Small Business News Briefs

By Patricia Fusco | Posted February 27, 2003

Timeslips for Sole Practitioners
Best Software released Timeslips for Sole Practitioners this week — an entry-level version of its popular time-tracking software that caters to the billing needs of smaller professional service firms.

Timeslips for Sole Practitioners offers many of the functions that the standard edition features, but it is tailored to meet the needs of smaller businesses with just one or two people performing billable tasks. The software is ideal for accountants, lawyers, interior or graphic designers, architects, engineers, consultants and other small professional services.

Timeslips for Sole Practitioners features:
  • Customized Bills: Small businesses can provide their clients with billing details they need in a clear, professional-looking statement. Once the billing template is designed, printing bills becomes a one-click process.

  • Easy Time Entry: Old-fashioned paper time slips can be replaced with the electronic time slip system. Versatile timekeeping features are built into the program to make record keeping and expense reporting effortless.

  • Flexible Reporting: Timeslips for Sole Practitioners offers more than 80 different reporting options to facilitate timely, intelligent analysis of critical data.

  • Mike Savory, Timeslips product manager, said the standard version of Timeslips is sometimes more than small professional service firm's need.

"Timeslips for Sole Practitioners enables smaller firms to move away from an antiquated manual timekeeping method to a more efficient and productive way of tracking and billing for their time and the services they provide," Savory said.

"When these small firms outgrow Timeslips for Sole Practitioners, they can easily transfer all of their information to our standard Timeslips package to get more of the advanced features they might need, including networking capabilities," added Savory.

Timeslips for Sole Practitioners is available from most computer retailers, office stores and wherever software is sold for a suggested retail price of $199.99, or direct by visiting Timeslips.com.

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Bringing ACT! To The Web
In related news, Best Software is bringing its ACT! to the Web. Long before there was Salesnet or Salesforce.com, there was ACT! — the tool most salespeople cut their customer management teeth on in the '90s.

Today, the venerable sales force automation tool hit the Web. Best Software (parent company of ACT!'s publisher Interact) today introduced ACT! for Web, which it says is designed to offer all the benefits of ACT! for Windows over the Web. But there is a twist. Best Software is eschewing the conventional model for Web-based applications in two ways.

The product is offered for a one-time fixed price of $249.95 per user as opposed to a monthly fee. And while ACT! for Web is designed to offer fast installation and data sharing among workgroups, unlike other Web-based SFA services (or any online application for that matter), ACT! for Web doesn't store data at a hosting facility. The reason, according to Best Software, is that small businesses prefer to keep all of their critical customer information within their own network.

ACT! for Web, according the company, allows users to perform the following tasks:

  • Track up to 255 fields of customer information

  • Perform quick look-ups using the hyperlink on each field label

  • View daily, weekly and monthly calendars for individuals or workgroups

  • Access activity and sales reports to get instant summaries

  • Manage sales information using the built-in opportunity tracking and forecasting tools

  • Best Software is also the parent company of Abra!, CPASoftware, Peachtree, SalesLogix and others

"The majority of our SMB customers are averse to entrusting customer and sales opportunity data to a third-party hosting facility," said Greg Head, ACT! general manager. "ACT! for Web data is stored within the company's own network and enables customers to have both ACT! for Windows and ACT! for Web users accessing the same database so all users are working in real-time."

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New Weapon In The War Against Hackers
Kaspersky Labs, an international data-security software developer, recently released its Anti-Hacker personal firewall designed to defend home office computers against unauthorized intruders.

Kaspersky Anti-Hacker operates as a filter between personal computers and the Internet. It checks all incoming and outgoing data streams and permits only safe data transfer and actions. Consequently, the system protects against outside attacks while regulating access to Internet applications. Kapersky Anti-Hacker prevents the unauthorized outflow of information even if the system becomes infected with backdoor Trojan programs.

The program gives users the ability to define filtration rules for each Internet application, allowing for contact with specific IP addresses. Users can choose from among five preset levels of protection to meet individual security requirements. The program also has a self-learning' feature that allows users to create a set of rules that corresponds with installed software.

Low-level data interceptors working on the network protocol level filters information before other applications can process the data. This way, users receive blanket protection from the latest types of hacks — including Ping Of Death attacks, port scanning and DoS attacks.

Kaspersky Anti-Hacker has a relatively easy to use interface that to suite security novices to professionals alike. It produces detailed reports regarding the filtration of incoming and outgoing data streams. All critical events are recorded in a special report and immediately sent to the user.

You can obtain Kaspersky Anti-Hacker from the Kaspersky Labs Internet store for $39. The system works on Pentium PC's operating on Windows 95 or higher with 50 MB free hard disk space. Be aware that the application is incompatible with some internal cables and ADSL modems.

How much you need an anti-hacking firewall is up open to debate. Anti-virus software giant Symantec reports that 60 percent of companies in the Power and Energy industry worldwide have reported at least one serious cyber attack since July 2002. Moreover 41 percent of companies with more than 5,000 employees have reported being on the end of the same type of attacks.

But only nine percent of small businesses said they have been the targets of hackers. Surprisingly, three of ten non-profits said they were hacked during the last half of 2002. While new variations of old attack themes continue to evolve on the Web, small business owners need only choose between a $40 software expenditure and the odds of being hacked.

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