Technology is rapidly advancing in our everyday lives as well as in our professional careers, but finding the solutions that have the greatest impact on productivity and, ultimately, profitability can help a firm thrive.
CPA Practice Advisor’s 11th annual Tax and Accounting Technology Innovation Awards were presented on June 2, during a reception at the California Accounting and Business Show in Los Angeles. The big winners: Web-based and mobile tools that help firms and their small business clients streamline financial management and compliance tasks.
Last year, it was noteworthy that, for the first time, the award winners were all SaaS or mobile-based systems and apps. This year, all of the winners and also the finalists fit into these categories. While this is not a requirement for award eligibility, the panel of voters clearly has a preference for mobile-minded technology tools that help professionals and their clients be more engaged whenever, and wherever, they need to be.
The winners of the 2014 Innovation Awards are: AdvanceFlow by Thomson Reuters, CCH eSign by Wolters Kluwer CCH, QuickBooks Online by Intuit, Tallie, and TrustFile by Avalara.
Five finalists were also recognized for their significant contribution to the success of professionals: the Bill.com App Center, Enterprise Access by eFileCabinet, XCMscheduling by XCM Solutions, the New Premier State Tax Library by Bloomberg BNA, and Checkpoint Pocket Assistant by Thomson Reuters.
First presented in 2004, the Innovation Awards honor new or recently enhanced technologies that benefit tax and accounting professionals and their clients through improved workflow, increased productivity, enhanced collaboration or other means.
“Technology is a constantly evolving and driving force in the accounting profession, enabling us to reach new levels of productivity, while also setting new standards for what firms can do for their clients,” said Gail Perry, CPA, Editor-in-Chief of CPA Practice Advisor.
Award recipients are selected by CPA Practice Advisor’s editorial board and awards committee, which include thought leaders and professionals from across the country. The publication, along with its digital content and interactive media, is the leading independent source of practice management resources and technology information for tax and accounting professionals in public practice.
AdvanceFlow takes cloud-based audit management to a new level, providing enterprise-level processing power in a completely cloud-based application. Designed for the largest professional audit firms, it makes engagements, workpapers, and colleague communications available securely in real time from anywhere. The full functionality of the program is available on the cloud, including the power to process the most complex clients and the most data-intensive audits.
Wolters Kluwer CCH
Through its ongoing work with tax preparers, CCH, part of Wolters Kluwer, recognized that obtaining physical signatures for Form 8879 created a bottleneck in the tax preparation and filing process. Since Form 8879 must be signed after a tax return is complete but before it is e-filed, getting the form signed by the taxpayer and spouse and returned to the accountant frequently involved tricky choreography especially if one of the parties was traveling.
In addition to the time spent obtaining signatures, the CCH workflow study showed that accounting firms spent an average of $18 per return on direct costs to get Form 8879 delivered, signed and returned to them. The CCH eSign solution was developed to streamline the process for both the taxpayer and tax preparer as well as reduce the overall cost by nearly 75 percent.
The release of Avalara TrustFile gives a new level of sales tax automation specifically for online sellers. TrustFile simplifies sales tax reporting and filing for businesses.
Users simply import transaction history and TrustFile creates a detailed sales tax filing report. With built-in collection reports, businesses no longer need to guess if they collected the right amount, or how much they need to file. TrustFile keeps track of how much sales tax has been paid, in case of an audit, and it’s free to use. Accounting professionals serving clients who sell online can now recommend the most advanced sales tax reporting tool available today.
The newly designed and revamped QuickBooks Online provides small businesses and accountants with an intuitive, easy-to-use design that gives users access to a robust, open platform that works anytime, anywhere. The simple, yet powerful platform offers accounting and small businesses a superior business management solution in more than 10 languages and 100 countries. It also offers scalable solutions to fit the needs of any size small business. The completely reimagined QuickBooks Online is a result of more than 13 months of rethinking how QuickBooks Online serves its customers, focusing on design innovations to create a harmonious user experience. The solution has been updated to be more intuitive and seamlessly integrate with other Intuit small-business products. More than a mere facelift, QuickBooks Online has been redesigned to provide a de-cluttered, crisp and sharp interface using a color palette and text that is visually striking and functional so users can get started easily, make decisions quickly, and get value immediately.
Companies waste 40 percent of their time on accounts payable driven by corporate expense management. Tallie simplifies this process by offering the quickest path from receipt to balance sheet. The system eliminates over 60 percent of processing time for both the front and back-end, providing time and cost savings. At its core, Tallie captures expense data from a variety of sources, minimizing the need for data entry. On a higher level, Tallie sets the standard in terms of depth of integration, ease of synchronization, and reliability of support across multiple systems. In combination with partners, Tallie completes an ecosystem of software solutions that seamlessly work together to streamline the entire expense management workflow, and better position the financial applications industry towards a model of system-to-system interoperability. These powerful partnerships work together to create a single system of record for financial data and related sources files, all beginning with the receipt.
Bill.com App Center
Launched in September 2013, the Bill.com App Center is uniquely innovative for its data discrepancy resolution. The release of the App Center is evidence of Bill.com’s perpetual commitment to the profession and helping practitioners, resulting in improved efficiency, productivity and profitability. Bill.com App Center is the one central place where practitioners handle all payment matters and resolve discrepancies.
Enterprise Access (EA) provides larger financial organizations the ability to manage their compliance conformity with disparate offices or remote employees. As a module that works within eFileCabinet, master account holders can use their login to access unique online cabinets that belong to a franchise, remote office or team.
XCMscheduling is the first complete scheduling package tightly integrated with a workflow automation system, empowering firms to dynamically manage teams and schedule work across all areas of the firm. Having visibility into who has what now, what’s coming and what’s anticipated based on history - and the ability to act on that knowledge in real-time - that’s a powerful management tool that helps firms more effectively and efficiently manage work schedules, and anticipate future staffing needs. XCMscheduling integrates with the XCM workflow software to provide both automated, real-time resource allocation scheduling (RAS) functionality, essential for tax practices, and calendar-based scheduling, commonly used in A&A and other areas of the firm.
New Premier State Tax LibraryBloomberg BNA
Bloomberg BNA’s New Premier State Tax Library is a comprehensive research service that delivers deep, unique analysis and time-saving practice tools to help practitioners make well-informed decisions. The service features both in-depth multistate, topical analysis of major state tax issues as well as single-state perspectives and insights on sales and use tax; corporate income tax; individual income tax; property tax; excise tax; and estates, gifts, and trusts tax.
Checkpoint Pocket AssistantThomson Reuters
The Checkpoint Pocket Assistant brings the quick reference information you need right to your finger tips. Key Federal Tax Rates are immediately available on your iPhone. Learn about additional quick reference utilities, tables and rates, or calculators as they become available either free of charge or for a nominal fee. Created by the same team who brings you Checkpoint, Thomson Reuter’s award winning online research platform, the Checkpoint Pocket Assistant provides the apps you need to be more effective and efficient when you’re on the go.