This month's selection of new software, hardware, books and other products for accountants.
One of the things we here at New Products love is discovering an exciting new tool or solution — and knowing that after several years of benefiting enormously from it, we’ll come to hate it as much as we hated whatever it replaced. Right now, we think cloud-based presentation-creation solution emaze is pretty cool, with its wide range of templates and themed presentations, 2D and 3D environments, and live data streaming, to say nothing of a translation service that supports 90 languages. For now, it’s way ahead of snooze-inducing PowerPoint, with three different pricing plans, support for different levels of collaboration, and many more cutting-edge features. But give us time: Once it’s become an integral part of our lives and we’ve spent years milking it for all it’s worth, we’ll turn on it and fall for something new.
Before 1984, people actually liked most big brothers, looking to them for advice, protection and understanding, with the occasional noogie being a small price to pay for sibling services. After Orwell, though, big bros became Big Brothers, with a negative reputation for spying, surveillance and oppression. Sapience is aiming to rehabilitate Big Brother by putting surveillance to good use: It tracks workplace productivity to promote what it calls the “Mindful Enterprise” — businesses where employers get key insights into macro-level efficiency trends, and employees get personalized data that can help them waste less time and be more efficient. The tool for the latter is Sapience Buddy, which lives on your PC and keeps track of everything you do during the day, so you can learn exactly how much time you spend on social media, and how little on actual work. Then contact your real big brother, and he’ll give you Indian burns until you improve.
Not getting simpler
Tangible Property Regulations Survival Kit: A How-To Manual
If you haven’t heard about the major recent changes to the Internal Revenue Service’s tangible property regs, you’re either in a coma or you’re not an accountant. If you’re in a coma, you don’t need to worry about them; if you’re an accountant, you definitely do — in which case this e-book, in either its full or “Lite” versions, will be a very handy guide to everything you need to know to help you help your clients through it. The author, Roger Upton, is a CPA himself, whose firm has already saved clients over $15 million in taxes through TPR studies.
Links and Pages
All research tools aspire to the condition of instant recall, where a question is answered the moment it’s asked (or maybe a little bit before), and the new Links and Pages in Bloomberg BNA’s Tax & Accounting Center bring that aspiration a little closer to reality, providing integrated shortcuts that offer direct access to relevant definitions, related analysis, primary sources, and practice tools and explanations.
Crowe Use Tax Simplifier
Crowe Horwath LLP
Top 10 Firm Crowe Horwath recently introduced its Use Tax Simplifier, which takes the data in companies’ own ERP systems to help them comply with the complicated and expensive-to-mess-up rules surrounding use tax, potentially saving untold sums of money. Cool as that is, it’s not really the reason we mention the Simplifier: The reason we bring it to your attention is because of the way Crowe has highlighted it and used the tool as a way to draw in clients and showcase the firm’s deep expertise, where many firms would simply use it without fanfare. Think of all the tools you use internally — even if it’s something as simple as an Excel sheet with a lot of formulas that helps you streamline some process. Is there anything in your bag of tricks that you can develop and promote? Don’t worry whether you’re at the cutting edge of innovation like Crowe; just start thinking about all the different ways you bring and create value .
Speaking of which
The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking
Not everyone can have a chief innovation officer like Crowe Horwath — but you can read The Four Lenses of Innovation, which explains how you can make innovation into a systematic, methodical, achievable process for your firm, based on four key strategies: challenging orthodoxies, harnessing trends, leveraging resources, and understanding needs. The main point is that breakthrough ideas aren’t the sole province of a small class of inspired geniuses — as Edison pointed out, they’re mostly sweat, and anyone can sweat.
17” USB monitor
The more monitors you need, the more grateful you’ll be that they’re getting lighter and thinner, with larger screens, like AOC’s new USB models. Since they draw their power from the USB cable, they don’t need power cords, and they come with their own foldable stands, which means you can set them up wherever you need them, which is rapidly becoming wherever you are.
Stories and lies
The Scorecard Solution: Measure What Matters and Drive Sustainable Growth
Amacom Books; $29.95
We ascribe all kinds of story-telling skills to numbers — including the wildly mistaken notion that they don’t lie — but all too often businesses either use numbers to tell themselves fairy tales, or they don’t listen to them at all. The Scorecard Solution aims to arm businesses with a set of measurements that will tell them the truth, the useful truth, and nothing else, in the pursuit of better performance and stronger results.
While the getting’s good
Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security
Simon & Schuster; $19.99
Just because we all stopped talking about the impending collapse of our entitlement programs didn’t mean that it stopped impending — we just stopped talking about it. Get What’s Yours is a savvy guide to getting the most out of Social Security before it goes away, exploring all of the remarkably labyrinthine byways of the program to show you (and your clients, if you share) how to organize their earnings, work schedules, retirement ages, marriages, divorces, deaths and other life choices to maximize the payout.
New and improved!
Thomson Reuters has added e-commerce content to its Checkpoint Catalyst research platform, analyzing each states’ treatment of purely electronic commerce transactions to date, and offering a quick look at recent nexus developments. The American Institute of CPAs’ Conflict Minerals Task Force has developed two new Q&As, 14 and 15, on representations you might obtain in an engagement to perform an independent private-sector audit of a CMR. Separately, the institute released Q&A Section 3700.1 to offer non-authoritative guidance on the Society of Actuaries’ new mortality tables for pension plans. TouchSuite has released Lightning Payments, an auto-sync payment interface that operates within the QuickBooks POS and accounting software. MaxMyInterest has added Consolidated Tax Reporting to its online cash management solution. Online company credit report provider Creditsafe has partnered with business process outsourcing provider iQor to add debt collection to its solutions suite.
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