By Kevin McDonald, Graduate Product Manager at Sage
6. “I need a way of making faster payments to my suppliers to help with my cash flow.”
In this case the customer was unaware of the free eBanking features which were available to them. In Sage 50 you can use the eBanking feature to make electronic BACS payments to your suppliers. This feature is free and the relevant banking plugins can be downloaded from My Sage.
7. “I have two companies setup in my Sage accounts. Why can’t I run management reports on both of them at once?”
You can. The multi company consolidation is available in Sage 50 Accounts Professional and will allow you to consolidate companies together so you will be able to run management reports such as the trail balance or balance sheet reports on your batch of companies.
8. “I have a new employee starting to use Sage 50 and I want to approve postings before they are allowed save journals to Sage 50.”
The Excel import feature can be used here i.e. the user can create the journals in Excel using the import templates that we provide with the program. The excel file can then be sent for approval and imported by the accounts administrator.
By Helen Shone, Sage HR Advice
Exciting times ahead
First, you’re excited and pleased for your employee. But then you recognise that there’s a lot of work to be done to make the maternity process as smooth as possible, for your employee, yourself and the rest of your business.
With an effective process in place, you can limit the impact of an employee going off on maternity leave and become a valuable source of support for them in this eventful time.
Know your role
Firstly, make sure that you’re familiar with your responsibilities and the employee’s rights. This means that you’ll be in a great position to answer any questions they may have and offer useful guidance. In particular, read up on The Maternity Protection Act 1994 and the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004.
Always carry out a risk assessment where new or expectant mothers may be exposed to working conditions which may harm the baby.
By Laura Birchall, Business Advice Consultant at Sage
1.Get it right First Time
Sending a purchase order to your supplier is a legal offer to buy their products or services. If your supplier accepts the purchase order it usually forms a contract between you and your supplier, no contract exists until they have accepted the PO.
Purchase orders provide accurate documentation of what has been ordered in case of a dispute. A PO lists the item description, quantity, price, discounts, delivery instructions if applicable and date of ordering. This leaves less margin for error than a verbal order.
By Lorna Keogh, Senior Digital & Marketing Operations Specialist at Sage
When choosing a payroll software there are a number of things to bear in mind to ensure that you find the right solution for your needs. Many of these will be standard considerations but there will be some that are unique to your business needs and the industry in which you operate.
So – where to start? Let’s start with the most obvious factors and work from there.
1. Number of companies and users
In essence – how many different companies will you need to process payroll for? It will be important to ensure that any software you purchase includes a licence for the required number of companies. Likewise if you plan to install the software on a server to allow multiple users to access it from a local or remote network, ensure you choose a software package and licence that allows for this.
How many employees do you need to process payroll for this year? When working out this figure include seasonality and any resulting staff. Also include starters and leavers because if someone leaves, their details will need to remain on your payroll software for the year as they will need to be included in year-end reports. Many payroll solutions will be priced and divided out by employee number bands so it is important to have this figure in mind when researching potential suppliers.
3. Payroll Frequencies & Types
How often do you need to pay employees? i.e. weekly, monthly, every two weeks? Also – does every employee get paid in the same manner or do you have for example some employees who are paid monthly and some who are paid weekly?
In terms of the type of payroll are employees paid a salary or by the hour or have you a mixture of both? Ensure to check that any potential payroll solutions can cater for the payroll frequencies and type of payroll that you need. Also consider how employees holidays are calculated – do they get a set amount of days a year, a third of the working week or a percentage of hours worked? If tracking holidays is currently a manual task, check which payroll packages can help you to manage this.
By Lorna Keogh, Senior Digital & Marketing Operations Specialist
Tracking funds can be a challenge for any business, charity or non-profit organisation. Funds by nature are different to a nominal code and cannot always be catered for by using the department functionality in an accounts package as you may already need to track transactions by department for departmental reports. Some funds may be restricted and require a report from the recipient on what exactly the fund was used for.
Charities and non for profit organisations may need to do more than just track funds – they may need to record donations or to hold details of donors and members. The good news is that Sage 50 can help to do all of the above by using a feature that is already contained within the software and incurs no extra charge.
