Whatever you do, don’t dash out of a meeting—even if you feel pressed to attend to other business.
Reason: Sometimes the most important discussions occur after the formal meeting breaks up. Details are negotiated, adjustments are made, support for marginal positions is bartered—and you don’t want to be left out of these last-minute agreements.
Protect Yourself Against Illegal Software Copying
Beware the surprise software audit—it could be very expensive.
If you think it’s okay to copy one of your software applications from home and distribute it to a few colleagues at the office, think again. The penalties when an organization runs unlicensed software, even if it’s done “innocently”—that is, without any attempt to profit from it or even without management knowledge—can run into six figures.
Under the software copyright laws, a program is licensed for use, not sold outright. And under most licenses, the buyer is the only one entitled to use it. You are permitted to copy it and use it yourself on another computer, but copying it for other users is strictly forbidden.
How can you know if illegal copies are loaded on a company’s computers? More often than not, disgruntled or former employees blow the whistle to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) or the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). If these associations get a search warrant, U.S. marshals can enter an office and demand that all computer work halt while they conduct an immediate audit of any unlicensed software.
How can you protect your company?
Conduct your own audit, and if you find any unlicensed software, remove it immediately. Establish a firm policy that prohibits the use of any unlicensed software on company computers.
In planning for the future, is your company checking its talent “inventory” and assessing who will be tomorrow’s leaders and who is worthy of promotion?
When fast-track employees are identified early, there’s time to steer them to advance training programs that prepare them for new, more responsible jobs.
Failing to plan ahead will force your organization to recruit future leaders from the outside, which will be more costly and problematic.
If your company doesn’t take these steps, it may be an early sign that it is experiencing management problems itself.
Strategy for Deadbeats
When a customer is seriously delinquent, you may be wiser to negotiate a payment workout than continue to hound him or her.
To make that determination, check to see if the customer is just experiencing a cash-flow crunch or whether the underlying business is in trouble. If it’s the latter, you’d be wiser to bite the bullet; a quick workout is in order. After all, it’s better to get a portion of what’s owed rather than risk getting nothing but the headache of dealing with the customer’s possible bankruptcy.
|An Invitation |
The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).
Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.