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2010 Review of Fixed Asset Management Systems

Effective Asset Management Requires More Than Simple Spreadsheets

From the November 2010 Issue

Many professional accountants consider fixed asset management a client-side
function — something that a business manages directly, with financial
information syncing or manually entered into their GL. Then, when providing
write-up, trial balance or annual tax compliance services, their public accountant
reconciles the data and ensures the appropriate treatment and depreciation of
the assets.

Asset Management Systems:
2010 Review Sections

  • Basic System Functions
    • General Navigation/Ease-of-Use
    • Multiple Concurrent Users
    • Multi-Entity Mgmt/Assets
    • System Customization, Alerts
  • Core Asset Management Features
    • Preconfigured Books (GAAP, Fed, AMT, ACE, State, Custom,
    • Asset type support/multi-part, property classes
    • Asset life events (acquis/dispo/ bulk/partial/exchange/split/undo)
    • Depreciation types supported
    • Consolidation capabilities
    • Asset location/tracking features
  • Reporting
    • Managerial (reconciliation, periods, net book, asset records,
    • Compliance reporting (FASB 109, Sec. 179, IRS forms)
    • Customizable Reporting Options
    • Report output formats (PDF, HTML, text, Excel, etc)
  • Import/Export/Integration
    • Data import utilities
    • Data export to tax/acct apps
  • Help/Support
    • Built-in Support Features
    • OS/Browser Compatibility
    • Support Website/documentation
    • Live Support (includes phone)
  • Summary & Pricing
  • Overall Rating

However, asset management can be a highly complex endeavor, especially for
organizations that have substantial manufacturing and capital assets, but also
for businesses with smaller asset bases. The biggest challenge is in maintaining
compliance with tax code, since determining and applying the most beneficial
and also appropriate depreciation strategies requires more than simple knowledge
of an off-the-shelf bookkeeping package. It is a specialty — one that
requires either direct experience with taxation and the pertinent areas of the
IRC, or at least the knowledge of where to look. With frequent changes, especially
notable recent ones to bonus depreciation and Sec. 179, these traits aren’t
very common among non-professionals.

Simply put, a small or mid-sized business’ bookkeeper is not, with rare
exception, qualified to make decisions on applying conventions, methods, classifications,
life spans and property types. At best, this can result in minor mistakes that
can pile up and increase the time spent by their qualified public accountant
or tax professional during write-up, compliance or financial reporting functions.
At worst, it can result in serious misapplication of tax law, with the potential
audit and financial horrors that accompany.

smaller businesses, those who can’t justify the addition of a truly qualified
in-house tax professional, fixed asset depreciation management should be a service
they rely on your firm to provide. After all, strategic planning of asset depreciation
is as critical as tax planning, and involves many of the same strategies of
scenario testing to determine the most effective treatments, but needs to be
combined with the expertise of someone with the appropriate knowledge and resources.
This, in turn, can help businesses achieve the greatest tax benefit from current
and future capital investments.

Of the programs reviewed in this section, about half are designed specifically
for use by tax and accounting firms, although almost all of them have capabilities
for managing multiple entities. The key factors in determining the program most
suited for either you or your clients are the size of the asset bases to be
managed per entity, the types of assets and the client’s industry, which
greatly affects the types of depreciation likely to be involved. For those with
many fixed assets, the ability to perform mass actions is essential, as are
asset location and tracking capabilities, particularly for organizations with
multiple locations.

