SOFTWARE & SERVICES
BACK TO SCHOOL
Everyone says you can't teach old dogs new tricks - everyone, that is, except the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters' new TaxWatch University, which combines the curriculum design of its AuditWatch University with the knowledge of its PPC tax experts to provide tax staff training across the whole range of tax experience - from the newest of entry-level pups to the most veteran of Old Yellers. With five levels of basic, intermediate and advanced courses available as public seminars, at a firm's location, or through customized delivery options, expect new tricks from everyone on your staff. There's also a separate course called Tax Training for Auditors to teach auditors how to help with basic tax services and preparation - which would be a very new trick, indeed.
Credit may be tight across the economy, but there are still places businesses can turn to grease the wheels of commerce - specifically, their credit cards. Metavante's Link2Gov, which has allowed individuals to pay their taxes with credit and debit cards for some six years, has launched the same service for businesses. Through businesstaxpayment.com, companies can now pay a variety of federal business taxes online or over the phone, with payments approved in real-time and recorded on the date they're completed, so you can skate even closer to the deadline than before. Just remember - businesses can pay tax bills with credit cards, but they still have to pay credit card bills with actual money.
A SOLID 1.59 MINUTES
We here at New Products take 6.32 minutes to expense a cup of coffee, spend 27.18 minutes on "team-building" exercises afterwards, write this column in 1.59 minutes, and then go to lunch for the balance of the day. This kind of information is likely to be misinterpreted by our employer, which is why we live in fear of time-tracking and expense management products like Journyx's Timesheet, which streamlines and automates those processes. The recently released Version 7.7 offers the ability to create up to 15 different holiday schedules, the ability to assign owners to projects, and a variety of reporting and administration tools. All that should reduce errors and speed the billing cycle, but it may also reveal our unorthodox work style.
In addition, Journyx's new Organization Chart Manager works with data from Timesheet to build a visual representation of a company and then create the necessary reporting and approval infrastructure, with tools that track compliance, export data for analysis, and reveal the, shall we say, unique - but highly effective! - work habits that may have long gone unnoticed.
We are fascinated by money when it's on its way into our pockets. That's why we need something like the latest release of Softrax Revenue Manager, which works with ERP systems to manage recognized and deferred revenue, and helps create a store of data that companies can dig into for analysis and business intelligence. Version 2.1 lets users analyze revenue by more than 100 attributes, carry out advanced revenue-performance analysis, manage and analyze the business' entire revenue recognition history, and drill down into the details of individual revenue recognition histories. Now all we need is control over the money going out.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
Sage North America has released Version 9.8 of its timekeeping solution, Sage TimeSheet. ... CCH has released the first stage of the integration between its audit management and ERM solutions, CCH TeamMate and CCH Sword.
DASH AWAY ALL
Business dashboards are like tattoos - once, no one had them, and then suddenly everyone did, and you weren't cool unless you did, too. But while you could learn more about the theory and practice of tattoos by talking to the nearest sailor, stripper or prison inmate, similar insights into dashboards were less accessible - until Business Dashboards came along. The book tackles the question from the ground up, explaining what dashboards are and what they're for, before diving deeply into data architecture and visual design, with tons of examples and illustrations. It even explains why dashboards are so popular, which no one has been able to do for tattoos.
John Wiley & Sons; $85
YOU KNOW THE DRILL
From time to time, we like to point out books that contain ideas that you should steal and present as your own; in that spirit, we mention Protecting Profits in Any Economy. The book is full of practical strategies and tactics for running small businesses better, covering everything from basic management to "no-cost" incentive plans and even tax advice. There's also a section for business owners called "12 Things Your CPA Didn't Tell You About Running Your Business," which you should do everything in your power to keep away from your clients. In these trying economic times, they might demand to know why you didn't tell them.
The Depression is everyone's favorite historical reference these days, but history isn't all bad. In fact, there's plenty of good in it, as Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office proves. It profiles some of the 20th century's greatest business leaders, like Ray Kroc, Sam Walton and Akio Morita, to find eternal lessons of value to any business. And while many of those covered weren't exactly cuddly, it's nice to hear about business leaders who aren't primarily known for being overpaid and out of touch, and to know that history has more to offer than yardsticks for economic misery.
Collins Business; $16.99
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "There are no second acts in American lives," but that was before ever-suspendered personal and professional development consultant Brian Tracy came onto the scene. Tracy's new book, Reinvention, is all about looking at the sad wreck you've made of your life, and remaking it into what you wanted all along. He offers a seven-step process of re-evaluating, rethinking, re-organizing, restructuring, re-engineering, re-inventing and regaining control. With its practical suggestions and heavy emphasis on job- and business-related skills, the book comes at an ideal time for those forced into a new direction, or those who want to take advantage of the economic upheaval to remake themselves. On the other hand, if you have the discipline to follow Tracy's program, your life probably isn't so bad that you need to change. Maybe what Fitzgerald meant was that there are no second acts because Americans are too lazy to write them.
Amacom Books; $21.95
Well-known industry consultant Geni Whitehouse has written How to Choose a Sales Tax Management Solution (downloadable at www.salestaxsoftwareguide.com). While it's underwritten by Avalara, which happens - by pure coincidence, we're sure - to produce a sales tax management solution, the guide is full of valuable, non-denominational advice on selecting and implementing this kind of critical compliance tool.
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