Our Job Tracking and Projects Training Course case study highlights the seemingly simple example of the erection of a garden shed. Our client purchases the shed directly from a hardware supplier, then employs the services of a builder to deliver and erect the shed.
Although it seems very easy, just like life itself, the process is actually more complex than meets the eye. Here are the issues the tradie needs to consider:
Some of the products the tradesperson uses are stock (inventory),
others he needs to buy for the job,
others products and parts need to be purchased while on the job (expenses incurred by his staff).
Then there are circumstances which the tradie didn’t account for in his quote:
Some days the build is rained out and
some things end up taking longer than expected.
An extra staff member is required and the tradesperson then has to keep keep track of his worker’s timesheets,
In developing our course content, we actually liaise with the relevant suppliers, including various tradespeople, interviewing them and finding out the variations and possible blow outs they experience and the contingencies they implement to offset these.
We also draw on ATO benchmarking which compares the information gathered from your financial returns to the information the ATO gathers from all other similar businesses.
In many industries, no two jobs are the same, making estimating job costs and resources tough. Job tracking is one of the best ways to develop an accurate budget and avoid blow outs.
But this can be hard work. Are the latest job costing and tracking functions in MYOB AccountRight, QuickBooks Online and Xero making life easier?
Job tracking functions in your accounting software
As its name implies, job or project tracking is a way of keeping track of, and allocating, all costs and incomes to a particular job or project.
Job tracking has numerous benefits. It allows you to stay on schedule, budget for costs and resources efficiently and work out job profitability.
job tracking can be difficult
Part of the challenge of job tracking is making sure that staff members responsible for invoicing, paying accounts, and payroll functions, know exactly how to allocate costs in a job. They also need to know which jobs are active at any one time.
How job tracking affects Accounts payable and receivable workers
Similarly, accounts payable staff who receive supplier bills and need to allocate the costs to the correct jobs or cost centres.
Payroll staff, too, are involved in job tracking as they receive employee timesheets and need to allocate hours worked to the correct jobs.
How the different accounting programs “job track”
MYOB AccountRight Job Tracking
You can track job costs and revenue using the Jobs function of MYOB AccountRight. This is available in the Lists menu. (Note: Job tracking is not available in MYOB Essentials.) The Jobs List in MYOB AccountRight provides a snapshot of the profitability of each job.
Xero, too, has its own much awaited job tracking function, called Xero Projects. The introduction of Xero Projects has been great for those wanting to make the move from MYOB AccountRight.
However, Xero Projects isn’t exactly like tracking costs by job in MYOB. The Xero Projects module tracks time and expenses and a billing process generates invoices. However, you can’t track job costs by line on each invoice.
You can overcome this by creating tracking codes in Xero which would allow you to allocate costs/income as appropriate. This only becomes a little unwieldy if you run lots of different jobs. An addon like Workflow Max may be worth considering for these kind of operators.
There are plenty of reasons that you have no experience: Changing careers, new graduate or re-entering the workforce after many years away (like when you’ve started a family and been out of the workforce as a parent). These circumstances justify your lack of experience but there are things you can do.
Our team has reviewed the features of some of Australia’s biggest job boards for accounting jobs and we’ve used some of the features that can help job seekers receive notifications when new jobs become available. There is hope and there are things you can do.
Xero is complicated, let’s be honest. I know that Xero tell you the software is beautiful and simple to use but in reality it’s accounting software and if accounting software was easy then everyone would have their BAS’s lodged on time and have no credit risk issues.
It also depends on what kind of past experience you’ve had with accounting and bookkeeping work, but there is a way to up-skill in Xero quickly.
My first thought when a software company changes its navigation (in a significant way) is that there were issues with the previous version.
THIS BLOG POST comes in the wake of Xero promising to improve their navigation in October 2018. Xero has now subsequently released those changes and our online support team are receiving lots of requests for help!
First and foremost, if you’re an EzyLearn student, please note that we’ve already created an update addressing the navigational updates and this is available in all of our online Xero Training Courses.
In doing so, it’s interesting to note that QuickBooks, for small business owners, at least, was the clear winner against MYOB in terms of reporting and user experience. But how does QuickBooks stack up against the increasingly-popular Xero? You may be surprised at the results.
