Website of the Month: AIAP Online

By Susan B. Anders

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AIAP online (www.aiaponline.com) is the website of the Association of Independent Accounting Professionals, and is designed as an electronic marketplace for products and services that are important to independent practitioners. Many resources are free; access to restricted resources requires that one sign up for a free membership. The accounting-related resources offered by AIAP online are geared toward independent accountants, but many practitioners as well as educators and students, will find this website handy.

AIAP online is simply organized and easy to navigate, with a common left-hand vertical index on all of the main webpages. Additionally, “administrative” hyperlinks appear at the top and bottom of the main webpages. Most links worked seamlessly and quickly, and an e-mail to the AIAP staff concerning links that did not connect received an immediate response and correction.

Products and Services

The main menu is divided into “channels” and “links.” Channels connects to the third-party products and services promoted by AIAP online. These are grouped into categories: practice management, client acquisition, technology, marketplace, B2B, revenue center, education, and community. The channels product and service offerings are presented with the advertiser’s logo, a book cover, or other graphic, brief text, and a link to further information. Some channels offer articles on the topic in printable HTML format.

The practice management webpage, for example, offers links to companies that provide accounting practice financing, budgeting software, telecommunication services, and personnel recruitment services. The education webpage is a bit eclectic, offering an Internet job search resource, a resume-posting service, and articles aimed at job seekers and students.

More detailed information on each product or service is provided via subsidiary webpages or a direct link to the advertiser’s website. Member registration is required to connect to the detailed resource descriptions. In addition to product information, the subsidiary pages offer forms and documents, free software downloads or CDs, and other resources.

Although the website is generally well organized, some offerings are duplicated under multiple channels, and some resources appear in odd places; for example, a book on International Accounting Standards (IAS) is available on the education webpage, and an article on personal estate planning is located under the client acquisitions channel. Additionally, some channel names, including education, and community, which addresses charitable contributions, do not fit the resources offered there.

Other Features

AIAP online offers quick access to a variety of stock market information, but hides it in some strange places. A “stock market” hyperlink can be found in a small box labeled “AIAP Specials” in the upper right-hand corner of the client acquisition webpage. Similarly, “track your stocks” and “market overview” links can be found on the community webpage. A “stock quotes” index of some major stock links is available on the B2B webpage. All of the stock links connect to the same index of market information provided by Barchart.com, Inc., which includes market indices, advancers, decliners, foreign exchange rates, and specific stock searches.

The bottom half of AIAP online’s main vertical index provides a small but practical collection of links to other websites, including the IRS, GAO, FASB, and IASB. “Consumer info” connects to the Federal Citizen Information Center. “Consumer reports” links to ConsumersUnion.org.

Educators and students will also find these links helpful, but will be particularly interested in the state accounting boards and state accounting associations. AIAP online provides subsidiary webpages for these with hyperlinks. The state accounting board webpage also includes street addresses and telephone numbers.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor at St. Bonaventure University, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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