Making Write-Up a Success
by Tom C. Davis, CPA
1999 has seen an upsurge in
interest in write-up software by CPA firms. This interest has been
spurred by the transition of firms to a 100% Windows environment
(write-up has been the last significant DOS application in many firms),
as well as the continued shrinking numbers of vendors offering write-up
software. The AICPA, a major player in this market with its DOS
ATB Write-up system, sold ATB to Creative Solutions, who will not
support ATB Write-up after November of this year.
So basically, there is a need to
fix “sick” or “dying” applications. However, firms should
take this as an opportunity to look at the write-up portion of their
practices and make changes that will make this a more profitable
The write-up process has several
components: transaction summarization, after-the-fact payroll tax return
processing, bank account reconciliation, and interim period, compiled
financial statement preparation. Additionally, year-end write-up
data is used in conjunction with preparing tax returns and higher level
In many practices, write-up is the
least profitable practice area but is viewed as a “necessary evil.”
Typically, write-up services are “fixed fee” and are performed at
lower billing rates, thereby generating lower fees per staff person.
In recent years, write-up practices have not been increasing in
profitability (in fact, just the opposite, they are becoming less
profitable) or in size. It seems that in many cases, for every new
write-up client gained, one is lost. Additionally, like every
other area of CPA firm practice, write-up staff are scarce, hard to
retain, and increasingly expensive.
There are several ways to improve
the write-up department. The most critical change firms can make
is to increase the planning and documentation related to write-up
engagements. This will accomplish two things. First there
will be a better understanding of the effort (time) required to perform
the service. This will allow the firm to make informed pricing
decisions when offering these services. Additionally a detailed,
well-documented plan will make it possible to compare actual results to
the planned ones. Differences between the plan (budget) and the
actual results may indicate a bad initial plan (you can learn from these
mistakes) or they may point to additional services that should result in
The write-up plan should contain
details about the deliverables (reports, financial statements, etc.),
the information to be provided by the client (including the expected
quantities of checks, bank accounts, employees, etc.), and information
about the amount of time it should take to do each step in the plan.
This plan should be compared to actual results (use the practice
management system for this), and the plan should be continually revised
to reflect changes in the work performed.
Now you have a plan and are
comparing it to actual results. This provides all the information
needed for management to make changes to increase work efficiency.
This information will also provide the information needed to charge
clients for additional services rendered when the work increases or is
not provided to the firm in the agreed on manner.
Another way of improving write-up profitability is to select a product that can be used in the clients’ office and then submitted to the CPA electronically. Some firms substitute an “off-the-shelf” general ledger package for this purpose. Firms that use general ledger packages for traditional write-up services develop knowledge and skills that allow them to offer integration services on the packages to their clients. Now you have a new service that can produce substantial revenues. The downside here is that general ledger packages typically are more complex and may require more training to get staff effectively using the general ledger tools.
The Versatile Group uses a three
dimensional approach to solving the needs of the professional
accountant. The Certiflex Dimension Client Write-up is a
comprehensive accounting software package that integrates with Certiflex
Dimension business accounting software and popular tax software.
A Client Data Entry feature, that
the accountant can load at any number of locations at no additional
charge, allows clients to enter their own transactions for transfer,
review and editing in the accountant's system. With popular
network compatibility, the Certiflex Dimension Client Write-Up is
extremely flexible while remaining quick to set up and both easy to
learn and use. The accountant can edit client transactions prior
to entry. Client's data can be transferred via diskette or
communication link. An uncomplicated menu system incorporates many
functions and hot-key features for speed of operation and input.
Certiflex Dimension uses batch
entry to allow the user to enter and edit all transaction types without
changing screens. Data entry is enhanced by the use of shortcut
keys to minimize keystrokes, use of a numeric keypad, add employees,
vendors and ledger accounts on the fly, increments prior reference
numbers and dates, and the program keeps running totals by batch,
journal entry or hash totals. Check entry for vendor transactions
allows the user to setup automatic multiple general ledger accounts and
percentage distributions. In addition, the user has the ability to
undo, change or void any posted batch. The program's non-batch
entry allows recurring entries with optional reversing, supports
percentage entries for automatic overhead or accrual posting, and all
transactions submitted online.
The report writer adjusts to any level of detail. Certiflex Dimension includes multiple industry specific chart-of-accounts and financial statement templates. Financial statements include a statement of cash flows using either the direct or indirect method. The program allows users to exclude accounts with zero balances, process multiple currency types, summarize account detail and print financials for any period, day or range of days. The report writer module automatically departmentalizes financial statements. Reports can be printed for a range of clients, selected clients or by a cycle number. Increased capabilities allow even further control over presentation, headings, and total levels.
