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.
MANAGING EXPENSES AND capturing source documents, like receipts, is the bane of most accounting department managers. But can this now be done with ease?
Before I sold the business for AccessID/EzyAccess Safety Management software, I used the business credit card for all business-related expenses. However, credit card or not, the Financial Controller for our financial team was constantly asking for hardcopy or electronic receipts.
DO YOU GET frustrated when you see the little box at the bottom of the BAS lodgement form? You know, the one where they ask how long it took to complete the form because I feel like writing, “It took 10 minutes to complete the form, but 4 hours to do the data entry and bank reconciliation work!”
Junior bookkeepers, accounts receivable and accounts payable clerks, and office administrators will all share that their most time-consuming work is data entry, coding and bank reconciliations. However, there is software available which almost totally automates this work — and it’s becoming increasingly accurate and speedy.
I RECENTLY HAD the pleasure of visiting the Reckon head office in Sydney to learn more about their new Reckon One product — and it’s quite a compelling offer.
To start with, Reckon, a listed company, was not allowed to sell its accounting practice management software (APS) to its competitor, MYOB, because Xero HQ wasn’t much chop.
Yes, that’s right, Xero HQ was deemed so “insufficient and unsophisticated” that it wasn’t viewed by the ACCC as offering any competition in this marketplace whatsoever and therefore they wouldn’t allow MYOB to hold the monopoly.
This made me, and no doubt, many others, realise just how powerful Reckon could be in the online accounting market if it had the right software offer — and now it does.
What makes Xero so popular is that it is inexpensive software that’s simple to use and has lots of time-saving features.
In doing so, it’s basically left MYOB to hold the mantle of the accounting software used by accountants and bookkeepers.
Now, however, Xero is looking to close that gap, with the launch of “Xero HQ”; a data and insights platform for bookkeepers and accountants who are part of the Xero Partner Program.
Xero HQ wants to help you grow
To shake MYOB’s stranglehold on the accountant and bookkeeper market, Xero had to do something to differentiate itself and tempt accountants and bookkeepers away from MYOB.
And they’re betting that Xero HQ will be the thing that does it. Xero HQ will provide bookkeepers and accountants with data and insights tools so they can provide “advisory level” services to clients.
Xero’s focus on “advisory level” services is important here, because it reveals a couple of things Xero plans to do with the industry. The first is to continue to automate many of the tasks a bookkeeper would traditionally carry out — the introduction of bank feeds eliminated data entry, for instance — and the second is to up-skill junior bookkeepers, while simultaneously embedding them within the Xero ecosystem — which will fit nicely with their recently launched Xero Lifelong Learning platform.
What exactly is the Xero HQ platform?
If you’re part of the Xero Partner Program already, then access to the Xero HQ platform is free. The Xero HQ platform is essentially a separate workflow that you access online, which provides a number of features not available though your regular Xero software.
These Xero HQ features include the following:
Activity feed: When your clients’ GST or activity statements are due, a notification will appear in the activity feed to alert you.
Client list: This is essentially like a contact book, where you can store all your clients’ information in one place; even those clients who aren’t on Xero.
Explorer: This feature pulls data Xero knows about your clients to help you provide them with better advice, or help you up-skill in areas you know are important to them. For example: it will show you which apps are popular across all your clients, so you can learn how to use them.
Xero HQ app marketplace
The Xero HQ platform also has an app marketplace, which has a focus on apps that will help bookkeepers and accountants with their business. That’s different to the existing Xero app marketplace, which is geared towards small businesses in any industry.
The Xero HQ app marketplace is split up into three tiers, depending on the size of your bookkeeping or accounting practice.
Which Xero HQ app marketplace will suit you?
If you’ve 100 or fewer clients, then you’d be best suited to the “activate” package of apps especially “curated” by the Xero HQ team.
If you have between 100 and 200 clients, then you’re best suited to the “energise” package of apps; practices with 300 or more clients suit the “supercharge” package.
It’s up to you which apps you switch on, but Xero has eliminated the leg work involved in finding apps to suit your business needs.
Some common third party apps, recommended across all three Xero HQ app marketplace tiers include:
Futrli: A forecasting and reporting app designed to help control cash flow and accelerate growth. Technically, you can pull all these data out of Xero by running a number of different reports and exporting them into Excel, but this app does all that work for you, and just delivers the insights. Partner pricing starts at $399 per month.
Receipt Bank: Extracts relevant information from paper receipts and invoices, imports the data into Xero, categorises it, and stores both the data and receipt safely in the cloud. Your clients just snap a picture of the receipt using the Receipt Bank app on their smartphone or upload from their PC.
BOMA: Is a marketing and advertising platform that lets you export data from Xero and use it for your marketing and advertising campaigns. With BOMA you can create and broadcast marketing and advertising messages across five channels (email, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter), including sponsored advertising posts on those platforms. It also provides you with all the imagery, templates and other design needs to create your campaigns. It’s basically a one- stop -shop for digital marketing and advertising. Partner pricing starts at $49 per month.
