Sage loves the cloud
Sage 300 Online, ERP X3 Online
Sage North America
Sage made clear its cloudiness with two recent announcements, starting with the release of Sage 300 Online, a cloud-based business management solution for companies looking to move up from basic accounting solutions. It includes accounting and financial management, business intelligence and reporting features, sales management, inventory management and warehousing, and purchasing and supplier management, among other things, all starting at $69 a month. Sage ERP X3 Online, meanwhile, is getting a "controlled" launch this month, taking its Sage ERP X3 Version 7 into the cloud. Designed for mid-market users, it's got a new collaborative Web interface, supports multiple browsers and user personalization, and offers mobile access and a number of Web apps.
Of the traditional services provided by accountants, tax and accounting have received by far the most attention from software developers. There are really only a handful of serious tools for auditors - though more have been coming along of late, and we offer AuditFile as an example. It's a cloud-based audit solution with a host of features that lets users manage and track the entire process from any connected device, including smartphones and tablets. If it's any indication, then auditing is on the verge of becoming much more interesting.
Your own fault
CFO Services: A Practical How-To Guide for Accountants
2020 Group USA; $149.95
Sure, the cloud has made it possible for you to share data with your clients on a real-time basis, and sure, all this new technology means you can offer value-added services like being an outsourced CFO, rather than an after-the-fact compliance jockey, and sure, CFO Services shows you exactly how to offer these services and make a ton of money at it. But remember this: Once you're their CFO, it'll be your fault if their books are so terrible at the end of the month.
Do less, grow more
Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back
Business owners (and firm partners) often excuse ridiculous hours and tremendous workloads because they have a stake in what they're building, but ownership doesn't have to be so onerous -- or at least so claims Scale, which aims to show owners how to get beyond businesses that rely on them. There's a certain Zen neatness to the notion that learning to step back -- to hire and train staff so you don't have to do it all yourself, to set up systems and processes that don't rely on your constant attention, and so on -- can actually translate into more success than working yourself into the ground.
Put away the gun
Cracking the Culture Code: The Key to High-Performing Organizations
RoundPegg Inc.; $1.29 (Kindle)
Hermann Goering famously claimed to reach for his revolver whenever he heard the word "culture," and while he meant a different type of culture, we wouldn't be surprised if he started firing wildly at the "firm culture" that is so frequently mentioned these days, but so rarely defined. Cracking the Culture Code is a useful primer on the subject, and will get you started in a practical way on rolling out the culture your firm needs.
It's the little things
It really is the little things that keep a relationship going - the random pizza lunch, the unexpected early closing, the $5 gift card on their birthday. (We're talking employees here, not spouses.) And now, it's the little note on their paystub, thanks to the "Personal Notes" feature from online payroll upstart ZenPayroll, which lets companies send custom messages to employees. Remember, please, that it's meant for nice things - none of those messages should start, "It's not you, it's us ..."
The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems
Jossey-Bass; $21 (hardcover)
Is it only 27? Sometimes it seems like 2,700 -- but that's just because we have an energetic staff. Many of them are, no doubt, variations on the same 27 themes -- and all fit into the seven major categories described herein. Not all of those, it should be noted, are employees' fault -- it just seems that way. A very handy reference and problem-solving guide that would be a useful gift for any new manager (and most old ones).
It's Not the Size of the Data -- It's How You Use It: Smarter Marketing with Analytics & Dashboards
Amacom Books; $29.95
Here's why we don't like data: because it constantly tells things the way they are, as opposed to how we would like them. And since marketing is all about telling things the way you want them, as opposed to the way they are, is it any wonder that marketing folks have so much trouble with things like measuring return on investment? This book aims to bridge the gap between marketing's natural impulse to fuzz up reality and it's very real need to demonstrate that its budget delivers value, with a roadmap for building analytics and dashboards that marketers can live with.
Doormats no more
Board that Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way
Harvard Business Review Press; $35
Too often, the corporate board has been little more than a rubber-stamping boondoggle, with members reluctant to endanger the atmosphere of "collegiality" (and their own well-padded positions) by actually attempting to improve the business. Fortunately, this is changing -- but it leaves newly active boards facing some fairly complicated issues, like when, exactly, to be active. Boards that Lead aims to guide them in walking the fairly fine line between proactive and disruptive, in hopes of building stronger businesses everywhere.
Not your network
Cloud Networking: Understanding Cloud-Based Data Center Networks
Morgan Kaufman; $44.95
Most likely this book is not for you. As much as you want to understand the cloud, it will not help you. Who it will help, though, is your firm's IT director, or the tech staff who are taking your firm into the cloud, or implementing cloud solutions for your clients. For them, this book will prove an illuminating look into the intricacies of cloud data center networks, and offer a look ahead at what's to come in the field. And as if that wasn't enough, it's written by our technology editor's father, and that's recommendation enough for us.
New and improved!
The Institute of Internal Auditors has released a new Global Public Sector Insight, "Independent Audit Committees of Public Sector Organizations," which makes the case for exactly what its title suggests. ... MasterTax has released the latest version of its MasterTax payroll tax filing solution, with new analytics dashboards and enhanced search functions. ... IQ BackOffice has updated its Archimedes software to help users improve their invoice payment procedures. ... Paychex Inc has launched a payroll card program called the Skylight PayOptions Program.
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