I cannot remember everything that needs follow-up. Consequently I am a note writer – from scrap paper to sticky notes to blank Word documents. Of course, I do have to remember where that note is hiding. Writing notes on my laptop or a web application or on the iPhone is OK, but there are too many places to look for any one note. Evernote is a multi-platform application that enables me to write notes once and then view them on any of my devices.
Evernote is a three-headed program that includes a web app, iPhone app, and computer app. Categories can be added to each note. Therefore I can search for notes by person or topic. Evernote synchs whatever I write in one location with every other location. Synching is quick and done automatically when you are in range of internet access. It is clear that I am going to have to explore some new uses for my stash of scrap paper.
Wow, and here I thought the scariest tradition of Leap Year's Day was that hundreds of years ago in England, the British government didn't officially recognize February 29ths as having legal status. Since the day had no legal status in British law, so things such as court, contracts, etc, were not legally recognized as being binding on that day. It seems that the CCH programmers followed that old English law in designing their widely-used PFX Document product.
On the 29th (last Friday) practitioners across America discovered that their technological "artificial heart" simply would not allow them to add documents. I don't know about you, but I guess I'd consider that PRETTY SERIOUS!! I'm sure the support lines were burning up and the chat rooms certainly were --- simply very bad timing. It was early afternoon by the time the time the ProSystemFX folk were able to provide a [pretty ugly] work-around. It involved adding a new "class" (subject to some fairly arcane naming conventions) which somehow made ProFX understand Leap Year. The communication included a stern warning about doing what I immediately thought of doing --- changing my system date. NOT a good idea says CCH --- "it is very important that you DO NOT change your System Date or Time to try and circumvent this issue. Doing so will have profoundly negative effects for Document and other SQL based applications."
Anyway, it's over and [probably] won't happen for four more years. Until then, does anyone want to hazard a guess as to how many lost productivity dollars the profession racked up on Friday? Let's see ---- X firms, times Y professional staff per firm, times Z dollars per hour --- wow!
In my 32+ years of experience with accountants practicing in small firms I have grown to understand that the thing they universally hate SECOND most is contacting clients about a past due balance. [The number ONE thing is obviously "not getting paid"!] That same reluctance regarding accounts receivable management often follows to these firm's small business clients. Last week while speaking at the New Jersey Society of CPA's Technology & Business Show I noticed a new exhibitor and stopped by for an introductory visit. I met Roger Gins, CEO of Call Motions, LLC and he demonstrated his company's web-enabled, automated accounts receivable collection management system.
www.AR-Connect.com provides a secure portal via which a business can upload their A/R aging report (generated from most popular accounting packages including QuickBooks, PeachTree, and Microsoft Office Accounting) and then, following rules and processes established by the individual businesses, have collection efforts undertaken automatically. The rules and processes can include emails, postcards, letters, and telephone calls --- and all are highly customizable. The genius in the process is that, while every step is automated, each step [can be] individually approved immediately prior to its implementation. This avoids the potential embarrassment of escalating efforts after a payment has been received. And the telephone call component has some clever twists, too. First, the system spoofs the called ID into displaying the businesses number rather than that of AR-Connect. And the message delivered allows the recipient to press a button and be connected directly to the business for more in-depth conversation. I like the design as it's completely transparent and all communications appear to come directly from the business owners rather than a service or agency.
If you and/or your clients hate asking to get paid, but hate not getting paid even more, then perhaps you might want to take a peek at AR-Connect.
Friend and fellow CITP Darren Root of Bloomington, Indiana asked me a few weeks ago if I knew of way to utilize a split-screen or, preferably, a dual-monitor in a Citrix environment. Although I was sure I had heard of others doing this I was stumped when Darren asked me "how". Well, like the great technologist he is (he was awarded the Indiana CPA Society Technology Person of the Year a few years back) he went out and found the solution and was kind enough to share it with me ..... so I'm sharing with you with thanks to Darren.