Quickbooks now providing superior options for filtering and scheduling bookkeeping reports
ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about cloud accounting software is that your data is live, which means, providing your reconciliations are up-to-date, you get a complete snapshot your business’s performance and financial health regardless of the day, week or month you run those reports.
That’s all changed now that the reporting features in QuickBooks have been given a major upgrade, giving business owners more power and flexibility to monitor their business’s performance. Here are just a couple of the things you can — and should! — do with the updated reports feature in QuickBooks.
Filter sales by services / products
If you’re like a lot of businesses, you probably offer a couple of different products or services, and, like a lot of businesses, there are certain products or services that are more profitable to your business — and, therefore, should be a major focus — to sell.
Now that QuickBooks offers the ability to customise and save any of its reports into your management reports tab, you can filter your customer sales reports by services or products, and also run them across multiple periods. If you have multiple sales people, you can also filter your reports by sales people, too.
Schedule email reports
In addition to being able to customise and save your management reports, so you don’t have to keep filtering out the data you don’t need and adding in the stuff you do, you can also setup a schedule so your preferred reports are automatically emailed to you (and your business partners or other stakeholders) as required.
QuickBooks gives you the option to select which reports you’d like to see, and the frequency at which you’d like them — daily, weekly, monthly, twice a month, or custom. This’ll mean you won’t have to keep asking your bookkeeper to run them for you, nor will you need to go in to run them manually yourself. It’ll also give you a better idea of whether or not your bookkeeper is really paying close attention or not!
Maybe you haven’t taken a good look at the capabilities of Quickbooks for a long time — check out the options available with our Quickbooks online training courses to take you up to speed. Alternatively, you can ask your bookkeeper, and they should be able to customise, save and schedule a report that suits your needs to a tee.
IN OUR FREE, EDUCATIONAL GUIDE, Bookkeeping Basics, we feature a section that briefly discusses payroll, which we thought was worthy of being expanded upon on here. You might also like to go back and revisit our other blog post that complements the guide, Bookkeeping Basics: Cash vs. Accrual Systems, if you haven’t already.
Paying your employees
Before you employ staff, you need to determine how they will be employed. Are you going to use casual or permanent employees? If you’re employing the latter, will they be employed on a full-time or part-time basis? As the business owner and employer, you must also ensure that you’re paying your staff the correct rate of pay, as well as any entitlements — such as, sick leave, annual leave, overtime, etc — that may be owed to them.
This blog post isn’t going to go into the intricacies of how to work out what you should pay your employees, nor will the Bookkeeping Basics guide, as it generally falls outside the scope of the role of a bookkeeper, however, you can use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) Pay Calculator to work out the following:
Base pay rates
Overtime and penalty rates
Pay rates per hour
Pay rates per shift
An employee’s employment status (i.e., full time, part time, casual).
If you employ staff under a modern award or agreement (virtually all Australian businesses do), you have a legal requirement to keep accurate and correct time and wage records, in addition to issuing payslips to all of your staff — failure to issue pay slips incurs harsh penalties if it comes to the attention of the Fair Work Ombudsman. You must also keep your each staff member’s time and wage records for, at least, seven years and make sure they’re stored somewhere that’s always accessible, should they ever need to be inspected.
Although you don’t have to keep all employee records, it’s best practice to keep the following records for seven years, even after the employee has left the business, in case they ever file a complaint with the Ombudsman or the Tax Office ever does an audit:
Employee resume and application details
Employee workplace performance records
Employee trade certificates or registration certificates.
For tax purposes, all employee and contractor records must be kept for five years, but most businesses keep them for seven years, in case an enquiry is made by the FWO.
Deducting tax from an employee’s pay
Under the Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding rules, you are legally obliged to collect tax from employee payments so they can meet their end-of-year tax liabilities. In order to do so, you must first register with the ATO for PAYG withholding, which you can do online, over the phone or through your BAS or tax agent.
You must also provide your employees with a tax file declaration form, which you can also obtain from the ATO, and must be completed by an employee if they want to:
Claim an entitlement to tax offsets by having a reduced amount withheld from payments made to them
Advise you of changes to their:
HELP, Trade Support Loan or Financial Supplement debt.
