From the December 2005 Issue
How much is a plumber’s truck worth? For tax purposes, how much of its
value did it lose this year? How much is remaining? What if he sells it? Although
the concept of depreciation may be straightforward in itself (Asset A depreciates
by X percent per time period B), properly calculating depreciation for tax purposes
often is not so simple.
The answer to the above equation is dependent upon many variables, including
the type of asset, the type of entity and the regulatory agency that is asking
the question of worth. The process of selecting the most advantageous (or least
punitive) and IRS-compliant method of depreciation and managing the various
events that happen throughout the life of a business’ asset base is the
duty of the business’ accountant.
In years not so far past, most accountants used spreadsheets. Yes, the duct
tape of the accounting profession, spreadsheets and their macros, have been
created, manipulated, tweaked, pieced together and (insert almost any other
verb here). Spreadsheets have sufficed, but just like duct tape, they shouldn’t
be used as a long-term solution. Software developed specifically for managing
the depreciation of fixed assets offers the real solution, with built-in support
for complex calculations, regulations, limits and exceptions.
Fixed asset management software helps companies maintain accurate records for
regulatory agencies, and assist in managing events such as acquisitions, splits,
consolidations, partial dispositions, mass dispositions and many other asset
life matters. They simplify scenario planning and projections. Some programs
also offer integration with accounting and tax preparation systems, reducing
data entry. And they are much easier to update when there are significant changes
in regulations, which has happened almost every year in recent years.
As with any other type of software, fixed asset management systems vary widely
in the functions they provide, the intended user and cost. The programs reviewed
here reflect this wide breadth, from programs that can automate the management
of millions of assets with complex issues, to programs geared for smaller entities
with fewer assets and more simple needs. If you are familiar with this software
area, you may notice that a couple of products have been renamed: the former
Creative Solutions Fixed Asset Solution is now Fixed Assets CS; and Best Software’s
FAS line has been rebranded in accordance with the renaming of the company to
Sage Software. With input from professional accountants, the products in this
review were scored on the following areas:
Navigation/Ease-of-Use. This area covers the design and layout
of the interface, including accessibility to primary program functions and data
entry, as well as general operation of the program, thereby providing an overview
of how easily a user could get up and running and be proficient with the system.
Management Features. This section identifies the number of
books supported by the software, as well as depreciation methods available,
asset editing functions, and various capabilities including splitting assets,
mass edits and dispositions. Additionally, whether or not the program supports
barcode scanning technologies is addressed.
Integration. The ability of the program to integrate or provide
export/import capabilities can save significant time during tax season. This
section identifies the program’s ability to share data with tax software,
GL programs and other accounting systems.
Reporting. Asset management and depreciation activities need
a paper trail (even if it is a paperless paper trail). This section looks at
the reporting functions of the program, including customization and report writer
features, as well as support for various IRS forms and schedules.
Help/Support. This section assesses a program’s built-in
Help utilities and gauges available support options and whether they are included
with the software license or require an additional purchase. It also examines
whether updates are included or must be purchased as well as the frequency and
method of delivery of the updates.
Finally, a Summary section wraps up the review, identifying
the program’s most
noted attributes and shortcomings, with a suggestion as to what type of professional
the program is best-suited. A summary of all products and their scores for each
category is available on page 32.
- AccountantsWorld — Fixed
- Fixed Assets Relief offers asset management, tracking
and depreciation for required reporting, allowing comparison of treatments
and calculations between assets, forecasting and projections.
- BNA Software — BNA Fixed
- BNA’s Fixed Asset DesktopPro provides asset
depreciation management tools with support for multiple books and all
standard depreciation strategies, along with customizable books and treatments.
- CCH Tax & Accounting —
ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
- As either a stand-alone system or as part of the
ProSystem suite of integrated software from CCH, ProSystem fx
Fixed Assets offers a comprehensive system for management of fixed assets,
supporting the needs of organizations with minimal to very complex asset
- Comprehensive Microsystems,
Inc. — THE SYSTEM
- Comprehensive Microsystems’ THE SYSTEM is
a high-end fixed asset management and depreciation system for business
and nonprofit entities. It offers the ability to track multiple books
and all traditional depreciation and amortization methods.
- CellutionWare — Navision
- Cellutionware offers the fixed asset Depreciation
Calculator system, a single-user asset management program. The system,
designed by a CPA, provides a basic approach for maintaining asset depreciation
for virtually any number of client companies and assets.
- Intuit — ProSeries Fixed
- ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager (FAM) is geared toward
integration with the ProSeries professional tax preparation program, but
can also be run as a stand-alone system.
- MoneySoft — Fixed Asset
- Fixed Asset Pro is a low-cost asset depreciation
management system geared primarily toward accounting professionals and
businesses with basic asset tracking needs.
- M.R.S. Company, Ltd. —
WorthIT Fixed Assets
- WorthIT Fixed Assets provides depreciation management,
forecasting and analysis, and capital budgeting capabilities, along with
lease analysis and management functions available in the WorthIT Capital
- Multiview — Asset Management
- Multiview offers a comprehensive accounting system
that, in addition to the Asset Management System, includes GL, AP, AR,
purchasing, order processing, invoicing, inventory, workflow and financial
and analytic reporting.
- Open Systems, Inc. — TRAVERSE
- The Fixed Assets module of the TRAVERSE accounting
system provides asset depreciation amortization and forecasting functions,
with support for multiple books, depreciation types and federal form preparation.
- Pro-Ware — Asset Keeper
- Asset Keeper is geared for use by midsize businesses
and CPAs providing asset management services to those businesses. The
moderately priced program supports multiple books and depreciation strategies
for any number of clients and assets.
- Real Asset Management International
- Asset4000 is a customizable high-end asset management
application that is capable of managing any number of books for unlimited
assets, entities and entity divisions.
- Sage Software, Inc. —
FAS Asset Accounting
- Sage Software (formerly Best Software) has changed
the branding for its line of fixed asset solutions over the last year.
The overall product line is now called Sage FAS Fixed Assets.
- TaxWise — TaxWise Fixed
- A newcomer to the fixed assets field is TaxWise,
a longtime player in the tax preparation market. The TaxWise Fixed Assets
system integrates with the vendor’s 1065 and 1120 programs, taking
a tax-based approach to asset management.
- Thomson Creative Solutions —
Fixed Assets CS
- Fixed Assets CS (formerly Depreciation Solution)
is the asset management and reporting component of Thomson Creative Solutions’
integrated suite of professional accounting applications.
- Vertex, Inc. — Fixed Assets
- Although scalable for almost any size of business,
Fixed Assets Manager is geared more toward large entities and enterprises,
offering asset depreciation and management with support for an unlimited
number of companies, cost centers and divisions.
- Review of Fixed Asset Software
2005 — Executive Summary
- As regulations regarding depreciation have become
more stringent, businesses large and small have devoted more attention to
better management of these assets and developing strategies to maximize