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Help Your Clients with the Latest Tools

Column: From the Trenches

From the Nov. 2008 Issue

Since technology is a strategic asset, I want to encourage you to leverage
it to help your clients. If you do this, client satisfaction and billings will
both increase. My intent in this article is to recommend tools you can use in
your practice over and over as well as solutions that you can recommend to your
clients that will provide better controls in their business. I’ll cover
each one individually, but you’ll want to reflect on how well you know
what each tool does and what they can do for your business or your clients.
Tools to consider include the following: The Business Analyst, ProfitCents,
iLumen, Profit Solver, SmartVault,, BizNet, MISys, Fishbowl Inventory,
BillQuick, Wasp, Avalara, SpeedTax, and tax and accounting firm programs like
ProAdvisor, SSAN, MPAN and BusinessOneCPA.

The Business Analyst —

The TASCON Business Analyst is a server-based application designed for higher
profit and better cash flow. The Business Analyst is a SaaS (software as a service)
business solution that links the features of profit enhancement, cash flow management,
financial analysis, business valuation and deal structuring that was designed
for business owners/buyers and trusted advisors. Some of its strengths in-clude
linking financial analysis, budgeting, job cost/pricing and cash flow management
with business valuation. It transforms these factors into strategies that are
used to increase profits and control the cash flow, growth and exit strategies
of any business.

This unique financial management product gives companies tools to calculate
future revenues, forecast profits and track performance. Managers can accurately
determine burden rates and properly price any product or service. They also
can calculate the precise value of any business. Trusted advisors, like accountants,
attorneys and consultants, can use The Business Analyst to advise their clients
on improving cash flow, cost control and a better bottom line. Using this product
can provide high value add to clients and high profitability engagements.
ProfitCents is a web-based application that enables business and financial professionals
to provide written explanations of financial statements. The reports use ratio
analysis, industry comparisons and trend analysis to depict the financial health
of any business in plain language. ProfitCents can also provide analytical procedures
for auditors. Professional accountants and financial consultants can use ProfitCents
to generate benchmarking results that compare the business against up-to-date
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of other organizations in the same industry.
This includes financial analysis of for-profit business clients, including plain-language
reports, audit and review reports and projection/forecast reports.

The application is designed to be very easy to use. By entering summary balance
sheet and income statement information, a clearly written three- to eight-page
financial summary can be produced that incorporates dynamically generated text,
graphs and ratio analysis. Based on basic financial information, ProfitCents
provides clear and insightful analysis in five areas of operational performance:
sales growth, profitability, and the utilization of employees, assets and leverage.
The report can be printed online or downloaded to Word for editing. The expert
system uses artificial intelligence to generate text specific to the financial
data entered and compares it to industry averages from a database of over 400
industries in several size ranges.
The iLumen Portfolio Connection collects data from the client’s trial
balance and the firm’s practice management systems, standardizes it and
makes it available at the desktop of the firm’s partners. This information
is used to analyze the portfolio of clients of the firm, determine the best
clients for service opportunities and generate customized presentations for
the client. Portfolio Connection allows the firm to sort and data mine the client
portfolio to identify new project opportunities, such as consulting and tax
planning projects. Portfolio Connection provides visibility into the entire
client base, including views of the aggregate client portfolio performance by
industry expertise and performance by geography, office and partner. Firms using
Customer Connection find that their audit and other business clients submit
financial information on an interim basis, allowing for a more dynamic look
at these clients’ business trends and profiles in addition to increased

iLumen differentiates the firm to win new business, leverages industry expertise
across the entire firm, identifies new service opportunities to generate incremental
revenue, improves client meetings, and compares clients to their industry peers.
iLumen also streamlines audit analytics and helps partners better manage the
firm’s book of business. Portfolio Connection allows the firm to move
away from traditional audit presentations to ones that have charts and graphs
that summarize financial trends and engage the clients. Portfolio Connection
creates audit analytic reports that compare the client’s interim and rolling
12 months performance to prior fiscal years. The auditor can see trends each
month to proactively spot trends and identify risk. When the trends are compared
to last year’s audit, the tax and accounting professional can gather intelligence
about the movement of the business and appropriately advise the client.

Profit Solver by Fee Technology
Profit Solver is a software product that allows you to calculate fees for every
service of your client’s business based on actual costs, and it shows
you how to charge out billable labor in order to achieve a desired profit. This
is particularly valuable to businesses that have labor and production costs,
such as medical and veterinarian practices where competition or regulation dictates
the price of some services and there is flexibility in setting the charges for
other tests or services. The product has enough flexibility to make each piece
of equipment, inventory and employee an individual profit center. Profit Solver
calculates the appropriate mark-ups for all profit centers. The costs are fairly
allocated based on each usage.

Profit Solver is designed for a wide range of industries and consulting. You
can use this tool for business consulting services in many industries doing
something that clients value highly — making more money for their business
with no additional effort.
SmartVault was specifically designed for use with QuickBooks and provides faster,
easier and more secure document management. Simplify document management for
both you and your clients by scanning and attaching documents directly to Quick-Books
transactions. SmartVault’s seamless QuickBooks integration makes document
management easy. It also ensures that your clients have a secure, off-site backup
of all their data.
SmartVault provides qualified practicing public accounting professionals who
do work for outside clients with a free copy of the product for their own internal
use. SmartVault takes the hassle out of sharing QuickBooks database files with
your clients by creating the easiest way to share the most recent copies of
these files. allows end users to enter bills and then e-mail, fax, upload and approve
the bills. Tax and accounting firms can use the product at no charge with their
clients. This product lets you pay or schedule bills for online payments, and
you can route them to multiple approvers. You can add clients; manage multiple
clients from the dashboard; centralize billing; import accounts, vendors and
departments; and export payables and payments.

