See why accountants love using OfficeTools, taking the best of a traditional office work area and digitizing the most familiarly used aspects, creating a single-screen work space. Manage projects, recapture billing opportunities, eliminate redundant databases and more! Learn how you can Work As One in this free demo.
Okay. Thank you so much for joining me today for this OfficeTools demonstration. My name is Phil Phares. I'm the Director of Education here for AbacusNext, and I'm also the solutions architect for Office Tools, so I do consider myself a subject matter expert. What we're going to do today is we're going to do a demonstration of OfficeTools workspace. We're going to talk about its functionality. We're going to go through some of the integrations, and all of the benefits that we could expect from OfficeTools. Now there's going to be some opportunities for questions, so if you have some questions, you can type those into the Questions area. I will do my best to monitor that and make sure that, you know, any questions that come up, I answer as best I can. I'll also try to leave a little bit of time towards the end to answer any questions that may come up, or questions that I might have missed, just to make sure we cover all of our bases.
So again, thank you all so much for joining me today. We're not going to cut any corners here. We're going to jump right into OfficeTools and start talking about some of the values and benefits that OfficeTools can provide in an accounting practice, or a CPA firm, or a tax firm. There are many of them. There's a lot. There's a lot to cover. We don't have a lot of time, so if I go a little too fast, or you want to reiterate on something, again, let me know in the Questions area, or, you know, I'll put up this information at the end of the presentations. Just contact us for a personalized demonstration where one of our experts will actually speak with you, learn a little bit about your needs, about your office, and walk through the program in a personalized demonstration. So again, stay tuned till the end, and I'll put that information up on the screen.
Okay, so OfficeTools clearly is practice management software, and it does so many things. It wraps so many things into a single package, again, it's going to be hard to cover in the 30 minutes that we have; however, I will do my best. What I'm going to do is kind of outline what we're looking at. OfficeTools is built on a single screen interface. This is very important, because when we're accessing data, especially the varied types of data that OfficeTools provides and tracks for us, we need a simple user-friendly interface. So with our single screen interface, we've done just that by not giving you a bunch of windows that you have to drill through, and a bunch of screens that you have to navigate, or go back through if you forgot where you were at. Everything is put out right in front of you, again, in this one screen.
What's fantastic about this is the navigation is very, very simple. So we're off to that right now and kind of give everybody a feel for what we're looking at. On the left side of the screen, you'll see this contact list. Now we can import contacts through various means. We'll talk more about that as we go through the demonstration here. We have our list of all of our contacts in the system, and with all the CRM capabilities, this is not just clients. These are obviously clients ... those are an important part of who we have in this list ... but we also have prospects, in some cases equally as important, right? We have vendors, partners. We have any contact that we may need to store or track information for from a professional point of view, we're going to have in this list. We have all of the tools to allow you to organize and filter that list.
I have as an example here, ABC Company selected. We can see on this first screen here, we are actually located under the Contacts tab. We can see that at the top as one of the nine tabs displayed across the top of the screen. Now the information that's viewed we'll go over in just a moment, but these nine tabs in this contact list here on the left, represent our navigational points. So at any time, I know who I've selected, and by looking at the tab across the top of the screen, I know what information I'm viewing.
This is fantastic because I can go from ABC Company's Contact tab to ABC Company's Project tab, and learn the status of any work that we're doing for this particular contact client. I can jump over to the Billing tab and see the current status of billing for this client. I can go to the Documents tab and view any documentation that I have stored for this client, and it works the other way around. I can then choose a different contact on my list here on the left, and it will display the appropriate information for that contact. So with these two navigation points, the contact list on the left and the tabs across the top of the screen, makes it very, very quick to get to whatever type of information you're looking for this contact or client, so it's a very important navigational step there.
There's a third section of the program that I would argue is just as valuable as anything else, and that's at the actual bottom of the screen, this last third of the screen down here. This is what we refer to as the activity list. This becomes a staff member's or a team member's focal point for their workload. This is a task list. So anything that gets created within OfficeTools, whether it's created automatically through some workflow processes that you designed, or it's assigned, maybe it's even a reminder for myself. Any of those tasks that were created within OfficeTools are then listed on this activity list, which is always in view of the user. There're various tools that allow you then to filer, and sort, and navigate this list to make it make a little bit more sense.
Clearly, we can see we have a lot of things on this list, and again, over on the left, I can go ahead and turn things on or focus in different ways. As a manager, I also have the user right to be able to actually view other people's lists, or groups of people, or selected teams of individuals, to see what their workload may look like. I can see Bruce here doesn't have a whole lot of work on his list, and what he does have is late. So me and Bruce need to have a talk.
