One-stop tax shop

CCH Axcess

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

At first blush, it might seem a little odd to release a tax product a week after tax season is over, but when you think a little bit about it, you realize that the timing's actually pretty good: Tax preparers will never be more aware of the shortcomings of their current software solution than when they've just finished filing the last of their returns and extensions, or more aware of what they're looking for next year. Plus, it gives them plenty of time to kick the tires and get used to anything new before next season.

With that in mind, take a look at CCH's new CCH Axcess, a cloud-based tax, workflow, and practice management solution that offers an integrated suite of modular tools built around a central database. Individually, the modules include: CCH Axcess Tax, for preparing thousands of forms and schedules; CCH Axcess Document, for document management, organization and storage; CCH Axcess Portal, for securely sharing digital documents and returns; CCH Axcess Practice, for monitoring staff time, producing invoices and otherwise managing firm operations; and CCH Axcess Workstream, a project management solution. Collectively, they pretty much amount to the backbone of an entire tax practice


Not my problem

Leadership at its Strongest: What Successful Managing Partners Do

Bay Street Group LLC; $95

We here at New Products are willing to bet that there is no problem currently facing an accounting firm that some other accounting firm hasn't already figured out an answer to. The trick is to find out who faced it, and what they did. In that vein, we recommend Leadership at its Strongest, which creates a guide to being a successful managing partner by distilling the experience of 150 actual managing partners. The three authors, who include frequent Accounting Today contributors August Aquila and Robert Lees, identify and focus on the four essential traits shared by great leaders: providing a compelling direction and strategy; engaging partners in the effort and gaining commitment; initiating activities that support their strategy; and setting a personal example. So just do what they do -- easy, right?


Unaccustomed as we are to public speaking ...

Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results

Amacom; $21.95

You know all those "soft skills" people are always saying accountants need to learn? Well, knowing how to give good presentations is one of them -- in fact, it's a skill that needs to be learned by everyone, since just about every presentation ever is terrible. Well Said! is an excellent guide to help even the most tongue-tied public speaker, with both high-level advice on the right philosophy and approach (know what you want your audience to do when you're finished, and remember that it's about them, not you) and nitty-gritty specifics on how to improve just about everything that comes out of your mouth (words to avoid: I, me and mine, and "might;" words to use: you and your, and a long list of action verbs that perk people up). Highly recommended for anyone who has to say anything to anyone else.


Their pain, your gain

Healthcare Business Intelligence: A Guide to Empowering Successful Data Reporting and Analytics

Wiley; $65

As the various aspects of the Affordable Care Act kick in, hospitals and health care organizations of all kinds are going to be going through an awful lot of self-examination to determine how (and whether) they're going to navigate a changing world. It seems clear from this book that a properly structured and implemented BI system would help a lot of them handle the wave of change much better. That's not why we include it here, though -- we include it here because these are complicated, expensive projects, and most health care orgs could probably use some outside help on this. In fact, many of them may not even realize it would be a useful idea until it's presented to them by their most trusted advisor. Who was that again?


Payroll possibilities

Payroll franchises

Payroll Vault

Cloud-based payroll service provider Payroll Vault is offering franchise opportunities nationwide to help other firms build successful practices offering payroll services to small businesses. Started by CPA Sean Manning, Payroll Vault claims that its franchisees can be up an running in as little as 90 days and for much less than if they were building the practice on their own, backed up by Payroll Vault's business model, marketing support, and the expertise that Manning developed over the years building his own practice. In addition to the franchise package, franchisees receive an initial consultation and comprehensive training.


Better names

Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business

Amacom; $22.95

Society will, eventually, learn to treat men and women equally, and when it does, the sort of social networks described in Stiletto Network will undoubtedly have played a role. The book examines the informal circles of entrepreneurial and executive women that have sprung up around the country to help women collaborate, share hard-won wisdom and expertise, and promote one another. They're the equivalent of the golf games, locker room chats, and strip club outings that men have been using for years to network and protect their privileged positions, only with cleverer names, like "Babes in Boyland" or "Chicks in Charge" (and, we assume, fewer strippers). Given the shocking lack of women at the top of the accounting profession, female CPAs might want to try this kind of networking. At the very least it's an excuse to have a boozey lunch on a regular basis.


New and improved!

The American Institute of CPAs' Auditing Standards Board, the Financial Reporting Executive Committee, and the Property and Liability Insurance Entities Task Force have released a comprehensive revision of Audit and Accounting Guide to Property and Liability Insurance Entities.

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