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Financial MicroSystems, Inc. — Client Ledger System

From the September 2005 Review of Sales
& Use Tax Software

Known to its users as CLS, the Client Ledger System is written to run under
MS-DOS and is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Windows. The Client
Ledger System features general ledger, fully integrated after-the-fact payroll,
financial reporting (including job costing accounting with work-in-process sub-ledger),
plus a suite of add-on (additional cost) products. Add-on products include Tax
Package Interface; W-2/1099 Magnetic Media; XML for Forms 941, 941C and 940;
Unemployment Plus; and SUTA Magnetic Media. Also available is a CheckWriter
w/Payroll and MICR Options, as well as a Remote Entry program.

CLS was originally programmed for the MS-DOS 6.22 operating system that most
of us said our (final) good-byes to years ago. CLS runs well in the Windows
environment, although initial setup requires a tweak or two during setup on
Win2000 or Win/XP. The company told me they have 1,800 supported users updating
annually, while another 1,200 to 1,400 users update less often than annually,
as they use payroll programs from other vendors or find no need to update as
often. That’s 3,000+ users and proof positive that a viewpoint exists
among professional accounting ranks — users who support the well-known
technology theorem: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Thomas G. Donovan, CPA, of Newport Beach, Calif.-based The Donovan Company
uses CLS. He says that many may not like the program when they realize it is
a DOS-based package, “but it does work well in Windows and, given the
nature of bookkeeping — heads-down entry of a bunch of transactions—
I think a DOS-based program that is keystroke driven actually is a better environment.”

N.B.: CLS deserves to be ported to the Windows desktop. The company knows
too much about accountants and the work they provide using their write-up program
of choice. I hope we see a Windows-native version of CLS in the not-too-distant

As mentioned, minor tweaking of the Windows operating system — setting
of attributes and creation of a desktop icon — is required to run this
non-native application under Windows. While adequate instructions are provided
in the User Manual, it would be nice if this process could be further automated.
CLS requires a non-Windows-only, HP-compatible laser printer with a parallel
port. BubbleJet, InkJet, DeskJet, USB-supported, or non-HP compatible laser
printers will not operate with this program. A comprehensive list of supported
printers is available and updated regularly on the company’s web site.

Platform issue aside, the learning curve is very fast. Remember, it wasn’t
all that long ago that the CLS screen interface was the status quo. The menus
and sub-menus, though a bit “busy” at times, are quick to learn
and navigate. Users perform tasks in sub-menus, which make sense. No hunting
is required, and data entry is heads-down and fast. Donovan chose CLS in 1983,
and says, “There weren’t that many to choose from, but I was impressed
with the system at the time and have never regretted the decision.”

Financial reporting is powerful, and formatting of financial statements is easy.
Strong consolidation ability is provided together with a wide array of “canned”
standard and departmental reports that are easily modified — just about
every variety a user could ask for. Departmental reports are easily formatted,
and that is MORE than a mouthful — a real plus for CLS users. Donovan
noted that reporting is not the program’s strong suit, “but it is
adequate and will easily transfer information to Excel for fancy reporting capabilities,
which I actually like as I know how to use Excel and don’t have to learn
their reporting formatting chores.”

Import integration is available through the Accounting Transfer module, allowing
integration with other accounting programs. Supported programs include Peachtree,
Quicken, QuickBooks, One-Write Plus and the CLS CheckWriter, a companion program
available for use by the accountant’s clients. Export to tax products
is accomplished via the Tax Package Interface add-on module, allowing for transfer
of tax data to ProSeries, Lacerte, UltraTax, ATB, ProSystem fx Tax, and others.
Generic transfer is accomplished through export of trial balance amounts to
an ASCII file. Production processing is available within each client only.

Portability is an issue. The future of CLS is limited to the continuing ability
to execute MS-DOS programs within Microsoft Windows. Microsoft’s 64-bit
version of Longhorn won’t run DOS applications (the company noted that
the 32-bit version does), so something will have to give for users who migrate
to that version of Windows.

Support and training includes one printed manual, several manuals available
as *.PDF files, hands-on training classes and phone support. The company’s
web site also offers a FAQs section and provides fixes and updates for download.
Donovan says the company’s tech support is extremely responsive. He’s
rarely had to call, but always gets an answer or a promise of an answer, which
is always fulfilled. He says, “The vendor’s support and interest
in my use of the program has kept me from ever considering defecting, even though
it is not a Windows-based program.”

2005 Overall Rating — 3.5 Stars