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Xero, MYOB, ERPs and Supply Chain Tools

man-studying-xero-online

ERPs, or Enterprise Reporting Planning systems, are divided into three categories or tiers. Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks and other cloud accounting software used by small businesses, sit at the low end of the scale; they’re tier three ERPs.

Xero is using it’s 3rd party app integrations and its API to climb up the ERP food chain and some good bookkeepers are being dragged up along with it. Continue reading Xero, MYOB, ERPs and Supply Chain Tools

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Accounting Software or ERP System?

enterprise resource planning systems learn myob xero quickbooks online training course videos

Are you BIG enough yet?

I’VE BEEN IN BUSINESS since my early twenties but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I had any clue about how larger companies use and pay for software. I was going through the process of selling a water filter business that I’d been operating in Sydney’s Dee Why when I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Fountainhead Water Company, Mark Darling.

Fountainhead used a specialised accounting system for the bottled water business which did everything from receipts for each delivery to capturing bottle deposits, tracking rental coolers and more — and they were paying hundreds of dollars per month for this software. It was a far cry from purchasing the MYOB software for a couple hundred dollars and NEVER upgrading (no payroll at the time).

Now I understand the importance of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and how they are almost sewn into the fabric of the procedures for medium to large businesses. I was contacted by someone at Sage, asking if EzyLearn had ever thought about offering training in Sage One, their software for their smaller clients. I replied by saying: “Yes, but what is the demand?” I never heard back from this person (might be a good tactic for you if you get too many cold calls!)

SAP one can cost you $600 per month so don't complain about $70 per month for Xero

Getting Setup Using an ERP System

This Sage person piqued my interest so I did a bit of research.

I soon realised that these ERP systems are sold almost exclusively through ‘integrators’ or channel partners who visit your business and really get into the nitty and gritty of the procedures and processes.

They perform their analysis and then set about a plan to implement the new software in the business using deft project management and people skills to CHANGE the way the business works.

These ERP system integrators get very involved in the operations of these larger companies and they get to see the BIG mistakes that small businesses make when dealing with them and know how easy these problems are to fix.

One such person is Carmel Crane, Finance Manager and ERP Specialist at National Bookkeeping, with specialist knowledge of midsize businesses in the mining and related industries. Carmel points out that tier one ERPs, such as SAP, JDE and Oracle are “large, expensive and all-encompassing software systems that tend to be implemented by large, multi-currency organisations.”

In a way, even small business software programs like MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks are ERPs but no one really uses that term and the process of getting set up is often much less formal and done by a high-level bookkeeper like a Finance Manager or accountant. 

The most interesting aspect of my research was when I came to the site of Leverage Technologies and found their sign up form for Sage One. I thought back to those days of working with Mark Darling, but more importantly, how true ERP systems don’t just do invoicing and payments but manage:

  • job costing
  • distribution
  • e-commerce — and even —
  • CRM.

These are services that “integrate” with software like Xero and Quickbooks.

What are tier one and two ERPs?

When you start delving deeper into ERP’s you realise there are different tiers of software which depend on the size of the company using them. Tier one ERPs are relatively inexpensive but fairly flexible applications that enable small businesses to manage their accounting and operational needs. But larger midsize businesses will have different needs that will exceed the capabilities of a tier three software like MYOB or Xero.

“Tier two is aimed at mid- to -large companies — I have a lot of mining companies in this space,” she tells EzyLearn, “and would include [software such as] Pronto, Sage and Green Trees.”

“This software has more modules than tier three, but it’s not as complex as tier one. Tier three is for small businesses, [and they] focus on the accounting side of business with simple relationships across modules.”

Tier three software is for small business and focuses on the accounting side of business.”

— Carmel Crane, ERP Specialist, National Bookkeeping

How to know if you need a tier one or two ERP? 

Any midsize business — so if you’re running a mining company, a substantial wholesale business or manufacturing or retail business — would need to work with at least a tier two ERP. And for the implementation of a tier two ERP like Sage or Pronto, Carmel strongly suggests engaging the services of an ERP specialist rather than just seeking input from the ERP company. 

