Software, Hardware & ServicesAUTOMATING AUTOMATION
While some may have thought that installing QuickBooks would automate their bookkeeping process, it turns out that there's room to automate the QuickBooks process, with the Real Time Bookkeeping System from ManageComm Inc. This solution integrates hardware, software and services (including scanners, dual-screen monitors, a document management system, dashboards and a Web site) to digitize and process source documents so that a company's QuickBooks data, which is maintained on an RTB server, is constantly updated, accurate and accessible to both the company and its accountant.
As regulations pile up, business processes multiply, and the pressure builds, every aspect of accounting is becoming more and more specialized, and specialized tools are a must. Enter The Accounts Payable Network, an online repository of best practices, templates, benchmarking data, and advice and news on the latest developments in AP processes and technology, covering everything from preventing fraud and complying with regulations, to that last painful moment when the check is signed and mailed.
Sarbanes-Oxley has now acquired so much gravity that it has begun sucking in and putting its stamp on every single product and company in the universe. Take, for example, graphics software vendor SmartDraw, which now has 22 new Smart Templates on its Web site. Each loads a diagram-specific command set and instructions to help users document and analyze their internal controls. The templates are available in the SmartDraw Resource Center, which also offers white papers on best practices. Next up: SOX-compliant paper clips.
Having successfully dethroned competitors like the cave wall and the clay tablet, paper has gotten a little cocky over the past 2,500 years - but it looks like a scrappy little newcomer, the PDF, is set to pose a serious challenge to its dominance. PDFs seem to be everywhere nowadays, and form the backbone of many document retention, management and distribution systems.
But the competition isn't just between paper and PDFs - there's also competition between Acrobat, the PDF-creation tool from Adobe (which invented the PDF), and several smaller companies offering PDF software. Two recent contenders are Nitro PDF and Docudesk's deskUNPDF. Nitro PDF emphasizes its security and protection features, while deskUNPDF promotes the accuracy and consistency of its conversions, but both are cheaper than Acrobat, and offer quick and easy PDF creation. Either way, paper better watch its back.
DeskUNPDF - www.docudesk.com, $39.95; NitroPDF - www.nitropdf.com, $99
NEW AND IMPROVED!
AccuFund (www.accufund.com) has released a Budget Development module for its AccuFund Accounting Suite for nonprofits. ... Maxwell Systems (www.maxwellsystems.com) has released the latest edition of its job-cost accounting software for contractors, American Contractor 7.5. ... Softrax Corp. (www.softrax.com) has released Softrax Revenue Manager, which manages revenue recognition in ERP systems.
A NEW TOOL
Most business tools have given up their secrets; we are unlikely to discover unexpected uses for the stapler, the water cooler or the pink slip. One area that does have unplumbed depths, however, is the use of data analytics. While many companies have begun paying attention to various data and using it to tweak their operations, Competing on Analytics argues that the dissection of corporate, market and demographic data can - and must - move to the forefront, becoming not just an adjunct, but a prime business driver. It makes a good case, too, not least by demonstrating the rewards that companies like Netflix, Harrah's, Cemex, Capital One and Barclays Bank have reaped through the primacy of business analytics.
Harvard Business School Press; $29.95
OX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX SOX.
It's true: If you say the word often enough, it starts to become meaningless. That is not true, unfortunately, for the actual law, which remains meaningful even after a company achieves compliance. That arduous process is only the beginning; once in compliance, you have to stay there. Sarbanes-Oxley Ongoing Compliance, a refreshingly slim SOX book by expert Anne Marchetti, offers step-by-step guidance and checklists for setting up an ongoing compliance program, so the achievements of that first year aren't lost in the repetition.
Internal Audit Reports Post Sarbanes-Oxley, meanwhile, focuses narrowly on both the changes to, and the new importance of, the titular report that have resulted from the law. It contains a host of checklists, samples and templates, discusses the new tools and technology available, and offers advice on the best way to write carefully organized, accessible reports that offer value and insight.
John Wiley & Sons; Ongoing Compliance - $35; Internal Audit Reports - $50
We here at New Products love a good personality quiz, and Career Match offers a doozy. It promises to tell you what type of job best suits you, what kind of boss you should have, and whether you're on the right career path. While the fact that it's based around a color-coded personality assessment may make it seem like something ripped from the pages of Cosmo, the book is insightful and complex enough that the danger exists that you just might learn something about yourself. Better still, once you've determined your personality type, it offers a collection of surprisingly useful (and sometimes downright Machiavellian) tips for dealing with other personality types.
Amacom Books; $15
We don't ordinarily have anything bad to say about TV, but if we had one teensy criticism, it would be that it has given viewers an overly simplistic view of the legal system. It's not enough to shout objections and produce last-minute witnesses, so accountants interested in getting involved in the booming niche of litigation services would be well-advised to study the Litigation Services Handbook. While it doesn't have the narrative drive of an episode of Law and Order, it's a comprehensive reference to everything you need to participate in court cases as a financial expert. That said, fairness dictates that we add that everything you've learned from TV about medicine, police work and the size of Manhattan apartments is completely accurate.
John Wiley & Sons; $190
ALSO IN PRINT
Forecasting Volatility in the Financial Markets (Butterworth-Heinemann, $89.95) ... The Effective Measurement and Management of ICT Costs & Benefits (CIMA Publishing/Elsevier, $52.95).
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