An Indian company, Vyooh produces software systems for managing computer systems and IT infrastructure. Their flagship product appears to be SplitView. The product enables use of dual monitors in a Citrix or Teminal Services environment ---- solving a vexing problem for many practitioners. It also works in the inverse --- essentially making one large monitor into two, or three, or ..... you get the point. Now, before you yell "I can do that myself!" please understand that there are two separate products here. The personal and the server.
If you happen to be lucky enough to have dual monitors at home (I do) and would like to have the same functionality there as in your office, SplitView might just be the trick you were looking for. The personal version for the "one monitor, two screens" solution for only $29. The workhorse solution, however, runs at the server site and allows all users to utilize their multiple screen set-ups. That version runs $729 per server.
Microsoft Office 2007 debuted quietly last month --- in the shadow of Vista. I'm sure you recall reading that the file formats of the new Office suite are different from previous versions. Ya gotta love XML, right? Well, one day soon you're going to get an Office 2007 generated file and you'll run right into a brick wall trying to open it. Now there are two ways around this --- first is to call your offending sender and admit that you're a techno-weenie ask that they re-save the file in a backwards compatible format and then re-send it to you. Alternatively you download the Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats which will allow you open the offending file from older versions of Office ---- and allow you to keep your techno-dignity. Your choice. Act now, while you have time ---- the end of March is too darn busy for this sort of stuff!
Last week Microsoft reported it's first MILLION downloads of Office Accounting Express 2007 --- that's the free component of the recently re-named QuickBooks competitor. Formerly named Microsoft Small Business Accounting the product was effectively re-launched last fall and bifurcated into the Express (read: FREE) and Pro (sells for $149) versions. The product was rolled out last year and despite its wide distribution at professional events and trade shows was met with some apathy from the the profession. It garnered significant attention last summer in winning an Innovation in Tax & Accounting Technology Award from The CPA Technology Advisor. That, followed by the decision to make an entry level component downloadable and FREE, seems to have worked for long-suffering Bob Lewis and his marketing team at Microsoft. As a CPA and a technologist I can assure you that 1 million is a LOT of downloads. I wouldn't start shorting Intuit stock quite yet (at least not based on THIS news), but it is, none the less, an impressive number.
Office Accounting Express is a fully functional accounting product designed especially for small businesses. It includes, albeit not for free, options for direct access to eBay, PayPal, Chase Credit Card Services, Equifax, and ADP. When needed users can turn on the Pro version with a registration code --- it's the SAME program! Very clever.
Even if you're a complete QuickBooks shop I'd strongly suggest you check this out --- one day, and probably soon, a client is going to why he can't use this FREE program rather than the one you (probably) just recommended. And, while we're at it --- you might want to peek at Rajat Taneja's blog. Rajat is Microsoft's General Manager of Small Business Applications. I've met him several times and have been consistently impressed with his depth of understanding regarding our profession and our small business clients. His blog is here.
PS --- I would point you to the developer blogs for competitive products but there don't seem to BE ANY!!!! Hello?????
The CPA Technology Advisor’s 2006 YEAR-IN-REVIEW DIGITAL EDITION features exclusive content and insight into what made 2006 a year to remember, including the “Top 10 Business Events of 2006” and the “Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2006.” Both of these special features are available only through this special Digital Edition.
The 2006 YEAR-IN-REVIEW DIGITAL EDITION uses an interactive format that lets you read it just like the print edition of the magazine, flipping through pages with a click of your mouse. It also includes exclusive podcast interviews that allow you to hear from industry thought leaders as they discuss trends and technologies that are shaping the tax and accounting professions.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, or even more so a regular listener to Intersection Live, you'll particularly enjoy this edition. Please give it a try --- and also, please let me know your opinion of this type of delivery method for content. I want to know your thoughts, positive and negative. Your feedback is essential to our planning process. As readers (and listeners) you represent the leading (bleeding?) edge of technology adaptation in the profession of public accounting. We'll go where you direct us, and the rest of the profession will follow!
Thanks .... and a really wonderful holiday and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.