“An ERP specialist understands the relationship between the modules,” Carmel says. “They can direct you in how purchasing will affect inventory and how plant maintenance will affect asset values — there is a holistic view of transactions.”

“And they know that when a problem occurs, a simple fix may just cause further error down the track. It’s important to understand the big picture.” Carmel Crane, ERP Specialist

Selecting the right ERP for your business

Just as small businesses would select a tier three ERP based on their requirements and the cost of the system, businesses selecting a tier one or two ERP do the same.

“The software is selected based on requirements, scope and cost,” Carmel notes. “Coca Cola are likely to run SAP or JDE, whereas a local operation with branches across Australia is more likely to go with Pronto or Sage.”

But she adds: “That said, just to contradict myself, I spoke with a company last week that had received an implementation quote from JDE for $1.8 million, and when I asked Pronto for the same requirements, they came back with a ballpark of $1.6 million. However, the quotes were for 30 licenses; most mid-range businesses will only use 10-15 licenses, so it would cost less.”

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To select the right ERP — and for the right price! — engage an ERP specialist. Their knowledge of how various elements of your business operations — inventory or machinery maintenance — will affect your business, combined with their in-depth knowledge of ERP systems make them an invaluable resource.

Carmel Crane ERP Specialist National Bookkeeping_3_comp

How to find an ERP Specialist

Carmel Crane specialises in ERP systems for businesses in the mining and related sectors. Her knowledge of Xero & MYOB enables smaller businesses to get set up and systemised so they are better equipped to deal with larger clients.

She is also available for face to face training in Xero & MYOB.

As a Finance Manager, she works with businesses in the Atherton Tablelands, Cairns, Chillagoe to Charter Towers regions, Dalby through to Dubbo (including Broken Hill, Cobar and surrounds), and the Riverina, Wagga Wagga and Wyalong areas.

Carmel is looking to expand her list of clients in these and surrounding areas. If your business is in need of an experienced finance manager for managing Xero or MYOB or even a mid sized business looking for an ERP specialist, you can contact Carmel through the National Bookkeeping website.


 

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Yes, I Want Our Bookkeepers to Do Themselves Out of a Job!

Systemising Bookkeeping Procedures

bookkeeping-and-accounting-procedures-manual-image-1As a business owner, one of the most frustrating things I come across is talking to a team member who stretches time out because they’re being paid by the hour! It’s not what I particularly wanted to write about today, but it relates to the good bookkeepers who are part of National Bookkeeping and a conversation we were having about doing such a good job you do yourself out of a job.

The best way to do yourself out of a bookkeeping job is to systemise the bookkeeping process to the extent that anyone can do the work!

My answer to that is systemise as much as you can because it makes you MORE valuable as the person to operate the system. The other reason I believe this is a good path for a bookkeeper is because many industry leaders believe that bookkeepers, and many other professionals, will be replaced by automated online systems and technology before long, and bookkeepers need to keep abreast of these changes otherwise they’ll be left behind.

What It Takes to Help a Business Systemise their Processes

They key to staying relevant is to always keep your customer’s needs in mind. When you focus your efforts on how you can help others you will always be automatically on high alert for what your customers want. I find that the key to being a business owner is remembering that your job is really to be helping someone with their problems — always trying to help them solve problems that they mention to you. The hard part, even for a bookkeeper, is to then systemise how you deliver your services!

In our Microsoft Word Intermediate and Advanced courses we cover topics that help students create professional documents by inserting tables of contents and using styles for headings. The goal always is to be able to create good, well structured documents that help people systemise their business.

Bookkeeping Procedures

With the raging industry of online services, most businesses are constantly searching for ways to use technology to replace high costs in their business. The main costs are rent, staff and then their expenses. We encourage all of our students and clients to document the steps they take to perform regular work — and it’s something we constantly try to do at EzyLearn. Some students would suggest that we go too far by creating quite a few forms to fill in but it’s a great way to ensure that all students needs are met and that we can manage the needs of many students — for a low cost.

