2014 Review of CCH Axcess Practice

Best Fit: Firms who are using the CCH Axcess suite of next-generation applications for midsized and large CPA firms.

Strengths:

  • Axcess is built on the latest cloud database and programming platforms which gives firms maximum flexibility in how they choose to configure their technology infrastructure.
  • The user interface is very flexible and can be customized to meet the needs of almost any practitioner.
  • The workflow engine within Axcess Workstream is how all workflow is managed in Axcess, and this model is sold separately.

Potential Limitations:

  • The application is only available as a hosted solution on CCH’s server farm.
  • The user interface includes a ribbon component similar to that included in Office 2007 and later. New users may find that the user experience changes significantly between the legacy application, ProSystem fx Practice Management, and the current application, Axcess Practice.
  • Although there is an open integration platform for the CCH Axcess applications, CCH has not far thus exposed many of the applications and data in the suite for use with add-in applications.

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Full Review:

Basic System Functions: 5 Stars

Unlike traditional applications where it is very clear where one module begins and another ends, CCH Axcess users can perform many tasks from a wide range of menus throughout the solution. This flexibility may be confusing to new users, as the time capture functions are accessed from the user’s dashboard and not from within the Axcess Practice application.

Similarly project management is embedded within WorkStream and is not part of Axcess Practice. The size of the rich client application (over 100MB) is deceptive as well. Even with the rich client application taking up that much space, all of the program logic and all of the firm’s data are still stored on CCH’s servers in a secure hosting facility. Just like all cloud application users, Axcess users should have a plan for what they will do in the event of power or Internet service interruption to their office. While these inevitable interruptions occur less frequently than they did 10 years ago, firms must still protect themselves against loss time and lost opportunities due to these problems.

The Axcess platform has been written on the latest Microsoft technologies for enterprise-class applications, including the .NET platform, Microsoft’s Azure platform, and the Microsoft cloud stack.

Time Management Capabilities: 4.5 Stars

Data can be entered into Axcess Practice from within the time capture screen on the dashboard. Users can also view a grid of time entries for the current period and append new entries to the end of that list. Finally, users can use the Axcess mobile application to accumulate, report, and bill clients for engagements.

Firms have the option of allowing users to directly post their time to WIP, or they can require a manager to review time prior to posting. Managers and partners can run reports on the screen for their jobs and generate invoices from the underlying data accumulated by the system.

The application has the ability to track accrual and use of a wide range of paid time off including CPE, sick time, vacation, and comp time.

Day-to-Day Operations: 4.5 Stars

Many of the routine tasks associated with Axcess Practice are embedded within the user dashboard, and are not in menus directly attributable to Practice. Similarly, the project tracking capabilities in Workstream are spread throughout Axcess, and are not as siloed as they were in older generation software.

The application includes access to a number of timers which are automatically populated with service codes, clients, projects, and project due dates. More than one timer can be active at a time so users can capture not only time associated with their currently active task, but can also start a timer for interruptions which should be associated with other engagements.

Management Features: 4.5 Stars

The training manual for the mobile application indicates that users cannot automatically review the details of open invoices unless they are using Axcess Document and have stored the completed invoice in the client’s folder. One hopes that some of these feature limitations will be corrected as more users are migrated onto the Axcess platform.

The application has reporting which tells the user how much time they have posted for the last month, and a customizable client dashboard is available for each client. The firm’s client service team can use this dashboard to track the status of work in process, accounts receivable, and any unpaid invoices from this single page.

Integration/Import/Export: 4.75 Stars

CCH Axcess mobile applications are available for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets which allow users to view client information, publish documents to client portals view of invoices, and manage assigned projects in the optional WorkStream module.

Help/Support: 4.75 Stars

The application includes an extensive in-program help file as well as an online knowledge base. Technical support is available weekdays as well as additional night and weekend hours during peak season. Technical support is included with the price of the Axcess subscription. CCH offers a wide range of training and consulting options to help firms implement Axcess, almost all of which are priced separately from the hosted services and application offerings.

Summary & Pricing
Axcess Practice is priced starting at $255 per user per year, with significant discounts for multiple modules and large user counts.

Best Fit: Firms who are using the CCH Axcess suite of next-generation applications for midsized and large CPA firms.

Strengths:

  • Axcess is built on the latest cloud database and programming platforms which gives firms maximum flexibility in how they choose to configure their technology infrastructure.
  • The user interface is very flexible and can be customized to meet the needs of almost any practitioner.
  • The workflow engine within Axcess Workstream is how all workflow is managed in Axcess, and this model is sold separately.

Potential Limitations:

  • The application is only available as a hosted solution on CCH’s server farm.
  • The user interface includes a ribbon component similar to that included in Office 2007 and later. New users may find that the user experience changes significantly between the legacy application, ProSystem fx Practice Management, and the current application, Axcess Practice.
  • Although there is an open integration platform for the CCH Axcess applications, CCH has not far thus exposed many of the applications and data in the suite for use with add-in applications.

2014 Overall Rating: 4.75 Stars

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