I have written about Bill.com before --- but it’s SO helpful in practice that I just had to share it again. Bill.com is a SaaS (web-based) service that can automate the accounts payable process for you firm and your clients and automatically require make proper procedures to insure internal control. The result is a faster, safer and more accurate processing cycle that saves time and allows you, your staff, and your clients to spend their time in more valuable areas.
Now Bill.com has improved the service by extending it to accounts RECEIVABLE. I’ve been utilizing the A/R portion and must confess that after several months I still find it exciting to see money simply “appear” in my bank account. This is the way business SHOULD be done!
Finally, I’d like to encourage you to invest 1 minute and 7 seconds watching my friend Bob Harris, 2009-2010 Chairman of the Board of the AICPA as he comments on the benefits of Bill.com relative to liability for employee defalcation.
I’ve spent the last hour or so digging in to the new features rolled out this morning in SmartVault v3.3. The Houston-based company gets kudos for listening to customers --- and even MORE kudos for reacting by making significant improvements to its already great service. Oh, BTW, the improvements are FREE and users can just log on and immediately take advantage of them.
For those using the “Pro Plan” they’ve added a “User Activity Log” function that will give you an audit trail detailing which users uploaded, downloaded, deleted, or changed the properties of ant particular document and when. For those practicing public accounting and utilizing SmartVault as a “portal service” this report is a wonderful addition.
The new version also provides a direct link to any file (or folder). This allows users to embed a file reference anywhere --- email, desktop, website, etc. Very handy, indeed. I’ve included their video tutorial here. I think it explains the function very well.
The other nice new feature is the ability to create “vaults” directly from the SmartVault Drive. This will prove to be a time (and aggravation) saver for me.
Good job --- hats off to Eric Pulaski and his team!
If you’re a regular reader here you already know of my long-running love affair with Fujitsu scanners. I was very satisfied with my current S1300 (previous post here) until ….. I saw their new “mobile” offering. Fujitsu calls the S1100 “mobile”, not just “portable”. I assume that’s because they already have a portable --- the ScanSnap S1300. Both models are are quite small and lightweight — and run off power from the USB port (think: no power brick!). But the S1100 is specifically built to be used wherever and whenever you use your laptop.
Now I have “scanner envy”! This latest piece of wonderment is simply amazing. It weighs in at less than 13 ounces and is USB powered. It is absolutely diminutive in footprint, measuring only 10.74 in. x 1.87 in. x1.33 in. It scans in the sub 8 second range. Like its older sibling it’s “stupid simple” to operate. Just press the "SCAN" button and ScanSnap S1100 feeds a document (in color) at 300 dpi quality. The S1100 automatically recognizes the size of each document, detects and corrects for skew, and shows images in their proper orientation without operator intervention. Multiple page document? Just insert the next page with the automatic page detection sensor. Every time a subsequent sheet is inserted, it simply pulls the page and appends the file. To end the “job”, just press the scan button and you’re done. The S1100 enables you to scan documents directly to Evernote and Google Docs cloud services and also includes the “Quick Menu” that provides direct access allowing direct scanning to Folder, Email, Print, Word and Excel.
Like my friends from the U.K. say: “I’mgobsmacked”! [Look it up – smile.]
Section 9006 of the health care law mandates that every business, charity, and local and state government entity submit 1099 forms for business transactions totaling $600 or more in a given year. The new mandate adds routine business expenses like phone, office products, shipping costs, etc. thereby substantially increasing businesses' reporting requirements. The law takes effect on January 1, 2011 Smart practitioners are already coaching their clients so they will have records ready to meet the new requirements. I’ve visited with several entrepreneurs about this new requirement and the kindest response was something along the lines of “what idiot thought THAT was a good idea?” Other comments were, let’s just say …. more colorful!
If you’re asked please tell your clients EXACTLY whom to blame. Here’s the list of the NAY votes on the final attempt to repeal this nonsensical requirement. Now you can your friends and clients who the idiot was that thought THAT was a good idea!
The following Senators voted AGAINST repeal of Section 9006 …. be sure to ask them WHY!!!
Boston-based LogMeIn.com has released a new service called, simply -- Join.me. An it works – simply; and does EXACTLY what it claims – simply. And I like it – simply!