You do not have to withhold amounts from payments to employees under 18 years of age if those amounts are not more than:
$350 per week
$700 per fortnight
$1,517 per month.
Employees with HELP, TSL or Financial Supplement debts
If an employee has indicated they have a HELP, TSL or Financial Supplement debt, you should use the HELP/TSL or Student Financial Supplement Scheme tax table on the ATO website to work out how much extra to withhold for these debts. Add this to the amount withheld shown in the relevant tax table.
Your superannuation obligations
As an employer, you also have an obligation to make super contributions for each of your employees. You must also ensure that you:
Offer eligible employees a choice of super fund (temporary residents are eligible to choose)
Pay the minimum amount, called the super guarantee (SG), which is currently 9.5 per cent of ordinary time earnings
Fast forward a decade, and Xero is now the preferred accounting software in Australia and New Zealand, with 692,000 subscribers compared with MYOB’s 585,000 paid users. (Overall, Xero claims 1.2 million subscribers worldwide.) In the 2016/17 financial year, Xero’s revenue increased 43 percent year-on-year to $295.4 million NZD ($271.7 million AUD); during the same period, MYOB’s revenue increased 13 percent to $370.4 million AUD.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice Xero has more paid subscribers than MYOB, but its revenue is about $100 million AUD behind. That’s largely due to differences in the price of both products.
So you can’t tell which one of Xero or MYOB is the true market leader — yet.
How Xero is growing their subscriber base
Basically, they’ve reached an impasse. There’s not much opportunity left in Australia and New Zealand (there are other players, like Intuit’s QuickBooks and Zoho competing the same space, too) to grow your subscriber base — unless you’ve a carrot to dangle under their noses that’ll lure them away from your competitor.
[Xero has lured people away from competitors via their] suite of apps, plug-ins and integrations [they’ve] added to their offering through acquisitions and partnerships — anything that would make Xero a one-stop-shop for small businesses…
Meanwhile, MYOB’s strategy for market share
To its credit, MYOB has pursued a similar strategy, acquiring payment firm PayCorp last year, which followed the launch of the company’s PayDirect Mobile and PayDirect Online payments service in 2014 and 2016 respectively, as part of MYOB’s push into payment processing technology.
MYOB also acquired Reckon’s accounting practice software last November for $180 million AUD. The company said the acquisition was part of MYOB’s strategy to see accountants become business advisors, rather than tax and compliance experts.
MYOB chief executive Tim Reed sees automation as being critical to the company’s ongoing success, as it pursues a “connected practice strategy,” which brings transaction processing, compliance and business advisory together and sees accountants become more like business coaches.
“They will be like personal trainers in the gym, but for business,” he said. “This is starting today. Accountants are already working down this process and what I’m seeing is the pace of change start to increase.”
And unlike Xero, which is simultaneously pursuing overseas markets (the U.K., North America, Southeast Asia), MYOB is content to stay focussed on its home market — Australia and New Zealand. (It’s also pushing deeper into big businesses with its enterprise software Greentree, acquired in 2016.)
Accountants and the cloud accounting ecosystem
With Xero pursuing code-free accounting, MYOB pushing into “connected practices,” and Intuit beefing up its own ecosystem of apps and integrations to simplify the bookkeeping and accounting process for small businesses, where does that leave accountants and bookkeepers?
Better off, actually.
Bookkeeping is a necessary step in the overall accounting process. But it’s the most time intensive one. There’s reconciling bank accounts, entering receipts, coding transactions, invoices, and so on. Small business owners don’t — or won’t — do it, so they outsource it to a bookkeeper or accountant, who has a preferred or in-house bookkeeper.
Despite being a time intensive task, it’s lower skilled work — like untangling a jumble of coat hangers; almost anyone can do it. And so it commands a lower rate of pay than other tasks, like financial forecasting, business planning and filing activity statements.
Automating elements of the accounting process, in particular the coding of transactions, eliminates inefficiencies and time wastage. Bookkeepers and accountants can charge their clients the same hourly rates, but they’ll spend much less time doing it.