After-the-Fact payroll and payables prints Federal
forms including the 941's, W-2's, Magnetic Media W-2's, W-3's and
1099's. Certiflex Dimension reports employee and vendor history
including optional general ledger distribution. The program can
manage up to twenty-six different earnings and deduction categories such
as 401K, tips, bonuses and insurance, and provides each employee up to
four tax tables for both city and state, including unemployment for each
Certiflex Dimensions offers the accountant client control, which tracks client activity and manager responsibilities (budget vs. actual), contains a user defined information database that helps manage key information on each client, and each client's data location is user definable.
EasyACCT Professional Series
TaascFORCE offers an extensive
suite of accounting applications in the EasyACCT Professional Series.
The EasyACCT Professional Series includes write-up (including after the
fact payroll), service bureau payroll, asset depreciation and
management, bank reconciliation, loan amortization, accounts receivable,
accounts payable, and MICR-encoded check writing. This unique
package combines a multitude of modules into a single write-up engine.
Transactions are entered into
EasyACCT Professional Series using transaction, payroll, and sales
journal screens. The system supports on-the-fly editing and
addition of account, employee, and vendor information. The
Write-up module provides immediate access to all current and prior year
transactions. The module will handle an unlimited number of
To help accountants meet the
in-house accounting needs of their clients, TaascFORCE offers the
EasyACCT Business System (EBS) application. EBS is designed to
allow small businesses to write their own MICR-encoded checks, enter
transactions and handle other accounting activities. This data can then
be imported into EasyACCT Professional Series for further processing.
Export and import connectivity to other software is available in
delimited, text and fixed-length formats.
The system can create and customize
a multitude of financial statements from EasyACCT’s Write-Up
module. Pre-formatted financial statements can be modified to meet
the needs of a specific client. EasyACCT Professional Series can
automatically prepare supporting schedules for any line on the financial
statements. EasyACCT Professional Series can also produce graphs
of financial information to accompany the statements. The program
will store up to 3 years of information in the G/L to run comparative
current and prior year financial statements.
The payroll processing capabilities
of EasyACCT Professional Series include laser generated checks with MICR-encoding,
direct deposit, automatic deductions, time card calculator, tipped
employee calculations, and much more. The program will produce
Employees and account information
can be added or changed on the fly. The Electronic Funds Transfer
module allows electronic filing of tax deposits and direct deposit of
payroll checks. The program handles multiple pay rates and
overtime calculations automatically.
EasyACCT Professional Series' asset
depreciation module calculates five bases of depreciation including
Federal tax, book, state tax, alternative minimum tax, and another
basis. The depreciation module has one convenient data entry
screen for entering the necessary asset information. The program
handles an unlimited number of assets that can be maintained by group
and location. The program will produce comparative reports,
property tax reports, projections, and IRS forms 4562 and 4797.
Depreciation information can be transferred to the write-up system at
TaascFORCE has bank reconciliation and loan amortization utilities that enhance the basic capabilities of EasyACCT Professional Series. The bank reconciliation module imports cash disbursements, cash receipts and deposits from the various EasyACCT modules. The bank transactions are downloaded from information compiled by the bank. The program will automatically match and clear entries and calculate a “proof of cash”. It provides extensive on-screen help which is available for each data entry field. Data entry is further enhanced by a popup list of bank accounts so that the user can point and click to select the appropriate account. The loan amortization and annuity utility will calculate APR's, fixed or adjustable rate mortgages, and other information.
XPert Write-up for Windows
XPert Write-Up for Windows
95/98/NT version 7.11+ is a subset of the XPert Financials complete
accounting line and may be run standalone or as an integrated module.
The complete XPert Write-Up system includes After the Fact Payroll,
Integrated Bank Reconciliation, and W-2 and 1099 Laser Processing.
The XPert Write-Up program is a
date sensitive system, which allows all reports including ledgers,
journals, and payroll reports to be printed for any date range at any
point in time during the year. Other features include automatic
integration with Microsoft Word and Excel. Import functions allow
you to import your clients' general ledger transactions from QuickBooks
and Quicken for review and posting.
In XPert's Client Write-up,
journal entries may be entered manually into user defined Journals.