Their website says “ It's an impromptu meeting space that happens wherever, whenever. It's getting a second or third pair of eyes on your presentation from across the hall or across the continent. It's sharing your screen instantly with anyone or everyone to get stuff done, quickly. It's join.me, the last two words in an invitation to collaborate, meet, train, demo or show-off.”
I installed, launched, and connected with another computer in under two minutes. This service is not only SIMPLE (you gotta love that!) it’s also FREE (which I KNOW you’ll love!). Suddenly those agonizing client support calls, not to mention the “family and friends” ones, become manageable and [almost] tolerable. “Simply” launch Join.me (the .ME is the Internet country code top-level domain for Montenegro) and it spawns a unique 9 digit code. “Simply” share the code with the other party (verbally, by SMS, or by email with the quick link on your screen) and viola’ --- you’re sharing your screen. Share YOUR screen for training and presentations or have your “supportee” share THEIR screen so you can take control and and help them through whatever difficulty their experiencing.
Last week I spent 20 minutes trying to get my sister (an MD for cryin’ out loud!) connected via Windows Remote Assistance. Tonight it took me 45 seconds to get connected with my wife --- a lovely woman who, shall we say, is not exactly at the tippy top of the technology food chain. Join.Me is hands down a better service. The only similarity is their pricing --- both are free.
Try this now, when you DON’T need it. And then tuck it away for when you do. You can thank me later.
PS – Thanks to my friend Milt Abramson for the tip on this one. Great catch, Milt!
One of the most often heard objections from tax & accounting professionals to formal document management services is their fear of being “locked in”, and not being able to to migrate to a different solution because their data is being “held hostage” in some vendor’s “proprietary format”. [BTW – remember that PDF is a proprietary format!!] Let me set the record straight: in my experience I have found NO case of this being true. Thomson Reuters FileCabinet CS stores data using Microsoft “BLOB” storage --- and while it IS “proprietary, the system provides a quick and easy way to export all of your firm’s data to PDF format. The other leading product often accused of “locking in” customers is Intuit’s DMS. Yes, their storage scheme IS propietory, it is so for security (think passords, etc.) purposes. NOT to “lock you in”. Yesterday I spoke with Bill Whitson, Intuit’s DMS “guru” and he demonstrated for me how quick and easy it would be to “escape” Intuit’s DMS if you should so desire. I caught Bill on tape and have shared that below.
So – what does this mean? It means I’ve just eliminated one more objection to “becoming paperless”. The profession is a bit over 1/2 way there. Are you on the right side?
Bill Whitson demonstrates moving docs from Inuit DMS
Over the years I’ve found the Symantec group has had a pretty solid “future vision” and their prior years’ predictions have been eerily accurate. This year --- well, we’ll see. I’m particularly interested in # 2 and # 3.
1. Global Spam: In 2011, the use of English spam will drop from approximately 95% of all spam to below 90%. Portuguese and Spanish will top the list as some of the most popular languages used in spam, European countries will increase spam output to account for 40-45% of all spam, and local markets such as China and Germany will see a significant increase in language-targeted spam.
2. Distributed Workforce Drives Security Policies: In 2011, businesses will become more aware of the issues associated with managing remote workers and recognize the need to apply consistent policy controls and safeguard Internet access from malware such as that from unsecured USB storage devices, and drive-by attacks on compromised websites.
3. Security and Services Continue Migrate to the Cloud: In 2011 businesses will increasingly begin to reap the benefits of adopting a hybrid infrastructure that is premise-based, private cloud based and public cloud based and will seek to deliver a seamless user experience regardless of device or access location.
4. Making Web Security Work in an Era of Pervasive Threats: In 2011, we expect IT managers will be forced by business necessity to implement more granular and refined web security policies. The number of custom policy rules will increase from approximately 30 to more than 50 per organization to achieve a more granular response to web filtering. Also, default policies will become more nuanced, industry specific and business role specific to ease the burden on IT managers.
5. Stuxnet Strikes Up Malware Specialization: One of the most threatening advances in malware during 2010 broadened the range of targets beyond PCs and servers when the Stuxnet Trojan attacked programmable logic controllers. This specialized malware written to exploit physical infrastructures will continue in 2011 driven by the huge sums of money available to criminal enterprises at low risk of prosecution, with attacks ranging from smartphones to less obvious targets such as power grid controls or electronic voting systems
6. Trending Topics Fashioned to Follow the News: In 2011, the criminals will proactively identify websites likely to see higher than normal levels of traffic based on current events or hot topics on the internet. They will use multiple methods, including monitoring of micro-blogging site topics and search engine hot topic feeds, to track these trending topics.
