AccountantsWorld was the first major vendor to offer a totally web-based accounting system for professionals, offering its software-as-a-service Accounting Relief write-up system with the ability to manage any number of clients for a monthly or annual price. The system includes comprehensive features with full GL, trial balance, reconciliation, after-the-fact payroll and financial statement generation, along with options for integrated live payroll, document management, practice management and other client-focused services. The system also has a built-in client-side bookkeeping functionality that provides direct integration with the professional system while keeping the firm in complete control of the client accounting system and having access to live client data.
Basic System Functions
The web-based Accounting Relief system is designed to act as part of a firm’s website, with staff logging into a secure portal to access all of their professional programs and to manage clients. Any number of staff can work within the program concurrently, with safeguards preventing data overwrite. The initial login page also offers news and information and can be tailored to provide firm-specific announcements. The program provides intuitive client selection lists and, if also managing payroll and HR functions, offers the same general selection list designs for employees, with sort, filter and search functions.
Within client work screens, the interface offers horizontal links to key program areas, such as company information, banking data, sales, job costing, expenses, write-up, trial balance, financials, reports, utilities, integration and resources. Within each of these function areas, an additional horizontal links bar gives access to specific functions, such as working with transactions, making journal entries and performing account reconciliations.
During client setup, the firm can determine whether staff at the client company will be able to use the client-side bookkeeping features, and then can specify very specifically the functions that they are able to see and use. This allows firms to let some clients with greater knowledge of accounting processes manage or access more of their information than clients with less knowledge. During setup, users can select a company’s chart of accounts from more than 30 industry-standard templates, copy from another client’s chart structure, import from Excel, or create custom charts manually. A dashboard view is available that shows customizable details for a company’s data, such as overviews of sales and expenses, period comparisons, cash balances, recent transactions and other information. Alerts can be set up to notify the user of account balances, check entries and other conditions for which the firm wishes to more closely monitor. 4.75
Core Write-Up Features
Accounting relief offers multiple transaction entry options, including the ability to quickly enter by department, upload electronic transactions from bank or credit card statements or import data from client systems. If the client is using the integrated client-side small business bookkeeping solution, their data is live at all times in the professional program because both use the same database. Account data-entry screens offer heads-down entry with automatic offset accounts and memorized lists of vendors, customers and other data, helping minimize data-entry time. Users can also create custom transaction templates for recurring journal entries, while adjusting entries include options for reclassifying and federal. Accounting Relief provides the ability to drill down to the transaction level from trial balance and financial statements for audit and review purposes. Reconciliation processes are streamlined with the ability to upload electronic transactions from statements, although the system does not offer direct online integration with the financial institutions. Batch transactional edits are not as intuitively designed.
For either after-the-fact payroll or vendor payment purposes, the system’s checkwriting feature allows MICR printing to plain or preformatted check stock, but does not have options for including company logos/branding on checks. Nearly 30 financial ratios are available to help break down company financial activities, including working capital, AR to working capital, AR turnovers, inventory turnover, gross profit margins, return on assets and the Altman Z-Score. AccountantsWorld’s add-on programs for after-the-fact payroll and live payroll can be fully integrated with Accounting Relief and provide all state tax tables with full wage and information reporting, electronic filing capabilities, customizable deductions and accruals management. 4.5
Reporting & Financial Statements
Reporting functions are accessible from the main menu, with options grouped into categories for accounting, transactions and adjustments, registers, and general company output. These reports can be easily output to Excel and Word for more extensive customization and analysis, or saved directly to the AccountantsWorld CyberCabinet document management system. The system’s financial statement generation options provide quick access to balance sheets and income statements, with the ability to view drilldown-enabled versions on-screen, as well as options for cash flow formatting. The statements can be edited and customized using built-in word processing and spreadsheet tools, or can be output to Excel. With full AR and business management capabilities, Accounting Relief includes billing and invoicing utilities and can integrate with the Practice Relief program for additional practice management features. 4.75
One of the primary benefits of Accounting Relief is that it offers a built-in client bookkeeping solution that clients can access through a secure web interface for working with sales, checks, deposits or other tasks that the firm allows them to use. Since the data the clients are working with is the same data to which the firm has total live access, there is no need for data import or transfer for these clients, which keeps the firm in greater control, saves time and can increase data accuracy. For clients not using the small business bookkeeping system, Accounting Relief offers import from QuickBooks, Peachtree, Excel and delimited text files. Data can be exported to similar formats plus Word and PDF for transfer into tax, trial balance, payroll and other systems. The program also offers complete integration with the payroll, practice management and sales tax compliance programs offered by the vendor.
Accounting Relief is designed as a portal-based system, allowing for strong collaboration options between the firm and the client, as well as the option to provide clients with a bookkeeping solution that directly interfaces with the professional program. In addition to eliminating data transfer, this also enables electronic sharing of reports and other documents. When used with Website Relief, firms also get five firm-branded e-mail addresses. 5
The vendor recommends the web-based program be used with the Internet Explorer browser, but I also tested it on Firefox and Safari using an iPad and encountered no difficulties. From within the program, it provides activity-specific Help as well as a traditional Help index feature. The AccountantsWorld website includes training videos, webinars, white papers, a blog and an information portal that includes tax and accounting-specific news, research links and various practice tools. Live support is included with program pricing. 4.75
Summary & Pricing
Accounting Relief provides a comprehensive write-up package designed primarily for smaller practices with an excellent base feature set and very easy-to-use interfaces. Because the web-based system also includes a built-in business bookkeeping component that firms can tailor to the abilities of each of their clients, this can eliminate data transfers and downtime at client businesses, while giving the firm greater oversight and control over clients’ books. The system costs $99 per month or $990 per year. The addition of the client bookkeeping module costs $9.95 per month per client, but with the “first year special,” both Accounting Relief Pro and the Bookkeeping Module are available for $149 per month for unlimited clients.
2010 Overall Rating 4.75
See inside November 2010
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