With National Bookkeeping we offer the bookkeeping procedures manual as a way of ensuring that the tricky parts of the business like which codes to use for each transaction or entry is documented, that the process of capturing and retain a copy of all receipts is documented so that everyone involved knows what they need to do to maintain the accounting records.

I guess we’re in a lucky position because we spend most of our time creating systemised manuals to help students learn the software programs that power small and even larger businesses, like Microsoft Excel, Word, MYOB, Xero and more. See all our online training courses.

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Setting Up Automatic Bank Feeds In Xero

Many accountants and businesses are now using Xero instead of MYOB so it's important for bookkeepers to be trained in this.
Many accountants and businesses are now using Xero instead of MYOB so it’s important for bookkeepers to be trained in this.

In our last post we talked about the developments that have occurred over the last few years in the accounting software space; one of which was the introduction of Xero to the marketplace. Since then, a huge number of accountants and businesses have switched to Xero.

Xero has quickly gained momentum in the accounting software space, and while it’s important for bookkeepers to be skilled in MYOB, it’s becoming increasingly important that they’re also skilled in Xero as well.

Upskilling to Xero

We developed a Xero training course for bookkeepers who’d like to add another skill to their CV, or for business owners looking for an alternative to MYOB. Like MYOB, you can add bank feeds to your Xero package, something that  is very popular because it saves you time and money.

Here, Xero Certified Advisor, Jacci Quinlivan, talks us through setting up the bank feeds function in Xero:

“Automatic Bank Feeds are becoming increasingly common and if you are using Xero, it has never been so easy to automate them and make your data processing even easier.

When you are initially setting up your bank account details in Xero, the program will automatically tell you if your bank has the availability to get live data feeds (most banks are Xero partners these days). This involves pre-populating a form with your bank account information and sending it off to Xero’s bank feeds department (a scanned, emailed copy does usually suffice).  The turnaround time from when you email or post the form usually takes between 7-10 working days.

You will receive an email from Xero once this has been completed and your data feeds will automatically sync with your bank. There is now no more uploading manual bank statements and the like from the new processed date. If your accounts aren’t quite in sync there may be a variety of things to check from the accuracy of your opening balances, or maybe you had missed a few transactions when you were manually importing them.

If you need to go back with your data feeds you may need to do this manually as a once off until you reach your current live bank feed date. This will involve you obtaining your banking history in a CSV format (OFX and QIF is fine), ensuring the columns are in the correct format and uploading to your Xero AIS. This may seem daunting, especially if you have hundreds or even thousands of transactions to reconcile, but by using the “cash coding” tab within your program, this can be done much quicker than imagined.”

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We cover setting up bank feeds along with many other aspects to get you working proficiently in Xero in our online Xero Training Course.

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Will Xero Dethrone MYOB as the King of Accounting Software?

Xero may not have toppled MYOB's crown, but they've certainly forced them to find new ways to remain relevant.
Xero may not have toppled MYOB’s crown, but they’ve certainly forced them to find new ways to remain relevant.

We’ve been offering MYOB training courses for a very long time and that’s largely because they have long been the market leader in accounting software. But in the last few years there’s been a definite shift in the accounting software space, and with cloud-based technology, a number of other players have entered the marketplace.

Xero — Forcing MYOB to be More Competitive

One of those new players happens to be Xero, which has quickly gained momentum as the preferred accounting software among accountants and small business owners. Because of its increasing popularity, we decided to branch out from MYOB training courses by developing a Xero training course as well.

Although it’s unlikely Xero will topple MYOB from their position as the best known and most widely used accounting software, Xero’s presence has forced MYOB to get up off their laurels and find new ways to remain competitive in the marketplace.

For some bookkeepers the increasing fragmentation of the accounting software space is a drag and one that forces them to learn how to use a number of different account software packages as their clients move away from MYOB.

The upside is that all this competition in the marketplace has led to some very useful developments as MYOB, Xero and others battle it out in a bid to stay relevant to their customers. The first big development was MYOB’s decision to follow Xero into the cloud, by launching MYOB Account Right Live.

