When write-up isn’t right
BY TED NEEDLEMAN
The reason is simple — trial balance software addresses somewhat different needs.
Sure, you can perform trial balance types of
tasks, such as generating financial statements,
using write-up software. But if you do a considerable amount of different types of client
work, it’s more than likely that you could benefit from having both applications.
The most obvious use is to generate accurate financial statements as rapidly as
possible. Because trial balance software is
focused around the adjusted trial balance
report, making closing and adjusting entries
and quickly seeing the results makes trial
balance an attractive application. Pro forma
statements are also easier to prepare using
a trial balance application. And end-of-year
closings, with all of the necessary adjusting
and reclassifying entries, are usually much
easier using a trial balance package.
Entering and editing client data as an “on
ramp” to a tax prep package, either from a
write-up or bookkeeping application or from
batch entry of a client’s shoebox receipts, is
another area where trial balance earns its
keep in many practices. In fact, many tax
preparation vendors bundle in a trial balance
application with their tax prep software.
Another area where trial balance shines is
as an adjunct to audits and compilations. For
these, you will probably want the ability to
generate lead sheets and workpapers. Routing boxes are handy when you need multiple
staff/partner reviews. Some TB applications
even provide some degree of engagement
management. Elementary document/con-tent management is also a popular feature,
allowing you to scan and “paste” supporting
documents and records to transactions.
On the financial statement side, being able
to easily add footnotes and supporting statements is a feature than many practices will
appreciate, especially if the client’s financials
The heart of any trial balance application,
however, is the working trial balance report.
Exactly what this looks like, or how it’s used,
sometimes varies. At a minimum, it has columns for unadjusted debits and credits for
each general ledger account, columns for the
adjustments (and possibly explanations), and
a set of columns for the adjusted totals for
each account. Some practitioners prefer to
print out the working trial balance report and
make the adjustments initially by hand on the
report before entering them; others perform
this task directly within the application.
There are a number of vendors in this
space providing software that ranges from
free (when bundled in with tax prep software)
to fairly expensive. To give you a head start in
making your choice, we tested six trial balance applications using sample data from
the vendors, as well as importing, where possible, a current QuickBooks sample client. All
testing was done on a Lenovo T400s laptop
running Windows 7 Enterprise, typical of the
type of PC that you might use on your desk
or at a client.
You might think that, with the advent and popularity of compre-
hensive write-up software, trial balance applications would have
disappeared from the scene. That hasn’t happened, nor does it
appear to be likely at any time in the near future.
The leading trial balance software packages in 2010
ing entries for a client using QuickBooks or
Peachtree, you can import the client’s chart
of accounts from these applications. Reports
included in the application are all clear and
usable, and there are a number of different
trial balance report presentations available.
The available reports can be customized if
needed for specific uses. You can also feed
the output directly into a number of popular
tax prep packages.
Accounting Relief also has a number of features that make it attractive for audit, compilation and Sarbanes-Oxley work, including
leadsheets, workpapers and tick marks. Setting up a new client is fast and you can copy
templates for a sample client or a similar client that’s already set up. Accounting Relief
can also be configured for client data entry.
You will need some kind of Internet connection to use the software, and dial-up will
work, but you might find the responsiveness
One feature of Accounting Relief (as well
as other Accountants World applications) that
we’ve always found attractive is the pricing
model. For a yearly fee of $990 (or $99 per
month), you can use Accounting Relief for an
unlimited number of clients, and as either a
trial balance or write-up application depending on the client.
SAGE DEBUTS NONPROFIT
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Sage North America has
launched the Sage Nonprofit Online
Community, a Web location for the
company’s nonprofit and government
customers, business partners, employees, and others to connect and share
best practices and information. To date,
the community has attracted more than
1,000 members. The site features a blog,
forums, technology tools, industry news,
articles, webcasts and white papers, as
well as job postings.
For more, visit http://community.sage-nonprofit.com.
Part of a suite of accountant-oriented applications, including practice management,
payroll and others, which combine to form an
overall “Power Practice System,” Accounting
Relief, like the rest of the suite, is provided
online as a Software-as-a-Service package.
This provides a number of advantages. In
additional to not having to worry about upgrades and backups (though we still recommend backing up locally as well), Accounting
Relief is easily usable at a client site as long
as you have some sort of Internet-equipped
device and access to the Net.
When using Accounting Relief for trial balance, rather than for write-up, the data entry
screens allow very rapid batch data entry. If
you are using the application to make adjust-
ACCOUNTMATE’S SAAS VERSION
PETALUMA, CALIF. — AccountMate Software
has released a Software-as-a-Service version of its accounting applications, allowing users to access them from a remote
server on the Web and make custom
modifications to the hosted software.
AccountMate offers the standard accounting modules, along with customer
relationship management, business intelligence, business alerts, and Microsoft
Exchange e-mail and Office integration.
Approved third-party vertical market software can also be installed on the hosted
server. Clients can get all of the AccountMate offerings in a monthly subscription.
For more, visit www.accountmate.com.
Case Ware International Inc.
Some software offerings are easy to classify
as trial balance. Others are really write-up-oriented applications that are quite usable
in a trial balance situation. Working Papers
is somewhat the opposite. At its core, it’s oriented more towards use in a TB environment,
but powerful and extendable enough to be
comfortably used for write-up.
Conceptually, Working Papers uses a content management model, with different kinds
of forms and documents used to provide
the required base for tasks that need to be
performed for the client. Workpapers, lead
sheets, routing and tickmarks are all useful
in both a trial balance engagement and in
See TRIAL BALANCE on 27
ANOOWA ADDS ONLINE
CASH FLOW SYSTEM
NEW YORK — Anoowa Inc. has released
a Web-based cash-flow management
system for its billFLO product that gives
small businesses a forward-looking view
of their financial health.
The billFLO cash-flow management
system automates the gathering of income and expense data. Features include
a smartphone application for expense
report tracking; the ability to create customized views of finances; and integration with accounting systems — including QuickBooks, FreshBooks and more
— and with Google’s Gmail.
BillFLO customers pay a monthly fee
— starting at $20 a month — based on
how many employees use the system.
For more, visit www.billflo.com.