Two of a hundred flowers

FreeAgent; www.freeagent.com

Numbers Agent; www.numbersagent.com

One of the clearest changes wrought by the cloud is the way it has lowered the barriers to entry in business software, and let a hundred flowers bloom in accounting software. In many ways, it reminds us of the early days of the computerization of accounting, with dozens of new options springing up. Two new ones recently came to our attention: First, there's FreeAgent, a Web-based solution that's aimed specifically at small businesses, freelancers, consultants and the like who want to get control of their accounts without feeling like they're doing accounting. Then there's Numbers Agent, a Software-as-a-Service bookkeeping and accounting solution with a focus on making it easy to keep track of and process your invoices and payables; it has its own smartphone app for uploading invoices, and comes in a variety of different service packages.

 

Rubberneckers

Internal Succession Readiness: Keys to Help Prepare Your Firm for a Leadership Transition

Transition Advisors; $99

www.transitionadvisors.com

The best people to give you advice on avoiding car wrecks are those who've seen a lot of them, and given how many CPA firms they work with, we're willing to bet that the folks at Transition Advisors have seen more than their share. That's what makes the advice they give in their new monograph, Internal Succession Readiness, so valuable: Managing a succession plan in a CPA firm is the equivalent of driving the Pacific Coast Highway blindfolded in a hurricane -- while texting an apology to the spouse whose birthday you just forgot -- and the book offers tips and advice garnered from years of experience with firms all over the country. It covers everything from timing and execution, to staff development and financial arrangements; it also comes with a money-back guarantee, which most new firm leadership does not.

 

Use theirs

CPE Assistant

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

http://cchgroup.com/learningcenter

Here's why we here at New Products will never be a big company like CCH: Their idea of a new CPE Assistant is an online tool that lets users monitor CPE hours completed against hours needed; track all staff training and progress; store CPE certificates; automate employee status reminder e-mails; and get course recommendations from CCH's Learning Center, which has over 300. Besides CPA CPE, it also covers the requirements for Registered Tax Return Preparers, Enrolled Agents, Certified Financial Planners, and others. Our idea is a person who will pretend to be you while taking CPE courses, so you don't have to. See the difference? If you don't, we'll be happy to take care of your CPE for you.

 

A better Doc.It

Doc.It Suite 3.6

Doc.It

www.doc-it.com

Doc.It announced the release of the latest version of its document management technology. Suite 3.6 features a wide range of enhancements, including support for multi-company clients and automatic bi-directional e-mail notification in the client Web portal; the ability to attach original files to PDF files in the Agent Inbox, and support for programs that create multiple PDFs in a single print job operation; the ability to re-arrange pages using "drag and drop" in the PDF Editor; a Smart MS Excel feature in Batch Print for CaseWare that automatically adjusts Excel columns to avoid the dreaded "#####," as well as a number of enhancements to how it works with Excel; and much more.

 

Complexifying sales

Simplifying Complex Sales: The Next Steps Approach

LandMarc Press; $24.95

http://www.newvisionadvisors.com/id30.html

We suspect that accountants hate selling because no one has ever told them how to do it with the same clarity and level of detail that they're used to when it comes to their other professional responsibilities. If the sole extent of their training for an audit was, "Go in there and make sure the numbers are right," they'd probably hate auditing, too. And yet, that's the extent of most accountants' sales training: "Go in there and sell them what we do." Simplifying Complex Sales actually starts by complexifying them: explaining all the details a CPA needs to know to treat selling like a professional activity, filling in all the gray areas, answering all the questions an accountant might be afraid to ask. Our favorite example is the discussion of "keeping in touch" with a prospect who might not be ready to buy now -- the book explains the real purpose of "keeping in touch," and spells out specific goals and objectives that will keep follow-up from being an aimless time-waster. Written specifically for CPA firms, it's one of the best books on selling professional services we've seen.

 

End of a boondoggle?

The Future of Boards: Meeting the Governance Challenges of the Twenty-First Century

Harvard Business Review Press; $35

Let's face it: Corporate boards are more or less useless, a boondoggle invented as another way for rich people to give each other other people's money. They don't have to be useless, of course - they could do what they're supposed to do (some, we're sure, do). That's the idea of The Future of Boards, which brings together some of the leading thinkers on the subject to show what a good board might accomplish and how it might go about it, in areas ranging from effectively overseeing strategy and setting compensation, to managing boardroom conflicts and avoiding group pathologies.

 

Who do you say we are?

Online Identity Manager

Vizibility Inc.

www.vizibility.com

At various times, we here at New Products have been told by Google that we are an incarcerated felon, a college football player, a professional photographer, a charter boat skipper, and the husband of a female race car driver. At various times, all have been accurate, but we're not going to let Google tell us who we are -- that's a job for our deep-seated insecurities and crippling anxieties, thank you very much.

To make sure they have a clear field, we're considering implementing Vizibility's Online Identity Manager, which lets users track both their own online profiles, and those of their employees, to make sure Google and its Internet brethren aren't dictating how they're seen. It's a very cutting-edge marketing and brand-management tool that we would love to use, except that Google tells us we're also a Luddite.

 

Bridging a gap

Cloud Extend

Active Endpoints Inc.

www.cloudextend.com

The profession's rush to make itself mobile with smartphones and tablets has outpaced the ability of many of its enterprise-level tools to keep up, often leaving users dealing with kludgy workarounds to input or use very data-centric applications. Cloud Extend aims to answer this problem by making it easy for users to create voice-to-text and touchscreen wizards that connect iPhone and Android smartphone users with enterprise cloud applications, so they can do "real work" while on the road, as opposed to waiting until they get back to the office or a "real" computer. It is debuting with Cloud Extend for Salesforce.

 

New and improved!

Thomson Reuters has released mobile versions of Thomson Reuters Checkpoint to optimize access to the research platform for both tablet and smartphone users. It has also added PPC's Guide to the Clarified Auditing Standards to Checkpoint. ... CCH has released an enhanced version of its CCH Mobile app for its IntelliConnect research platform, as well as a new IntelliConnect Search Express desktop icon to launch them directly into the platform with a single click. ... SmartVault has integrated its Software-as-a-Service document storage and sharing solutions with Shoeboxed's scanning and data extraction service. ... Benefit Resource Inc. has released BRiMobile, an app that lets users manage their tax-free benefit accounts. ... Cloud computer services provider Infinitely Virtual has unbundled its Microsoft Office Suite product offerings, so users can create their own package by choosing à la carte among Microsoft Excel, Access, Publisher and Outlook. ... Western Union Co. has released a mobile enhancement of its Speedpay service to let users pay bills directly from their mobile devices.

Send your new products and books to Daniel.Hood@SourceMedia.com.

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