From the Nov. 2008 Issue
The small business accounting revolution that started in the mid-1990s continues
to greatly shape almost every aspect of the services that professional accountants
provide. Once upon a time, clients would come in once a month with their register
tape, receipts, bank statements, bills and other documents.
I wasn’t there, but from the first-hand accounts of professionals who
were, it was often a major chore to tackle these paper mountains, tediously
entering all of the transactions, reconciling their accounts and, eventually,
producing financial statements. But while client-side accounting software has
eliminated most of the paper and massive data-entry functions, many of these
same professionals see the end result still being a considerable task. The reason
is that clients now have the ability to perform much of their own bookkeeping
tasks, but few have the knowledge to do them properly.
Instead of spending hours manually entering client data, today’s accountant
must transfer the client’s electronic data into his or her own accounting
system and then spend hours hunting through transactions, making adjusting entries
and trying to educate their clients about general accounting principles. Once
complete, there’s the issue of updating the client’s system with
the corrected data, while incorporating any new transactions that have been
processed while the write-up was underway.
In essence, the core services covered by the term write-up have greatly turned
into a forensic art where the professional accountant studiously looks for errors
and tries to re-establish the integrity of client accounts in order to give
them a clearer picture of the financial health of their business. Client software
has also helped turn many accounting professionals into technology consultants,
like it or not, because when the client has a question about their financial
software they instinctively call their accountant.
The vendors of write-up software have finally caught on to the many dilemmas
posed by the client-accountant relationship and have been improving collaboration
functions. Some have streamlined data transfer functions, while others have
approached the issue by providing accountants with remote access to the client’s
One of the more promising developments is through the true integration of a
client’s bookkeeping package and the professional’s accounting system.
Although not designed for write-up, the fully web-based, client-side NetSuite
accounting program offers full online access capabilities to accountants. Intuit’s
QuickBooks Online offers similar capabilities to the small business market.
But for true write-up functionality, with strong GL, reconciliation and financial
reporting and analysis, the trend was started by the Thomson Reuters Write-Up
CS program in conjunction with its Client Bookkeeping Solution. Taking the process
one step further, AccountantsWorld developed a single, web-based professional
accounting suite that includes a client-side accounting portal that the accountant
can tailor to meet the needs and capabilities of each client. While client errors
will always occur, this model eliminates the need for data transfer since both
parties are using the same data. It also keeps the professional in total control
of the client’s live data at all times.
We first wrote about this new, “unified client accounting and write-up”
paradigm last year and, while additional vendors have yet to fully adopt the
concept, it is growing in popularity among professionals. And other vendors
have continued to tackle the issues of data transfer, such as with the recent
addition of the Accountants’ Copy feature in QuickBooks.
Write-up services will obviously continue to be a core service for professional
accountants, and the good news is that the software companies are enhancing
their programs to help accountants more efficiently manage the challenges that
professional accountants face. And as these developments continue, the process
will become increasingly profitable.
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- AccountantsWorld – Accounting
- Accounting Relief is the only fully web-based system
in this review section and approaches the accountant-client relationship
in a different manner. The professional accounting program offers the
traditional full complement of write-up and trial balance functions.
- CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
– ProSystem fx Write-Up
- As a part of CCH’s comprehensive line of professional
accounting and practice management applications, ProSystem fx
Write-Up offers a fully integrated option for accountants providing this
service to their business clients.
- CCH Small Firm Services – ATX
& TaxWise Client Write-Up
- Both ATX and TaxWise, now operated by CCH through
its Small Firm Services (SFS) division, are well-known for their comprehensive
tax suites geared toward small to mid-sized tax-focused offices.
- CYMA Systems Inc. – CYMA Client
- CYMA’s Client Write-Up program is part of
the company’s CPA and Accountants Solution line, which provides
a full suite of integrated accounting modules, import capabilities, broad
customizable financial reporting options and support for any number of
- Intuit, Inc. – QuickBooks Premier
- Intuit’s QuickBooks Accounting line is obviously
well-known across both the small business market and the professional
accounting market, with the company’s mid-range versions of the
system, Premier, available in various industry-specific formats.
- Micronetics International – Xpert
Write-Up for Windows
- Micronetics offers a full accounting suite for small
and mid-sized businesses through its Xpert Financials system, which provides
modules for GL, AR, AP, inventory, payroll, reconciliation and other key
- Thomson Reuters – Write-Up CS
- The Write-Up CS system from the Tax and Accounting
arm of Thomson Reuters is a comprehensive professional write-up system
that combines general ledger, journals, bank reconciliation, after-the-fact
payroll with compliance and financial reporting capabilities.
- Sidebar – PC Software Accounting,
- It’s nice to occasionally note smaller technology
vendors who serve the profession and have achieved success by offering
programs that either fill a niche missed by the big guys or offer a different
approach to more common tasks.