From the December 2009 Review of Tax
& Accounting Research Systems.
has enriched the Lacerte and ProSeries tax preparation products by launching
ProLine Tax Research this year, which includes the analysis and content library
of BNA. The result is an interactive environment where the preparer can research
topics and enter tax data from the same window. Depending on the preparer’s
work habits and comfort level, this could be an ideal platform for higher productivity.
The vendor’s stated strategy is to offer accountants and tax preparers
the tools to increase productivity and help them increase their firms’
Ease of Use/Search Routine:
The key point to understand about ProLine Tax Research is the integration of
tax research and preparation. As the preparer moves to different fields on the
tax data input screen on the top half of the window, selected search results
appear in the lower portion of the screen that are relevant to the specific
topic being addressed. In other words, this is context-sensitive Help, as seen
in other software packages. Research can also be done by searching in the open
text search box located everywhere in Lacerte or ProSeries or separately by
opening a dummy tax return. The search input is optimized for keywords and strings
and does not support complex Boolean inputs.
The strategy adopted by Intuit here is to present the results sorted by relevancy,
which is constantly being evaluated based on new content and the input received
from the actual users. As their tax preparer client base uses the system, they
vote on the relevancy of a document in the result set by indicating whether
the content is helpful. This feedback loop automatically updates the relevancy
of the content based on the experience of actual practitioners. Intuit has taken
this approach based on response from users that were involved throughout the
design and development. And it seems like a logical approach to take in an environment
where a query may return a result set with hundreds of documents.
Starting with the common base of all tax research products, ProLine Tax Research
presents searchable and cross-linked reference to all standard U.S. publicly
available sources. Included are the Internal Revenue Code, forms, tables, pending
legislation; all these for Federal and State memoranda and so forth. Wrapped
around the base content are the rich editorial, analysis from BNA. The result
is more than 1.5 million searchable and cross-linked sections and documents.
The ProLine Tax Research screens are clean and intuitive to use, and the research
content dynamically changes with the context of the data input area. The overall
layout is static, meaning the user cannot change the structure. There is no
provision for saving standalone searches, which is appropriate for the ProLine
paradigm of research only in the context of a specific tax return. What ProLine
Tax Research does offer is the ability to create an audit trail for a return
by marking individual documents from the research to be saved with the return
data. The end result is a return with documentation supporting treatment of
Help, Support & Updates:
ProLine Tax Research’s Help and support in using the product is provided
online and via phone, Help screens and an Ask Live feature, which operates like
a chat window. Enter a question on how to use the search feature, for example,
and an immediate search is done within the ever-growing text knowledgebase.
Actual humans might even respond from either Intuit or the user community. This
novel approach combines the best features of both standard text Help content
and an online forum monitored by experienced and interested people.
Content updates weekly, with no manual actions required by the tax preparer.
The Intuit ProLine Tax Research product is available now, but the entire offering
is in a state of highly active development, with new features planned for near-term
availability. All of the features reviewed here are in release as of mid October.
ProLine Tax Research is priced at $849 a year, and individual research articles
are also available for $19.95 each without subscribing to the entire content.
2009 Overall Rating: