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CPASoftware, A Division of Best Software – CPAPractice Manager

CPAPractice Manager (formerly Visual
Practice Management) from CPASoftware
(a division of Best Software) offers
robust capabilities, including timekeeping,
billing, contact management, marketing
and project management, reports,
and AR.

FEATURES – 5 Stars
Setup of master information is straightforward.
Client information includes fiscal
year end, entity type, NAIC code,
six persons in charge, engagement
fee, monthly flat fee, credit limit,
WIP limit, active/inactive dates,
active/ inactive prospect status,
and more. Staff records contain
skill level, 25 bill rates, CPA
certification fields, vacation/
sick/personal time, realization
percent, and budget hours. Users
can track activities for marketing
items such as referrals, mailers
and marketing methods. Other master
records contain similar comprehensive

Most staff will base operation in
Time Entry. The screen displays
the time sheet as well as tabs for
due dates and alerts. Also viewable
from this screen are monthly time
summaries, productivity ratios,
budgets and projects. Users can
review and define appointments and
tasks from Time Entry. Visual cues
and pop-up messages remind staff
if they forgot to enter or submit
their time. Remote entry options
include browser entry and PDA devices.

Project Management allows users
to view and track projects as they
move toward completion. Managers
can monitor actual to budget hours;
employee time scheduled to a project;
original, current and target due
dates; and more. Projects may be
tracked by client, project type,
partner, manager, entity type, etc.

CPAPractice Manager allows a biller
to quick bill, partial bill or progress
bill. WIP can be viewed at any detail
level (categories, subcategories,
subcategory by employee, project,
employee, etc.), and from the list
items can be selected to bill. To
aid decision making, billers can
view client and job-related notes
and historical financial information.
On-screen billing, billing worksheets,
and draft invoice review are supported.
Remote on-screen billing is available
as well, and billers can edit invoices
directly within CPAPractice Manager
without the need for a third-party
such as Microsoft Word.

Contact Management tracks client
contacts and business affiliates.
Client outstanding WIP, AR balance,
prior invoices, responsible staff,
and more can be displayed. Another
function allows managers to budget
and schedule project due dates and
employees. Also, production goals
can be set for one or multiple employees
across multiple periods. Among other
features, project scheduling automatically
calculates overbooked hours for


CPAPractice Manager add-on modules
include web-enabled time entry,
Palm Pilot time entry, and XML interface.
The software also integrates with
MAS 500 and Abra (sister divisions
of Best Software), as well as CCH’s
ProSystem fx Tax. Appointments
and tasks in the user’s CPAPractice
Manager appointment screen can be
synchronized with Microsoft Outlook,
as well.

The dozens of CPAPractice Manager
reports are categorized by employee,
service code, marketing, due dates,
budget, schedule and project manager.
Report Wizard allows users to create
two-column listings and tabular
report with breaks. This tool can
produce many unique reports to fit
a firm’s particular needs.
In addition, reports can be grouped,
scheduled and batch printed.


CPAPractice Manager is straightforward,
but its robustness carries a high
learning curve. Screens are filled
with buttons, which open other screens
with still more options. To deal
with the depth of capabilities,
training is essential to ensure
productivity does not bottom out.
Also, the tree-list menu used in
many parts of the program looks
similar to ones in Windows and many
Windows applications, but CPAPractice
Manager’s tree-list is not
as efficient or intuitive. Designed
for medium-size to large firms,
CPAPractice Manager supports Microsoft
SQL and Microsoft SQL Server Desktop
Engine (MSDE).

CPAPractice Manager is not for firms
seeking a quick solution. Its numerous
options for customizing to your
firm’s specifications can
initially require an investment
in training and lower productivity
during a learning phase. However,
the increased efficiencies and greater
productivity will soon be realized.
CPAPractice Manager, Time &
Billing Edition is also available
for firms that desire a quicker
solution without the functionality
of a full practice manager. The
bottom line is that CPAPractice
Manager provides strong benefits
that will deliver a good ROI.

2004 OVERALL RATING: 4.5 Stars

This review examined the following
key areas:

Features – Does the product offer remote processing capability? Is it

designed for online use? Does it have features that
can help your firm become more productive
and/or more profitable? Does it
give you better control over scheduling
or perhaps provide reports on profitability
in a variety of formats? Is the
calendar/scheduling functionality
flexible? Does it offer color coding
by employee or activity? Can group
calendars be displayed? Can e-mail,
notes, phone calls and time tracking
all be attached to a project? What
about document management and document
tracking? Can you use predefined
documents and attach them to each
client’s project?

Integration – If you rely on other products, can the time and billing

product provide or accept data to streamline operations, such as integration with Outlook?

If your firm relies heavily on Outlook for contact management, having the contact

information shared between Outlook and your time and billing product can be valuable. If you

use other products by the same vendor, can information be shared between them?

Reporting – Does the program offer extensive and flexible analytic

reporting that provides information about
productivity and profitability of
staff, clients and services to facilitate
management decision making. Does
it offer customized reports?

Ease of Use & Learning Curve – Does the program offer intuitive, on-screen

entry of time as well as on-screen, on-demand billing? Can the product be tailored and/or

customized to meet your firm’s needs and the way you like to manage your firm? Can the

program conform to your practice? Does it offer real-time updating of data? Does it provide

an easy-to-enter timesheet? Is information readily accessible? Does the program provide

unlimited number of clients, staff and engagements?

Relative Value – What is the cost of the program? What are the renewal

costs? This is a subjective opinion of whether the program and its range
of features, etc., is worth the
cost. It also examines the size
firm that would find the most value
from the product.