Software & EquipmentSKIP THE IRS
As Wesley Snipes found out, there are very few ways you can get around the Internal Revenue Service. One of the few we’ve heard of is TaxScripts, which vastly speeds up the process of requesting transcripts and prior-year information from the service. For qualified tax pros, it automates the process of submitting disclosure authorizations and transcript requests, and downloading the results, so you don’t have to bother with the IRS E-Services method. And, unlike most attempts to bypass the taxman, it’s completely legal.
THE WEATHER’S NEXT
Like the weather, spreadsheets are one of those things people always complain about. Unlike the weather, people are actually doing something about improving spreadsheets. Take Jedox AG’s Excel collaboration software, Palo 2.5, which lets enterprises centralize important spreadsheet data and make it accessible to users across the organization. The latest edition includes improved read and write-back performance, and faster data processing. It also allows for advanced queries, better drill-down to source data, and more. So spreadsheets are getting better — but the weather’s getting worse ... .
WHATEVER ‘IT’ IS
Feel like your firm’s been left out of the whole Web 2.0/social networking thing? Online services provider Dotster has unveiled Dotster Connect, a suite of social networking and media-sharing capabilities that let small businesses get with “it” (whatever “it” is) with blogging, community forums, polls, real-time interaction with clients and the like. We here at New Products are officially terrified by this brave new world, but our younger colleagues tell us this is all the rage — and your younger staff probably feels the same.
Thomson Tax & Accounting has partnered with Edgar Online to launch I-Metrix Powered by Checkpoint, an XBRL-enabled tool that lets users instantly retrieve financial data filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Edgar information system, and access it in Excel for benchmarking, financial analysis or just plain fun.
SURRENDER TO SAAS
The long period where we could safely ignore Software as a Service has ended in a flood of new SaaS products, and their ever-increasing acceptance in the market. Among the latest: On-demand billing vendor Zuora has partnered with on-demand integration specialist Boomi to allow users of its SaaS billing solution to integrate with either on-demand or on-premise financial or customer relationship management applications simply and quickly. Now you can’t ignore SaaS either.
During our days as a crack addict, we were forever swaddling our vials in rags to protect them from the rough treatment meted out by police truncheons, other addicts and the general vicissitudes of life in the gutter. Otter Box couldn’t help us with that, but they can help safeguard our new addiction with their line of BlackBerry cases, which protect our e-crack against bumps, drops and dust, while leaving all functions fully accessible.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
BWise has launched BWise Internal Audit, a new module for its governance, risk and compliance suite, to help plan, manage and report on internal audits.
MORE STONE TABLETS, QUICK!
If Moses had been an accounting regulator, he would have been up and down Mount Sinai two or three times a day to pick up new additions, clarifications and corrections to the Ten Commandments. The last few years have seen an explosion of regulations, laws and ethics code revisions for accountants, and keeping track of the multitude will undoubtedly have you coveting CCH’s new Multistate Guide to Ethics and Professional Conduct, a comprehensive, up-to-date collection with interpretations of key standards; complex, real-life scenarios and guidance; and a Q&A section on gray areas.
CCH; $215 (stone tablets extra)
It’s often difficult to understand the effort that goes into making sure nothing goes wrong, which is why corporate compliance programs — like counter-terrorism operations and birth control — are rarely noticed until they fail. But making sure nothing happens is a complex, intensive effort, as Building a World-Class Compliance Program makes clear. It discusses the long-term development of compliance and the recent upheavals that have made it both more important and more complex than ever before, and then lays out best practices on everything from building support for ethics and setting the right “tone at the top,” to seven steps for actually implementing an effective program.
For best practices that can make something happen, consider Corporate Management, Governance, and Ethics Best Practices, which starts in the same territory of governance and ethics, but then goes deeply into management and operational strategies that can make a company not only good, but much better, with advice on the management of everything from finance and marketing to information technology and human resources.
Finally, Executive Compensation Best Practices gets into a particularly thorny area where companies want one thing to happen (top executive performance), while making sure another doesn’t (shareholder and public uproar over high salaries and perks). With detailed advice on tying performance to compensation, competing for talent, dealing with stakeholders and much more, including advice for executives on their side of compensation negotiations, the book is an excellent guide.
John Wiley & Sons; Building — $45, Corporate — $65, Compensation — $50
The question we always ask when we read a case study of a brilliant business success is, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The question we should be asking is, “Why did they think of it?” Outsmart! aims to answer that, examining in depth a number of “high velocity” businesses in a wide range of fields — including manufacturing, services, health care and distribution — and teasing out the strategies that you and your clients can then apply yourselves. It offers valuable lessons on discovering customers’ needs, developing new business models, thinking creatively, seeing the obvious and much more.
FT Press; $22.99
BEN HUR AND THE AARP
Accounting firms facing staff shortages and the imminent mass exodus of the Baby Boom generation may be tempted by the “galley” school of management: Chain employees to their oars until they die or the ship sinks. The more tenderhearted can consult Working Longer, which can help them achieve the same result legally. The book offers strategies for attracting and retaining older employees, with information on HR challenges, the health and safety needs of older workers, ways to tap into a retiree base, and much more. It also makes the under-appreciated point that older workers needn’t be just a stopgap until the latest round of recruits is brought to the docks — they frequently offer great depths of experience, knowledge and rowing skills.
Amacom Books; $29.95
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