SOFTWARE, HARDWARE & SERVICES
Got a Match?
Build Your Firm Inc.
Establishing new client relationships can be awkward: How can you tell if the chemistry's right? Do you bill on the first engagement? When should you introduce them to your family office services? New Web site AccountingMatch.com aims to ease some of this discomfort by helping small businesses hook up with accounting firms by providing more information on the firms than the usual directory. The site also offers useful resources for small businesses, including tips on tax and estate planning, tax due-date trackers, and financial planning calculators. Though it's only available in the Chicago area now, developer Build Your Firm Inc. plans to roll it out in five other markets by the end of the year.
Conference in a Box
AAM Summit 2009 Bundle
Association for Accounting Marketing
Attention, marketing directors - just because those lousy bean counters nixed your travel request to attend the Association for Accounting Marketing's annual Marketingpalooza in Texas this year doesn't mean you need to miss out on all the valuable knowledge that was slung around Austin. AAM has created a sort of self-contained conference kit that includes DVDs of all the general sessions, a CD of all the general session handouts, audio CDs and handouts for all 22 concurrent sessions, and a book of all submissions for the 2009 Marketing Achievement Awards, so you can crib ideas from the best. Cowboy boots, live music and Lone Star beer not included.
AccuFund Accounting Suite V. 3.08
AccuFund has released the latest edition of its AccuFund Accounting Suite for nonprofits. Version 3.08 includes enhancements to many of the suite's core modules. Among them are enhancements to the Budget Development module, where users can now conduct detailed planning at the monthly level, list budget detail in each account, and store "account expressions" that calculate values on other accounts in the worksheet; greater integration between the Budget Development and Grants Management modules, and between the BD and the Allocations modules; and the ability to integrate data from the BD module and the general ledger in the Financial Report Writer for better analysis and insight into the nonprofit's activities.
Resting in Peace
As anyone who has worked in an unquiet graveyard knows, long-term storage is a thorny issue. And while accountants don't need to worry about their data rising from the grave to haunt the living, they do need to make sure that they store it in a manner that complies with a wide range of regulations and client preferences. ProStor Systems' InfiniVault is designed with precisely this kind of long-term challenge in mind: It's based on a sturdy, widely accepted removable hard-disk technology that has a shelf-life of decades and won't become obsolete with new developments. InfiniVault sits on your network like a server for receiving data, with software built into the system that lets you determine how long and under what conditions the information is stored, and that encrypts, de-duplicates and indexes the data as it arrives, while maintaining an audit-trail-worthy log of access.
The most recent version, Release Two, adds a number of features, including the ability to send data to remote sites for backup; the addition of Read/Write Vaults, where stored data can be altered; and the ability to erase write-only outdated data from disks, thus freeing up storage capacity, while maintaining an audit trail to show what was deleted and when.
Transcepta electronic invoicing
The snazziest electronic invoicing system in the world is nothing more than a big electronic paperweight if your suppliers insist on sending you paper invoices. Recognizing this, e-invoicing leader Transcepta has rolled out an on-boarding program, where it goes out to its customers' vendors and suppliers and manages the process of getting them to adopt e-invoicing. It offers them a variety of options for quickly and easily gearing up to send their invoices electronically - all for free and without using up the vendors' technology resources.
Forensic Accounting/Investigation Methodology
NACVA and Financial Forensics
In searching for a perp's M.O., it helps to have a modus operandi yourself, but a recognized and accepted M.O. for forensic accounting has been more or less lacking - until now. The National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts, in conjunction with Financial Forensics, has created the first software-based civil and criminal financial forensics and forensic accounting methodology. The Forensic Accounting/Investigation Methodology is aimed at helping accountants develop the kind of forensic accounting expertise and best practices that their clients think they already have, and is being rolled out in a series of Forensic Accounting Academies in cities across the country.
Mobile privacy films
Not since the invention of the window shade has there been a development so likely to dismay Peeping Toms: 3M's new mobile privacy films are a thin layer of material that you stick to the screen of a cell phone or PDA that renders it unreadable to the people next to you. We don't pretend to understand how the "microlouver" technology darkens side views of the screen while leaving it perfectly clear from the front, but we know it does - and we know it means we're going to have to go back to reading other people's newspapers on the way to work.
Camico Mutual Insurance Co./Montage Analytics Inc.
Much as you don't want your car insurer watching how you drive, most firms probably don't want their professional liability insurance providers knowing the details of their internal risk assessments. That's why the new CPA Computer-Aided Risk Assessment Tool, or CPA-CARAT, offered to Camico policyholders in partnership with Montage Analytics, is confidential, so firms can go online, use the tool, gain valuable insights into the riskiness of their operations - and not worry about their premiums skyrocketing.
WebFocus Financial Reporting Exchange
With all kinds of deadlines looming for the adoption of XBRL, or the Extensible Business Reporting Language, in financial reporting, Information Builders' new WebFocus Financial Reporting Exchange could not come at a better time. It integrates with UBMatrix's XBRL Processing Engine to automate the process of filing in XBRL, automatically generating financial reports from any data source or ERP system and transforming them into XBRL documents.
