E pluribus almost unum

New ProSystem fx Suite

CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business

http://cchgroup.com/thenextgeneration

The whole notion of a software suite is to coordinate a range of applications in such a way that you get all the benefits of a single, integrated solution, without giving up the flexibility of being able to choose only the functions you need. The recently released next-generation version of CCH's ProSystem fx Suite takes this dynamic right up to the edge, with integration so tight that if its parts were any closer, there'd just be one of them. The new Common Client Database means changes only need to be made once to be available to all ProSystem applications, while the new Administration Manager lets the administrator control access and security across the Suite from a single place - which also means that individual users only need a single sign-on to all applications. Individual users also get their own dashboard, which serves as a home page and can be configured to match their role. The Suite as a whole has a new user interface with a common look and feel across all applications. Available currently as Software-as-a-Service, with an on-premise version due in 2010, the Suite's first solution offerings include new versions of ProSystem fx Tax, Document and Practice, and two new applications, ProSystem fx Workstream (for work-tracking) and ProSystem fx Portal.

 

Sludge clearance

XCM 7.0

XCM Solutions LLC

www.xcmsolutions.com

"Workflow" sounds nice, as if all of a firm's activities were coursing swiftly along like a happy little stream - but glaciers flow too, as does sludge, in ways that don't conjure quite the same pleasant image. If your firm's flow is more like a New York City sewer than a sparkling mountain stream, consider a workflow management solution like XCM, Version 7.0 of which was just released. It controls and standardizes work processes, so steps aren't missed and best practices are followed, while allowing you to know exactly where a project stands at any given time. The new version has boosted functionality for audit and bookkeeping workflows (XCM has its roots in tax workflow, so the functionality there was already strong); added custom checklist and sign-off capabilities for more flexibility and tighter management; and enhanced the user interface. It also has expanded integration with Web-based document management and practice management software, so users can access client documents when they need them, and keep client information in XCM up to date automatically.

 

Found in translation

Monarch V. 10.5

Datawatch Corp.

www.datawatch.com

Someone once told James Thurber that she found his writing much funnier in French; he replied, "Yes, I always lose something in the original." The same might be said of corporate information, which is often translated into Excel spreadsheets, where it gains in usefulness for analyses, audits, investigations and compliance purposes. Sometimes, though, you need to return to the original, so in the latest version of its Monarch report mining and business intelligence tool, Datawatch has added the ability to include the original source data in the Excel spreadsheets that users create and export. With the free Monarch Context add-on, they can now easily jump to the source data to check for accuracy. The new release, V. 10.5, also allows users to embed digital signatures in the Excel file to track who has made changes to it, and is compatible with Windows 7.

 

Not seen, not heard

Virtual receptionists and personal assistants

Call Desk Inc. and Zeehelp.com

www.calldesk.com/accountants and www.zeehelp.com

Temporary staff, like Victorian children, should be seen and not heard. Ideally, they shouldn't be seen, either, but that wasn't possible until recently. Now there are services that offer virtual assistants and receptionists that give you all the benefits of staff, without the annoyance of having to listen to them snap their gum, file their nails or ask to be unchained from their desks.

With the demands of tax season firmly in mind, Call Desk Inc. provides virtual live receptionist services to CPAs and tax preparers. For fees starting at $150 a month, they'll answer your phones, take messages, schedule appointments and generally deal with clients, so you can focus on your work. Zeehelp.com, meanwhile, offers virtual personal assistants who can handle all sorts of tasks - from marketing calls and research to bookkeeping and data entry - with fees starting at $1,000 a month for 40 hours of work a week.

 

Crunching people

CYMA HR

CYMA Systems Inc.

www.cyma.com

While you would never, ever treat people like numbers, that doesn't mean you can't deal with them through software. Take the new CYMA HR, from accounting and payroll software vendor CYMA Systems: It handles all of a company's human resources needs, and offers a secure resource for managing, accessing and updating HR-related information, as well as exporting information to CYMA's accounting applications. Among other things, the Web-based solution offers over 300 customizable HR forms, dozens of reports, downloadable compliance posters, comprehensive "how-to" guides on HR-related subjects, and the latest state and federal laws. For the human touch, it also offers self-service employee portals, so authorized employees can manage their contact details and access benefits and other information without actually having to bother anyone from HR.

 

Take internally

AuditExchange 2.0

ACL Services

www.acl.com/ax2

Spare a moment to consider the plight of the internal auditor, burdened, like you, with ever-higher expectations for accuracy and insight, with ever-scarcer resources to accomplish them. You might recommend that your internal counterparts consider the latest version of business assurance platform AuditExchange, which can boost the efficiency of their auditing processes and the depth of their business insight. Version 2.0 includes a centralized content management feature that creates a centralized, secure repository for all the workpapers, audit programs, analytic elements, data and more that revolve around an audit engagement, with levels of access granted as needed. It also offers the ability to schedule automated analysis of data from disparate systems across large volumes of transactions, and communication tools for sharing results, as well as a new Web-based interface that makes it easy even for those with no analytics experience to run their own or pre-packaged analytic tests. Now that you've alleviated the plight of the internal auditor, we invite you to spare a moment to consider the woes of the New Products team.

 

Excel without Excel

XLeratorDB/Financial

WestClinTech

www.westclintech.com

Love the functions of Excel, but hate all the copying, pasting and spreadsheet errors? The new XLeratorDB embeds a number of financial tools and functions directly into Microsoft SQL Server, so you can run them directly on the data, with faster processing, no export errors, and no worries about outdated information. Better still, the functions look and behave just like Excel, so users won't need specialized training, or have any nostalgia issues.

 

Control in the field

OSS-IM View

Creative Vistas Inc.

www.ossimview.com

If you have clients running distribution, delivery or field-service operations, you might consider introducing them to Creative Vistas' OSS-IM View, a wireless and Web-enabled business intelligence tool that automates, tracks and reports on all aspects of a supply or delivery chain, from vehicles and mobile teams to customer transactions and more. With Web-based access to real-time data feeds, it offers users all sorts of opportunities for valuable data analysis, and process and efficiency improvements, as well as iron-fisted control of their far-flung corporate empire.

 

New and improved!

Intacct has integrated its cloud-based accounting and financial management applications with CCH's ProSystem fx Tax tax prep solution, allowing users to export financial data from Intacct with a single click. ... Software Technology Inc. has made Version 15 of its Tabs3 billing software and PracticeMaster practice management solutions compatible with Microsoft Windows 7. ... WinZip has released Version 14 of its popular compression software, with new security features and compatibility with Windows 7.

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