More apps, more services
And with access to more apps — like a payroll plug-in — they can begin offering more services.
Just as QuickBooks, MYOB and Xero have become more valuable to their customers, by positioning themselves as a one-stop-shop for small business, accountants and bookkeepers can do the same.
Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?
Food for thought: Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?
And just as MYOB boss Tim Reed stated: Accountants and bookkeepers have already cottoned onto this.
But it means bookkeepers and accountants need to become more skilled at what they do; they need to possess a greater understanding of a wider array of softwares and systems in order to remain competitive.
And even though Intuit, MYOB and Xero have all acquired or partnered with companies that offer payroll platforms, there are still plenty of third parties businesses can choose to connect to their accounting system — that’s democratised accounting for you — so you need to watch the market, and keep your skills up-to-date.
Where to from here?
The cloud accounting space is certainly in flux. There’ll be more acquisitions, more technologies, and definitely more automation. There’ll also be more global companies, as more businesses export their goods and services overseas — and more fintech companies pursuing growth outside Australia.
KeyPay is one such company. It’s based in Wollongong in NSW, and last December announced it would expand its services to the U.K. — a pre-release was slated for January this year, with a full launch due in April.
According to CRN, the company grew 53 percent last year (though it didn’t specify what or how that “growth” was calculated; as a private company, it doesn’t disclose financials or its share of customers). And KeyPay’s co-founder Richard McLean said the company decided to enter the U.K. market because 60 percent of businesses there outsource their payroll to a third party company.
The company intends to rollout its automated payroll system in the U.K. first, with an Australian launch due later in year, and also plans to expand to New Zealand and Southeast Asia.
AS YOU MAY BE AWARE, each year the ATO updates the tax concessions for businesses. This is usually the result of a budget measure being passed by the Government. Other times it’s due to the ATO simplifying the tax processes for businesses.
For the financial year ending June 30, 2018 (FY17/18), there have been four big changes that affect small business. In particular, how a small business is defined, which lowers the tax rates for more Australian businesses.
Small business threshold increases to $25m
The threshold for how a small business is defined was increased to an aggregated turnover of $25 million. Aggregated turned over includes any other form of income associated with the main business — i.e., shares on the stock market, revenue-generating property owned by the business, shareholdings in other companies, and so on.
Providing your aggregated turnover is below $25 million, your business is eligible for the company tax rate of 27.5 percent.
In the financial year ending June 30, 2019 (FY18/19), the turnover threshold will increase to $50 million, while the company tax rate will progressively decrease until it reaches 25 percent by FY26/27.
Instant asset write-off
The instant $20,000 asset write-off threshold has been extended until June 30, 2018, which means any computers, vehicles, furnishings or other assets purchased for your business between July 1, 2017 and 30 June, 2018 can be deducted immediately.
This deduction can be used for any asset that costs less than $20,000, whether new or secondhand.
Professional expenses deductions for startups
Startups can immediately deduct any profession, accounting, legal advice in the year it was incurred. For instance, a person who, in the process of setting up a cafe, hires a consultant to determine a suitable location for the business, may deduct the consultant’s fees in the year they incurred. This is true even for an established business that is setting up a new business, unrelated to their existing one.
For example, the cafe owner may already operate a restaurant. As long as the cafe doesn’t share the same name and is independent of the cafe, the fees may be deducted. If the new cafe was an expansion on the existing business, the deductions wouldn’t apply.
Immediate deductions for prepaid expenses
You can now claim an immediate deduction for prepaid expenses where the payment covers a period of up to 12 months and ends in the next financial year. If you took out a 12 month lease on premises for your business and paid 12 months rent upfront, the deduction would apply. It wouldn’t apply, however, if you signed a 24 month lease, as the service period is greater than 12 months.
Small business restructure rollover
Small businesses can now change the legal structure of their business — from partnership to a company, for example — without incurring any income liability when the assets are transferred from the partnership to the company.
This rollover applies to any active asset, whether they’re CGT assets, stock, revenue assets or depreciating assets.
In changing the structure of a partnership to a company, the rollover only applies where there is no change in economic ownership. For example, if a husband and wife decide to change the structure of their caravan park to a company, and both husband and wife remain equal shareholders in the business.
