SOFTWARE & SERVICES
A PLAN FOR A PLAN
It is one of the universe's cheaper ironies that whatever location you choose to store your carefully prepared disaster recovery plan is the place most likely to be destroyed in a disaster. This may seem like a good reason not to bother preparing a plan in the first place; in fact, it's an argument for taking the planning process more seriously. GlobalAlertLink offers tools for creating a dynamic, visualized plan that can be connected to other systems to keep it constantly up to date, as well as tools for monitoring, managing and analyzing whatever crises may come your way. With different levels of services for organizations of different sizes, it should help cut down on the number of horrible ironies that so often seem to accompany disasters.
You have to spend money to make money, but sometimes you also have to spend money to actually collect the money you're already owed. DotNetInvoice is an investment along those lines: It's invoicing software that installs on your own Web server to allow you to send out bills and take payments online, with automation features for recurring monthly bills and e-mail reminders for "forgetful" debtors. It also includes reporting functions, so you know who's stiffing you and by how much.
NOT NEEDED HERE
With companies looking to save money any way they can, audit recovery firm Apex Analytix has launched a new Advertising and Media Expenditure Review to help them make sure they're getting the most for their advertising dollar. Building on Apex's First Strike review-automation software, the service compares agency billings and invoices to ad contracts, media plans and buy orders to uncover duplicate charges, missed discounts or credits, delivery shortfalls and the like. It could well come in handy for any of your clients with large advertising budgets - unless they happen to advertise with a cracker-jack company like, say, SourceMedia, in which case they should be looking for ways to spend more money, not less.
TOO LATE FOR JOYCE
Some say that James Joyce's final book, Finnegans Wake, is an incomprehensible mess because Joyce was nearly blind when he wrote it, and had his fingers on the wrong keys of his typewriter. This wouldn't have happened if he had See-Board Stickers, which cover each key on your keyboard with a large version of the letter, making it easier to see which one you're actually hitting. While it's too late for Joyce, they might help make communications from your more optically challenged partners easier to understand, just as we're hoping that our set will render the New Products section into something resembling English.
NEW AND IMPROVED
Sage North America has released the 2009 version of its mid-level Sage BusinessVision 50 Accounting, with improvements to its accounts payable and receivable modules, and new data-import functionality. ... The Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters has updated its Planner CS tax planning program to include changes made by this year's recovery legislation. ... CCH has added practice aids and checklists for knowledge-based audits of construction companies and nonprofits to its Accounting Research Manager platform.
There are a lot of great strategies for building value in Building Business Value, which shows midsized companies how to position themselves for sale at a high premium (even if they're not looking to sell). Ranging from the specifics of corporate form and building a better relationship with bankers, to broad issues of vision, leadership and commitment, they can help business leaders re-assess their companies and their plans, and rebuild them on better, more valuable lines.
Here's one tip that's not in the book: Buy it, read it, and present the advice it contains to your clients as if it were your own.
Third Bridge Press; $22.95
STATE VS. STATE
Since the unpleasantness of the early 1860s, it's been considered impolite for U.S. states to go to actual war with each other - but that does not mean they can't compete. The Tax Foundation's annual Facts and Figures booklet is the scorecard for one aspect of this ongoing competition, in the arena of tax and fiscal policy. It compares all 50 states on 38 different measures, including individual and corporate income tax rates, the business tax climate, tax burdens, state spending and many more. As a tool for figuring out which states to align yourself with, it beats counting their cannons or judging the tactical skills of their generals.
The Tax Foundation; free
YOU CALLING ME A DUMMY?
Even at the best of times, asset allocation isn't something that should be trusted to dummies; now, with so many investment types suffering, we'd prefer to trust it to rocket scientists. That said, the fundamentals of sound financial planning are more important than ever during tough times, so the release of Asset Allocation for Dummies is particularly timely, with its advice on maximizing return while minimizing risk in a manner that promotes an individual's goals. It's the dummies, after all, who most need to understand the value of a balanced portfolio.
John Wiley & Sons; $24.99
We assumed that a book titled Identity Theft Handbook would be a how-to, full of advice on successfully phishing, pharming and otherwise using computers and the Internet to steal other people's personal information for nefarious purposes. Imagine our dismay, then, when we discovered that it's actually aimed at detecting and preventing identity theft! While it does offer some fascinating (and inspiring) examples of crimes from the surprisingly long history of ID theft, few of them end happily (from the criminals' point of view, that is), and there are all too many tips on how to protect personal information, and fight back when it's been compromised. If our marks get a hold of this, we'll have to find another profession. Nothing too honest, of course - maybe banking.
John Wiley & Sons; $75
NOT JUST ANOTHER SERMON
At first glance, Investing in a Sustainable World may seem like just another call for investors to lose money by restricting their investment to "socially responsible" but economically unviable companies. In fact, it makes a strong business case for taking environmental and social considerations into account in the investment process. As issues like climate change, pollution and human rights gain in prominence, they will have more and more impact on the competitive landscape, and companies will find that not addressing them has a direct effect on their bottom lines - and the bottom lines of those who invest in them. That the book is written with a sense of humor, and includes examples of people who've actually made money investing sustainably, goes a long way to helping its argument.
Amacom Books; $27.95
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