The BizExcelerator from BizNet
The BizExcelerator, an Excel-based financial reporting and analytics product,
provides simple, yet powerful financial reporting and business intelligence
capabilities to help accountants do their jobs more efficiently. Businesses
with investments in Excel or those who wish to do custom financials easily should
consider this product. BizExcelerator ensures that data in Excel is accurate,
reduces month-end close time, leverages time in existing spreadsheet reports,
and has multi-dimensional drilldown for rapid detail transaction access. The
BizExcelerator is delivered by a network of GL partners who provide personalized
service. Your company can choose the extent of services needed for implementation.

MISys Small Business Manufacturing (MISys SBM) is geared to the needs of manufacturing
firms that manufacture a discrete product consisting of a number of raw materials
and subassemblies. Functionality within the product will appeal to make-to-stock
manufacturers, make-to-order manufacturers and custom job manufacturers. MISys
SBM can be run stand-alone or integrated with many of the most popular accounting
software systems to form a complete manufacturing business management system.
The basic functionality of MISys SBM addresses the needs of small manufacturing
firms with fewer than 50 employees. Optional modules allow the product to easily
scale to larger manufacturing firms with 100+ employees. MISys also offers a
monthly rental plan for prospective users with cash flow constraints. The rental
agreement requires no up-front commitment and can be bought out at any time
with 80 percent of rental fees applied as a credit to the purchase price.

MISys SBM is a modular product, currently with seven separate modules: Basic
Manufacturing, Advanced Purchasing, Advanced Production, Material Requirements
Planning, Bin Tracking, Bar Coding and Serial/Lot Tracking. MISys SBM’s
strengths include Serial/Lot Tracking for manufacturers (complies with FDA and
FAA), enhanced integration with QuickBooks 2008 and Microsoft Office Accounting
2008, manufacturing inventory control with unlimited locations, and Material
Requirements Planning with visual timeline. As well, it is built on the Microsoft
SQL Server and .NET platform.

Fishbowl Inventory
Fishbowl Inventory is suitable for a small to medium-size company running QuickBooks
that needs advanced inventory control, or it can be used as a stand-alone system
running on Linux or Windows. The system handles all the inventory requirements
while posting transactions directly to your QuickBooks application. Strengths
of the product include its QuickBooks integration, Multi-Location Part Tracking,
Order Management for Sales and Purchasing, and Pick, Pack and Ship handling.
BillQuick is a flexible Time Billing and Project Management software. It is
fully customizable to fit your specific needs and is the result of countless
suggestions made by service industry professionals. It includes more than 400
standard invoices and reports, allowing you to meet the requirements of your
most demanding clients and providing the in-depth analysis tools needed to optimize
all aspects of your business. BillQuick integrates with Quick-Books and Microsoft
Office Accounting.

Wasp Barcode
Wasp manufactures barcode software and solutions and useful business applications
based on these technologies. Solutions includes barcode scanners, barcode printers,
inventory software, asset tracking, time and attendance systems, Point-of-Sale
(POS) systems, and a range of barcode labels and barcode accessories.

The vendor’s asset tracking solutions include software and an asset
tracking device or portable data terminals. Wasp inventory software and tracking
solutions include software bundled with mobile devices to reduce inventory stock
outs, manage inventory reorder levels, and manage check-in/checkout. You can
decrease the cost and frustration of manual employee timekeeping setup with
WaspTime, thereby eliminating buddy punching, reducing employee time tracking
errors, and decreasing payroll processing time and effort. Time and attendance
systems include time and attendance software combined with biometric time clocks,
RFID time clocks, and barcode or magstripe time clocks.

Wasp Complete Point of Sale (POS) Solution provides a solid system without
the big business costs. Wasp QuickStore POS software is available separately
or as a complete hardware POS system that includes cash drawers, pole displays,
thermal receipt printers and magstripe readers. Wasp’s original barcode
software and hardware heritage continues today with a range of barcode software
solutions, including desktop thermal barcode printers and industrial thermal
barcode printers, with supporting barcodes labels, barcode ribbons and other
printer supplies.

AvaTax is an Internet-based sales tax solution that integrates seamlessly with
your traditional accounting system. Its unique method of applying sales tax
based on your nexus and other data down to the actual street address is a significant
benefit of this product. Pricing will vary based on the accounting software
with which it interfaces and the volume of sales, which determines how much
you use the product. Strengths include comprehensive jurisdictional assignment
capabilities, extensive sales tax research, and the up-to-date rates and boundary
information. It offers quick and easy setup and applies sales tax calculations
in the background (often in less than a second depending on Internet connection)
via a secure, encrypted Internet connection.
SpeedTax is a provider of web-based, fully automated sales tax compliance and
management services for small to large businesses. The SpeedTax solution is
hosted in a complete SAS70 compliant environment. There are no timeframe requirements
and no transactional overages penalties. Strengths of this product include the
fact that it’s SST-Certified and that it offers an executive reporting
dashboard, real-time address validation and jurisdiction research, automated
submission of returns to taxing authorities, and custom reports and views.

Tax and Accounting Firm Programs
Doing the right thing for your practice and your clients includes participating
in major publisher’s programs for obtaining software and support. ProAdvisor
from Intuit, SSAN by Sage, MPAN by Microsoft and BusinessOneCPA Advisor Program
by SAP are all recommended programs. Joining the programs produced by the publishers
gives you access to superior support, reduced-cost software and marketing programs.

All in all, each of these products or programs can help you provide better
client service or can help your clients run their businesses better, easier
and more profitably. What more could we want from our technologies?