The rollover wouldn’t apply, however, if a third person became a shareholder in the company or the shares were distributed unevenly between husband and wife. Both would constitute an economic change in the ownership of any assets, even though they’re a couple.
We’ll keep you informed of new and emerging technologies that help you do business better. As part of our Updates and Additions policy, any new content we add is yours’ FOR FREE as a current EzyLearn student.
When a training course is not really a training course…
WE REGULARLY PARTAKE in competitive analysis so we can keep giving you top quality online training courses for the best value out there, and in doing so, I found an online offer for not just one, but THREE levels of MYOB — Intro, Intermediate and Payroll OR ALL THREE for $99.
Not mentioning any names; we’re not in the business of naming and shaming and, besides, you can search the deal easily enough online yourself, but it prompted me to put out a reminder that not all courses are created equal.
Not all training courses are the same
I guess it’s obvious to some degree, but many of us are still misled by marketing, and sometimes what’s packaged to the customer as an online training course, is simply a pile of videos (and not even featuring current and up-to-date software versions, either!) all plonked together. You know what, you can get this, and possibly more, directly off You Tube for free!
Using old versions of the accounting software
There are many online courses available for cheap prices, but many of these same courses are not providing training on the latest version of software packages. A quick scan of the fine print shows that this particular $99 MYOB deal is training you on Version 19 of MYOB. This dates back to 2010, which in any one’s language, is very old. Very, very old.
As part of our suite of online MYOB courses, we include access to our old “archived” courses where we use version 19 of MYOB; only for the benefit of those people who still use it and don’t need features like payroll, super and other added features that you’d expect to get after 8 or so years of software development.
What’s retail price anyway?
Another thing to be wary of is “retail price” comparisons. Plenty of these may be legit, but there are others out there who deliberately distort the truth or make a current cheap offer seem far more appealing by comparing their cheap price to a retail price that isn’t really indicative of what’s on offer out there online.
Make sure you’re talking “courses for courses” and that the retail price comparison isn’t looking at prices from half a decade ago or thereabouts. The price of online training courses is a forever shifting thing, so do your research!
Case studies that keep the content based in real-world scenarios and ensure you’re learning things that will be practical in real-life circumstances and situations
Responsive email and phone student support for all queries
Money-back guarantee; if you’re not happy with the course content, or it’s not what you thought it would be, you shouldn’t be stuffed around in the fine print by not getting a full refund, (no matter how small the amount you’ve originally paid).
The training course should feature the training on the software as it is in its current version and this training, or training videos, workbooks, whatever, should be provided in an order that’s been carefully considered, trialled and tested.
People say “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. This isn’t always the case, and sometimes excellent opportunities in life seem, at first, too good to be true. But when it comes to online MYOB courses for $99 or $29 or $69 or whatever the probably-too-good-to-be-true price point is, just make sure you’re getting apples for apples, or courses for courses, or horses for horses, Mr Ed.
The key to cutting down discrepancies is consistency
IF YOU RUN A SHOP or business that holds stock, you should be in the habit of checking your inventory regularly. A lot of retail stores only check their inventory every quarter; others every year. This is usually because a stocktake is a big job.
The case for a monthly stocktake
The inventory feature in Xero was a functionality that was missing for many years — but then Xero caught up.
Running an inventory report in Xero is pretty easy. The hard work sets in when you have to count your inventory to account for any discrepancies. There are usually always differences between what Xero says you should have in stock, and what you actually have on hand. The more frequently you run them, the fewer discrepancies you’ll find.
Like anything in the bookkeeping process, the more frequently you do something — be it reconciling your account or chasing up late payers — the easier and quicker it is. Where a quarterly or yearly stocktake could take half a day or more, a monthly one may only take you a couple of hours.
Understand trends in your business
A monthly stocktake is a good way to get to know your business, and understand its certain trends and idiosyncrasies. In particular, it helps you with ordering and making related business decisions.
If you only have a very basic knowledge of Xero, cloud accounting or bookkeeping, and you’re looking to gain a better understanding of basic bookkeeping terminology, get our free Basic Bookkeeping Guide.