So perhaps I can go ahead and go back to my list, see that I have a lot of things on here, and very easily I can these tasks ... simply click on them, and actually reassign those over to Bruce. Okay? They'll come off of my list, appear on Bruce's. I can change the date. I can even update time tracking information, budgetary details. So now that item is no longer on my list, and just to make sure, if we pop back over to Bruce's list, we will see that new item now appears on his list as a task that's due today around noon that he needs to get done.
These three areas of OfficeTools, the contact list, the tabs, and the activity list, represent that navigational point of OfficeTools that's built into this single screen interface. Again, this is very valuable because regardless of your role in the firm, or your needs, you have can access to that information ... you know, we like to say within a click, but, you know, the reality is this is almost every piece of information is available within a clinch or two. But we do try to present it in as clean and quick of a manner as possible, without reducing any functionality or features.
Now let's talk a little bit about that. Let's talk a little bit about some of the things that OfficeTools can do. The tab that I'm currently selected on is the Contacts tab. This represents the CRM, a component within OfficeTools, so I can see the contact information for the selected client here. Their address, I can see a picture of them. I also have pertinent information as it applies to their tax needs, or their accounting needs, such as the fact that they are actually a client. It's a business here, and their profession is in the aerospace industry, and various other details of information that we can track. This does include some custom fields, so you can customize these fields.
When it comes to alternate contacts, dependents, relationships, all of those are built directly into this tab, and directly into the contact list over here on the left. For example, I can simply click on ABC Company here and actually view all the related entities to ABC Company, okay. I can view any contacts, such as again, family members or spouses, partners, attorneys, bookkeepers, owners, the list goes on and on. All of this is fully customizable. If I needed, for example, to send out a letter or an email, I can be very selective on which contacts are going to receive which letter, and with the merge fields and everything available in the Forms screen, I can obviously make it very, very personalized for the contacts and the entities that will be receiving those letters.
This is also the screen where we can actually set up the client to use the OfficeTools client portal, which we won't have enough time to demonstrate in detail today, but it does give the client an opportunity to log into a secure website, upload documents to the office. You can send documents to them, but you can also actually pay invoices online through the portal. It can schedule appointments online by the portal. There's various other great benefits to that. Please go to abacusnext.com/webinars and look for some of the webinars that are coming in the future for a portal demonstration.
The next couple of tabs across the top of the screen are pretty straightforward, but they're nonetheless important because there's so many offices that I've seen and I've worked with that have processes for the simple things, but everyone does it kind of their own way. You know, a simple thing like a new client intake, or making copies of something, or whatever it may be is done in a different way by different people. Unfortunately, anytime that happens you have a disconnection of efficiencies. What OfficeTools, if anything, allows you to do is bring all those processes into one place, into a centralized location where everybody is doing the same thing the same way, tracking the same information, and giving access to other people who may need it.
So with the Notes, To-Do's, and Calls tabs ... these next three tabs across the top of the screen ... we can do just that. We can go to the Notes screen here and enter in or access any note that anybody has entered for this contact. You know, whether it's things like they purchased a house last year or their QuickBooks information, very accessible to everybody, searchable, permanent if you would like it to be. All of that information, again, is right on the screen, one click away from the contacts.
The next tab over, To-Do's, is kind of the workhorse, you know. Workflow is very, very important for all of us. When we get to Projects, we'll talk a little bit more about that, but I don't want to take away any of the value of To-Do's. There's a lot of things that happen every single day that you can't really define as a project. There's so many things that happen. Emails coming in, client phone calls, all of those types of things, work gets created. Alerts and notifications need to be created. To-Do's will give you those tools and make it very, very easy to navigate.
Just to give you an example, let's just say hypothetically that ABC Company needed some copies of last year's tax return. Okay, that's a simple one, right? I can come to the To-Do's tab, simply hit the plus button, and it's going to give me a form which is already mostly filled out. It knows who I am, Joe Demo. It knows the client that I have selected over on the left, and all I've really got to do is enter in the appropriate task. Now if I want to assign this to somebody else, it would be as simple and simply choosing their name off the list. Once I hit Save on this task, that's it. We're done. If you now look and follow the mouse down here to the activity list, there's my new item ready for me to take care of it as I get to it throughout the day.
