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Accountants providing contract accounting services require software tools different than those commercial, government, and non-profit organizations use to manage their own books. No matter what type of services your public accounting software offers, there are accounting software applications designed to help you more profitably meet the client’s needs.
Whether your business exclusively offers tax preparation services or provides full-spectrum accounting services, it’s important to maintain a profitable investment in software tools that allow you to accurately and efficiently perform your professional services. Typical tools for accountants include client write-up, auditing, tax preparation, payroll, and time and billing modules. Each of these modules are designed with the end-goal of managing 3rd party accounting more effectively and efficiently.
Accounting software designed for the professional accountant offers an advanced set of features beyond what is typically found in standard commercial accounting packages. One critical capability of software designed with the accountant in mind is the ability to handle accounting for numerous corporate entities. Your accounting business may have dozens or even hundreds of clients, whose financial data all needs to be accessed from the same software, yet kept completely separated. Increased security measures and a more complex database structure are two of the ramifications of managing books for multiple companies. Given the amount of data your business may store on clients, it’s important when considering different options, that you consider how the software handles tens of thousands of individual records. Even accountants with few clients can easily exceed the record capabilities of many non-accountant specific systems. The effects of overloading a system can include reduced performance (freezes, waiting on reports) and even system access issues.
Strong reporting features are critical for accountants. Accountants are constantly creating reports for clients. If clients can’t understand the reports, there is a major problem. Software designed for accountants typically offers additional report views distilling information into easily understandable formats such as executive reports, charts, and summary statements. Reports also need to be able created on an ad-hoc basis in order to answer questions that clients may have regarding their company’s financial performance.
Tax preparation is not straight-forward and simple. If it was, thousands of business likely wouldn’t outsource their tax preparation to accounting firms. The reality is that preparing corporate tax information is a highly complex process. Tax preparation software is designed to make the process easier by keeping updated tax tables, automatically performing complex calculations, and by assisting with electronic filing. No matter where you are or what local, state, provincial, or federal tax regulations apply, there are programs designed to help you quickly and accurately file your clients’ returns.
Public accounting firms are also on the front lines of keeping up with the accounting compliance regulations. Understanding FASB, GASB 34, IFRS, DCAA and other regulatory requirements is only part of the battle though for the public accountant. Software controls are constantly evolving to better meet the regulatory requirements of clients in different industries and access to the right tools can make the difference is securing clients with specific compliance requirements.
Data integrity is another area of paramount concern for public accountants. A company doing their own books has an opportunity to reverse entries as errors are discovered. This is not the case with public accountants. The expectation is 100% accurate information the first time around.
Software tools for accountants also focus on providing advanced security measures. Clients naturally have concerns about turning their data over to a 3rd party. It’s important for accountants to be able to identify specific measures included in software tools which can prevent fraud or loss of data.