7. Automation Advances Targeted Attacks: In 2011 criminal enterprises will increasingly automate the research behind their targeted attacks to create a heavier volume of more powerful and convincing attacks that appear particularly relevant, interesting and/or newsworthy to the intended victims.
8. Targeted Attacks Diversify: In 2011, we expect the range of organizations being targeted in targeted attacks to become more diverse. This means that attackers will also seek indirect entry into specific industries by exploiting contractors and suppliers, rather than targeting only the executives in each industry sector directly.
9. Botnets Evolve with Steganography: In 2011, we expect that botnet controllers will resort to employing steganography techniques to control their computers. This means hiding their commands in plain view – perhaps within images or music files distributed through file sharing or social networking websites. This approach will allow criminals to surreptitiously issue instructions to their botnets without relying on an ISP to host their infrastructure and minimizing the chances of discovery.
10. Rogue Marketplace Vendors Exploit Online Digital Currencies: As social networking sites and online marketplaces continue to roll-out their own in-house digital currencies, cyber criminals will exploit these currencies for financial fraud, with the potential for these vulnerabilities to result in a mainstream malware attack or phishing scam in 2011.
Recent college grad Hunter Richards, an Accounting Market Analyst for a site called www.softwareadvice.com/accounting/, wrote this piece. I found it interesting and think you might, too. Thanks, Hunter --- we appreciate your willingness to allow us to republish here.
Accounting students probably know that their chosen field is expected to remain robust throughout our uncertain economic future; the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that, between now and 2018, accountants and auditors are likely to experience “much faster than average” employment growth. But to distinguish themselves from countless other applicants after graduation, students should seek out “real world” skills early on. Proficiency with business accounting software is critical to the modern skillset.
For the good of those bright young minds and others in the accounting field, I’ve gone over five hundred randomly selected accounting job postings from Monster.com, Career Builder, Craigslist, Simply Hired, and Accounting Jobs Today to see which software systems employers mentioned the most. Check out the results below.
Key Takeaways This article would be a whole lot shorter, and a lot less interesting, if I focused on the one product you absolutely must know – Microsoft Excel. Nearly one hundred percent of these employers mentioned Excel skills as a necessity. If you’re an accounting student and you don’t know about Excel, I advise you to stop reading this immediately and go learn it.
For those of you who remain, here are some key research findings that will help you get the job:
When finding your first job, look for a company that uses a “big name,” widely-used accounting system like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics or Oracle. That will improve your odds of getting hired next time you’re in the market for a new position.
More and more companies are focused on business intelligence – the tools that analyze financial data to uncover business trends and opportunities. Try to gain experience in Business Objects, Crystal Reports, Cognos, etc.
If you’re looking to work in a big corporation, you should learn systems like SAP and Oracle. If mid-size companies are your thing, learn Sage and Microsoft Dynamics. Quickbooks skills are always in demand, but especially by smaller companies.
As the Microsoft Dynamics products converge, knowing any one of these systems will give you transferable skills across the entire Dynamics product line. For now, Dynamics GP appears to be in highest demand.
Don’t get too comfortable with PeopleSoft or JD Edwards; although they make sizable slices of Oracle’s pie, they’re likely to decline in use as Oracle migrates to its Fusion apps. However, this won’t be happening any time in the immediate future.
It's a real stretch trying to make this about "Accounting Technology" but I'm going to try. Some practicing accountants fly a lot for business -- I'll end 2010 with just under 125,000 miles in the air. Others of us will travel during the upcoming holiday season and many more on their "post busy-season" vacations. So I just wanted to give you a heads up. The TSA has installed over 400 "advanced imaging technology devices", i.e. body-scanners, at 69 different airports. These devices have gathered a lot of media attention in the past few months – most of it negative and pure nonsense. I don’t want to be a TSA apologist but, as they say in South Dakota, “there’s nothing quite as pesky as a FACT” --- and the FACTS are that a single scan using backscatter technology produces exposure equivalent to two minutes of flying on an airplane, and the energy projected by the millimeter wave technology is thousands of times less than a cell phone transmission. Oh, and I really don’t think anyone is scheming to look at me naked! (smile).