting Relief provides intuitive work screens and easy to understand and use tools for performing write-up tasks, from correcting client errors, making adjusting entries, performing reconciliations, client check writing, and optional modules for live and after-the-fact payroll and wage reporting.
One of the most beneficial features is the integration of client bookkeeping into the system, where firms can offer their clients an online bookkeeping system with functions limited by the firm, with that data actually being a part of the professional system. This eliminates data transfers and synching.
Accounting Relief costs $99 per month or $990 per year for the core accountant-centric part of the program, and $9.95 per month, per client for the client bookkeeping module. Currently a first year pricing special allows unlimited clients on the bookkeeping module for $149 per month.