SoftwareSAAS AND PAAS
Coda has launched Coda2go, an on-demand accounting system built from the ground up on SalesForce.com’s Force.com “platform-as-a-service.” Because of its connection with SalesForce, the early release lets users go from “Opportunities” in the CRM system direct to creating an invoice and posting the transaction on the sales ledger. General ledger accounting, purchase-to-pay and sales-order processing functionality will be added in the coming months. Subscriptions start at $125 per month per user.
49 TOO MANY?
Modern management theory would suggest that the United States, in the form of its 50 states, has too many operating divisions, and should flatten its hierarchical structure to, say, five mega-states. Until a new set of Founding Fathers gets to work on this, services like CCH’s State Tax Smart Charts will be indispensable. It provides reliable, comprehensive research on a wide range of important state tax topics, displayed in easy-to-understand charts. Annual subscriptions cost $499 and include CCH Tax Tracker News.
Separately, CCH has added a Knowledge-Based Audits of Employee Benefits Plans module to its Accounting Research Manager, and added the Ernst & Young Payroll Resource Library to its Internet Research Network.
http://cchgroup.com or (877) CCH-4TAX
It was either Field Marshal Helmuth Von Moltke or The A-Team’s “Hannibal” Smith who said, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” — a dictum that applies as much to business as to war. Software developer Alight knows this, which is why the latest release of its business planning and analysis software, Alight Planning, includes new features for combining actuals data into plan files, so users can refine and revise their plans to keep up with real-world developments. Other new features in Version 4.5 include enhanced variance and causal analysis, improved rolling forecasts, and upgrades to make using the program faster and more convenient.
If accountants’ relationship with spreadsheets could be described as “love/hate,” then ClusterSeven’s Enterprise Spreadsheet Manager would definitely fall into the “tough love” category, or at least “light bondage.” It tames a business’ unruly spreadsheets and maintains their integrity with automated and centralized version history and an audit trail of changes made. It also ensures segregation of duties, and works on spreadsheets wherever they are, whether they’re in Excel in your office, or online with Google. In other words, wherever they are, whatever they do, you’ll be able to control your spreadsheets like a jealous lover.
MASSAGES FOR ALL
With so many accounting firms offering in-office massages as a tax season break, it makes perfect sense that they’d be interested in the SpaCapsule, which you can place in any room to offer massage, aromatherapy, and audio and visual relaxation to your stressed-out staff.
But just think — if it makes your staff happy, what will it do for your clients? Once you get them used to it, you can add a “SpaCapsule surcharge” to your bills, and it can become a profit center. Soon you’ll be able to afford a whole fleet of capsules, and you won’t have to offer accounting services anymore.
As sometime-Accounting Today contributor Alfred King points out, the notion of “fair value” is pretty slippery and extremely complex, which makes his new book, Executive’s Guide to Fair Value very timely for corporate leaders who are being required to mark more and more balance sheet items to market value. While King is not a fan of its use in financial reporting, he is an expert on the subject, and the book is an excellent guide to understanding and making the most of the new valuation rules, including discussions of fair value in mergers and acquisitions; valuing everything from property, plant and equipment to intangible assets; picking the right appraiser; and much more.
John Wiley & Sons; $50
We won’t lie to you: There’s no reason to read Two Hundred Years of Accounting Research. It won’t make your business more profitable, and it won’t make you richer, sexier or taller. On the other hand, for those who are interested in the theoretical side of accounting, this is a comprehensive survey of the astonishing (to us, at least) range and variety of accounting thought and thinkers since 1800.
At over 300 pages (plus another 300 of sources, references and indexes), the book may be a little too comprehensive for the general reader, and you may not care about in-depth coverage of, say, Poland’s most important accounting theoreticians, but the mere fact that such a wealth of thought has been going on for so long and in so many countries is fascinating, and we find it hard to resist tidbits like a discussion of accounting theory in Stalinist Russia, or the contest between so-called “American” accounting (actually invented by a Frenchman) and other local forms in Europe in the early 1800s.
Routledge (Taylor & Francis); $190
KNEEL BEFORE US!
As professional lackeys and spear carriers, we here at New Products are happy to see that there is finally a book devoted to us: Followership (Harvard Business School Press, $29.95) bucks the standard business-book emphasis on leadership by focusing on the attitudes and characteristics of grunts like us, and our growing importance to the modern organization. And that’s as it should be; after all, a leader without followers is just Al Haig.
Once you’ve gotten to know us a little better through Followership, you can find out how to manage us better in The Truth About Getting the Best from People (FT Press, $18.99), which offers a series of specific — and not very expensive — strategies to help you create employees who are deeply engaged in their jobs. And while you may think that engaged employees who add value and boost profitability and innovation are nice, but not necessary, the book underscores the importance of keeping all of us followers on side by pointing out statistics that show that disaffected and unengaged employees cost the U.S. economy as much as $350 billion a year. Besides, there are a lot more of us than there are of you. Consider yourself warned!
TIME FOR A CHANGE
Like fashion trends, religious movements and viral outbreaks, organizational change almost always begins with a single individual who manages to overcome a range of obstacles. In the case of organizational change, It Starts with One makes the case that the main obstacles are three “brain barriers” in people’s mental maps: the failure to see, the failure to move and the failure to finish. The book aims to show change agents how to get people to see, move on and finish the changes necessary for their companies to survive and thrive in an atmosphere that requires ever-greater degrees of adaptability.
Wharton School Publishing; $24.99
ALSO IN PRINT
If you’re looking to offer your financial planning clients something different, Becoming Your Own China Stock Guru (Wiley, $34.95) can make you, well, a China stock guru.
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