SOFTWARE, HARDWARE & SERVICES
Unlock The Codex!
FASB Codification on CCH's ARM and Thomson Reuters' Checkpoint
If the Financial Accounting Standards Board wanted to gin up some excitement over its new streamlined consolidation of GAAP, they would have called it the Codex, and hinted that there were Da Vinci Code-style secrets hidden within. They wanted clarity, however, not excitement, so they called it the Codification, and made it easy to use. Furthering this trend of unsexy clarity and ease of use, both CCH and Thomson Reuters have added the Codification to their respective research platforms, Accounting Research Manager and Checkpoint. Worse yet, they're offering training on how to use it, and cross-reference tables to pre-codified GAAP to help accountants make the transition. CCH has also added links to the "non-authoritative" information that FASB excluded from the new Codification - though if they wanted it to seem exciting, they'd have called it "The Apocrypha," and had Dan Brown write the introduction.
ProfitCents Analytical Procedures modules for government entities and financial institutions
With financial institutions on life support and governments struggling to pull them through, you know what would be useful right now? Something that gives us all some insight into the condition of both - something like, say, the two new Analytical Procedures modules Sageworks has just released for its ProfitCents financial analysis suite, which just happen to be focused on government entities and financial institutions. Built with input from accountants who conduct audits and reviews of a variety of governments and financial institutions, the modules can automatically generate individual account expectations for the entities, and provide a thorough risk assessment in a single worksheet. Now if they could just administer TARP.
If You're Still Marketing ...
For those who haven't liquidated their marketing departments entirely, FaceTime Strategy has launched Market Master, an online marketing solution that integrates customer database management with the ability to create and deploy a variety of marketing materials. With its database mining algorithm, Market Master offers a single place to make direct mail pieces with custom content, e-mails with live offers and instant polling, other print-on-demand materials - and customer-driven marketing reports that let users determine the effectiveness of their efforts.
The Short Arm Of The Law
OneSource Transfer Pricing Documenter
The Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters
When it comes to transfer pricing, what you and I consider a good arm's length might seem far too short to a local tax authority. To help reconcile the two, Thomson Reuters has released Transfer Pricing Documenter for its OneSource corporate tax platform. With access to the Documenter, data files and comparison databases anywhere and at any time over the Web, it's easy to analyze intra-company transactions in a step-by-step process, create defensible analyses of transfer prices, and produce compliant supporting documentation to convince tax watchdogs around the world that your arm is long enough.
It All Adds Up
Hybrid Power Calculators and UltraBattery Universal USB Phone Charger
Yes, using a solar-powered calculator may not seem like doing much for the environment - even one that uses a mercury-free back-up battery (for when the sun don't shine), and has lead-free components and no cadmium or hexavalent chromium (thus keeping those presumably nasty chemicals out of landfills). But every little bit helps, and besides, Datexx's Hybrid Power Calculators look neat, are inexpensive, and come in a variety of versions, including printing and financial.
Best of all, not using power on your calculator frees you up to waste even more power on your cellphone, PDA or iPod. If they're charged, that is - though if they aren't, you can turn to Datexx's UltraBattery BT-2200 Universal USB Phone Charger. This handy little item will charge any USB device, and when fully recharged itself with recharge a typical cellphone several times. It will not, however, produce sunshine for your Hybrid Power Calculator.
Let PDI Tell 'em
Tax and Accounting Alert, and WebTaxGuide
PDI Global Inc.
If only your clients would get out of the way, you could probably get some work done. They won't, though, and there will often be times when you have to communicate important new developments to them - unless you let PDI Global do it for you. The consultancy has developed some new products that make keeping clients in the loop easy. Its Tax and Accounting Alert program delivers at least 18 alerts a year on tax law updates, IRS rulings, changes in accounting standards and similar subjects. You can either process them out yourself, or have PDI create e-mail templates or printed materials with your branding. It also has created a new WebTaxGuide, an online version of its Tax Planning Guide, which offers all sorts of useful information for taxpayers that can be branded with your logo, and its Flex-E-guide e-mail program makes it easy to e-mail your clients links to the tax guide on subjects of interest to them.
Businesses of all sizes are watching their inventories more carefully than ever these days, which makes the recent release of a new edition of Alterity's ACCTivate! inventory control solution for QuickBooks fairly timely. The new edition adds over 300 new features, including a streamlined user interface and customizable toolbar; advanced purchasing utilities, including a Special Order Purchasing Wizard, a re-order function, and overstock analysis; and more decision-support and analysis functionality.
When we need a little peace and quiet around the office, we simply call in a bomb threat and have the building evacuated. Once the authorities catch on to us, though, we'll need something else to keep our colleagues from intruding, which is why we're considering CubeGuards, which are snappy little banners you stretch across the entrance to your cube (where the door is supposed to be) to let your fellow inmates know to leave you alone. They have a variety of pre-printed versions, or you can customize your own on their Web site. The best part is that if you buy enough of them, you can build an extra wall.
Encrypt Easy Version 3.3
Between identity theft, phishing, viruses and the way that guy in the cube across the hall keeps looking at your screen, it's easy to feel that maybe you're getting too paranoid about the whole computer security thing, but the fact is that you're probably not paranoid enough, because everyone is, in fact, out to get you and all the information on your hard drive and in your e-mails. You should either put your computer in a barrel, fill the barrel with cement, and drop the barrel in an ocean trench, where it will be safe, or start using software like Baltsoft's Encrypt Easy. Encrypt Easy lets you easily encrypt and decrypt files, folders and entire directory trees, so they're safe on your end, and will only self-extract for other users if you give them a password. The program also has a "shredder" that completely destroys electonic files so they can't be reconstructed by your enemies, and a wipe utility so they can't trace your online or system activities. It's a good start.