That process is very important in OfficeTools. We want to allow you to create and manage work, again, as quickly as possible, to delegate the work, and to track it and not lose sight of it. You can have all of the task creation tools in the world at your disposal, but if you can't track them, and they're not visible to you, then they're not really worth a whole lot. So we want to make sure that we put all of these tasks in front of the person that's responsible for them as best we can. What's great about that is this connects a lot of their dots. Now that I have this task on my list, when time comes to complete the work, all I really have to do is check this off of my list. A time card pops up, and if I'm tracking time, it's as simple as putting in the hours that I worked. We'll say that it took an hour to make copies ... we had to make a lot of copies ... and I say, okay. That's it.
I can go ahead and associate this to a project if it's set up that way, which this one was, say okay, and we're done. The task comes off of my list. My timecard will now show that I've tracked some time. Any projects or anything that this may be associated to accordingly will be updated. It's that simple. It also includes budgets, document attachments, reoccurring bills. All of these tools are available to make sure that you can delegate, assign, and set up reminders to people in as quickly a manner as possible.
Now the next tab, the Calls tab, works really the same way. This is a great way to just log phone calls or create phone call reminders. If you're receiving phone calls and taking messages, this is a great tool that allows you to do it very quickly, very easily, and then archive that information for future use. If you need the details of a phone call that you had last year, this is a great tool to help you pull that up very, very quickly and give you that information.
Okay, the Schedule tab we don't need to spend a whole lot of time on. I'm sure everybody is familiar with what a schedule does. One thing I want to kind of touch on a little bit more about the OfficeTools calendar is that it's actually designed for tax and accounting professions. Outlook is not. Outlook has a lot of great calendar features, sure, but it's not designed for what we do and what we need. OfficeTools is, and with our Outlook Sync utility, we can connect it to your Outlook calendar. Therefore any functionality that you do have in Outlook that you may miss ... although I can't really think of any on the top of my head ... you can have by simply connecting those two together. You have all of the tools that you need, multiple views, multiple staff views. It works as any calendar you'd imagine. You click and you can move things around.
What's great about this, where the value comes from, is that all of these appointments are connected directly back to the selected contact. For example, ABC Company, I can very quickly view any appointment we've ever had with ABC Company regardless of how long ago it may have been. All of the details, all of the time, and all of the documentation are likewise associated to that appointment, so we don't lose track of any of those details. Okay, so now we've gotten through ... I don't want to say the easy stuff ... but let's just call it the common day-to-day things where OfficeTools can add a lot of value to the things that we're already doing.
But now we're going to jump into kind of the meat and potatoes of it here. We're going to talk about Projects a little bit. With OfficeTools workflow obviously is critical. One thing that we've spent a lot of time on is making sure that our projects work for you. What I mean by that is these are designed specifically for tax and accounting professionals in the nature of the information they track, how the information is displayed, how dates are calculated. All of those things are built into our projects, but you can customize that. I'll add a box that is going to include your common tax returns, your common bookkeeping work. You can come in, and tweak, and modify, and customize these as you see fit for your office's needs.
We can see right here, for example, ABC Company. We can see their tax return. On this screen we're able to view who's working on it, such as the project manager, which is myself, what assignment I'm actively working on, when that assignment is due. I can see any documentation that may be associated to this, along with checklist items, all of the appropriate due dates. Hey, there's a lot of information on this screen, but this is why this is so important. Down on the bottom of the Projects screen, I can see all of my budgetary and hour detail. For example, I wanted this to be about 10 hours. That's what we estimated at. We're getting pretty close. That's something that we have to keep in mind. All right.
Missing information, anything ... instead of having email or an Excel spreadsheet tracking all this, we can put it right on the Projects screen. That way, as an example, if the client were to contact us, or somebody else who may be working with them, it would be very easy for them to jump in here real quick and say, "Ah, you know what, Mr. Client? We're actually missing a certain form, or we need a certain signature from you." I can tell because of Projects screen here in front of me. Without that, you may have to talk to whoever's working on the return or working on the client's stuff, and things get lost in that process. This puts everything right at your fingertips.
Now that's just the interface. Under the hood of Projects, or where you can actually build assignments groups, these are the tasks that you can create and customize that allows you to track every step of this project's life. I can come up to the work list within this project right now and actually see what's happened. I can see who's worked on it, how much time they spent, what they did, when they completed it, when it was assigned to them, and list goes on and on. As one assignment gets done, the system will automatically move it to the next person. As an example, if we look down here on my activity list, I can see that I have an assignment to review a tax return. So just like the To-Do that we saw earlier, I can simply check the box to complete the task, a timecard will pop up. Again, I simply enter the amount of time that I want to track and say okay.