Xero HQ is where accounting meets CRM
In essence, the Xero HQ platform is where accounting and customer relationship management meet. Xero provides bookkeepers and accountants with a platform that enables high-level analysis and data management through integrating third-party Xero HQ partner apps.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles; and they can use the Xero Lifelong Learning platform to up-skill and provide those services.
“Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles…”
FOR BUSINESSES WORKING on large projects spanning weeks or even months, keeping track of time, cash flow and profitability is imperative. This is even more so for businesses that work on fixed-rate contracts or tenders.
Such fixed-rate projects are common in the building and construction industry, but also the creative, engineering, and IT industries.
Many of these businesses manage a project’s workflow across a number of different documents (spreadsheets, their CRM, accounting software) — and many don’t manage it properly at all.
As a consequence, projects often come in over budget. A number of cloud-based project management and workflow apps aim to change that, however.
This Xero-owned and operated project management platform contains four elements:
Cash flow management
PROS: Being a Xero product, it integrates “seamlessly” with the Xero accounting software, along with other third party software, such as Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Drive, ZenDesk and Receipt Bank, plus a number of payroll applications — Smooth Pay, MYOB Payroll (note: not MYOB’s accounting package) and SimplePay.
CONS: Unlike Xero, however, WorkflowMax is pricey; a one-user plan starts at $27.50 per month and can cost as much as $275 a month for a plan for 21-50 users.
Zoho Projects provides planning tools, Gantt charts, timesheets, document management and collaboration tools. Visually, it’s not much, but it’s easy to use. It isn’t as robust as WorkflowMax, but it’s a good tool for smaller businesses. And it’s part of the Zoho ecosystem.
For a Zoho app, there’s a good number of third party apps it integrates with, including Github, Google Drive, Google Sheets, Gmail, Microsoft Office, Basecamp, Dropbox and Slack.
Pricing starts at $25 per month for 20 projects on an “express plan” and tops out at $100 per month for an enterprise plan with unlimited projects; a free, one-project plan is also available.
Fergus is the project management app built by tradies for tradies. Again, like the project management apps before it, Fergus is broken down into three elements:
The tradie-specific features include a GPS tracker and a site visits feature. Fergus integrates with Xero and MYOB AccountRight.
Basic “starter” plans begin at $19 per month, per user (recommended for concreters, plasterers, roofers and small firms) and tops out at $39 per month, per user for the “professional” plan. Sole traders get access to the starter plans for free forever.
ProWorkflow is the project management app that promises to be “the project management software your team will love!”
The features — task management, timesheets, messaging, invoices, etcetera — are standard fare.
But the software has opened up its APIs, so businesses can build their own apps, reports and integrations. It already integrates with Xero, QuickBooks online (and desktop), MYOB AccountRight and Freshbooks. It also integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
Basic “solo” plans start at $10 NZD per month, per user; advanced plans cost $30 per month, per user.
That’s not to say there are no expense apps that integrate with MYOB. There are. Receipt Bank is one, Squirrel Street is another, and there are probably a lot more on the MYOB marketplace (or add-ons page). Probably the best expense tracking application we found is ExpenseManager, and it only integrates with MYOB.
MYOB is a robust, yet complicated system
As anyone who’s ever used MYOB can attest, it’s a complicated piece of software to navigate, even if it is a robust one. When Xero came along, it aimed to be both robust and easy-to-use, and for the most part it succeeded (it’s probably not as easy as QuickBooks, but then QuickBooks isn’t quite as robust).
Behind the scenes, there’s also a lot of complicated code driving MYOB that’s not easy to integrate with, unlike QuickBooks and Xero which rely on third-party integrations to deliver payroll and other services, so Xero and QuickBooks can keep the cost of their platforms down.
MYOB is used by accountants and bookkeepers
MYOB doesn’t really go after to same market that Xero and QuickBooks do (small and micro businesses), which is reflected in MYOB’s price. It’s aimed at medium sized businesses, which employ accountants and bookkeepers, and that’s not really the market expense apps like Expensify and Xpenditure are targeting.
Xero is one of our most popular training courses
That’s why Xero has become one of our most popular training courses. It’s robust and once you understand the principles of bookkeeping, fairly easy to use. And it integrates with a tonne of third party applications developed to make the life of the small business owner much easier and more efficient.
Keep an eagle eye on your expenses by using Xero and an expense app, and you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is the most profitable and where it’s not, so you can modify it accordingly.
Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. You can also brush up your MYOB skills or learn how to use MYOB with our MYOB online training course, incorporating 5 courses and 12 months’ access — all for one low cost. Visit our website for more information covering our ONE LOW COST for ALL LEVELS course options.
WE’VE ENTERED QUARTER 4 for the 2016/17 financial year, so we’ve been writing about the things your business should be doing this quarter in preparation for the end of the financial year. In our last post we wrote about writing off stock and inventory. Now we’re looking at business expenses.