The charities and non-profit feature is available in all levels of Sage 50 and can be turned on in the company preferences section. This feature is compliant with SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice). Once this feature is turned on it will appear under the financials module of the software. This feature contains as number of aspects and allows companies to pick and choose which they may need to use.
1. Setting up SOFA (Statement of Financial Activities) categories.
In this section you can set up the titles you want for your categories. You can then view a list of all your nominal codes and assign them to specific SOFA categories .
2. Setting up and tracking funds.
This section will allow you to set up each fund you receive. You can specify if the fund is restricted or unrestricted, enter the opening balance, assign a nominal code and also store the originators name and institution. Once funds have been set up you will notice that a ‘fund’ field appears on all of your transaction entry screens such as the invoice creation screens and the receipt and payment screens. This allows you to tag any transaction that you enter as being used by this fund. This in turn allows you to run a fund analysis report on each of your funds at any time.
By Kevin McDonald, Graduate Product Manager at Sage
Whether you are starting your own business or thinking about upgrading your current business software it can be a daunting task to find the best software to suit your needs and your budget. In my previous role as business advice consultant for Sage I was able to new and existing business every day. I wanted to write this article to provide some advice and points to think about when you are looking to get new software for your business.
1. It’s an investment – First and foremost business software should make your life easier but you also should consider it an investment and think about how you can get a return on that investment. For example if you have an accounts administrator doing your accounts manually they could spend a long time doing the accounts. If you have an accounts package in place then the time spent doing accounts will decrease. We all know that time is money so think about what you will get back from the business software you will be implementing in your business.
2. Ask questions – Nobody wants software they do not need. Think about your current business processes and how you will wrap them around the business software you are looking at. It’s just as important to know what a program can’t do as it is to know what it can do.
3. Plan ahead – Think about what you may need from your business software one year after implementation. Will you have any specific reporting requirements? Do you see the number of users you will need to access the software increasing? Is there an upgrade path so if you “outgrow” a product what do you need to do?
By Kevin McDonald, Graduate Product Manager at Sage
With the arrival of Sage 50 Accounts 2013 I was given customer feedback about what else would be nice features to have in Sage 50. It turns out that the majority of what I was asked was already there, it was just a new feature that customers were not aware they already had. In this blog I will be highlighting some Sage 50 v2013 features you may not be aware of. Sage 50 is such a feature rich product and there may be some features in there that will make your day to day work easier that you didn’t know about.
1. “I’m the company director. Pity I can set up a read only user access to get a high level overview of my company accounts in Sage 50”.
The Sage 50 Pulse App for Windows 8 was the solution here. This is a new Windows 8 app which plugs into Sage 50 and gives an overview of things like company profitability, profit and loss, contact details, outstanding balances and bank account details. For more details or to download the app visit the Sage 50 Pulse app page.
2. “My year end accounts have not been finalized but I need to start working on next year. Can I work on next year without closing my current year?”
This question always gets asked. The answer is yes you can. If you have a multiuser setup I would recommend using the ‘Lock Date’ feature where needed so you can use this option to prevent postings before a specific date and give you more control.
3. “I like being able to send reports to excel. It’s a pity there isn’t a quicker way to do this.”
There is a quicker way to do this. In v2013 we added a “To Excel” button on over 100 forms throughout the program. If you see this button and click it then it will instantly export what you are looking at to excel. For example if you click this in the customer module it will send out the customer list of names and address etc.
It’s also important to highlight our Excel Integrated Reporting feature. When you install Sage 50 Accounts it will also install an Excel Plug in which will add a Sage toolbar to Excel. This will allow you to run Sage reports straight from Excel if needed. And yes this is free and comes with the software.
4. “I email all my invoices and statements. It’s a pain having to do them all one at a time because I don’t use Microsoft Outlook”.
It is possible to send batches of statements or invoices when needed. Just highlight them all and click the email button and they will all be sent out to your customer base. Be it 5 invoices or 50 V2013 now links with webmail so if you use something like Gmail or Yahoo you can enter your log in details into Sage 50 Accounts and automatically email your customers.
5. “How much is the mobile app for Sage 50?”
It’s free. And you can setup as many users as you want. More information on Sage 50 Mobile for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices is available here.
That covers part one of this blog series on Sage 50. If you want to find even more feature read Part 2. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions. If you are an existing Sage 50 customer and would like to see a demo of the new version you can check out our product test drive here.
