Is it 2013 already?
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QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise Systems, Accountant, and Online 2013
Apparently it is for Intuit, which launched a raft of new QuickBooks releases for 2013 in September. For QuickBooks Online, the new Downloaded Transactions feature makes it much easier to deal with data imported electronically from financial institutions, intelligently categorizing each transaction and giving users much more flexibility, while the new Money Bar centralizes all the information regarding money coming into a business. QBO also now makes it easier to link up with powerful third-party apps and add-ons through the Intuit App Center -- and in a separate announcement, Intuit noted that it had added multi-currency and multi-language capabilities to take QBO global.
QuickBooks Pro and Premier, meanwhile, come with a new design that should make them easier to navigate and use, including a new QuickBooks Ribbon that gives you easy access to commonly used menu items, as well as a host of smaller "delighter" improvements, and tighter integration with the Intuit App Center. QuickBooks Enterprise Systems boasts improved capabilities in inventory, such as bar-code scanning and the ability to track inventory by location (such as row, shelf, etc.), while QuickBooks Accountant now lets users batch-enter transactions, and e-mail general journal entries to clients, which they can click to import.
Ready to get ready?
CCH Small Firm Services
Intuit isn't the only vendor thinking about 2013 -- CCH SFS is also getting ready for next year's tax season with the release of the latest version of its ATX tax software, ATX 2012. The new release includes a Client Communications Manager that lets users create custom content for interactions with clients, as well as a Return Manager feature to help preparers manage their clients and workflow. ATX 2012 also lets users open up multiple returns at once for greater flexibility, and offers new print packet functionality, as well as the ability to add watermarks to printed returns. Tax season is just around the corner, folks ... .
And once you're done ...
New River Innovation
If tax season is just around the corner, then post-tax season is just around the corner after that - though some of your clients may still find themselves mired in the current post-tax season, as October 15 approaches. Either way, it's worth noting the new release from post-tax-filing services leader New River Innovation, which opened many accountants' eyes to the possibilities involved in offering post-filing services through its Web-based Beyond415 product, which lets firms streamline and automate everything from simple administrative tasks to resolving complex client issues. The new Beyond415 TeamWork is aimed at helping large firms by making it easier for their experts to add their own unique processes to the guidance database, and create their own custom templates and document sets. It also includes a number of enhancements, from more issue guidance and improved search capabilities to a new iPhone app and improved support for importing client data.
Cleaning up at home
Administrators' Leadership Program
ConvergenceCoaching and Keller Advisors
Have you ever noticed that when they talk about cutting-edge business management and administration techniques, none of them were developed at accounting firms? That's because for years (decades, even), firm administration was rudimentary at best, left stunted as firms focused on their clients' problems. That began to change, however, in the 1990s, and many firms now approach their internal administration and HR functions much more professionally, adopting serious policies and best practices, and creating high-level positions to oversee them. Two prominent consultants in this area, ConvergenceCoaching and Keller Advisors, have teamed up to offer this growing cadre of firm administrators an education and community-building opportunity through their new Administrators' Leadership Program, which will combine four virtual roundtables where administrators can connect and exchange ideas with opportunities for individualized one-on-one coaching. It should go a long way to help professionalize this too-long-neglected corner of accounting practice.
The Sid Kess Approach: 60 Years of Best Practices in Tax, Education, Careers and Life
AICPA; $33.75 (members, $27)
Sid Kess has been synonymous with tax education for many years, but this new book is not about tax: It's really about Sid, and the lessons he has to teach outside of tax. Part tribute, part leadership primer and part inspirational text, The Sid Kess Approach ultimately offers a pathway for personal and professional satisfaction. You may not be able to match Kess' profound interest in people, his deep and ever-growing expertise, or his imaginative approach to his field, but he still points the way to success.
A good way to begin
Basic Accounting Simplified: A Primer for Beginning and Struggling Accounting Students
GSL Galactic Publishing; $13.95
Hard as it may be to believe, accounting doesn't come naturally to everyone - not even to those who like numbers. Those without a natural bent for it, from students to business clients, may struggle with it, and it can be hard for those who find it easy to explain it to those who find it hard. Basic Accounting Simplified aims to help, giving straightforward explanations of the foundational principles, so that beginners can comprehend them and move on to more complex areas. Exhibiting a full set of books, it explains journal entries and how they relate to the trial balance, displays and explains the journals and ledgers and all postings, and covers the steps necessary to make financial statements.
Do what they say and do
Online Marketing for Professional Services
Hinge Marketing; free
Just as firms need to sharpen up their administration (see "Cleaning up at home," above), they also need to professionalize their marketing. Just as many firms have begun to embrace the idea of getting into traditional marketing, however, marketing itself has changed radically, moving online with a vengeance. Hinge Marketing's free PDF, Online Marketing for Professional Services, is a good primer on the subject, with lots of interesting data on what works and what doesn't from a survey the consultant ran with over 500 professional services firms. And the PDF is, in and of itself, an excellent example of top-notch professional services marketing, building Hinge's brand even as it offers valuable advice to potential clients.
Let the Internet do it!
It's not that people couldn't handle their personal budgets and organize their finances before the Internet -- it's that they couldn't do it in a candy-colored, game-like environment. To be fair, people are so hopeless at budgeting and organizing that any help, however candy-colored it is, is worth it -- and may well make the difference that years of scolding by CPAs, bankruptcy lawyers and angry spouses couldn't. Two new tools you might recommend to clients are the PowerWallet, an online budgeting tool that lets them upload their financial transactions, get an overview of their financial situation, monitor their spending and more, and the DivaDocsApp, a financial document organizer designed for women. It's from DivaCFO.com, a financial blog and education site aimed at helping women manage their finances better. Both tools are free, and have plans to introduce rewards programs.
New and improved!
Roger CPA Review has released its latest online CPA Exam review course, which now includes an interactive learning system, and is accessible through mobile devices like iPads, iPhones and Android devices. ... SmartVault has released a set of mobile applications so users can browse, search, view and share documents from its document storage and sharing solutions on iPads. ... CCH has released Knowledge-Based Audits of Commercial Entities and an accompanying toolset, Knowledge-Based Audit Methodology: Commercial Entities, to help accounting firms and auditors with the new clarified standards from the American Institute of CPAs.