This was soon followed by the introduction of automatic bank feeds (which we’ll cover at length in a future post), and then MYOB Essentials, the low-cost option for small businesses.

The developments in the accounting software space are likely to keep coming — all to the benefit of you as a bookkeeper and as a consumer.

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So while Xero may not take the crown from MYOB, they are an increasingly popular accounting software choice for many accountants and businesses. If you’re a bookkeeper and you’d like to stay relevant in the marketplace, Xero is a must-have skill.

For more information on our Xero training course, visit our website or contact our team.

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CASE STUDY: Is Reach Reaching the Mark? Hear the Honest Opinion of a Business Owner…

We test drive Reach to see if it reaches the mark for one small business owner.
We test drive Reach to see if it reaches the mark for one small business owner.

We’ve recently added a Reach Accounting course to our suite of online training courses. In a previous post, we gave you the low down on how the Reach Accounting package stacks up against MYOB, but we thought we’d find out what a real, present-day business owner had to say about Reach. So, we asked Angela, a freelance journalist, to test drive Reach for 30 days and then provide us with her honest feedback. Here’s what she had to say:

“As a freelancer, my business is pretty straightforward: I write words for a living and charge people to use them. As a creativity merchant, I’m not paid by the hour; I’m paid for each word that survives the ‘delete’ button, which is fortunate since the left side of my brain is a bit lazy.

Getting new commissions (or business) is a process that involves a bit of back-and-forth with editors over email — outlining story ideas, deadlines and finally agreeing on a price. As such, I never have the need to create estimates and I don’t need to log the time I spend working on my stories.

I’ve been using Zoho Invoice ever since I started freelancing, mainly because I didn’t have a spare five hours to create an invoice template in Excel when I first set up shop. To me, Zoho looked like the easy way out — and to date, it has been.

But how does it compare to the latest bit of accounting software, Reach Accounting? I’ve spent a bit of time using Reach, and for its price point and target market, it’s a pretty handy piece of software for sole traders and small businesses — I can see that it would be particularly valuable for virtual assistants and teleworkers.

As soon as you sign up for your Reach account, you’re asked to enter in your basic, yet important, business information — like your ABN and bank account details — so, without doing anything else, you can send an invoice to one of your customers right away. With Zoho, there was some setting up of invoice templates, adding customers and setting up email gateways, which was a bit tedious.

Then there’s the matter of cost. While Zoho allows you to invoice your customers in Australian dollars, it’s still an American company so your $15 monthly fee is subject to change with the exchange rate; you’re also charged a currency conversion fee from your bank, which is something to be wary of.

Reach, on the other hand, is an Australian company so you don’t need to worry about exchange rates and conversion fees; something I find quite appealing. Plus, included in Reach’s $14.95 monthly fee is the actual accounting software, whereas a full suite of accounting software with Zoho costs a little more.

With Reach, you’re effectively getting more bang for buck and even if I don’t use the accounting side of Reach’s offering, it’s good to know it’s there. I feel the same way about the bread maker I have at home, even though I don’t actually eat bread. Which raises the question: how many businesses would end up using the full accounting side of Reach?

As an accounting novice, I still have an accountant who weaves their magic, presumably in MYOB. I just export and email my earnings for that year, along with my business expenses — which is basically my entire life since I’m a freelancer, so the lack of an ‘export’ function in Reach is a major drawback for me.

I imagine most sole traders and small businesses would do something similar with their accountants and I don’t know how many accountants would be eager to use Reach.

But Reach excels precisely because it isn’t MYOB — or even Xero, for that matter. And it doesn’t need to be. Reach caters to a section of the market that was previously alienated by the likes of MYOB; and now those business owners have a low-cost, easy-to-use solution to their Excel spreadsheet and shoebox-full of receipts. It’s also Australian; and supporting Australian businesses, as an Australian business, myself, just makes sense.

So, at the end of the day, for my money, it’s worth it.”

