CPA Technology Advisor announces annual Readers' Choice Awards
With the changing of calendars from 2007 to 2008, it's also time to announce the results of the CPA Technology Advisor 2007 Readers' Choice Awards, an annual insight into the minds of tax and accounting professionals. The Awards, featuring more than 25 categories of professional applications, hardware, services and other technologies, give those in these professions a way to express appreciation for the systems that help them in their practice. As with last year's results, some of the findings were somewhat expected, while others were surprising.
The CPA Technology Advisor's Readers' Choice Awards are not a scientific study, but rather a popularity contest of sorts, allowing readers to vote online in the various categories. All of the companies whose products were included in the awards voting were encouraged to drum up support for their products, and the voting in some categories shows a strong base of user support for particular brands and products.
An example of this is Drake Software, whose tax compliance system won the professional tax preparation category for the second year in a row. Drake's actual market share is about 10 percent, but its customer base remains one of the most loyal and satisfied of any tech product. Not surprisingly, Intuit's ProSeries and Lacerte brands, which together command a large share of the market, took the other top spots in the survey. Another product that received a higher than expected voter turnout was PC Software Accounting's write-up program, which took third place behind big names Intuit and Thomson Tax & Accounting.
In the payroll category, which has one of the most crowded markets with more than two dozen notable program and service providers, the automated online PayCycle system came out ahead, with QuickBooks and Advanced Micro Solutions' (AMS) offerings close behind. In another large category, Drake Software's loyal customer base also helped the company win the top slot for Document Management systems, while systems from Intuit Lacerte, Thomson Tax & Accounting, e-FileCabinet and Acct1st Technology Group wrapped up the category.
A new area this year is automated "scan and fill" systems (see Executive Editor Greg LaFollette's Final Thoughts column), which streamline tax preparation by allowing professionals to simply scan a document, while the system automatically determines what kind of document it is (W-2, K-1, 1099, etc.). It then pulls the financial data from the form and allows it to be quickly transferred into a client's return. A similar product category, "scan and organize" systems are geared toward digital information storage, creating searchable and indexable versions of documents that are scanned in.
The winner in this new category was Intuit's Source Doc Auto-Entry, which received about half of all votes. While this indicates user satisfaction with the product, curiously enough, Intuit has decided to pull the product for this tax season, stating that it needs to redesign the product to make it more amenable to user needs. What?
As with last year, Intuit's line of QuickBooks products continues to dominate the small business market, with professional accountants embracing the system for client-side business management. This is likely related to the integration capabilities, since the professional version of the program took the write-up category. Systems from Sage Software's MAS line and Microsoft Dynamics were preferred for larger clients.
In addition to these tax and accounting oriented technologies, the Readers' Choice Awards also include categories for general business devices and hardware like computers, cell phones, and printers and scanners. Delivery food (mostly pizza) and coffee still reign as the top choices for sustenance during those late nights during tax season.
The CPA Technology Advisor's 2007 Readers' Choice Awards are your voice to vendors and your peers on the technology products and services that make you more efficient, productive and profitable. And this collective voice of the tax and accounting profession helps drive future innovation.
Thank you to the thousands of professionals who voted in the 2007 Readers' Choice Awards. We look forward to hearing from you again next year.
You can see the complete results  of the CPA Technology Advisor awards.