Separate journals may be created for each bank account allowing for
separate journal and Bank Reconciliation reports. Journals can be
reviewed, edited, and posted at anytime. Date sensitive
transactions are updated to the correct accounting periods. With
multiple transactions displayed during Journal Entry, the user can catch
errors right on the screen. The user can make prior period
adjustments at any time. Prior year statements are automatically
updated. You can unpost journals, make your corrections and
re-post with full audit control. The program can automatically
increment or duplicate check numbers. When you are disbursing a
check to multiple G/L accounts, the net check displays for maximum
The user can establish ranges for
the chart-of-accounts to tremendously speed setup. Bank
transactions are automatically created as a by-product of journal entry
aiding in bank account reconciliation. New global features now
allow local and network printers to be defined and assigned to specific
users as their default printer. Printer names can now be given
long obvious descriptions and their locations defined using standard
path locations. Based on the size of the report and the type of
printer being used, reports are automatically printed in either normal
or compressed format. Reports can be redirected to the console and
automatically displayed in Wordpad or a user defined word processor.
The user can then use all the features available within the word
processor to edit the document. Reports may even be directed to a
fax machine if one has been defined as an output device on your system.
Budget reports comparing actual to
budgeted amounts allow for detail variance analysis reporting. The
user can design up to 9,999 financial reports or modify Micronetics
predefined financial formats. The module allows you to determine
dollar sign placement, floating or fixed, single or double underlining,
titles, totals, or no-print accounts, for a typeset quality
In the Bank Reconciliation module,
the operator runs the "clear transactions" indicating which
checks have cleared the bank. The operator then runs the Bank
Reconciliation Report. Bank Reconciliation module maintains up to
the instant bank balances. As with other modules, the Bank
Reconciliation module is fed by all the other modules. The user
enters transactions that are not accommodated in other modules.
For example, bank charges and interest are the primary entries needed.
The Bank Reconciliation module can even be used to record non-sales
receipts or recording a cash drawer overages and shortages. You
can purge transaction data that has been cleared. Bank Maintenance
allows you to create new Bank Accounts. The Year-End Transaction
Purge purges only transactions that have been cleared up to a specified
The XPert Payroll module maintains
employee information, calculates taxes, handles voluntary deductions,
prints checks and other payroll functions with a minimum effort.
The use of unlimited user-defined custom employee pay and deduction
options, combined with comprehensive customizable calculation methods,
allow complex payroll situations to be easily accommodated.
Additionally, Federal and state forms are available such as FUTA (940),
941, W-2, W-2P, W-3 and SUTA.
XPert's Payroll module's
comprehensive reporting of compensation and pension plans, as well as
its ability to handle employee non-standard deductions and earnings,
makes this a powerful system. The Automatic Pay Generator
function, with selective and exception processing by periods, employees
and departments, takes the labor out of preparing checks. And, if
your company uses an automated time ticket system, you can also import
that information into the system. With XPert Financials Payroll
modules simplified streamlined processes, extensive detailed audit
trails and custom reporting/analysis options; your personnel department
will understand the organization's productivity.
Tax-Link 2000 included in XPert
Client Write-up module provides a sophisticated solution for accounting
firms preparing Federal, state and local returns. Data flows from
XPert system into an ASCII file allowing for importing into your tax
software for the preparation of client business tax returns.
The complete XPert Financials
product line provides an immediate solution for mid size businesses.
Version 7.11+ introduces many changes to provide standard Windows
functionality and appearance while maintaining the reliability and
consistency from all prior versions of XPert. XPert Financials
business modules are available on multiple platforms, operating systems,
and databases. XPert provides second-generation benefits such as
application partitioning and deployment for client/server, over both the
Internet and private Intranets. All features of XPert Financials
are available in XPert Client Write-up.
XPert Client Write-up includes a complete CD based multi-media and Tutorial and Training guide which users computer video, voice and sound allowing new users to learn the system quickly and easily. Each phase of XPert is covered including Setups, Entry, Financial generation, ATF Payroll, Bank Reconciliation, as well as all other functions of XPert's Write-up. In addition, XPert includes multiple sample chart-of-accounts for quick client set-up and provides the ability to duplicate and modify any chart-of-accounts when setting up new clients. Other features include automatic backup and restore of clients, user and client time-keeping functions, and built in calculator and calendar.
GL*32 is the cornerstone of
UNITY*32,UniLink's 32-bit Windows suite of integrative Practice
Management, Professional Accounting, and General Accounting Software for
accounting professionals and their clients. It is also the
foundation for Write-Up*32, the client write up portion of UNITY*32.