Strategic and effective asset management is somewhat of a combination of knowledge
of tax law and the art of structuring variable depreciation methods into beneficial
and legal treatments that help a business take the greatest advantage of offsets
to their tax liabilities, and to plan for future investment. As a tax and accounting
professional, you are the artist. And a fixed asset management program and knowledge
of tax law are some of the tools of your trade.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BNA Software – BNA Fixed Assets Solutions
BNA Software offers an array of professional programs
for income tax planning, tax analysis, wealth management, estate and gift
tax planning and compliance, and sales and use tax. BNA Fixed Assets Solutions
is designed for in-house and public tax and accounting professionals,
providing automated asset management, inventory and tracking functions,
with comprehensive depreciation calculations and support for all traditional
and custom treatments and conventions.
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
– ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
Designed for use by accounting and tax professionals,
ProSystem fx Fixed Assets is a comprehensive tracking, management
and reporting program that offers extensive depreciation calculation capabilities,
projections, asset-life events and reporting.
CCH Small Firm Services – ATX
& TaxWise Fixed Asset Manager
Offered by CCH Small Firm Services, the ATX and
TaxWise brands of professional tax and accounting programs both offer
a fixed asset management system that can be used as a stand-alone program
that provides integration into the tax system. While the programs are
separate applications, they offer the same general features and workflow
processes, so this review looks at them both.
CMI Software, Inc. — CMI Fixed Assets
The CMI Fixed Assets system offers professional asset management and depreciation,
with several versions providing support for businesses of varying asset bases
and with multiple locations, departments or other subunits, as well as the ability
to manage the asset books of multiple entities. The program includes all standard
depreciation and averaging conventions and the ability to create custom books
and treatments, plus tools for managing asset life events and preparing supporting
tax forms.
Intuit ProLine — ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager
The ProSeries Fixed Asset Manager is offered as an add-on module to the ProSeries
professional tax compliance system, or can be used as a stand-alone program,
providing multi-book depreciation schedules, planning and forms compliance for
fixed assets. The system includes support for all common methods, as well as
options for creating custom books, with reporting options that include tax worksheets,
projected depreciation and GL reconciliations.
MoneySoft – Fixed Asset Pro
Fixed Asset Pro is an asset management and depreciation
calculation system designed for use either in-house by organizations or
for accounting professionals managing the asset tax strategies of multiple
entities. The program offers capabilities for managing multiple books
per asset, data import and export to common files and formats, and user
customization functions that allow tracking of miscellaneous data.

MRS Company Ltd. — WorthIT Fixed Assets
The WorthIT Fixed Assets system provides asset management and depreciation reporting
and projections, in compliance with GAAP and IFRS standards. The program, which
is designed to replace spreadsheets and complex systems, also offers powerful
capital budgeting and business management tools, allowing users to maintain
supervision of fiscal processes, and provides direct integration with several
business ERP systems.
Pro-Ware – Asset Keeper
Designed for public accountants managing the assets for multiple organizations
and individuals, Asset Keeper provides flexible and customizable functions for
depreciation management, asset location tracking and asset-life events. The
system offers global edits and mass action functions, and supports all traditional
depreciation treatments and conventions. Pro-Ware also offers professional programs
for trial balance, amortization, advanced business ratios, client contact management
and a 10-key calculator application.
Red Moon Solutions LLC — Fixed Assets Manager
Red Moon Solutions offers several corporate tax and asset management applications,
with the Fixed Assets Manager (FAM) system offering fixed asset tracking, depreciation,
compliance, planning and reporting capabilities. The program can manage any
number of individual or interrelated organizations, and supports all asset types
and classes. It also provides comprehensive tools for calculating depreciation
and is available as either a hosted solution or a traditionally installed on-premise
Sage – FAS 100 Asset Accounting
Sage North America offers several asset management
systems for commercial, governmental, educational and nonprofit organizations
in the United States and Canada, with support for GAAP and IFRS accounting
standards. The core program for business entities is Sage FAS 100 Asset
Accounting, which is built on Sybase database and can be used as a stand-alone
system to manage up to 10,000 assets.
Thomson Reuters – Fixed Assets
Fixed Assets CS is designed for professional accountants
managing the asset depreciation functions for multiple client entities.
The program, which can be used as a stand-alone system or integrated into
the CS Professional Suite of tax and accounting applications, provides
comprehensive depreciation, projection, inventory and reporting capabilities,
with automated calculations, asset departmentalization and extensive asset
life management features..
Wasp Barcode Technologies — MobileAsset
The MobileAsset system from Wasp Barcode Technologies combines advanced electronic
asset tracking capabilities with depreciation functions, allowing businesses
and other organizations to manage all real and tangible properties. As its name
implies, the system includes mobile smartphone functionality and integrates
with barcode scanning and labeling systems, which Wasp also produces.

Related Articles
As a tax and accounting professional, when you think
of fixed asset management your primary concerns like revolve around finding
the most strategic depreciation strategies that can help diminish your clients’
tax liabilities and helping them plan for future capital investment. But
location and condition of assets also plays a notable role, particularly
in their effects on potential property tax and insurance costs.

2010 Review of Fixed Asset Management Systems — Comparison Chart

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Column: Business in Practice