Financial Web users, get out your mice and surf these sites.
Like the universe, the Internet continues to expand, and finance managers can expect to find ever more Web sites of interest. That's the rub, of course. The Internet may be becoming an indispensable business medium, but as an information source, it offers a mixed bounty. On one hand, it may be just what you need to, say, keep up with the capital markets or locate a particular kind of software. On the other hand, we're talking infoglut: at what point does the Internet become more a distraction than a vital tool? (Anyone who has more than a dozen bookmarks in his or her browser knows what we mean.) Nevertheless, knowing fi-nancial managers to be men and women of discipline, we continue to present occasional selections of useful business and finance Web pages. Here are seven sites worth adding to your bookmark folder. (If you want to look at past sites reviewed by CFO, visit our Web site at www.cfonet.com and go to "Hot Links" on the Resources page.)
Financial Job Network www.fjn.com Need a new job? If you can't find a suitable one on CFO magazine's Web site, try this one. The Financial Job Network claims to be the first Web site devoted exclusively to global job opportunities for finance executives. It lists a number of positions for CFOs and controllers, as well as for auditors, accountants, and tax professionals. Unlike many Web-based job listings, FJN includes some listings from large, well-known companies, such as Microsoft and Dell Computer. On the other hand, only a few positions outside the United States are actually listed, but the site can be accessed in a number of languages. Job seekers can also post their résumés on the site for free. One glitch: It's not easy to ascertain how long jobs have been posted.
Exec-U-Net is another online job search and career site. Although it is not specific to finance, it does cater to senior-level executives, particularly those with salaries of $100,000 and up. The site claims to post about 700 new and unadvertised executive-level jobs every two weeks. It also provides resources, such as salary information, job- search strategies, and market trends; access to recruiters; and networking opportunities. Alas, the best things on the Internet are not always free: most of the information here is available only to members. A six-month membership costs $195.
OSU Virtual Finance Library www.cob.ohio- state.edu/dept/ fin/overview.htm.
Normally, we don't recommend sites that offer little more than a collection of links, but the Buckeyes' Virtual Finance Library is so well organized and contains so much in one place that we had to make an exception. Click on the "For Executives" rubric to find a host of timely Web sites and resources, including entire sections on raising capital, disclosure, and M&A. (One flaw: the site doesn't list CFO's Web site, but does display a three-year-old article on CFOs, from a general-business magazine. OSU's Fisher College of Business, are you listening?) If you're relatively new to the Internet and want to find out how it will transform business, try "An Introduction to the WWW for Executives" for a tour of the Web.
US Tax Code Online www.fourmilab.ch/ ustax/ustax.html.
If your bookshelves are running out of space, simply bookmark this site and throw those hefty tax volumes away. OK, we're kidding: Computers and the Internet still have a long way to go before they can match the convenience of the book. Still, all 2.8 million words of the U.S. Tax Code are contained in this site. Three different overviews of the Code are offered: a hierarchical table of contents, a comprehensive "flat" table of contents, and an index by section number. There are also plenty of navigational tools to help cruise through Code sections. The site is also searchable by key word or phrase, allowing the user to specify the number of entries returned. This feature may be especially useful for locating arcana on, say, top-heavy plans.
Virtual Lawyer www.law.cornell.edu/topical. html
The Online Legal Information Institute, maintained by Cornell University, is about as close as you can come to free legal advice. The site is arranged alphabetically by legal topic, such as bankruptcy, real estate, and patent. Click on "workplace safety" to get an overview of the basic laws and issues; drill down further to find a specific regulation, Supreme Court ruling, or important state law. The index is also searchable by key word. It's no substitute for your legal department, but it might help you better understand their opinions.
The Year 2000 Information Center www.year2000.com
There are many sites pertaining to the infamous Year 2000 problem, but The Year 2000 Information Center is probably as useful as any. It's basically a forum for disseminating information about the Millennium Bug, airing problems, and discussing possible solutions. The site contains many bytes' worth of Y2K articles pertaining to virtually every industry and every facet of the problem. Technical and legal issues are covered, links to scores of Y2K vendors are provided, and an E-mail newsletter is available. There's also a countdown to doomsday: at this writing, January 1, 2000, is 1 year, 80 days, 8 hours, 56 minutes, and 39 seconds away.
Joseph McCafferty ----------------------------------------------- --------------------------------- 1099 PROCESSING
For Form 1099's Sake
As readers know, administering Form 1099s can be a huge headache. Generally, a form must be submitted to the IRS for annual payments (except salaries and product purchases) to a nonincorporated entity exceeding $600, for anything from interest to contractor services. The payee's name and Social Security number (or taxpayer identification number) must match those in the IRS's files; penalties for errors can be substantial.
Avoiding penalties is especially important to Wausau Insurance. "We make over 3 million insurance payments per year, which are potentially reportable on a 1099," explains Patrick Gosz, tax manager for the Wausau, Wis., insurer. After multiple payments with identical taxpayer numbers are combined into a single 1099, "this results in approximately 150,000 1099 forms being issued each year," says Gosz.
To streamline the process and keep errors to a minimum, the company is using Convey 1099 Client/Server Version, a $60,000 software package from Convey Development (www.convey1099.com). The software tracks payments through the entire cycle, including the printing of forms, electronic reporting to the IRS, and handling of corrections.
Similar 1099 client/ server software is also available from Computer Language Re-search Inc. (www.clr.com; $10,000 to $100,000) and CheckFree Corp. (www.checkfree.com; CheckFree won't divulge pricing).
Companies submitting fewer than 10,000 1099s per year will be amply served by desktop systems, which cost only a few hundred dollars. Such systems can be had from both Convey and CheckFree, and from 1099 Pro (www.1099pro.com). --- John J. Xenakis
----------------------------------------------- --------------------------------- Sales Force Compensation
May the Sales Force Be with You
As sales force automation software becomes more sophisticated, an increasingly important component is a module that helps manage variable sales force compensation.
Pacific Scientific decided to add the Oracle Sales Compensation module to its existing Oracle Financial + Manufacturing System. "We use it to manage commissions for 35 outside sales reps," says Linda Williams, senior information technology project manager for the Rockford, Ill.-based manufacturer. "All the information is entered into the Oracle order entry system, and when the product ships, the sales comp module picks it up from the accounts receivable system and pays commissions."
The Sales Compensation software can be purchased from Oracle Corp. (www.oracle.com) either integrated with Oracle Financials, or as a stand-alone system for $35,000, plus $100 for each salesperson it supports. (Oracle is currently reviewing the pricing.) A competing system is sold by Trilogy Corp. (www.trilogy.com). Its SC Commission software comes either integrated with Trilogy's suite of sales force automation software modules, or as a stand-alone system for $250,000. Meanwhile, Callidus Software Inc. (www.callidussoftware.com) is planning to release TallyUp, a variable sales compensation package, early in 1999, with a planned sales price of $250,000 for 400 users.
As companies seek to marry compensation and strategy, sales compensation software will become increasingly important, according to Lisa Tomlinson, analyst, enterprise applications, at The Yankee Group. "You can't fault the sales force if they go after the sales that give them the highest compensation," she says. "This software gives the company the tools to align their sales incentives and sales resources with the strategic direction of the company." -- J.J.X.