Skip to main content


Innovate or Perish: 2013 Innovation Awards Go Mobile and SaaS

Desktop Software Nowhere to be Seen at 2013 Innovation Awards


From the July 2013 issue.

“Is anybody even developing new desktop software anymore?”

That question came from Executive Editor Darren Root, CPA.CITP, as he was preparing to present CPA Practice Advisor’s 10th annual Tax and Accounting Technology Innovation Awards during a reception in June at the California Accounting and Business Show in Los Angeles.

Over the past decade that the awards have been presented, there has been a very noticeable movement by professionals, small businesses and consumers alike toward increased use of mobile and web-based technologies. That evolution definitely isn’t slowing down, as all five of the Innovation Award winners and all five of the Award Finalists this year were presented to companies for online programs or mobile apps.

The 2013 winners are: CCH Axcess; the Doc.It Suite; the NetClient CS mobile app from Thomson Reuters; Intuit’s QuickBooks Online for iPad; and SmartVault for QuickBooks Online.

The five finalists for the 2013 Innovation Awards were also recognized: ADP Smart Compliance; AICPA Navigator from CPA2Biz; the BNA Income Tax Planner Web system; CertCapture from Avalara; and

The Innovation Awards were first presented in 2004, and serve to honor new or recently enhanced technologies that benefit tax and accounting professionals and their clients through improved workflow, increased accessibility, enhanced collaboration or other means.

“Technology has been a driving force behind the significant advances that professionals have made in productivity, and enhancements in workflow efficiency have been at the core of this evolution,” said Root, who is also the managing partner of the Bloomington, Indiana, accounting firm Root & Associates, LLC, and is CEO of RootWorks, LLC.

“With increasingly mobile lifestyles, it is not surprising that this year’s award winners and finalists are all cloud-based, since professionals have come to expect full access to their programs and data anywhere, at any time, and from whatever device they prefer to use.”

Award winners are selected by CPA Practice Advisor’s editorial board and awards committee, which include thought leaders and professionals from across the country. The publication, along with its digital content and interactive media, is the leading independent source of practice management resources and technology information for tax and accounting professionals in public practice.

2013 Innovation Award Winners

CCH Axcess
The latest innovation from CCH is Axcess, a completely cloud-based system that includes modules for all areas of professional accounting firm services and internal management and that, for the first time, offers a singular database across every aspect of the system. The system includes modules for tax compliance, document management, client portals, practice management and workflow optimization.

“CCH is honored to win the prestigious CPA Practice Advisor Innovation Award,” said Teresa Mackintosh, Executive Vice President & General Manager of Tax for Thomson Reuters. “It is exciting to celebrate both 100 years serving the Profession of Public Accounting and still be driving truly revolutionary innovation in helping our firms grow, manage, and protect their business.”

Doc.It Suite
Doc.It Suite was awarded a 2013 Innovation Award based on numerous innovations during the last 18 months, evidence of the company’s continuing research and development efforts to help accounting firms standardize and ease document management with workflow. These include the addition of new workflow tools, web portals, cloud-based technologies, PDF editor, publishing functions, dashboards, search functions, reporting and the new Binder Explorer utility.

“Everyone at Doc.It is excited and honored to win the CPA Practice Advisor Innovation Award,” said Brock Philp, President and CEO of Doc.It. “We fully recognize we are amongst tough competition. A key part of Doc.It’s culture, and what makes our company excel in this industry, is our customer-driven product management philosophy which results in constant and interactive discussions with our customers on a daily basis.”

NetClient CS Mobile App
The first mobile app of its kind, NetClient CS mobile lets accounting firms give their clients mobile access to the services and content that the accounting firm performs for them. Clients can access tax returns, financial statements, and other documents that have been pushed to NetClient CS by the firm, as well as online accounting and payroll services and more. The firm-branded app makes real-time collaboration between accountants and their clients easier, more automated and more convenient.  

“The NetClient CS mobile app opens a whole new set of possibilities for how accounting firms connect and collaborate with their clients,” said Scott Fleszar, vice president, strategic marketing, for the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. “From viewing and sharing finished reports, statements, and tax returns, receiving messages and news from the firm to payroll time entry and check stubs, our new mobile app makes it much easier for firms to serve their clients and solve problems from anywhere.” 