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If you’re a sole trader or small business owner looking for a low-cost way to manage the accounting side of your business, Reach could be the solution. EzyLearn has partnered with Reach Accounting so that you can access a free student account when you enrol in our Reach training course.

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Introducing Our Reach Accounting Course – The Low Cost Alternative to MYOB

Reach Accounting is giving small business owners a cheap accounting software solution.
Reach Accounting is giving small business owners a cheap accounting software solution.

Ever since we started offering online MYOB courses, we have been encouraging our students to start their own home-based bookkeeping businesses. We’ve also introduced new courses along the way, like our small business management course to encourage our students to become virtual assistants. Now we’re pleased to introduce our latest Reach Accounting Course to provide small businesses with a low-cost alternative to MYOB.

Finally! A Cheap Small Business Accounting Solution

For many small business owners operating fairly simple businesses (say, virtual assistants or teleworkers)  the need to invest in rather expensive accounting software like MYOB has probably never existed.

It’s not uncommon to find a sole trader who still uses Excel to create their invoices, and still keeps a shoebox-full of receipts that they then enter into another Excel spreadsheet, or else endure the wrath of their accountant if they don’t.

This is generally because there’s never been any low-cost accounting software available to them — that was until Reach Accounting, a division of Net Registry, entered the fray a little while back.

Because we’re constantly looking to help small business owners, we’ve partnered with Reach Accounting to offer small business owners a low-cost Reach training course, which includes a free trial of Reach to use while you’re taking the course.

In our new Reach Accounting course, we cover the following subjects:

  • DIY Accounting
  • Set up
  • Daily Transactions
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Payroll

So if you’re a small business owner and you’re looking for some low-cost accounting software, Reach Accounting could be the solution. 

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You can take a closer look at how Reach compares to MYOB. Want to know the honest opinion of a small business owner? We asked a freelancer to test-drive Reach for 30 days; see how it works for them.

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Is Zoho the Small Business Solution?

Check out the numerous Zoho apps for small business.
Check out the numerous Zoho apps for small business.

It’s fair to say the MYOB is the undisputed market leader in accounting software. Even despite the number of new cloud-based software packages that have sprung up in recent years, MYOB is still the software of choice for most accounts and it’s why we offer MYOB training courses. But for someone starting a new business, MYOB might not actually be the must-have accounting software; there’s a new player in town, offering turnkey solutions for small businesses: Zoho Office Suite.

Cloud-Based Zoho for Small Business

Gone are the days of needing several different, rather expensive, software packages installed on your PC; with Zoho Office Suite you don’t even need one. Entirely cloud-based, the Zoho offering is broken down into three app packages: Zoho Business Apps, Zoho Collaboration Apps and Zoho Productivity Apps.

The Many Zoho Apps

Zoho Business Apps includes CRM, books, invoicing software and a website builder, along with other more ingenious tools such as, the support app for managing your customer service, a custom app-builder tool and a recruitment app that allows you to collect resumes and schedule interviews with candidates.

Zoho Collaboration Apps includes a project management app, a social network app called, Pulse, along with chat, mail and docs apps.

Zoho Productivity Apps features a number of word processing apps, including Writer, Sheet (like Excel), Show (like PowerPoint), Notebook, and a Calendar app.

Select a package and a plan that suits your business needs, pay a small monthly fee, and your business has access to each of the apps within that package whenever and wherever they’re needed. The downside: there’s no pricing plan for all three packages, bundled together.

Zoho Books

But say you don’t want all that anyway; you just want some decent invoicing or bookkeeping software. No worries — each Zoho app is available separately. Zoho Books, which is the closest thing to MYOB and offers unlimited invoicing, expense tracking, reconciliation, time tracking, multi currency support, and the newly added automatic bank feeds and credit card feeds feature, costs only $USD24 per month and includes access for two users.

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For new businesses, Zoho is certainly an affordable option, whether you only sign up for Zoho books, or whether you take on an entire business, collaboration or productivity apps package. For bookkeepers, however, MYOB is still the preferred accounting package. That means training in MYOB is still as necessary and vital a skill as ever.