Looking for leaders?
Partner-Pipeline Program for Accountants
Accounting firms used to create leaders the old-fashioned way: by working new staff to death, and then promoting the survivors. But the new generations of accountants are too smart for that, and will leave long before you get a chance to work them to death. The only way to create the next generation of leaders in your firm, then, is to actually create leaders -- by laying out a process by which they are identified, incentivized to stay, and given the training and skills that leaders need. Needless to say, this is a far more complex process than simply handing the baton on to those who have enough energy left to grasp it, which is why PartnersCoach has developed its Partner-Pipeline Program for Accountants, a system for developing and training a continuous flow of new leaders who are well-rounded in the skills they need to run your firm into the next generation.
An app for apps
Checkpoint Pocket Assistant
Thomson Reuters' new Checkpoint Pocket Assistant for iPhones acts as a sort of app wrangler, serving as a hub for a number of additional apps that let users perform all sorts of routine tasks on the go. Among the first apps in the Pocket Assistant are a 2013 tax rate guide, a like-kind exchange calculator and a maximum required gain calculator. Some are free and some cost the usual spare change that apps cost, but all are useful. The question is, how long before you need an app that wrangles all the apps that wrangle all the other apps? (Also, is the acronym as coincidence?)
Actual Multiple Monitors
Accountants started using multiple monitors to let them take full advantage of all the different applications they use; now, they need an application to help them take full advantage of all the different monitors they use. Enter Actual Multiple Monitors, which lets users quickly allocate windows across a range of monitors, either automatically or using special hotkeys, and lets them replicate various Windows taskbars and menus in different monitors. A handy tool for anyone facing a giant wall of screens.
Hell is other people
What Keeps Leaders Up at Night: Recognizing and Resolving Your Most Troubling Management Issues
Amacom Books; $21.95
There are all kinds of things that can have a business person pacing the floors at 2 a.m. -- the competition, the terrible economy, commoditization, and so on - but there's a specific set of things that keep leaders up late, and they mostly revolve around the fiendishly difficult and intertwined tasks of managing employees, and managing yourself. Written by a psychologist-turned-consultant, What Keeps Leaders Up at Night focuses, naturally, on the people problems that arise in every business due to the bizarre quirks of the human psyche. With solutions for everything from motivating staff and building strong teams, to keeping yourself from driving away good employees or pursuing doomed courses of action, it's full of great insights into what goes wrong when you put people in charge.
PlanOn Systems Solutions Inc.
Someday, they will build a scanner into your finger, but until then, the smallest you'll find is PlanOn's tiny ScanStik. It's color, scans a full page at 600 dpi in four seconds, and includes a rechargeable battery, a MicroSD card slot for storing thousands of scans, and a USB connector. And now the latest version also has a microphone, a speaker and Bluetooth connectivity, so you can record verbal notes to go along with your scans and send them wirelessly to your colleagues. Given all that, maybe they should give up trying to build a scanner into your finger, and just figure out how to get the ScanStik to scratch your ear for you.
Not everything's relative
BigTime Software Inc.
Einstein may have proved that time is different for observers in different situations, but when it comes to entering, tracking and billing for it, time had better be the same no matter where you are. Enter BigTime's BigTime Mobile, a mobile app aimed at letting small and midsized professional services firms use both basic time and expense-tracking features and access more sophisticated project management tools, all while on the road. Subscribers to BigTime's cloud-based solutions can get the app for free to make sure they aren't at a relative disadvantage in terms of their feature set.
A leader on leading
For Presidents Who Want to Change the Future: A Leadership Manual
FriesenPress; $27.99 (hardback), $12.99 (paper)
Ed Kliegman may be familiar from his roles as a leader at Top 100 Firm Marcum and in the accounting profession as a whole, but he's also been a volunteer leader at many other sorts of organizations, and his new book draws valuable lessons from all those experiences to offer new leaders of all stripes advice on how to make the most of their time in office. Short and to the point, it urges them to not just sit out their terms without rocking the boat, but instead to exercise true leadership and make a lasting impact, while offering strategies to help them do so.
The Payments Co.
Most businesses focus on improving their invoicing and accounts receivables functions, the better to get cash in the door as quickly as possible. But there's a great deal to be said for managing the opposite process more efficiently, too. The Payments Co.'s AP Advantage network and payment software helps companies move all of their payables into the digital world, so they can make vendor payments more easily through credit cards, ACH payments, direct deposit and checks. The system integrates with the company's accounting system and workflow, making reconciliation easier, while also allowing customers to earn cash-back rewards.
Burn your laurels
The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business
Harvard Business Review Press; $30
If you've ever worried about the erosion of the value of the services that form the core of the traditional accounting offering, give this book a read. The only comfort it offers is of the "misery loves company" sort -- no business, it claims, can possibly maintain a competitive advantage for long. Instead, it lays out a framework for continually discovering new competitive advantages, and for creating businesses built around processes and attitudes that perpetually escape from areas of declining advantage and move on to greener pastures. It's a scary but valuable read.
New and improved!
Epson has added a new color scanner to its lineup of professional-grade scanners: The compact, sheet-fed WorkForce DS-510 can scan up to 26 pages per minute, and can scan both sides of a sheet in one pass. ... Billtrust has added IVR (for "interactive voice response") technology to its suite of billing services, which lets users give customers a phone number where they can check account balances or make payments around the clock. ... PayStream Advisors Inc. has launched a Cost per Invoice Calculator that lets accounts payable managers figure out just how much it costs them to process one of those annoying little items.
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