Software & HardwareMIND THE GAAP
With all signs indicating that U.S. GAAP is sinking, accountants and some farsighted companies are getting ready to abandon ship and shift over to International Financial Reporting Standards — and Pyramus
Consulting’s IFRS on Demand stands ready to ferry them over. The Software-as-a-Service offering automates GAAP-to-IFRS conversion projects and engagements, and offers a Web-based repository for assessments, schedules and other documents, making it easier to collaborate over the conversion process, so no one goes overboard in the cold, deep water between accounting standards.
www.pyramusconsulting.com or (609) 524-4373
WATCH THIS SPACE
No one wants to take the CPA Exam twice, which is why review courses have always been able to charge steep fees. In an intriguing reversal of that strategy, though, Web site CPAReviewforFree.com is offering exam review questions, answers and explanations, as well as other course materials, for, well, free. The site is supported by advertising — an idea we found so interesting we’ve decided to experiment with it here. This New Products item, for instance, was brought to you by Cheetos.
DON’T CASH OUT!
Embezzlement. Insurance fraud. Scamming the elderly. Bank robbery. These are all better ways to raise money than raiding your 401(k), yet it can be hard to convince clients of that. Rollover Systems has created a calculator that presents the consequences of pre-retirement cash-outs — penalties and foregone income — in clear and terrifying terms. Once the calculator has convinced your clients not to cash out, it’s up to you to steer them to one of the other choices, so their retirement account can continue to grow while they serve out their sentences.
Taxcient has beefed up its vCert tax-exempt certification system with the new vCert Retail in-store exemption certificate management system, which connects the corporate tax department directly to the schlub behind the counter, so retailers can instantly find the certificate for the Church of New Products, or collect the new one we just forged. It includes a wizard to make sure the correct forms are completed, and an optical signature pad to make most certificates fully electronic.
ClusterSeven has released the latest version of its Enterprise Spreadsheet Manager, which lets users monitor and maintain the integrity of important spreadsheets. Version 5.0 includes file discovery, risk analysis, logic checking and enhanced version comparability functionality, and the ability to create dashboards that track changes, user access and more.
SpiderOak has unveiled an online backup and storage solution that lets you securely store and access documents, photos, files and more, and also create password-protected “ShareRooms” where you can share documents with, say, a client. The first two gigabytes of storage are free, which may be enough for sole or very small practitioners, and at $10 up to 20 GBs and $5 for each 10 GBs thereafter, it scales up nicely for larger practices.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
CCH has enhanced the Internal Controls Library on its Accounting Research Manager platform with the second edition of Guide to Internal Controls Under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. It has also added an FAS 157 Q&A to ARM, and an FAS 109/IAS 12 Manager to its Tax Research Network.
Our kids have been pestering us for an audit committee ever since the family next door got one, but before we commit, we wanted to check out how much trouble they are. As Care and Feeding of Your Audit Committee was checked out of the library, we lighted on Audit Committee Essentials, which turned out to tell us everything we needed to know about the growing role, duties and responsibilities of audit committees, best practices, the personal and legal characteristics of effective members, and their overall importance to governance and risk management. It’s full of useful decision tables, checklists and other practice aids, and left us feeling ready to take the plunge. If we could be sure the kids would walk and feed it, we’d get an audit committee tomorrow.
John Wiley & Sons; $45
We here at New Products have done very well for ourselves by fostering a baseline attitude of complacency, punctuated by bursts of false urgency to put off overzealous bosses, so we were curious to see what possible benefits there could be in developing a true sense of urgency. It turns out there are a lot of them, according to change management expert John Kotter’s A Sense of Urgency. Real, honest urgency, Kotter maintains, is the prime ingredient of any successful change in your business, and he outlines a number of tactics for promoting it in your colleagues and staff. Filled with examples of real-life behavior, the book is particularly insightful on the often-unconscious signals both managers and employees give off that can have an enormous effect on perceptions of urgency.
Harvard Business Press; $22
EVERYTHING FOR DUMMIES
Let’s face it — all those other people in all those other departments and professions are idiots. They know nothing about accounting and, worse yet, seem to have little interest in learning. It’s probably a vain effort, but you can try to enlighten them a little with Financial Intelligence for IT Professionals and Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals, which offer them a grounding in the all-important numbers side of things and how it effects their realms. This way, they won’t sound quite so stupid when they talk to you, and they might make fewer foolish financial decisions that endanger their ability to pay your bill.
HARVARD BUSINESS PRESS; $24.95 EACH POLICY-SHARING
It turns out that our company has all kinds of policies requiring the wearing of pants while in the office, but they were not adequately communicated to the staff. Failure to develop and share corporate policies is a common problem, not least in finance and accounting. Rose Hightower’s new Accounting and Finance Policies and Procedures is an easy-to-use how-to guide for companies and their accountants to establish and disseminate rules for all the most important accounting processes. Better still, the contents of the entire book are available online, so you can download and customize them for any local quirks — like mandatory pants.
John Wiley & Sons; $75
Our first question about XBRL is why the Extensible Business Reporting Language isn’t called EBRL. XBRL for Dummies (www.xbrlfordummies.com) doesn’t answer that, but it does offer a clear, comprehensible explanation of this reporting revolution, and what it means for business. ... CCH’s Business Incentives Guide gives readers the scoop on the best places to set up shop — if lush tax credits and the like are what you’re looking for.
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