The Unity*32 line will grow to include Time and Billing, Client Write
Up, Due Date Monitoring, Remote Time Entry, General Ledger, Payroll,
A/R, A/P, Checkbook Management, MICR Check Encoding, Loan Amortization,
and more. While UNITY*32 includes much of the functionality as the
*Plus series, it is a completely new series, rewritten from the ground
up to take full advantage of 32-bit Windows operating systems.
UnLink's GL*32 can efficiently
handle simple to complex general ledger clients. The program is
designed to take full advantage of Windows 95, 98 and NT operating
systems. As the accounting center of UNITY*32, GL*32 processes,
organizes and summarizes your accounting data and presents the results
in clear, informative reports and financial statements.
Client set up allows up to a
twenty-digit account number with up to five levels including general
accounts, departments, sub-departments, locations, and sections.
The user has the following entity options: sole proprietor, partnership,
corporation, S-corporation, fund, limited liability company, and limited
liability partnership. Account ranges can be customized for
balance sheet and income statement accounts. Clients can be
processed monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually or thirteen
The program allows the user to work
in any period and in any year. Data entry can be customized for
input order preferences. Accounts and departments can be added
immediately during data entry. Journal entries can be balanced
with a single keystroke. The program offers eleven comprehensive
financial statement formats. Financial reports can be run for any
period and in any open year.
The UNITY*32 line is in
development. Current offerings include TB*32, professional time
and billing, Cashlink*32, a checkbook management application to be used
by a firm’s clients. The accounting side of UNITY*32 will grow
to include integrative write up, accounts receivable, accounts payable,
payroll and other accounting modules.
Currently available with Cashlink*32 and GL*32 is Workshop*32, a client management program that enables UNITY*32 users to manage their client lists and launch programs. Workshop*32 is currently included with GL*32 and Cashlink*32 purchases.
The Client Accounting and
Bookkeeping System for Windows (WinCABS) is a blend of sophisticated
software features that you expect in a high-end write-up software
program with the many ease-of-use tools found in a Window's product.
The result is an innovative, multi-client accounting system for CPA's
and accounting professionals that can be used to meet the most
sophisticated client requirements.
General ledger processing enables
users to summarize and report current and historic ledger detail,
including trial balance and sophisticated cash flow reports for business
managers. The current General Ledger can maintain detail for 12
periods and reports can be generated at any time for any month or range
In Journal entry, you can customize
the order of the data entry fields to match your input source.
Posting of general ledger data is instant and each entry is posted as it
is entered or changed. The program allows the user to enter
previous balances for comparative reports. Data can be posted into
prior closed periods and corrected reports can be run on-demand.
Pop-up windows provide quick access to account, employee and vendor
information. New accounts, employees, and vendors can be entered
on the fly right from the data entry screen.
The user can utilize the
"drill-down" feature to view any transaction with the click of
a mouse provides immediate inspection of all entries for a particular GL
account. Client Batch Processing automates processing by allowing
the user to "pre-select" a full set of journals, trial balance
reports, general ledger and financial statements to print in one batch,
all with one click of the mouse.
WinCABS provides after-the-fact
accumulation, storage, and distribution of employee payroll and
1099-vendor information. This sub-system is directly integrated
with the general ledger. Payroll batch processing enables all
clients for a single payroll reporting form to be processed in one run.
Print payroll reports for any single client, range of clients, or all
clients. Government payroll reports can be printed by laser on
pre-printed forms or on plain paper. The program allows for
separate processing of payroll and general ledger.
A full range of financial
statements, cash flow statements, budgets, comparisons, engagement
letters, sales tax returns can be designed using the WinCABS Report
Writer. Historic reports and comparisons can access data for up to
twenty-six prior periods. Reports can be easily created, edited
and changed as needed by the user. Pop-up windows guide you
through selecting the report commands and GL accounts. The program
comes with a library of pre-formatted financial statements. Other
report features include flexible setup options, dollar rounding,
spacing, solid single and double underlines and laser printer support.
Reports can be designed to handle conditional "if" statements;
multiple accounts on a single report line with accounts handled in any
order; math calculations and totals on any line; departmental reporting
and consolidations; and job stream for processing multiple client jobs
DataLink is an optional add-on
product to WinCABS that provides a bridge between WinCABS and third
party programs. DataLink quickly imports and exports client data
eliminating the time consuming data entry process. Client data can
be transferred by diskette, modem, or electronic mail via the Internet.