Then the system will ask me to assign the next step, which in this case is missing info, but I can see in the background we've collected everything we need, so we're going to skip that, and we're going to jump right over to the partner review. We go and send that off to the partner, say okay, and it's a done deal. It's no longer on my list. The project has updated its status with the new assigned person, and their responsibility and due date, the work list and budget details have been updated accordingly, and I can move on to the next task. It's as simple as that. I can also view any project this client's had historically. If I need to reference what we did last year, how much time we billed them, or who worked on it, all of that information is available to me within a click or two on the screen.
One reason that this becomes so important is because we can capture everything. One part of capturing, one piece of information that offices don't capture enough of, is their billing detail. Within OfficeTools, built around all of the workflow, and the reminders, and alerts, and notifications is capturing time. We give you a lot of tools to do that. You can run a timer, for example. If you're a timer kind of person, we can go in and run our timer for that work and have that show up on our time sheet. We can do what we've already kind of seen up to this point, is simply fill out a card once we complete a task, or we can navigate to the Time tab and simply enter in our time manually. Now this can be reported on, and printed out, or sent for payroll purposes because this is going to include both billable and non-chargeable time, whatever kind of time you want to track. Again, as a manager, if I need to, I can jump and look at other people's time sheets just to make sure things are going smoothly.
Obviously, the billable component of that is going to move over to our Billing tab. Again, OfficeTools provides all the tools that you need to run your firm, contact management, scheduling, task tracking, workflow, time capture, and obviously billing. Under this screen, there's the trifecta of billing, so to speak. We have our time. We have our invoices. We have our payments screen. I can come in here and very, very easily select the time that I want to bill and invoice it. I can modify those invoices, track them, upload those to the portal. I can create reoccurring invoices that go out at a set time every month for a set amount. Progress billing. All of those are included, and it connects to QuickBooks, so I can take all this information and push that to QuickBooks if needed.
The payments area is fantastic, for obvious reasons, we're collecting money, and OfficeTools integrates with APX, which is the Abacus Payment Exchange, which allows you to receive payments directly into OfficeTools. You can keep all of your clients' information secure in the system here. You can manage their cards and simply pay them whether per invoice or you can set up ACH. All of that is built right into OfficeTools. A lot of stuff, there's a lot of stuff going on here in OfficeTools. Again, I wish I had more time to cover all of the details. I want to remind everybody, too, if you have questions about anything that you've seen, please let me know. Just type that into the Questions area, and I'll be more than happy to cover it.
This last area, this last tab is want to talk a little bit about here, is the Documents tab, the DMS component. If you're an office who has gone paperless, or you're thinking about going paperless, or you just want less paper, having a DMS system is critical to that. You can't just purchase a bunch of scanners and hope that that makes your office paperless. That's not really how it works. You need tools to manage all of those documents. With OfficeTools, to go along with kind of our whole methodology, is to include everything into one application. There's no reason that our workflow items, our task tracking, and time tracking, and billing, should be in different systems. They should all be in the same place. It just makes sense. Likewise, our documentation, our digital files, do not need to be in some other location other than where our workflow is, and our client information is. It just makes sense.
With OfficeTools we've done just that. We've built in document management. You can store this locally on your own server. OfficeTools will reference that, and organize it, and file everything for you. You can very, very easily search these items. Just type in a return name here. You can filter items out, if needed. So let me put something else, maybe a little bit more. Let's do an invoice. It will then narrow down all of those items with that word. If you're not sure what you're looking for, you can use the categories. You can put in specific years, or projects, or categories. It makes it very, very easy to find documents.
Getting the documents in here, likewise, is just as easy. There's a lot of tools that we can use. The simplest way, and the most common, is simply to drag an item in. It's on your desktop or in a folder, you can bring it from wherever it is and place that directly into the Documents tab here. You can also actually drag documents directly to items. If we go back to our Projects screen here real quick, we can actually see in the top right corner, that there's a document associated directly to this project, so I don't even have to leave this screen. I can simply drag the document right to the project. It adds it on to the screen here for easy access, and that document is included directly in document management, so I have access to it from both locations.
You can organize by file type. If you want to view only PDFs or only work files from the emails, again, that's very easy to do directly from this screen. In addition to that, your emails can be pulled in from Outlook. So with the Outlook Sync ... and I'll talk about that for just a moment here ... you can integrate, and you can actually synchronize a couple of things. You can synchronize your contact lists between Outlook and OfficeTools. You can synchronize tasks between Outlook and OfficeTools. We've already talked about the schedule being synchronized back and forth between the two programs, and lastly, emails. You can have emails, both inbox and sent emails, deposited directly to the appropriate contact within OfficeTools.
