Internal controls are all the rage these days, but the small companies that could benefit the most from implementing them are often unable to do so - so QuickBooks users will welcome the new release of Personable Inc.'s SourceLink Management Edition. Version 4.1 includes strong management features through the ability to add a layer of rules- and roles-based operations and authentication to the near-ubiquitous accounting software, allowing management to enforce financial policies, oversee entries and audit transaction trails, and prevent fraud. The software also offers e-mail alerts, new document management and reporting features, and much more.
Missouri CPA firm Brown Smith Wallace has a couple of interesting tools to help companies choose the best software: The Distribution Software Guide, now in its 17th edition, and the Manufacturing Software Guide, just released for the first time, contain vendor information and product details for the industries they cover, as well as advice, tips and insights into the software selection process. Available online as PDFs, the guides are also complemented by Web sites with more in-depth resources and advice.
Tails and dogs
As everyone knows, the ultimate purpose of any business is the production of financial statements. Factories are built, employees hired, capital invested, and the entire machinery of modern business called into play solely to facilitate the creation of 10Ks, 10Qs and the like.
So why, Clarity Systems asks, is the "last mile" of reporting so difficult? The corporate performance management software vendor has released Clarity Financial Statement Reporting to automate the time-consuming process of preparing statutory filings. Clarity FSR drives reporting from a central database, allowing for easier collaboration and ensuring speed and accuracy. It also allows a number of output options - all of which should make it easier for businesses to fulfill their ultimate purpose
Learn as you go
CCH has linked its Learning Center Core Library of continuing professional education courses more deeply with its Tax Research Network, so that users researching a topic can jump directly to a course on that subject, either for just a brush-up or to take the whole course and earn credit. The Learning Center will even save your place, so you can return later and finish the course.
http://support.cch.com/csinquiry, (800) 344-3734
All in one place
Back in the days when the smart money was kept in the mattress, it was easy to keep track of a client's assets - but harder to invest them. Now there are a million ways to invest, and a million separate accounts to go with them. CashEdge's AllData consolidates client data from a wide variety of sources, including brokerages, custodians, mutual fund providers and more, to create an accurate and detailed "client positions database."
The latest versions of Colligo's SharePoint products, which let users work on SharePoint documents offline and then integrate the changes into SharePoint when they go back online, now include new integration with Microsoft Outlook to drag-and-drop e-mails and the like into SharePoint libraries, a new user interface, support for Microsoft Vista, and more.
For all the complex mathematical models and research that go into valuing a business, the process relies a great deal on judgment, so if a business is hiring a valuer, they'll want the one who's most expert. And if one expert's judgment is good, then 30 experts' judgment must be better - particularly if you don't have to pay them.
The mammoth second edition of Financial Valuation: Applications and Models brings together the expertise of 30 leaders in the field in a comprehensive reference chock full of insights, advice, checklists and invaluable tips on the whole process, including the latest on new developments and niche areas.
John Wiley & Sons; $115
As we write this, the cubicle next to ours is being turned into a Starbucks, so at first we didn't think that Finding the Next Starbucks had anything to tell us. After all, if you can't find a Starbucks these days, you probably can't read, either, so what's the point?
As it turns out, though, the book isn't about guessing the next place the coffee giant will open an outlet (the top two drawers of your desk?), but about finding the next stock that will perform as brilliantly. Author and analyst Michael Moe, who has picked more than his share of winners in the past 15 years, describes the characteristics he looks for in nascent superstars, and the industries with the greatest potential for growth.
Portfolio (Penguin Group); $26.95
Save as you spend
You have to admire a book that questions its own existence: At the very start of Controller and CFO's Guide to Accounts Payable, author Mary Schaeffer asks, "What's the big deal? You get a check and you pay it. How can that possibly take up a whole book?" She then goes through all the varied AP functions to show exactly where a company can lose money, and how to make sure it doesn't. She also explores management issues, such as governance, fraud prevention and detection, and, inevitably, the effect of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. All in all, an excellent guide to creating the kind of accounts payable system of which you can confidently say, "What's the big deal? You get a check and you pay it."
John Wiley & Sons; $45
Bunker or bust
To protect our business, we here at New Products are considering building a concrete-and-steel lined bunker at least 60 feet below the surface, installing our own generator and air-filtration system, and stocking up on food, weapons and office supplies. Then we'll build a separate, identical back-up site at least 300 miles away.
If that sounds a little expensive, we suggest the practical advice in Business Continuity Strategies, which offers a blueprint for protecting your business without bankrupting it, by cutting out the costly gold-plating that often works its way into disaster planning, and focusing instead on the real crises you're likely to face, and the things you'll really need to recover.
John Wiley & Sons; $55
Where there's a will
Speaking of disaster planning, do you know how many of your clients have wills? Death, after all, is pretty disastrous, and many individuals are legally, financially and completely unprepared for it. If you have clients who like to go it alone, you could recommend Nolo's Quicken Willmaker Plus: Estate Planning Essentials, which packages software and a complete resource book that lets users create a will, and understand what they're doing. The latest version also includes forms and guidance for creating powers of attorney, living wills and other crucial late-in-life documents and plans.
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