The economy may have ground to a halt, but it's nice to see that some companies are still forging ahead. Software-as-a-Service vendor Intacct, for instance, continues to improve and expand its offerings. Its recently unveiled Winter 2009 edition included a number of significant enhancements, starting off with a new user interface with greater ease of use and customization, and new search capabilities. It also introduced Intacct Global Consolidations, a new application for handling a nightmarish process that should make it easier for companies with multiple units to record their complete collapse much more easily and efficiently, as well as Intacct MAX for QuickArrow, which integrates Intacct with QuickArrow's professional services automation solution.
The company has also rolled out new pricing and implementation options that, among other things, make Intacct more attractive for companies looking to graduate from QuickBooks.
We here at New Products have often daydreamed about transporting a document so sensitive that it had to be placed in a bombproof briefcase and handcuffed to our wrist. As nothing we write is in any way important or sensitive, this will remain a daydream, but for those of you who deal with important correspondence - like client tax returns and financial information - we've discovered the Internet equivalent of the courier's silver case and titanium handcuffs at Secured-Accountant.com. The company's SaaS technology lets you create a "private e-mail network" that offers two layers of security with high levels of encryption, as well as real-time tracking and audit trails for all messages, and powerful read-and-reply and recall capabilities, so you feel more secure in your communications. We, meanwhile, will continue hiring bodyguards to escort us to the mailbox when we pay our phone bill.
CaseWare has a new Idea: Version 8, to be specific, of its leading data-analysis software. The most recent release includes a new Project Overview feature that creates a visual representation of the entire audit or investigation process, so you can track workflow progress. There are also a number of ease-of-use features, such as Visual Script, which allows users to build their own scripts without programming; the ability to create and share your own @Functions; and a drag-and-drop import feature.
ANSWER ME, HAL
Those frustrated by the difficulty of digging useful information out of their financial systems and accounting databases may long for the day when they can simply ask the nearest computer to produce the desired data - but we've seen 2001, and we know what happens when you let computers decide how to answer questions. Stonefield Query offers a reasonable compromise: the ability for those of us who aren't technology experts to easily create custom reports and queries that dig into accounting systems to find exactly the information we're looking for. Available for a wide range of Sage products, as well as AccountMate, Alere Accounting and others, Stonefield Query lets you open your own pod bay doors, without having to ask for help from a psychopathic computer (or the equivalent psychopathic human in the IT department).
There is now an answer for those who asked, "Sure, it's great that there's this enormous new federal stimulus package - but what's in it for me?" Tax prep chain Liberty Tax Services has put an easy-to-use economic stimulus calculator on its Web site. The calculator can help taxpayers identify any tax breaks that may be targeted at them - and might be a useful tool for you to present to clients.
For those who asked, "Do we really need this huge pork product?" all we can say is that it's going to be a long Depression.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
Sage North America has released Version 1.2 of its Sage MAS 90 and 200 Extended Enterprise Suite. ... Maxwell Systems has released the latest edition of its property management solution, Colonial 7.1.
The cover image and title of Do-It-Yourself Hedge Funds: Everything You Need to Make Millions Right Now had us wondering if we should have taken a look at it a little earlier - like around 2005. But while the book-jacket-blurb premise that you, too, can invest like a hedge fund may seem more like a threat than a promise these days, the book still contains much of value, and not just on hedge funds. In the midst of explaining what hedge funds are and how they work, it also dispenses valuable and accessible insights into investing and the markets in general. We'll just have to wait for the markets to start working again to apply them.
Business Plus (Hachette Group); $24.99
We don't know you, but we're willing to bet that you're a boring presenter. This is nothing personal - merely an observation drawn from the fact that most presentations are boring, and therefore, statistically speaking, you are probably among the majority who perpetrate them.
If you hope to change our judgment on this subject, we can definitely recommend taking to heart the lessons of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting. Written by well-known consultant and industry fixture Geni Whitehouse, it offers 52 snappy, interesting ways to improve your public presentations and keep us (and your colleagues, clients and sales prospects) from falling asleep while you blather on about whatever it is you were talking about, which we've already forgotten because you're so boring.
Upton and Blanding Associates; $24.95
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Now that Bill and Melinda Gates' mammoth charitable foundation has made people realize that these organizations can do more than just provide support to the duller programs on PBS, interest in private foundations is on the rise. Though few in number, private foundations face extensive federal tax law requirements, as described in depth in Private Foundations: Tax Law and Compliance. If you have private foundations among your nonprofit clients - or if you want to go trolling for one of these big fish in the seas of charity - this is a must-have reference.
John Wiley & Sons; $225
When we received 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees, the first thing we did was check the table of contents, and we were pleased to see that there was not one but two separate scenarios for dealing with employees who stink, one for "Body Odor from Lack of Cleanliness" and one for "Body Odor from Suspected Medical Reason." It's not that we're fixated on hygiene - we're no cleaner than we need to be - it's just that these kind of day-to-day managerial challenges are often overlooked in business literature, and it's nice to see a book that takes them seriously. With 101 conversations to offer advice and scripts for, the book runs the spectrum from the standard human resources nightmares like inappropriate sexual behavior and layoffs, to managerial concerns like incompetence and insubordination, to the downright embarrassing, like stinkiness, bad hair and tattoos. We're thinking of leaving it on certain coworkers' desks, and letting them figure out which conversation to read ... .
Amacom Books; $18.95
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