This is very important, and here's why. Let's say you're communicating with a client, and there's a couple of different people involved. You're involved. You know, your buddy across the office is involved, whoever it may be. The client is sending emails to both of you, but not cc'ing the other one. We all know what this situation looks like. We've all been here. The problem now becomes that you need access to an email that the other person may have received, or somebody not involved in that communication, a third party that was never part of the original thing, they may need access to those emails. Then we go through the whole searching and forwarding thing. Again, I know everybody has dealt with this situation at some point.
With the Outlook Sync what we're able to do is actually grab all of the emails from a particular client and deposit them right here within OfficeTools so that anybody, again, who has access would be able to come in here and view those emails, regardless of whether it was sent to them by Outlook or not. So instead of having Outlook, which is a single place with every contact's emails, you now will be able to use OfficeTools to go to that contact and simply view all of their emails. Way better than having a bunch of folders in Outlook for all the clients, very effective, very efficient, very easy. It is kind of a set-and-forget tool. You configure it the way you would like, turn it on, and you never have to touch it again. So that's another way to bring documents, and emails, and things into OfficeTools. You can obviously just drag and drop from Outlook also.
In addition to that, we do have built-in tools that integrate with Adobe, that integrate with the Microsoft Office products, which is Excel, and Word, and obviously Outlook, and we have print drivers. All of those are installed with OfficeTools and allow you to print from your tax applications, your tax preparation software, whatever it may be, you can print any kind of information directly to OfficeTools document management. Once that information is in here, you can upload it to the portal. It's very simple. I can take a document here very, very quick, click on it, and send that to the client portal, or you can just click the portal button and upload it. I can view any files that this client has on the portal. I can download the files that they have sent to us. It's all done securely, and it's all done within OfficeTools. It makes things very, very convenient, and very easy, and fast.
On top of that, just to go a little bit more to the portal, we can also do that with signatures. For example, right here, we can see that we actually have a signed document. I can take a particular file in PDF. I can eSign it or have it sent for a signature electronically. The client will receive the information that they need, sign it as appropriate, and then it will automatically come back into OfficeTools as a signed file, as a signed document with all of the tools and analytics that are required for that.
That is, again, kind of the broadest picture of OfficeTools. Now in 30 minutes there's not much we can do as far as getting down into the real nitty-gritty, but I'm going to try to very quickly pinpoint a couple of things that we didn't have time to talk a whole lot about. Reporting, OfficeTools has a full set of reports in all areas, whether it's billing, or workflow, due date reminders, things of that sort. The portal is one thing that I would highly encourage everybody to look at. You can go to officetools.com or you can go to abacusnext.com and request a demo, and we could walk through that, and we'd really like the opportunity. There are user rights for controlling who has access to things. We integrate with Lacerte, Profile, QuickBooks, Outlook, Microsoft Office, Crescendo. The list goes on and on. Again, please visit officetools.com for a list of all the integrations. We feel it's very important to make sure we connect our data in whatever ways we can.
At this point I'm going to go ahead and leave it open for any questions that anybody may have, anything that I might not have covered, or that we want to talk more about. While we're waiting for that, I do want to bring up one last thing here. That is if you want to know more about OfficeTools, whether you're just kind of shopping around, you're looking for what's out there, or you want to talk to the people that are using practice management software, other professionals, then you may want to look into the AbacusMAXIMUS Conference. This is an opportunity where we get all of our users, not just OfficeTools, but from other professions, other applications. We have industry speakers and thought leaders attending, a lot of great networking opportunities, a lot of training opportunities. It's really just a wealth of tools. Please check it out. You can go directly. We have a site dedicated to it, which is abacusmaximus.com. Have a look. If you have some questions, please let us know. We'd be more than happy to talk to you a little more about that.
And really, the last thing is, where do we go next. Again, if you want a personalized demonstration, if you'd like to have some hands-on time, and really that's invaluable, right, because everyone's got different needs. Every office is a snowflake ... and I know because I've worked with hundreds and hundreds of offices over the years. Let us know where your pain points are. Talk to us. We'll show you what OfficeTools is capable of doing, how it can transform your office. We would really, really love that opportunity. I'm not seeing a whole lot of questions, but I do want to thank everybody so much for joining us.
Again, here's some information for websites to go to or phone numbers to call if you'd like more information. Join us in our webinars. You can actually sign up for them at abacusnext.com/webinars. So again, everybody, thank you so much for joining me today. I really, really appreciate your time, and we'll see you next time.