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CCH — ProSystem fx Engagement

the August 2006 Review of Engagement & Trial Balance Software

ProSystem fx Engagement is a complete paperless workpaper solution.
As part of the CCH ProSystem fx suite of products, ProSystem fx
Engagement shares information with the tax preparation, research, document management,
time and billing and professional guidance software tools in the CCH suite.
Kate Ward is an audit manager at regional firm Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP
( The firm has five locations
throughout the Midwest, and Ward works in the largest of the five offices in
Springfield, Ill., where there are 70 employees. Her firm uses ProSystem fx
Engagement for all of its audits, reviews, compilations and larger tax returns,
and she serves as the contact for questions about the product within the firm.

Ward says that the product’s ease of use and linking aspects were the
main reasons the firm selected ProSystem fx Engagement. She also says
they have found benefit from “the ability to organize all audit documents
in one file as well as the ability to link directly to the tax return.”

Ward stresses the importance of getting the necessary training and allowing
enough time to convert all clients. “We implemented ProSystem fx
Engagement in November, just as we were going into busy season,” she says.
“This made it a little crazy, but looking back it was probably good and
it forced us to implement it 100 percent.” She also notes that it’s
important to make sure that the entire firm is on board. “At first, we
had a few jobs that we didn’t use the software on, and it took a little
while but we eventually got everyone on the same page.”

Ease of Use — 3.5 Stars
ProSystem fx Engagement has a large number of features and a unique
approach to accessing information. Its use of Microsoft Excel and Word will
be very familiar to accounting firm staff. ProSystem fx Engagement
uses a central file room/local file room approach for managing engagement binder
information. Documents are checked out of the central file room and worked on
in the user’s local file room. This approach provides security, document
protection and allows for the managed collaboration on engagements. A Synchronization
Queue reduces the effort needed to synchronize changes between the local and
central file rooms. An engagement binder can be checked out of the central file
room and e-mailed to a user with a single click of the mouse.

Data Import/Export/Integration — 5 Stars
One of the significant benefits of using software from a vendor that offers
a complete suite of applications is the integration that can be achieved between
the different applications in the suite. For example, firms that use ProSystem
fx Engagement and ProSystem fx Tax can have a *.PDF copy of
the tax return automatically inserted in the engagement binder. Upon completion
of the engagement, the archived binder can be stored in the ProSystem fx
Document system for easy access, compliance with the firm’s document retention
policies, and enhanced data access security. The product also integrates with
the Miller series of professional guidance tools, the CCH Accounting Research
Manager, and the CCH@Hand services for tax and accounting research.

Trial Balance Features — 4 Stars
ProSystem fx Engagement uses Microsoft Excel to create trial balances.
This allows the user to paste links of ranges of data to group information in
lead schedules, tax lines, workpapers and other types of documents. Another
benefit of using Excel for building the trial balance is that information linked
to other documents is automatically updated during the roll forward process.
Detailed transactions can be summarized using transaction journals that integrate
with the trial balance.

Financial Statement Preparation — 4 Stars
Financial statements, accountant’s reports, notes to the financial statements
and other documents are created using Microsoft Excel and Word. The CCH Dynalink/Quicklink
feature is used to map trial balance information to financial statements and
other documents. Firms can achieve any type of formatting needed. Use of standardized
financial statements and documents will greatly speed up the setup process.

Engagement Process/Workflow Features — 5 Stars
CCH Engagement promotes engagement efficiency with a variety of capabilities.
First of all, for a new engagement, a binder can be created from master templates.
These templates control the organizational structure of the binder and can pre-build
engagement workpapers and documents. This promotes standardization of workpapers
and significantly reduces the setup time.

Only firm members who are assigned to an engagement can check out the engagement
binder, add and modify documents, and perform other functions. ProSystem fx
Engagement lets you customize staff groups to efficiently manage security levels
and roles. It also has a team feature that eliminates the need to add individual
staff to the project. One of the significant benefits of using ProSystem fx
Engagement is the ability to organize and present electronic documents to promote
an efficient workflow. The program lets users scan directly into the engagement
binder and insert other workpapers such as tax returns, e-mails, etc. You can
insert tick-marks and workpaper references into Word, Excel and Adobe files.
This will allow users of the documents to quickly “jump” from one
document to another by clicking on the linked workpaper reference. Issues can
be documented and accessed for additional comments and resolution. ProSystem
fx Engagement is optimized to make use of dual monitors to allow the
easy presentation of multiple documents simultaneously. This makes for easier
data creation, editing and review.

ProSystem fx Engagement provides several tools to provide a top-down
look at information. The Engagement Today screen shows user-specific information
about multiple engagement binders. The Binder Snapshot and the Trial Balance
Snapshot drill down to present statistical information, outstanding issues and
other diagnostic information about a specific binder.

CCH Engagement has all the features to provide a paperless workflow process
for financial statement and business tax return preparation services. Its use
of Microsoft Excel and Word provides formatting flexibility and ease of use.
Firms that are using other CCH products will benefit from the increasing integration
between ProSystem fx Engagement and other applications from CCH. ProSystem
fx Engagement costs $1,200, minus any applicable discounts.

2006 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars