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Practice Management Software

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#1
smtcpa  
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I am on the search again for Practice Management software. I don't think I am asking for the world, but feel like it sometimes. I just want it to be cloud-based/SaaS, have a client database, integrate with QBO, provide time and billing and have due date tracking and recurring tasks. And I don't want to have to pay for 10 users when I only need 2-3, like Karbon.

I've used Practice CS, OfficeTools Pro, JetPack and now Smartsheet. There has to be something out there. Anyone?
 

#2
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I heard jetflo integrates with Qbo.others don't. I highly suggest using xcm. We have been using it for 6 years, and would not be here today without it based on our growth. It does not integrate with Qbo. We're willing to forego this. Because it's reporting and task management and budgeting forecasting tools are exceptional. Good luck.
 

#3
smtcpa  
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Companies that don't post prices online tend to turn me off. Can I ask you what pricing looks like for xcm?

wwwcpa1biz wrote:I heard jetflo integrates with Qbo.others don't. I highly suggest using xcm. We have been using it for 6 years, and would not be here today without it based on our growth. It does not integrate with Qbo. We're willing to forego this. Because it's reporting and task management and budgeting forecasting tools are exceptional. Good luck.
 

#4
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Smt, we pay 600 a month and have around 20 users. We probably started paying 300 a month when we first started. Tell them Brian Wendroff with wendroff cpa referred you and see if you can get a discount. Trust me, the software works well and in the cloud. Good luck
 

#5
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Do you use XCM for Document Management? I am looking for a document management and work flow management (not very critical). More information on XCM functionality will be helpful.
 

#6
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Tax, we use efile cabinet for document management. They have both a cloud and server option to store the docs. We really like it. I suggest you call up XCM and ask for a demo, and look at their videos on the website.
 

#7
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My last employer used XCM this last season. We primarily used it to outsource bookkeeping to India, but we also tried to use it to track extensions etc. It is not user-friendly. Producing reports is not intuitive. Unless there is a module my former employer did not let me see, I do not see how one could use it for document management.
 

#8
BeckyG  
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I am also researching new Practice Management software. Have you looked at Clarity or Avii? Both are new to the market. I had a demo for Clarity and seems like a great product. I have Avii on the calendar next week.
 

#9
smtcpa  
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I finally settled on ClickUp. Almost went with Aero and Asana, but Clickup seems incredibly flexible and that is before their big new version 2.0 release coming soon.
 

#10
BeckyG  
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We're opting for Doc.It suite. Impressive product, affordable and ties document management/portal with workflow.
 

#11
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We’ve been using Doc.It for many years. It’s a nice program with excellent tech support and has allowed us to become paperless.

Some partners in the firm are starting to suggest that we leave Doc.It and go all in on the Thomson Reuters suite. We already use their Practice CS for time & billing, which evidently does a lot more than we realize, and we use their ACS program. Supposedly if you get all their programs and have them properly set up, you can become very efficient via the integration.

Wondering if anyone out there has gone from a patch-work set up to the TR suite and experienced positive results.
 

#12
smtcpa  
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Tax Me Up wrote:Wondering if anyone out there has gone from a patch-work set up to the TR suite and experienced positive results.


I went the other way, from using the entire suite to just UT. Once you realize how archaic the TR technology is, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing.
 

#13
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Has anyone found something decent, especially for small firms/sole practitioners? It's sad that so far, the best one I have found for minimizing integrations is Quickbooks Online Accountant Practice Manager. Aero looks decent but a bit complicated for my tastes, and I do not need all of the time tracking crap. I just want to track projects and and tasks by due date, by client, while minimizing redundant client data entry.

Came across a few others I like, but they lack integrations so I am not having to enter the same client information in multiple areas. I would just continue using tasks in Outlook, but I want to be able to track the individual components of each project, too.
 

#14
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In the grand scheme of things, Practice CS's integrations with other CS Suite software is not particularly large or valuable, when weighed against its drawbacks.

Specifically, Practice CS integrates as follows:

1. When you log Completed & Signed in UltraTax, it auto-triggers Complete on your Practice CS task.
2. Invoice totals from UltraTax flow into Practice CS, so you can match customer payments to invoices.
3. UltraTax and Practice CS have a "data sharing" dialog pop up when phone numbers etc change. This is two-way, and works just like the W-2 or K-1 etc data sharing in UltraTax.
4. Practice CS has icons next to your task that will launch UltraTax, Accounting CS, or any other EXE and will launch a timer that you can post to your timesheet when you're done.

That's about it. What's missing:

1. UltraTax due dates integration. You'll basically have to reconcile your UltraTax client lists with Practice projects list if you want assurance that you aren't missing due dates. Yikes.
2. Accounting CS due dates and data sharing. No shared phone numbers, and no assistance with due dates. You're going to have to "code up" recurring tasks in Practice CS, because Practice CS basically has no payroll/writeup/sales tax knowledge. Ouch.
3. Decent reports. You'll have to export to excel or due some heavy customizing if you want intuitive, high-impact reports out of this system.

In summary, there is minor timekeeping assistance (timer/EXE launcher), minor data sharing on phone numbers (but these get ugly and messy easily.. it's basically crufty data duplication), useful integration with UltraTax invoices, and a big lack of due dates integration. I.e., Practice CS is not built for accountants. It's just another enterprise "solution" lazily tacked onto some other programs.

The takeaway: there isn't really a "synergy" between Practice CS and the rest of the suite, so you're pretty free to look elsewhere, IMO.
 

#15
makbo  
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txtaxati wrote:In the grand scheme of things, Practice CS's integrations with other CS Suite software is not particularly large or valuable, when weighed against its drawbacks.
Specifically, Practice CS integrates as follows:[...]
That's about it. What's missing:

I last used Practice CS over 7 years ago, but it doesn't sound from your report like it has changed much.

One big thing you did not mention is the multi-user aspect. In the office where I worked with Practice CS, we could use the status reports to track progress on each project across the entire team.

It is a hurdle to implement, and the reporting while very powerful does require some advanced software skills. If anyone pays the annual fee simply based on what the sales person told them, they are probably over-paying.

Tax Me Up wrote:We already use their Practice CS for time & billing, which evidently does a lot more than we realize

That's my point -- you've been paying for features you aren't fully using, for whatever reason.
 

#16
wel  
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Firms with a small number of timekeepers (say <5) are less likely to see much benefit from the integration and reporting features of Practice CS. The value of these features increase dramatically with the number of staff members. When implemented properly, it can be a very valuable tool for managing a firm (particularly if you have 10+ timekeepers).
 

#17
smtcpa  
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BeckyG, Clarity looks interesting. Did you decide on anything?

BeckyG wrote:I am also researching new Practice Management software. Have you looked at Clarity or Avii? Both are new to the market. I had a demo for Clarity and seems like a great product. I have Avii on the calendar next week.
 

#18
Wiles  
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We use Practice CS for time and billing, but use Lacerte for tax software. We have 6 timekeepers year round and add 2 more during tax time. I agree with wel that, in a small firm, all you need is good communication to keep track of workflow and status. Using the software requires a high level of diligence by all and continuous monitoring by one. I do not believe the cost/benefit is there compared to just talking with your folks.

I appreciate txtaxati's comments about the integration features of the CS suite. We do not use any of this, so we have no knowledge. However, I do read comments on their forums about people turning off the integration due to being overwhelmed with nonsense.

I do know that Practice CS is no longer being developed and I figure it is only a matter of time before they abandon it like they did Practice Solutions a decade ago. Fortunately, we do not use any of the integration features so we stopped paying for their annual updates a few years back.
 

#19
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txtaxati wrote:The takeaway: there isn't really a "synergy" between Practice CS and the rest of the suite, so you're pretty free to look elsewhere, IMO.


My earlier post may not have come across quite right. My bottom-line point is that Practice CS's downsides are not clearly outweighed by its integrations upsides. So, don't limit your search for practice management software simply because you think tight integration is a killer feature, because Practice CS falls rather flat on that front.
 

#20
Spiral  
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We are currently implementing some SurePrep technologies to help fill the gap.

However, some of those solutions mentioned, Clarity or ClickUp, for example look like they could add additional value as well.
 

#21
cdebts  
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I hate to resurrect a dead thread, but rather than create another with a nearly identical topic of discussion, I'm posting here. Let me know if I should create a new one instead.

I am looking for Practice Management Software, but have been specifically looking for something that will integrate with QuickBooks Desktop. (Specifically QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions: Accountant)

We are a small bookkeeping, payroll and tax services firm (4 employees including myself and my wife) and we have been managing clients deadlines and statuses with excel spreadsheets. For example, one for reconciliations, another for payroll liabilities, another for franchise tax reports, etc. So that we can see where everyone is in one place... however, it's not one place, it's many places, and we have to be careful to keep data consistent. This is not good practice, and I'm looking for software that will do this is a more secure and automatic fashion. To me, this would meet our greatest current "practice management" needs.

Since I have been looking at software that integrates with QB Desktop, it seems like OfficeTools Workspace is the only option I have found that will integrate with our software. We also use Drake Tax, but that doesn't integrate with OfficeTools, so if there is sufficient reason to abandon the integration aspect for a better practice management software, I'm all ears!

Suggestions?
 

#22
Wiles  
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In my biased opinion, the initial pursuit of integration is done for the sake of efficiency & productivity. This soon turns into the pursuit of integration for the sake of integration.
 

#23
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I am seriously considering OfficeTools Workspace for the QBD and LaCerte integrations, along with Office 365/Exchange. Unfortunately, I have not had time to look into its cost and have a call with the company for a demo.

Many are on the market, and most, IMO, are seriously overpriced for what they do. I do know I am tired of tracking things in Excel spreadsheets and having to update client information in each software rather than having it automated via integrations.
 

#24
cdebts  
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Wiles, I agree with your sentiment, which is exactly why I came here looking for opinions on different practice management software offerings. I don't want to stick to an integrated or on-premise solution simply for the sake of integration if there is a better or more cost-effective solution available.

CornerstoneCPA, I am in the same boat with you. However, I believe the demo of OfficeTools is only for the cloud based solution, which does not integrate with QBD, just QBO. They do not seem to have a demo of their on-premise software so I can try it out. We have Office 365/Exchange and QB Enterprise Desktop (Accountant).

It took me nearly a year to decide on a solution to move our on-premise servers to a cloud solution, and I found one that allowed me to maintain complete control of the back-end and not be stuck in someone's proprietary solution, which also saves us considerable cost considering the astronomical prices of many cloud solutions. Fortunately, I have a 20+ year IT background, which gives me a considerable advantage in managing our technology. I just don't want to have to maintain and replace servers anymore.
 

#25
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Sorry for the derail but I have a practice grossing half a mil and I have little idea following what you are all even talking about.

We each keep a spreadsheet of client status' and we have admin personnel downloading and sorting uploads for us. Bill.com for billing (recently). QBD for our few clients that want some books. Google calendar for scheduling.

Am I missing something important? What does this do that I'm not doing (or wasting too much time doing)?

Thanks.
 

#26
Gr8ful  
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ItDepends...Congrats on building a strong business. I believe where this thread has turned is that others are integrating the work flow you have on your spreadsheets. This way al of the work for you office is in one spot, cloud based and not on a desktop application. It doesn't mean it is better, just another option.

I can say I almost pulled trigger on taxaroo or taxdome which seem like good products but stuck with excel with macros for now.
 

#27
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ItDepends wrote:Sorry for the derail but I have a practice grossing half a mil and I have little idea following what you are all even talking about.


For me, it is having tasks and the ability to make changes and even add/update calendar events in a single place. I can pull in relevant e-mails. I can view status of tax returns at a glance and practice management can help update contact details across Outlook, LaCerte, Quickbooks, etc.

Currently, I use Outlook Tasks for non-tax items. I have a spreadsheet that tracks client tax return status. I invoice out of Quickbooks Desktop. If a client has a phone number or address change, I have to update it across Outlook, Quickbooks, and LaCerte. Too much room for error, overlooking something, etc.
 

#28
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cdebts wrote:CornerstoneCPA, I am in the same boat with you. However, I believe the demo of OfficeTools is only for the cloud based solution, which does not integrate with QBD, just QBO. They do not seem to have a demo of their on-premise software so I can try it out. We have Office 365/Exchange and QB Enterprise Desktop (Accountant).


They sent me some links, but they do have personalized demos. Here is a link to Workspace demo, but skip to about the 7 minute mark because that is when it actually begins: https://abacusnext.wistia.com/medias/vkdji5zoid

Other links:

Portal - https://abacusnext.wistia.com/medias/j0ujhquxqh
Activity list - https://abacusnext.wistia.com/medias/y5zks3xy3s
Integrations - https://abacusnext.wistia.com/medias/mcxdm9qg7r
 

#29
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I just started using Financial Cents. It is very similar to Jetpack, which I just closed. It is worth a look if you want to try out something along the same style.
 

#30
Wiles  
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ItDepends, What do you use for time tracking?
 

#31
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Do you mean to charge the client? We charge a flat rate by the form, by the amount of employees, by how much support the client needs with biz deductions (different flat amounts) , by the transaction for books, and we only charge by the hour if the client needs extra time and we pick a reasonable amount.

I'll also quote by feel and adjust either way if im wrong.

There are pros and cons of this method of course and they have been discussed elsewhere many times.

We only have one key preparer/bookkeeper and we provide an hourly on the clock amount plus a flat commission. If our admin is key in completing work, I just give them a bonus for it.

What would be the very most popular management software so I can YouTube it and check it out?

Again, sorry if derailing.


PS. For our spreadsheets, etc, we have them in the cloud so anyone can update/view.
 

#32
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I would have concerns with maintaining just a spreadsheet for something so key as project management and deadlines. Especially, when there are tools out there that do a better job with MUCH better controls to minimize errors.
~Captcook
 

#33
KRHCO  
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I have a couple broker dealers as clients. They all us a program called Brokers Ally.

I tried it and I like it. I use the Standard version. I found the cost to be very reasonable.

See https://www.allycrm.com/ally-crm-products/brokers-ally/
 

#34
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For project/task tracking I use Airtable. You create your own database with the exact data points you want to track.
 

#35
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I'm seriously contemplating implementing OfficeTools Workspace. I like the cost and features, but I also do not want to implement it during middle of busiest period, plus I need to clean up my contacts. At $600 setup/training cost plus $59/mo/user cost, it is hard to beat the functionality from what I have seen so far...
 

#36
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What do you like about it? The website is a little vague on features.
 

#37
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ManVsTax wrote:What do you like about it? The website is a little vague on features.


The fact that their Workspace version integrates with my e-mail, Lacerte, and QBD. It would eliminate me having to update contact info in all three systems, I can easily view status of various things for each client, or what needs to be done and due dates, I can save documents within OfficeTools for each client if I do not want to maintain them elsewhere.

Biggest thing I need is ensuring contact details are updated easily across my software and then managing tasks and due dates, eliminating spreadsheets. If I update a contact in Outlook, it updates QBD and Lacerte, or if an update occurs in QBD, it pushes it out to Lacerte and my e-mail contacts. There are other benefits but that is primarily what I am seeking, and OfficeTools Workspace is one of the only practice management systems that integrates with QBD--most require QBO. It is also fairly priced, IMO.

Included, also, is a portal, esignatures, etc. You can set it up to accept client payments (cannot recall processor, but I am not interested in this function right now). While I would not implement those at this time, I like that I have such options and it all resides within OfficeTools.

Finally, there is a mobile app. While the functionality is pretty limited, I can see and create tasks and that is my primary goal for a mobile app connected to practice management software.
 

#38
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Thanks. I can see the value in that. Unfortunately it looks like it doesn't integrate with my current software choices.
 

#39
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The firm I used to work for implemented Office Tools. A cursory look at the website seems like the software still looks roughly the same. I'm sure a competently-run firm could have implemented it better, but suffice it to say there are a lot of reasons that I am no longer there.

I have a few pieces of advice which would probably be applicable no matter what package you use, but seems important with OT.
1 - Integrations between software packages are never as good as claimed.
2 - Your workflow needs to change to match how OfficeTools thinks; attempting to try to make OT think like your current workflow will not succeed.
3 - Think very carefully about implementing server database software programs in 2021. There are a lot of reasons that software is moving to the cloud, and you will be setting up a system that explicitly goes against that trend and it's a decision you will live with for a long time (or face a transition).
4 - Make sure that your computer consultant is on board with this because OT is very resource-intensive and you may need additional network resources. I always felt that OT was bloated and I can't imagine that seven years of additional features being added would help that aspect.
5 - For implementation you will need a project manager, whether that is you or someone else in your firm, and you will want to offload tasks to others in your firm so that implementation can get the attention it needs. (This is good advice for any software implementation) Post implementation, you will need a person who, as a part of their job, is actively managing this. Even during tax season. Especially during tax season. A year after I left, my former firm hired a person who spent half their time (for a firm of 10) in this role, and it was probably the first smart thing they did in their implementation.
6 - You need to get your entire team on board with a practice management solution. This demands trust and open communication about what the benefits and drawbacks will be. If you don't have this bit, you will fail.
 


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