Intacct Rolls Out Project Accounting in the Cloud

Wednesday Aug 18th 2010 by Stuart J. Johnston
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The cloud-based small business accounting software vendor brings a new module for service delivery firms and project-based businesses, and announces a partnership to integrate Intacct's software with a leading project management system.

Companies like Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon are far from the only companies staking their futures on cloud computing these days. Online small business accounting software vendor Intacct, for one, began moving essential accounting services for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) to the cloud in 1999.

Now, Intacct is adding comprehensive project accounting to its online offering and is also partnering with online project management company Clarizen to provide integrated project management and accounting in the cloud.

Intacct has been adding to its customer services on a regular basis. For example, in February, Intacct brought out its Advanced Revenue Management module.

"We're really focused on an easy-to-use, inexpensive way to help small businesses automate and improve the profitably of their companies by using the cloud," Daniel Druker, senior vice president of marketing and business development, told Small Business Computing.

Cloud computing has some clear advantages for a service like accounting. It makes upgrades much simpler and enables them to occur more frequently, for one. Additionally, it enables users to get to their own bottom line from anywhere and at any time that they need to.

"All it takes is a browser and an Internet connection," Druker said.

That's important, given that so many small businesses are service delivery firms, he added. Intacct can be accessed via either a PC or a Mac running Internet Explorer or Safari.

Two New Project Accounting Apps

The company's just introduced Intacct Project Accounting module, which is designed to provide comprehensive project accounting for small businesses. It joins the rest of 11-year-old Intacct's cloud-based financial management applications online.

"Inacct Project Accounting helps speed the cash collection cycle by automatically generating invoices from time sheets, employee expenses and any other company charges and purchases related to a project, eliminating manual data re-entry [errors], and increasing billing accuracy to ensure faster payment and improved cash flow," a company statement said.

"[The module] offers flexible approval workflows that automatically route time sheets and expense information to appropriate project managers [and], as time is submitted against tasks, project statuses are automatically updated in real-time," it added.

The two companies are also planning combined project management and accounting through integrating Intacct Project Accounting with Clarizen's advanced work and project management application. When it's finished, they plan to jointly market the integrated product.

"The joint Intacct-Clarizen solution will allow service employees to initiate, track and manage the delivery of their projects in Clarizen, while finance [employees] leverage Intacct for invoicing, revenue recognition, employee expense reimbursement, reporting and financial analysis," Intacct's statement said.

Further, Intacct Project Accounting aims to "streamline time and expenses [reporting], automate billing [and] improve visibility and reporting."

"[The aim is] to maximize project performance and profitability by capturing and unifying project and financial data for real-time visibility and control throughout the service delivery life-cycle," the statement continued.

While a larger, more advanced system may be out of reach for many small businesses, it is still likely to attract some interest from mid-sized service delivery firms, another part of Intacct's target audience on the higher-end.

"Intacct Project Accounting and the integration between Intacct and Clarizen provide midsized services firms with an opportunity to reap the benefits of leveraging an easy-to-use, integrated solution to maximize project performance and profitability," Jeanne Urich, managing director at workforce productivity consultancy SPI Research, said in a statement.

It's All About the Customer

"The service industry’s use of technology has typically lagged the manufacturing sector but the global size and complexity of today’s service businesses has increased the need for specialized applications and the demand for real-time information," Urich said in a recent study of 244 service professionals entitled "Professional Services Business Applications Market Adoption."

"Today’s service organizations, although always primarily focused on billable resources and time and billing, now include finance and accounting, IT, legal, human resources and sales and marketing support functions," the study said.

Intacct Project Accounting, like the rest of its applications, is designed for use by both small businesses and CPAs. In fact, the company sells its accounting system services through direct sales to businesses as well as via a network of partner CPAs, Druker said.

Leap the Pond is both a customer and a partner of Intacct. Started two years ago, the consultancy provides services aimed at helping software and technology-enabled companies go to market as well as to enter new markets.

For instance, a European company that wants to enter U.S. markets might be a potential customer. The company also provides "growth services," Leap the pond's Nancy Fliss, a partner and practice lead for the customer services practice, told Small business Computing.

Among its offerings, Leap the Pond provides customers with diverse business services, including marketing, implementation, channel and alliance management, as well as financial management and human resources functions, according to the firm's Website.

"We're particularly excited about the project accounting module," Fliss said, adding that Leap the Pound was a beta tester for it. "It will have a significant impact on our business ... our methodology before this was 'spreadsheet hell,'" Fliss added.

Two-year-old Leap the Pond has five partners and an additional 20 consultants, as well as "many partnerships with individuals with particular expertise," Fliss said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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