Intuit QuickBooks Online for iPad
The Intuit QuickBooks Online for iPad app helps small businesses work more productively, wherever they are by bringing the most widely-used small business cloud accounting solution to one of the world’s most popular tablet. It includes useful on-the-go business task functions in an easy-to-use, friendly native iPad app that leverages device features, including integration with the camera, contacts, notifications and location services, to save small businesses time on key business tasks.

“When the iPad came out, we saw it as an incredible opportunity to solve our customers’ needs even better,” said Will Lynes, senior product manager, QBO for iPad. “Portable and simple, we envisioned an accounting product that would let more small business owners than ever before be successful with QuickBooks. We aimed to eliminate the learning curve and make a product so easy and beautiful that small business owners would want to use it.”

SmartVault received one of this year’s awards by taking its patented Toolbar technology for QuickBooks and extending support to QuickBooks Online. For the first time, users of QuickBooks Online can now attach and view source documents (such as receipts, bills, and invoices) directly from within QuickBooks Online. SmartVault is the first to deliver this type of “attach and view” document management functionality integrated seamlessly into the QuickBooks Online interface. Currently, QuickBooks Online does not offer this functionality to its users.

“Our vision at SmartVault has always been to find ways to inject technology directly into applications that businesses already use in order to create more efficient workflows and ultimately increase the value of that application to the customer,” stated SmartVault founder and CEO, Eric Pulaski. “It’s incredibly exciting for us to see this vision become a reality for thousands of customers and an honor to be recognized by CPA Practice Advisor for our efforts. It’s a huge win for the entire SmartVault team.”

2013 Innovation Award Finalists

ADP Smart Compliance
This unified, cloud-based platform helps accounting departments better manage tax, employment and payroll compliance. ADP SmartCompliance helps mitigate company risk, improve efficiency and drive growth. It provides cross-service dashboards to quickly assess the status of multiple business areas and take immediate action

AICPA Navigator from CPA2Biz
CPA Navigator is a state-of-the-art learning management system designed to advance the professional development of CPAs. It automates tracking of compliance and competency requirements and helps professionals and firm administrators spot gaps in training and map out career development paths. The cloud-based system’s content can be accessed anytime, whenever it is most convenient for them, and firms can also schedule on-site training. Administrators can set up alerts, assign requirement courses and suggest appropriate programs to build specific skills for staff members and groom promising employees for leadership posts.

BNA Income Tax Planner Web
BNA’s desktop system has long been recognized as one of the premier tax planning systems. In April 2012, Bloomberg BNA launched a SaaS edition, BNA Income Tax Planner Web, that made the solution even more powerful. BNA Income Tax Planner Web allows professionals to efficiently show clients their tax situation with in-depth analysis and comparison of multiple, side-by-side scenarios for federal, all resident states, NYC, DC, and over 30 nonresident states. Always in compliance, it provides anytime, anywhere web access to the most accurate, up-to-date calculations and analysis.

CertCapture from Avalara
The CertCapture system offers advanced, online document management tools for collecting, managing and retaining sales tax exemption certificates; reporting and analysis of tax status; and audit exposure. Built for any size business, Avalara CertCapture databases easily scale into the millions to meet the storage demands of even the largest corporations. The system is ideal for groups with resources in multiple locations and can be configured for each business entity in a multi-level environment.’s electronic audit confirmation solutions were recently expanded its include a new electronic AR/AP Confirmation application. Until now, auditors created AR/AP confirmation requests using some type of mail merge functionality and sent those out to responding entities by mail, email or some other delivery method with little or no ability to track responses or monitor for fraud. This new product offering transforms the outdated mail-merge process into a much more efficient one with the following time-saving and fraud control features:


Nominations for the 2014 Innovation Awards will open around mid-January 2014. To qualify, a technology must be less than two years old or have been substantially revised during the past two years, it must be in full release (not Beta), and it must be actively marketed to tax and accounting professionals.