No sudden moves
When dealing with government, as with any wild beast, it is best not to make any sudden moves or do anything startling. This sound rule holds true in preparing regulatory filings for the Securities and Exchange Commission, such as Forms 10-K and 10-Q, and explains why filers often spend enormous amounts of time and energy in searching out earlier precedents to recycle. Intelligize's new search, retrieval and cataloguing service, Precedent Check, streamlines this tedious process by using business intelligence tools to analyze previous SEC filings from multiple companies to deliver the most relevant precedents to any particular situation, thus saving time and money - and using the familiar to keep the beast calm and comfortable.
New And Improved!
MaxFilings has introduced a program to let accounting firms provide incorporation services to clients, either as a private-label service, or through referrals to its Web site, MaxFilings.com. ... Stonefield Software has released Version 3.3 of its database reporting software, Stonefield Query, with over 80 new features available for all its integrations with various Sage products, including Sage Accpac ERP, MAS 90 and MAS 200, Timberline, Act! and more. ... Colligo has launched Version 4.0 of its Contributor for SharePoint products, including new features for seamlessly linking a user's files to SharePoint document libraries and lists, and easily uploading e-mails and attachments to SharePoint from within Microsoft Outlook. ... WinZip has released Version 12.1 of its compression software, which can create the new Zipx files, its smallest, most efficient files ever (though we can't understand why the new, smaller files have been give a new, longer name). The new version also makes it easier to resize and e-mail digital images. ... SurePayroll has launched a suite of services to help small businesses evaluate job candidates, including background checks, behavioral assessments, skills testing and drug screening.
Marketing Without Spin
Professional Services Marketing
Early on in Professional Services Marketing, the authors note that firm marketers often complain that they don't get the respect they deserve from management - and then go on to suggest that they may not get respect because they don't deserve it. That may have been the point at which we realized that the book is somewhat different from most marketing how-tos: While firmly convinced of the enormous value the discipline offers to professional service firms, it acknowledges the legitimate reasons for management's skepticism, even as it sets about rectifying them. In the course of laying out detailed plans for building a successful marketing program, it also shows marketers what they're doing wrong now, and makes a convincing case for firm management to give them another chance.
What, Not How
Rethink: A Business Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation
FT Press; $24.99
Implicit in the title Rethink is the assumption that some thinking was done previously; while this is not always the case, we're willing to grant it for the sake of argument. When it comes to making hard choices about businesses facing tough times, in fact, ignoring any earlier thinking (or the lack of it) may well be valuable, and Rethink offers some specific ideas of what to ignore, starting with how you do business. Sure, you can find ways to save money in how you do what you do, but the book maintains that it's much more valuable to go back to thinking about what you do and why, as opposed to how. As its many real-life examples - from companies as wide-ranging as ING, Amazon and Cranium - make clear, this kind of introspection can lead to much more valuable results, in terms of re-organization and cost-savings, as well as serious innovation.
Make Money now
Fast Profits in Hard Times
Business Plus (Hachette Group); $23.99
Someone, somewhere, is making money right now - we're sure of it. One of those people is probably Jordan Goodman, whose Fast Profits in Hard Times offers a number of investing strategies that should yield results in good times and bad. Many might be of interest to your financial planning clients who are desperate for returns; they include investing in tax liens and deeds, buying up below-market real estate, foreign exchange trading and options trading. Interestingly, he doesn't include selling a book on money-making strategies among his money-making strategies.
Steal from This Book!
WealthCounsel Estate Planning Strategies
Wealth Builders Press LLC; $29.95
Balzac said that behind every great fortune there is a crime, so when it comes to protecting those fortunes, what's one or two more smaller crimes? In this case, stealing ideas from WealthCounsel Estate Planning Strategies, a compendium of advice from over 100 estate-planning attorneys, to put them at the service of your clients. With short chapters ranging from the introductory to the advanced, the book is addressed to estate owners themselves, but we're willing to bet that its heft, and the complexity of some of the strategies it presents (to say nothing of the many acronyms, tables and - yikes! - flowcharts) will deter all but the most determined, leaving the way clear for you to present them as your own ideas.
... And This One Too
Family Wealth Transition Planning
Bloomberg Press; $39.95
Having started your life of intellectual crime with the previous book, you may as well continue with Family Wealth Transition Planning. Actually, it's written for advisors to families with small businesses, so you're meant to help yourself, but you've already learned to crave the thrill of crime, haven't you? Your moral downslide aside, the book offers a well-thought-out methodology for creating a plan to transition wealth between generations. The first step is understanding the needs of the family in question, which can vary widely, so the book lays out its methodology through a detailed discussion of three very different fictional families.
The Failure of Risk Management
Having a risk management plan in place means your business is safer and more secure, right? Wrong, according to Douglas Hubbard. His The Failure of Risk Management makes the claim that much of what passes for risk management these days doesn't actually do what it claims to - and often does the opposite, leaving companies more, not less, exposed. Among the problems he sees are risk management measures that are unmeasured and unproven, yet widely distributed as "best practices;" the continued use of practices that are known not to work; and a failure to use what's actually known to work. It's an eye-opening read for those who think they've already managed their risks.
Be Happy Now!
Thank God It's Monday: How to Create a Workplace You and Your Customers Love
FT Press; $19.99
Being happy to have a job (as those in employment these days mostly are) is not the same thing as being happy with the job one has - among other things, the latter almost always means a more productive, valuable employee. Sadly, you can't simply order employees to be the better kind of happy; fortunately, Thank God It's Monday offers a number of ways to engage, enthuse and generally unleash your employees, while squashing the kinds of bad behavior and conflict that prevent them from doing their best for you.
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