Not for accountants?


Yellow Labs Software Inc.

More and more varieties of cloud accounting software are springing up, aiming to make handling a business' financials more efficient, less expensive and less complicated. Many of them are specifically geared toward smaller or start-up companies, and explicitly claim to be easy to use. AccountingSuite, the latest of these new cloud-based solutions to come to our attention, actually says that it's "designed for the 99 percent of us who aren't accountants." That shouldn't necessarily discourage you from recommending it to your clients, as it offers many useful tools, particularly for managing cash flow and inventory, and all three versions -- Entrepreneur, Small Business and Premium -include one "outside accountants/bookkeeper seat" ... . Each version also offers different levels of support and numbers of users, from one user to up to 10 concurrent users.


Sign here

CPA's Guide to Effective Engagement Letters


Many bemoan the decline of the old-fashioned letter, but there is one kind that will never go out of style, and that's the engagement letter. As client expectations expand along with the scope of services that accounting firms offer, these clarifying, liability-managing missives are more critical than ever, as proved by professional insurance provider Camico's release of the 10th edition of its CPA's Guide to Effective Enagement Letters. The latest version includes new letters, wording and commentary for auditing engagements (to reflect the new Clarity Project standards); tax representation, a wide range of tax prep engagements; and much more. Whatever the fate of snail mail and the humble stamp, this kind of letter will always be with us.


Free to be stupid

Infinite Vault

Infinitely Virtual

Information wants to be free in much the same way that teenagers want to be free -- free to wander into bad parts of town at ungodly hours of the night to meet up with complete strangers with whom they will get up to the kinds of trouble that you don't even want to imagine. That's why information (and teenagers) needs to be carefully controlled. Infinitely Virtual's new Infinite Vault is designed to let small and midsized businesses share and use information across distances without allowing it to run amok in dangerous areas where strangers can get at it. The cloud-based file-sharing application lets administrators quickly cloud-enable a desktop or server so that far-flung users can share Office documents, PDFs and other files, while still maintaining complete control of what is shared and with whom. It comes in two different versions, with Basic for two-to-five users starting at $19.99 a month.


Greatest hits

Look, Lead, Love, Learn

Maryland Association of CPAs

MACPA's Bill Sheridan has been running its very popular CPA Success blog for six years now, creating a regular wellspring of useful insights and advice for accountants. Now he's dug into the archives of the blog to create a sort of "Greatest Hits" collection, with the resulting e-book divided into four sections: Look (on foresight); Lead (on the changing nature of leadership); Love (on the human side of the equation); and Learn (on one of the most critical aspects of being an accountant today). A valuable collection for firm leaders current and future, and a strong incentive to check in on the blog on a regular basis.


RADAR, not radar

Sales Tax RADAR

CCH, a part of Wolters Kluwer

CCH's new Sales Tax RADAR (for Rates And Decisions Administration Reporting) is not to be confused with the use of radio waves to detect distant objects that constitutes the more common form of radar -- except that both do help prepare you for what's coming, and give you a clear idea of the current landscape. The cloud-based RADAR lets you track changes across thousands of taxing jurisdictions, filter the results, and export them in a variety of useful ways for analysis and reporting.


Let's settle this outside

Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers in the Workplace, and Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management

Amacom Books; $17.95 each

There are too many generations in the workplace right now, with Baby Boomers reluctant to retire, Millennials anxious to take over, and Generation Xers feeling crushed in between. Clearly, the answer is to take this thing out to the parking lot and settle it with a no-holds-barred streetfight ("The only rule is that there are no rules"), and let the survivors divvy up the management spots and bonus pool. Those who like to keep their hands clean, however, may want to read Generations at Work, which attempts to "manage the clash" with reason, demographic insights, and original research. So go ahead -- learn about the keys to managing and motivating all of these people, or follow our suggestion and eliminate all who are different from your generation.

Now, if it should happen that the Millennials win our 2013 Parking Lot Workplace Domination Brawl, we suggest they take a look at Manager 3.0. You know all those management secrets that your Gen X and Boomer bosses aren't passing on? They're in here, along with some valuable thoughts on their own traits that Millennials should bear in mind as they step over the lifeless bodies of previous generations of managers.


Internal improvements

Audit Manager for Keylight 3.3


Governance, risk and compliance solution developer LockPath has released Audit Manager for its Keylight platform. Designed to help streamline internal audits, it automatically generates tasks and provides menu-driven reports for viewing and sharing audit performance, findings and history. Its controls allow users to scope and identify their audit portfolio, including facilities, technology assets and devices. It also supports mobility for auditors collecting evidence in the field, letting them export their task list to familiar spreadsheets to work remotely or access data offline, and then import finished records back into Keylight.


Seeing the same thing

Managing Electronic Records: Methods, Best Practices, and Technologies

Wiley; $175

Here's a little thought experiment for you: What, exactly, is a document? You know one when you see one, sure, but how do you make sure that the systems you're using to manage all of your firm's documents see things the same way you do? Managing Electronic Records doesn't get quite as philosophic as that, but it's an excellent reference on the overall science of keeping, organizing, accessing and otherwise looking after all manner of digital information. It may be a little advanced for small and midsized firms, but for larger firms, and those whose clients have major piles of data and other electronic records, it's worth a look.


New and improved!

Office Tools Professional has announced new "Seamless Integration" capabilities for its Practice Management 2013; among other things, select integrations with third-party apps will now automatically update information. ... CCH has enhanced the mobile access to its CCH KnowledgeConnect knowledge management solution for iPhones and Android phones, making it easier for mobile users to view client information, access favorite content, and write and store information in Wiki form. In addition, CCH has added new forecasting tools to its ProSystem fx Practice Management. ... Billtrust has released Invoice Central 2.0, with new features including new invoice data import capability, new Open Balance functionality, and seamless links to two leading accounts payable networks.

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