My friend Brian Tankersley, occasional contibutor to The CPA Technology Advisor and seemingly full-time lecturer for the K2 organization, was kind enough to allow me to share his analysis of the current state of entry level client accounting packages. Brian's a CPA.CITP practitioner from Tennessee and, more importantly, a darn smart technology analyst. I'm guessing you'll find this piece as valuable as I did ---- and then go check out Brian's blog. Meanwhile ---- enjoy the read.
As most readers of this blog know, the "Big Three" publishers of entry level financial management software are fighting in the small business space for the hearts and minds of small business owners. The battle has been joined by Microsoft (Office Accounting 2007, the new name for the product formerly known as Small Business Accounting 2006) and Sage (Peachtree Quantum 2007) against incumbent Intuit (QuickBooks 2007 Premier Accountant Edition), and all three have made wholesale changes to their offerings since the beginning of the conflict to help us get more completed in less time. A partial listing of some of the major changes in the last two years includes:
New database (QuickBooks), database version (Peachtree), or entirely new product (Microsoft)Significant increase in integration with Microsoft Office (all) Feature sets targeted at Accountants have been created or extended, including: Methods for an accountant to obtain a copy of the Client's information, make entries, and send just the changes back to the client Fixed Asset Management System integrated into Accountant version of the products(QuickBooks and Peachtree have this feature, and Office Accounting 2007 reports that it has this feature as well, however, I have not personally verified that it contains the ability to run 4 different books of depreciation - Book, MACRS, Ace/AMT, and State, so I am unable to personally confirm that the scope of the new Microsoft offering is consistent with the offerings from Sage and Intuit at this time) Enhanced Payroll offerings (all) Role-based security model (all, although some offerings are stronger at this than others.) New partnerships with third party service providers to allow the software publisher to sell services to customers beyond custom forms and checks, including, but not limited to: Credit Card Processing Outsourced Payroll Processing Ability to have your client pay your invoice online Work with online services such as Google (Desktop Search and Adwords) links to QuickBooks) and Microsoft’s eBay integration. Many of the vendors are also giving away copies of their products to CPAs who participate in certain CPE training programs, including those offered by K2 Enterprises (Full disclosure: K2 Enterprises is a significant client of mine, and many of their classes include one or more versions (full licensed version or trial version) of the three major entry level packages. K2 also consults for all three of the “big three” applications, so don’t say we didn’t mention it.)
Long-time practitioner now turned software solution entrepenuer Barry Friedman has his hopes set high. He's hoping he can convince WebEx users and even Microsoft's LiveMeeting users that his upstart company, BizConference, can do what they do --- but better, faster, and cheaper. The better comes from no fuss with downloading desktop clients, the faster from using Flash, and the cheaper from ..... well, the cheaper comes from the fact that Friedman is a CPA who practiced for 30 years and he KNOWS his customers --- because he's one of us!!
Listen in as Barry and his partner Andrew Murdock discuss their new service with me. I was quite impressed. I'm betting you will be, too. Most interesting is understanding Friedman's vision of practice in the near future. Will web-based conferenceing be as big as he describes? Perhaps. If so, you'll want to know about this service. If not, well, you'll STILL want to know about this service. It has a 14 day free trial so I suggest you give it a whirl.
Many of you know, or know of, technology thought-leader [and regular columnist for The CPA Technology Advisor] Randy Johnston --- but because he's so modest about all of the things he does you may not be aware of his activities at his Hutchinson, KS-based company, Network Management Group, Inc --- NMGI.
One of NMGI's products, the DoubleCheck Email Manager, was named to CRN's [formerly Computer Reseller News] 75 Emerging Technologies in their October 30, 2006 issue. The product is an award-winning email firewall appliance that checks inbound and outbound email for spam, viruses, phishing attacks and policy violations without requiring new server or desktop software. Here is the product data sheet: Download DC_Product_Data_Sheet_4.2.pdf
This is nice recognition for a nice guy --- and it's a very solid product that deserves a look. You'll sleep better, I promise.