Item: One (1) Pizza Oven
Apex Expert Web site
In any business, it's a long road from someone wanting something to someone ordering it to someone getting it to someone paying for it - and a lot can go wrong, from fraud to accounting errors to us not getting the pizza oven we ordered for the office. Accounts payable software vendor Apex Analytix has launched a new Web site dedicated to procure-to-pay best practices that should help smooth travel along this long road, with whitepapers, webinars, e-newsletters, free benchmarking surveys and more. It's a valuable reference for you and your clients.
New And Improved!
CCH has released a plug-in to integrate its Sales Tax Office sales and use tax suite with the Microsoft Dynamics NAV accounting software. ... Syspro has released a Power Integration Bundle for its ERP solution that makes for better integration with different technology systems, including Microsoft Office applications. ... WisageTech has released 8thManage CRM, a new application in its 8thManage BIS set of business management applications, which include ERP and project management functionality.
Clarity In Limbo
Transparency in Financial Reporting
Harriman House (U.K.)
Those who breathed a sigh of relief when current Securities and Exchange Commissioner Mary Shapiro threw her predecessor's ambitious timeline for the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards into limbo should not get too comfortable: It's still likely that U.S. accountants will have to learn a whole new set of standards - it's just that no one knows when. Transparency in Financial Reporting is a good place to start your education: It offers "a concise comparison of IFRS and U.S. GAAP," including technical analysis of major issues, as well as important points to bear in mind during the inevitable initial adoption of IFRS, paying particular attention, as the title suggests, to issues that affect transparency in financial reporting. At just over 150 pages, it really is concise, and once you've read it, while you may not know exactly when IFRS is coming, at least you'll know what it is.
Did Someone Say 'Enron?'
Accounting and Business Ethics: An Introduction
Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group, U.K.); $45.95
Journalists, as everyone knows, are little more than amoral psychopaths to whom "ethics" is only the word that comes before "expense accounts, padded." We expect more, however, of those we cover, so imagine the shock and dismay here at New Products when we read in Accounting and Business Ethics that accountants are among the least ethical of professionals, and that they've been slipping for years. This is not the result of some in-built moral flaw, the book maintains, but comes from the perception of accounting as a technical, analytical field, with little scope for ethical reasoning, exacerbated by certain economic pressures. Accountants can be ethical, however, the authors say, and go on to show how, beginning with an introduction to different kinds of ethical questions that can be applied to accounting, and then moving on to applications of ethics in accounting practice. Peppered with fascinating little boxes outlining various moral and ethical business questions, the book should get you accountants thinking and acting more ethically in short order. It's too late for us journalists, thankfully.
Not Just A Hammer
Built to Win: Creating a World-Class Negotiating Organization
Harvard Business Press; $29.95
At first blush, the premise of Built to Win - that business organizations need to make good negotiating a core competency - may seem like an instance of, "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." The authors both teach negotiation, after all. Read a little deeper, however, and it becomes clear that their notion of "negotiation" goes beyond the common idea of outwitting someone over a conference table or fooling them into an unfavorable contract. Instead, it's much more about establishing a foundation for working together, and it begins with understanding the needs of the other parties. Looked at that way, literally everything anyone does in a business involves negotiation, from going to the supply room for a box of paper clips right on up to working out the details of a complicated merger - and the book's premise begins to make a great deal of sense.
Going For A Ride
Roadmaps and Revelations: Finding the Road to Business Success on Route 101
We'll admit that we here at New Products are suckers for a business fable. Who doesn't love a business lesson wrapped up in a short, entertaining story? The problem, of course, is that those who can write entertaining stories rarely have valuable business lessons to impart - and vice versa. The latter is the case with Roadmaps and Revelations, which wraps a host of valuable insights in some truly terrible dialogue and a road trip that amounts to little more than a traffic report from California's Route 101. That said, every accounting firm should have a strategy, and the people involved in creating that strategy can learn a great deal here - starting with what, exactly, strategy is.
Beyond The Mattress
Financial Instruments: Equities, Debt, Derivatives and Alternative Investments
Portfolio (Penguin Group); $65
As an investment vehicle, your mattress offers a low yield - but at least the average investor can understand its prospectus and the way it operates. This is not always the case, particularly with the many new investment options that spring from the fevered brains chained in the basements of financial institutions. Your clients can claim it's all beyond them and turn to you for explanations - you can turn to Financial Instruments: Equities, Debt, Derivatives and Alternative Investments, which explains their functions, features and structures. It's a highly useful reference, but not necessarily one you want to leave lying around the office for clients to see. We suggest keeping it in your mattress.
Write This Book
You Can Do It: An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Financial Security
You Can Do It is precisely the kind of book we recommend that you keep away from your clients. It identifies one of their needs - more control and more security in their personal financial management - and then supplies it, with easy-to-understand sets of instructions for things like managing their personal cash flow, buying the appropriate insurance and planning for retirement. It's the kind of advice you should be providing clients before you move on to things like asset allocation. In fact, why didn't you write it?
Sales For All
Building a Winning Sales Force
Amacom Books; $34.95
You're not sending your staff out to sell write-up or bookkeeping door to door (we hope), but that doesn't mean that you're not selling, or that you can't learn something useful from Building a Winning Sales Forces. To a certain degree, after all, everyone in your firm is selling to your clients every single day, and the strategies for goal-setting, motivating, fighting complacency and demonstrating value that the book details have applications far beyond the realm of the Fuller Brush man.
(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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