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Honoring Innovation

For many practices, the transition to a paperless office environment (or at least a less-paper one) has resulted in significant changes to workflow.

From the August 2008 Issue

For many practices, the transition to a paperless office environment (or at
least a less-paper one) has resulted in significant changes to workflow. Old
methods of managing engagement folders are no longer applicable; the way review
functions are processed are inherently different; management functions have
changed. In short, the paperless revolution has brought new challenges and new
opportunities to further increase productivity and enhance efficiency.
Programs focused on streamlining these and other public practice issues claimed
the spotlight at this year’s Tax & Accounting Technology Innovation
, held in June at the California Accounting and Business Show
& Conference in Los Angeles. The 2008 winners were Copanion, Inc. for the
GruntWorx system; XCM Solutions for its Workflow & Information Automation
Software; CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, for ProSystem fx Document
E-mail Management; and Thomson Reuters for two of its products — Engagement
CS and PPC SMART e-Practice Aids – Risk Assessment.

Now in their 5th year, the Innovation Awards were presented by Executive Editor,
Gregory L. LaFollette, CPA.CITP, who noted that this year’s award recipients
seemed to share a common purpose of maximizing efficiencies in public practices.
“The movement toward the paperless accounting and tax practice, which
professionals have been undertaking for nearly a decade, is well on its way
to completion,” LaFollette said. “The next step in the continuing
evolution of the professional digital environment is rethinking workflow processes
to maximize productivity, and each of the products selected for awards this
year approach various workflow processes with the goal of streamlining tasks
and management functions.”

Over the past few years, the Innovation Awards have emerged as the most honored
recognition presented to developers of technologies geared toward tax and accounting
professionals. The awards are selected by the Awards Committee of The CPA
Technology Advisor
, which includes its editorial staff, thought leaders
in the profession and the magazine’s editorial advisory board, which is
comprised of accounting and tax professionals from across the country who are
engaged in public practice in firms ranging from sole practitioners to major,
multi-office regional practices.

Nominated products or services must be less than two years old or have undergone
a significant revision or addition during the past two years. They are voted
on based upon their innovation and the potential benefit the products or services
are likely to deliver to the profession. A total of five awards are presented
each year on an “at large” basis, with no categories or rankings.

“Each year, the nominations increase in number and improve in quality,
which is both wonderful for the profession and challenging for our judges. We
sincerely appreciate the efforts of our nearly 50 judges who vetted this year’s
nominations. It is a daunting task, indeed!”

—————– –

Inc. — GruntWorx

The GruntWorx system automatically scans, organizes and bookmarks tax documents
to save time finding, organizing, entering and reviewing tax data. The web-based
solution makes it easy and affordable for any size firm to use scanned tax documents
to prepare returns.

GruntWorx reads scanned tax documents, automatically recognizes the type of
form, and consistently organizes forms in a single PDF file for each client.
The system uses advanced technology to identify tax documents, including brokerage
statements, tax organizers and handwritten notes. The PDF file output option
allows users to add tick marks and notes to prepare workpapers, while the consistently
organized file helps standardize workflows. The bookmarks make it easy for support
staff with limited tax experience to find tax data.

GruntWorx is web-based, giving users anywhere, anytime access to client source
documents, and provides an intuitive user interface with the highest data security
available. GruntWorx is the only tax software that currently supports the new
EV SSL standard for data encryption. Because the solution is web-based, there’s
no software to install or DMS required.

“We understand the challenges that tax professionals face in working
with thousands of client tax documents over a few short weeks every tax season,”
said Steven Ladd, CEO of Copanion. “GruntWorx delivers the highest levels
of accuracy in an affordable tax document automation solution that’s easy
to use so any size firm can increase productivity. The rapid acceptance of GruntWorx
shows that we’re delivering a solution that really makes a difference
in tax season. We’re honored to be recognized for an innovative solution
that makes tax document automation practical and usable for every practitioner.”

—————– –

XCM Solutions — Workflow & Information Automation Software

By providing real-time access and control over workflow processes, the web-based
XCM Workflow Automation system helps reduce the inefficiencies of moving work
manually through accounting and tax practices. From preparation processes through
completion, the program maintains and enhances standardization of effective
workflow processes, which helps ensure individual accountability. By freeing
up time otherwise spent managing these manual workflow processes, partners,
managers and staff are also able to spend more time focusing on client service.

Since the program is web-based, staff can access their assigned work from
anywhere at any time, whether at the office, client site, home office or other
locations. Users are presented with customizable dashboards to prioritize their
responsibilities on a real-time basis. In addition, XCM allows members of the
firm to easily control client work with one click of a button.

