Software, Services & HardwareSIGN EVERYWHERE
Quality Signatures' product is so cool we can't even think of anything funny to say about it: Essentially, they scan your signature and turn it into a font, so that you can type your signature into all kinds of electronic documents, including PDFs. It's better than a scan of your signature because it scales up and down in size without any loss of clarity - plus, now there'll be a font named after you, just like Mr. Times Roman and Ms. Arial. They can also make a font of your corporate logo.
E-mail brain used to be an oxymoron, since most e-mails are brainless. Now, however, EmailBrain is a tool from Dotster for creating, managing, sending and tracking newsletters and e-mail marketing campaigns. It offers small and midsized businesses an HTML editor, template library, and online image and document hosting capabilities for creating sophisticated communications, and then lets them track the results with data on how many e-mails were opened, read and acted on. At last, there's a brain behind e-mail.
You have so many tax returns, source documents, tax-prep screens and Facebook pages to look at that one monitor simply can't contain them all: You need more monitors! "But wait," you say, "I have too little desk space!" You need a bigger desk! "But my firm won't give me a bigger desk!" You need a new firm!
Or, less radically, one of Atdec's Visidec Freestanding monitor-mounting solutions. These are essentially computer-friendly scaffolding, with cable management systems that hide all your cords in the poles, letting you mount up to four monitors that you can rotate and tilt back and forth, so you'll never have to choose between YouTube and those scanned W-2s again.
Being a fiduciary means people are counting on you, which can be a heavy burden. So it's nice to know that retirement plan sponsors and other fiduciaries can, in turn, rely on Benefit Plans Plus' new Fiduciary Health Check, which offers a snapshot assessment of compliance structures and processes to identify areas for improvement and help make sure everyone's living up to their responsibilities - and staying out of court.
www.bpp401k.com or (314) 983-1200
LOSE MORE DATA!
Products like Toshiba's new 400GB portable external hard drive make it easy for accountants to take vast amounts of data with them wherever they go - home, to client sites, to satellite offices and so on. At just six ounces (and with a very stylish design), the Toshiba USB 2.0 drive also comes with software that automates backups. The flip side of that small size and extreme portability, of course, is that they make it that much easier to lose vast amounts of data.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
NetSuite's on-demand business and accounting applications now support Google's new Chrome Internet browser. ... CCH has added the Oil and Gas Taxation Library to its Tax Research Network ... Drake Software has teamed up with InterceptEFT to allow direct deposit of payroll through its Client Write-Up application. ... Epson has launched the WorkForce line of printers and "all-in-ones" designed to offer printing, scanning and image output specifically for micro-businesses of up to five employees.
Before the hemlock kicked in, Socrates' most famous dictum was "Know thyself," so we suspect he would heartily approve the recent trend toward business intelligence and its emphasis on collecting and analyzing information about your business. Drive Business Performance goes a little beyond the Greek philosopher, showing you what your business can do with all that self-knowledge, and how it can drive a "culture of performance." In addition to detailing some of the more popular performance methodologies,
it also includes many real-life examples from Fortune 500 companies. Because Socrates himself probably would have arrived at "Grow thyself," if he hadn't stopped at "Know what hemlock does before you drink it."
John Wiley & Sons; $39.95
CAN'T TELL THE PLAYERS ...
You wouldn't use a baseball scorecard when you're bowling, so why rate your professional services business with a scorecard designed for manufacturing? Service Scorecard aims to update those older performance-measurement systems specifically for services companies. With its own framework for measuring success in services, the book can show you how to set targets, benchmark performance, identify opportunities for improvement, and know when you've hit a home run - not bowled a strike.
FT Press; $39.99
THANKS FOR THE WARNING, MOM
We used to make a point of warning you to be prepared for disasters, but then Mother Nature started doing it for us, with a barrage of floods, wildfires, droughts and the like, with Gustav and Ike only the most recent examples. And while they may have been far less damaging than Katrina, and the response was better, they still meant flooding, blackouts and millions evacuated. That's why Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best deserves a spot on the shelf of every managing partner or firm administrator, so your business can be sure to make it through the next of Mother's warnings.
John Wiley & Sons; $45
LEADING WITH KINDNESS
The fact that the premise of Leading with Kindness seems counter-intuitive only shows the degree to which the world-view of American business culture has been skewed by the atrocities of a few vicious bosses, both fictional and real. That we have to be reminded that compassion, integrity, gratitude, humility and humor - the elements the book identifies as components of "kindness" - inspire people to work harder and better together, is really sort of embarrassing, when you think about it. The book makes a strong case for replacing the Gekko School of Management with the George Bailey Method, and for not confusing a leader's kindness with weakness. It does not have much to say, however, about those rare occasions when you have to be cruel in order to be kind.
Amacom Books; $24.95
BROWN PAPER COVERS
Here's a book not to get caught with at the office: No-Nonsense Job Interviews aims to help job-seekers nail this crucial component of the employment process, with advice that starts long before you enter the interview room and continues long after you've said good-bye.
At least if your boss catches you with Job Search Bloopers, you can claim that you're reading it just because it's entertaining (other people's failures always are). But beyond the schadenfreude, the book also draws valuable lessons and give useful tips on resume-writing, cover letters, following up, interviewing, and that most crucial topic, salary negotiation.
Of course, with staff still hard to find, seeing a copy of either of these on your desk might prompt your boss to realize just how much he needs you ... .
Career Press; No-Nonsense - $13.99, Bloopers - $15.99
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