SoftwareUSEFUL AT LAST

Someone may finally have found a killer app for all those iPods that are going unused out there - podcasts of continuing professional education courses for accountants. CCH has created a CPE Podcast Center where you can download entire courses to your PC or portable music player. There's no charge until you decide to get credit by taking the online course exam, which is graded immediately. There are currently four courses available, but more are scheduled. If this takes off, it could be the thing that finally takes the iPod mainstream.

www.cchpodcast.com

MYSPACE FOR PFP

MySpace and Facebook are all the rage with the kids these days, but that doesn't mean that adults other than Rupert Murdoch can't benefit from so-called "social media." The recently launched FinancialBrowsers.com aims to bring financial planners together with the rapidly aging Baby Boom generation by offering planners space to create an online profile to draw in clients. And in the interests of gaining some longer-term clients, they might also consider posting a few comments about cute boys and their favorite parts of High School Musical 2.

www.financialbrowsers.com

LESS CHIMP WORK

It seems a waste to have highly skilled professionals or expensive temps do the sort of mindless work that can be done by chimps - or clever pieces of software. CCH Small Firm Services has launched Scan&Fill, a program that digitizes information from W-2 and 1099 forms, avoiding the need for data entry. Designed for CCH's ATX and TaxWise tax prep software, Scan&Fill lets users review and edit scanned information, and then use it to populate tax returns - all while creating digital records that can go in a document management system, which should ease the pressure on the filing chimps.

www.atxinc.com, www.taxwise.com or (706) 290-7091

DASHES FOR ALL

Small cars have dashboards just like large ones, so why shouldn't small businesses have them, just like large ones? Centage thinks they should, and has released the Budget Maestro Dashboard Kit for small and midsized companies. The easy-to-set-up kit works with Excel 2007, and comes with four key performance indicator templates that users can customize. Besides working with Centage's Budget Maestro performance management software, the kit is also compatible with just about any business intelligence solution that can read a SQL database - all for a license fee of $1,995.

www.centage.com

WORKFLOWING

XCM Solutions has released the latest edition of its XCM workflow and information automation software, which controls all the steps in a work process, and provides a central repository for information such as permanent file notes and preparer or reviewer comments. Version 5.0 also offers integration with CCH's ProSystem fx Document, so that users can access important documents from that document management solution as work moves around the firm.

www.xcmsolutions.com

NEW AND IMPROVED!

NetSuite has integrated support for CyberSource's global payment acceptance services into its online accounting products. ... CCH has added the capabilities of EMC's Captiva document capture software to its ProSystem fx Scan solution for more accurate data extraction through better image enhancement.

Books

HANDBOOKS WRIT LARGE

We've noticed a disturbing trend in business publishing of late: the expansion of the handbook to the point where it must, in all decency, be called a handsbook, since it takes two to lift one. A case in point is the 11th edition of Wiley's Accountants' Handbook, which is so comprehensive that it actually comes in two enormous volumes (Financial Accounting and General Topics and Special Industries and Special Topics). Mind you, we're not objecting to having an up-to-date reference work that covers current reporting and financial statement issues; we're not even objecting to the size, per se, since it's actually fairly easy to find what you're looking for. We just want the book's name to reflect its mammoth heft.

John Wiley & Sons; $95

NOT KANSAS ANYMORE

As any reasonable person would, we assumed that All Your Money Won't Another Minute Buy would be about 1970s rock anthem "Dust in the Wind." Instead, it's about tracking employee time and using the data to boost individual and corporate profitability. While billable-hour junkies like accountants may be used to accounting for every minute, your clients likely aren't, and author Curt Finch (who is also, coincidentally, the CEO of time-tracking software vendor Journyx) explains the value for businesses of a time-accounting platform, and offers real-world case studies and tips on a variety of related topics, such as compensation, billing, project management and accounting, and more. All of which, we suppose, is just as interesting, and probably more useful, than anything anyone could write about any song by Kansas.

Lulu.com; $16.99

FAST IN, FAT OUT

Building teams used to be easy: You picked the fast, athletic kids first, and the fat, slow kids last (if at all). Now, with a lot more than playground bragging rights riding on the outcome, there are no easy guidelines like weight and speed to help you develop an efficient, productive team. The recently updated second edition of The Team-Building Tool Kit can help, with plenty of fast and ready-to-use techniques for all aspects of getting people to work together successfully, while The First-Time Manager's Guide to Team Building can help those whose only experience with teams is limited to lining up against a chain-link fence.

Amacom Books; Tool Kit - $17.95, First-Time - $15

BANKRUPTCY

Once upon a time, the punishment for going bankrupt was shame. Now, it's having to go through the incredibly complex rules for going bankrupt. Two new books from Nolo can offer some valuable guidance to any of your clients who are unfortunate enough to need it. The New Bankruptcy examines the massive changes made recently to both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well as how the courts have interpreted the new regulations in the year since they were introduced. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy focuses specifically on that form of going broke, covering everything the penniless will need to go through it.

Nolo; New Bankruptcy - $21.99,

Chapter 13 - $39.99

FEASIBLE FUNDRAISING

Whenever we go, cap in hand, to beg a little change for our morning bagel and coffee, we always check a few things: Is our cap strong enough to hold a lot of change? Have we seeded it with enough coins? Does the corner we've staked out have enough foot traffic? These are the small-scale equivalent of the expert advice offered in The Fundraising Feasibility Study: It's Not About the Money, which lays out a step-by-step process for nonprofits to follow before they begin a capital campaign, to see if it will be worth the effort. With two complete feasibility studies and plenty of practical advice, the book should help nonprofits and the professionals who advise them devise better, more successful capital campaigns.

John Wiley & Sons; $50

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