CPE Compare Methodology
Where do we get our information?
When we start looking into CPA CPE, we head straight to the source. We get our data from two places: 1) we buy an individual subscription and/or courses, and we take some courses and spend time actually using the site, and 2) via the websites of the solutions themselves. If a capability is not visible on the solution’s site and we can’t try it out ourselves, we don’t put it in the review. We figure folks think pretty carefully about what they put on their public site, but less carefully about what they put on a questionnaire we send them or what they might tell us on a phone call, so we have limited our data to that which is published on their site or which we can directly experience by using their solution.
How often is the information updated?
We will try to get to these solutions a couple of times a year to make updates on this site. If things have meaningfully changed, e.g. new features, significant new content, new pricing, etc., we’ll do our best to stay current.
How do the reviews work?
We have a detailed review process that runs our reviewers through core CPE solution elements like: # of courses, variety of CPE available (i.e. how many designations are CPE available for), mobile friendly site, course ratings, free trial, CPE compliance tracking, cost and other factors. By subscribing and/or buying into the platforms, we’re able to experience the platform and look to see what a solution’s site says and shows about their product, and we go through our review process. We do actually dig in here and do things like manually adding up the number of courses shown on a solution’s website, tallying the number of CPE types mentioned, looking for specific features, looking for verified (because there are so many garbage review sites out there filled with fake reviews) 3rd party reviews of a solution, etc.. We spend between 6 and 12 hours on solution reviews, and sometimes more.
What about pricing?
Pricing is an element of our scoring, with lower prices being better than higher prices all else being equal (which they rarely are), but since some sites try to slice and dice their prices 10 ways it can make it hard to compare one site’s offering to another site. So, in order to cut through the noise, we grade based on ‘all-in’ pricing. That is, we look for the subscription or purchase price that gives the most unlimited access to on-demand courses and webinars and CPE, so you don’t have to pick and choose. That’s the closest we can come to finding an offering that’s similar among all of the providers’ solutions. But clearly you’ll want to visit any solution you’re considering in order to make sure you understand what they offer at every price level to find your best fit solution.
Our process will not be the same as everyone’s own personal scoring system, but we have come to agreement on it among ourselves and we do try to apply it evenly and fairly across solutions given the information we can glean from our direct experience with the product, and via their site.
What if we have incorrect information about a solution?
Well, sorry. We’ve tried to be careful about that, but since this isn’t our full-time job, we can only spend so much time gathering and checking data – and some of these CPE solutions really make you work to find things. Since we are committed to ongoing review updates, we’ll try to fix any errors the next time out, but we can’t make promises to be perfect because we’re only human. Note that if it’s not on the solution’s public-facing site or if we don’t see it while using their site, we simply won’t change what we’ve got. We put a premium on the direct user experience.
We’re working to make sense of the overcomplicated CPA CPE world for our fellow accounting practitioners. And in all cases, we suggest you spend time on any sites you are considering to see for yourself. Poke around, take some free courses, be sure before you buy.