Assume ControlAs more businesses use performance management tools, the tools themselves become more powerful, needle-diving into the constantly expanding haystack of corporate data to help refine and improve decision-making. It's a virtuous cycle, where ever-greater computer power and enhanced programming leads to stronger businesses that continually call for more and better tools.

Among the major participants in the cycle is KCI Computing, which recently released the latest version of its Control performance management software. Version 8.8 has a number of enhancements, including quicker "just-in-time" recalculations to speed things along; tighter integration with Excel; new functionality to question and improve sketchy budget and forecast data at the time it's entered; improved currency translation; more flexible security and sharing functionality; and a new Publish feature that lets users publish Control data to other decision-makers in a variety of formats, including Excel, XML, PDF, HTML and CSV text files.

Price: Starts at $33,000.

KCI Computing Inc.

TimePlus Payroll

Time clocks are big, bulky things, so you can't really expect traveling staff to carry one around with them. On the other hand, this honor system stuff is for the birds. TimePlus Payroll Services has solved the problem with the introduction of Web-Based Time and Attendance, an add-on to its payroll offering that allows employees to track their time while they're on the road.

The new feature offers simple clock-ins and clock-outs; job-specific tracking; the ability to clock-in to a specific division, location or department; and, naturally, full integration with TimePlus' payroll system.

Price: $10 per pay period.

TimePlus Payroll Services

(888) 720-PLUS

Connecting Acrobat

In addition to a new release of its world-standard digital document software, Acrobat 8, Adobe is also rolling out its new Acrobat Connect solution for Web conferencing. Connect is a hosted service that offers "always-on" personal meeting rooms for online collaboration.

With nothing more than a browser and Flash Player, users can interact and share data and documents with up to 15 participants in a "permanent" meeting room with its own easy-to-remember Web address. Also due is an edition for larger users and online events that can be used online or installed on-premise.

Price: Acrobat Standard - new, $299; upgrade, $99. Acrobat 8 Professional - new, $499; upgrade, $159. Acrobat Connect subscription - $39 monthly; $395 annually.

Adobe Inc.

Silver Lining Dept.

While no one would accuse doctors of hoping people get sick to fill their waiting rooms, we would certainly understand if they felt a little ambivalence on the subject. Similarly, while we doubt that software vendors keep their fingers crossed for another set of corporate governance scandals, there's no doubt that such shenanigans offer them an opportunity to create and sell new tools.

Consider the ongoing kerfuffle over stock-option grants, which has prompted a number of vendors to offer systems to help companies manage them properly. The first of two we'll note here is Oversight 4.2, a corporate governance tool that has expanded its continuous monitoring functionality to include coverage of stock-option grants. It integrates directly with equity management programs, human resources systems and the general ledger to keep an eye out for the red flags that indicate questionable grants.

Price: Contact vendor.

Oversight Systems

More options on options

Also ready to help with stock-option problems is OptionTrax. Designed specifically as a stock-option administration solution, OptionTrax has added new features that provide audit trails, accountability and safeguards against the kind of nefarious manipulation that has regulators up in arms. These include a secure online portal where directors can oversee the formal option program and review grants, an audit report that informs directors of worrisome discrepancies, and a variety of tracking tools.

Price: Varies; averages $600 per month.

Plan Management Corp.

(610) 649-7300

New and improved!

Sage Software has shipped Version 7.0 of Sage Fundraising 50, with a new import wizard and integration with payment services from Verus. The company also introduced Sage Abra Benefits Connect, which automates communication between Abra customers' employee benefits enrollment data and their insurance carriers.

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