“We’re honored to have our peers recognize XCM as an innovative
technology,” said Mark Albrecht, CPA, CEO and Founder of XCM Solutions.
“Our customer-guided development process has helped us continuously raise
the bar for workflow automation solutions for the accounting profession. We
owe credit for this award to all our users who have shared their ideas and inspiration
along the way.”

—————– –

a Wolters Kluwer business — ProSystem fx Document E-mail Management

CCH’s ProSystem fx Document is an electronic document management
system geared toward the unique needs of public accounting practices, providing
ease of use, enhanced collaboration, simplified regulatory compliance, and protection
of firm and client information. The E-mail Management feature in Document further
enhances the system by giving users the ability to drag and drop e-mails directly
from Microsoft Outlook into client folders in the document management system,
as well as the ability to access Document’s powerful functionality from
within Microsoft Outlook.

With the intuitive look and feel of client folders, the E-mail Management
function provides an easy way to manage e-mails and attachments, allowing instant
access to everyone within the firm who needs access to these materials. It also
provides detailed indexing, versioning, history and retention capabilities.
E-mails thus managed through ProSystem fx Document automatically become
subject to the firm’s document retention policies, helping ensure compliance.

“We’re very excited to be recognized for our ongoing commitment
to innovation with this Innovation Award for CCH ProSystem fx Document,”
said CCH President Mike Sabbatis. “As a strategic partner to our customers,
CCH is committed to providing professionals with new and transforming technology
that enhances their productivity and efficiency.”

—————– –

Thomson Reuters — Engagement CS

The developers at Thomson Reuters took a broad view of professional practice
workflow when designing Engagement CS, which integrates directly with all of
the other professional tax and accounting programs the vendor offers. With advanced
collaboration tools and networking options, the system provides comprehensive
management tools that help streamline virtually every aspect of workflow for
all engagement types.

A key component of Engagement CS is providing completely electronic management
of all client workpapers and the ability to share and co-work with these resources
across multiple staff environments. The system’s intuitive interface further
aids management users, providing total control over every engagement and helping
ensure accuracy. The program includes advanced security, reporting and diagnostic
tools, and has the ability to quickly import trial balance data. Engagement
CS also integrates with PPC audit and risk assessment tools.

“We nominated Engagement CS for an Innovation Award because it does
set the standard in the profession, supporting a completely paperless engagement
process and ensuring compliance at all levels,” stated Teresa Mackintosh,
CPA.CITP, Senior Vice President at the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson
Reuters. “With ever-changing audit standards, we are diligent in enhancing
Engagement CS to make compliance as easy for our users as possible. Supporting
seamless integration with PPC SMART e-Practice Aids is one example of our commitment
to product excellence.”

—————– –

Thomson Reuters — PPC SMART e-Practice Aids – Risk Assessment

As a part of the PPC e-Tools suite, SMART e-Practice Aids – Risk Assessment
is designed to give professional accountants access to electronic versions of
PPC Guides, including specialty-focused guides for estates and trusts, auditors,
employee benefit plans, financial institutions, governments, nonprofits, valuations
and dozens of others.

Providing editable Microsoft Word and Excel versions gives users enhanced
productivity features during completion and review, including customizable engagement
templates and automated entry of common engagement information. Built-in formulas
also aid in user efficiency, and tick marks are available that work on all Word
and Excel documents.

The program offers links into professional standards and PPC guidance, reporting
of audit program changes, one-click signoffs for programs and checklists and
highlighting of unsigned audit program steps. Quick-fill features speed data
entry for confirmations and client letters, while collaboration tools enable
sharing of key documents.

“It is an honor that PPC SMART e-Practice Aids – Risk Assessment
was recognized with a Technology Innovation Award, as this product has transformed
the way in which auditors across the United States have implemented the AICPA
Risk Assessment Standards,” said Jim Reeves, Senior Vice President of
New Product Development at the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters.
“The integration between PPC SMART e-Practice Aids and Engagement CS is
a wonderful example of how our products and services work together to provide
a full range of solutions for tax and accounting professionals.”

—————– –

In addition to these winners of the 2008 Tax & Accounting Technology Innovation
Awards, Honorable Mentions were presented to Avalara for its AvaFile program,
CPA Service Group for the Disclosure & Reporting Manager, and Thomson Reuters
for GoFileRoom ES. These technologies were recognized for possessing significant
innovative potential.