Accountant's Relief is available in
a 32-bit version for Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT.
Accountant's Relief gives you control and flexibility in creating
financial statements. You can create professional-looking,
publishable financial statements, including cover sheet, report letter,
table of contents and footnotes. The program provides a variety of
different fonts and layouts. The user can preview the financials
on the screen before printing.
Accountant's Relief allows you to
elect to post offsetting entries automatically to a default account.
You can add accounts and vendors on the fly. You can enter
transactions for the following year before closing the current year.
Moreover, you can change or delete any transaction for any period in the
current year. Accountant’s Relief provides for five different
kinds of adjusting journal entries (adjusting, reclassifying, federal,
other, and potential) with capability for reversing and recurring
Accountant's Relief supports a
comprehensive, fully integrated after-the-fact payroll module for
Federal and state payroll tax forms. Payroll information is
automatically rolled over to Accountant's Relief. The G/L Link
module imports data quickly and easily from virtually any accounting
program your clients might be using. Accountant's Relief comes
pre-configured for most G/L programs. You can configure it to
import data from any other G/L program. The Tax Link module
exports data to most tax programs. The tax code is automatically
setup when you create the chart-of-accounts. If your tax program
is not included, MicroVision will make every effort to create a table
for you. Unlike most trial balance programs, federal adjusting
entries pertaining to M-1 and M-2 roll over to the appropriate lines.
Accountant’s Relief offers other timesaving features, such as data entry in a familiar spreadsheet format, online technical support services for downloading updates and sending your questions electronically for faster response, and word processing capabilities for creating other documents. The program also includes leadsheets, workpapers, bank reconciliation, and analytical ratio analysis.
Write-Up Solution for Windows
Creative Solution’s Write-Up
Solution II has been rewritten in modular format for the Windows
operating system. The Creative Solution's Windows line of
write-up-related products includes modules for Payroll Processing,
General Ledger, Financial Report Writing. Write-Up Solution has
innovative features that enhance data entry, provide good connectivity
to other software packages, and provides write-up practice management
features. The system provides good documentation that offers both
reference tools and tutorials for simplifying the startup process.
General Ledger Solution allows the
user to make temporary journal entries, in order to convert a client's
financials from cash basis to accrual without having to maintain two
sets of files for the same client. Transactions can be sorted by
date, account number, reference or order entered for review and editing.
Automatic adjustments can be set up for gross profit calculation,
percentage allocations, provision for income tax, reversing and
recurring journal entries. The program allows the user to enter
prior year journal entries, re-run prior year journals, general ledger
reports and financials. The program will maintain up to 10 years
of history for general ledger.
The user can set up an unlimited
number of customized report profiles. A report profile includes
the accountants' report, statements and chart information for each
client. The user can determine the collation sequence for standard
reports, financial statements and transmittal letters. Reports can
be printed after completion of data entry, because General Ledger
Solution posts transactions automatically.
General Ledger Solution allows the
user to design its own sequence of data entry to match the order of
their source documents. The AutoFill feature facilitates quick
data entry by cutting keystrokes from the data entry process. The
user can, therefore, enter only a few letters to complete an input
field. Moreover, the program allows the user to set up account,
employee, and vendor information on the fly during the data entry
The Financial Reporter Solution
allows the user to design statements and reports in a row and column
format. The user can copy set up information from one client to
another allowing you to use the same format for all financial reports.
The program will allow the user to create custom footnotes that
automatically pull the latest financial data from general ledger.
Payroll Compliance Solution
provides complete after the fact payroll processing. The program
supports the preparation of federal employment tax forms. Creative
Solution prepares software updates as needed to stay abreast of IRS
mandated changes. State SUTA modules are also available.
Creative Solutions offers Client Bookkeeping Solution, a product which clients use to process accounts payable, payroll, and accounts receivable information. At month end, clients send their transaction details to their accountants on disk or via modem. In addition, the Accountant's Utilities module reviews client data for accuracy and completeness. The monthly information flows directly into Write-Up Solution software without re-keying any data.
Careful planning and documentation
can greatly improve the efficiency of a firm’s write-up department.
These engagements can be profitable, if there is a good understanding of
the services to be provided and if additional services are billed and
not written off.
More and more Windows write-up applications are coming on the market. These new packages will offer better data integrity and will operate with fewer conflicts with 32-Bit Windows applications than their DOS counterparts. However, these new Windows applications will offer a different feature set than their DOS predecessors.