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Acct1st Technology Group, LLC — Acct1st EDRMS

From the April/May 2006 Review of
Document Management Systems

Acct1st is designed specifically for the tax and accounting firm environment
as an enterprise-level solution that can support the needs of larger firms.
Julie Fry, CPA, of Dallas-based SalmonBeach & Associates, PLLC (
decided on Acct1st because it was created for accounting firms. “The support
provided during the implementation and thereafter has been great,” she
says. “The system now integrates directly with VPM (formerly a CPASoftware
product, now part of the CCH family), and new clients who are added to VPM are
directly added to Acct1st.”

Fry notes that the most beneficial aspect of Acct1st for her firm has been
alleviating paper and storage problems. They now have immediate access to prior-year
information and e-mail capabilities from the system. “We *.PDF the tax
return directly from our tax program and store it in Acct1st, eliminating a
‘hard copy’ for the permanent file,” she says. “This
cuts down on processing time.” The firm is also doing the same thing with
the audits it prepares. “We are hopeful that in time we will electronically
send out these reports, reviews and tax returns to the clients.”

Fry advises firms that are considering implementation of a document management
system to look at the present and move forward: “If you start thinking
about how much needs to be done, you will never get started. The more diligent
you can be in the initial set up, the easier your implementation will be. I
think that we made a mistake by making too many classifications. The last thing
that you want to do is to frustrate your staff when they are trying to find
information on the system. Training is important, and repeating the mantra ‘change
is good’ will also be necessary. Many do not want to change, but the decision
has to be made from the top down within the firm.

If the staff understands that the owners are ‘on board,’ they will
realize that they had better get on board also. Dual screens are very helpful,
and having a dedicated ‘scan person’ is a must at least in the initial
stages to get information into the system.” SalmonBeach & Associates,
PLLC is a regional firm that has been in operation since 1987 and currently
has a staff of approximately 23 employees.

Installation & Configuration — 4 Stars
This system is designed to run in a SQL environment with an option to run via
web connection without an IIS server because it has its own built-in web service.
As an alternative, the vendor offers a hosted option, as well.

User Interface — 5 Stars
Acct1st offers a number of features that allow the user to enhance the interface,
including user-defined buttons for pre-saved searches, and sorting and selection
of columns in the document hit list. A particularly nice feature is the ability
to define what information is displayed in the hit list based on the document
type. There are three main ways to bring documents into the system: right-click
from Explorer, drag-and-drop from e-mail, and automatically based on file type,
such as a tax return *.PDF. As part of the setup, the vendor can develop scripts
to automatically index and file existing documents based on the folder properties
to which the files belong. Overall, the system is very strong in its capabilities
to bring in documents in bulk or batches. Another unique feature is the ability
to export documents to a CD and distribute with a royalty free viewer.

Integration — 4 Stars
As previously noted, the software has direct integration with VPM, which is
now part of the CCH family. This feature will automatically pull client name
and number information from VPM. An API (Application Program Interface) and
SDK (Software Development Kit) are both available to develop integration with
third-party software applications. Acct1st is a Certified Integration partner
with Sage. The system does not offer a virtual *.PDF print driver to generate
*.PDF output from other applications and file them into the system.

Training & Support — 4 Stars
Acct1st provides pre-deployment planning consultation using a stock database
configuration defined in an Excel spreadsheet, which is customized with the
customer based on their unique requirements. A review of the firm’s existing
data file directory structure is performed so that a script can be developed
to automatically upload existing shared files. The typical implementation requires
five to six days of service.

Workflow & Document Tracking — 4 Stars
The system provides the ability to route a document to anyone in the organization.
User-defined fields can be established to set up a customized workflow with
various routing rules established.

Security — 5 Stars
Permissions can be set to view or edit documents based on the user, groups,
folder (document category) and document type. Records management and retention
is a core feature of the system. Retention rules can be established and applied
to both files and scanned images. An unlimited number of retention schedules
can be established based on document type or policy. When a document is destroyed,
you can determine whether or not the metadata (indexing values, etc.) are maintained
for an audit trail or destroyed with the document/file. In addition, documents
can be put into an “on hold” status during litigation, which means
the selected documents cannot be edited and the retention schedule is suspended.

Pricing — 5 Stars
The base price is $250 per user license with a 20 percent annual maintenance
and support fee. Alternatively, the hosted solution is priced at $50 per user
per month. On-site services are priced at a very reasonable $500 to $1,000 per

Relative Value — 4.5 Stars
Acct1st is a strong solution, and the company is committed to the practicing
public accountant. The information they provided for this review demonstrates
that they have a solid understanding of the marketplace. This is a strong package
that can compete with some of the better known systems.

2006 Overall Rating — 4.5 Stars