By Olwen Dawe, owner of Irish Business Intelligence
Normally, at this point, a blog about strategy will contain a pithy clipping from Sun Zu’s “The Art of War” … (“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” is a favourite).
It’s hardly surprising that this recurring theme appears, given that Sun Zu’s statements of strategy and tactics contain very resonant themes when it comes to strategy in business.
However! The question for most businesses – SMEs in particular – is how or why strategy applies to their business (queue mutterings of “I just want to get on with it…” or “that sounds very corporate to me”). The reality is, as Sun Zu infers, not knowing why your business is heading in any specific direction (or the role resources, objectives and plans are playing in it) is almost definitely going to bring about the wrong outcomes. In some cases, rather unfortunately so. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, or a start-up operating from a shed in your back garden… without strategy, you’re likely to be setting out on a collision-course of risk and disappointment.
So, what is the real meaning of strategy in business? Opinions vary, and strategies change to suit different times in a business’s trajectory – guiding focus and resources to suit its point in the life-cycle. From my experience, here are some key roles for any business strategy:
- To provide you, your team and any other relevant stakeholders with clarity regarding the purpose, focus and objectives of the business
- To ensure financial, marketing, sales and operational targets are met – clarity, again, being the key focus
- Communication, collaboration, and cooperation: to develop buy-in, commitment and focus within your team (if you have one – if you’re a sole trader – to ensure buy-in from key stakeholders, partners, funders etc.)
- To shore-up growth by highlighting a clear path for the future and allocating the right internal and external supports in realising same
- To provide an effective means for challenging, evaluating and re-strategising decisions, objectives and growth – as well as business model, marketing, financial planning and other key operational mechanisms.
By Mark Lee, Chairman of Tax Advice Network, Author, Blogger
There is an old adage that ‘People buy from people whom they know, like and trust’. Translated into the world of accountants, this means that it’s easier to win new clients and new fees only after people have got to know you, to like what they know about you and to trust you.
During my talk at the Sage ‘Future of Accounting’ Roadshow in Cork I stressed some related points.
It is clear to me that, so far as accountants are concerned Online Networking is often best regarded simply as a precursor to Offline (or face to face) networking. You can save a great deal of time by engaging online before you arrange to meet anyone – be they prospective new clients, influencers, referrers or recruits.
After all, face to face networking generally involves meeting strangers. The outcome will always be more profitable if you have engaged online beforehand. This enables you to generate some initial understanding and common ground before you meet up. So it should also mean you can avoid spending time travelling to meetings with time-wasters.
How else can accountants combine online and offline networking? Here are seven practical ways you can do this:
1. Reinforcing an interest or focus in a specific niche area
Online you will want to focus on your expertise in a specific area or sector. Face to face you can show you really know what you’re talking about. Your passion, experience and focus will always be more apparent ‘live’ than is possible to convey online.
2. Evidencing expertise and skills
There is a limit as to how compelling will be your profiles and online conversations. It is much easier to evidence genuine, relevant and commercial expertise face to face.
3. Finding like-minded people
Linkedin provides a fabulous opportunity to find prospective clients, influencers and referrers in local groups. Even if you engage with them online, they will only really get to know you (and vice versa) if you then follow up and meet offline.
By Beatrice Whelan, Social Media & Content Specialist at Sage
Remember when you fell in love with your business idea. You couldn’t sleep as you tossed and turned thinking about how you would promote your new business. You couldn’t eat with the excitement of getting started. Yes, starting a business is a lot like falling in love. With rose tinted glasses you couldn’t see the potential pitfalls that everyone else warned you about and in the honeymoon period of the first six months everything seemed to be going to plan.
Now, however, things might be slightly different. Perhaps you have had to do your first or second annual tax return and have been left feeling that the business is taking more than it is giving you. Friends and family say that you’re spending too much time working on your business and that it has changed you. Perhaps you have experienced the heartache of having to downsize or close a business or perhaps you feel stuck in a business that is just not working for you anymore. All is not lost, you can fall in love with your business again and recapture the magic you felt in the start-up phase.
- Stuck in a rut? It’s time to take a break. Not just a semi-holiday but a real holiday. Set up your email auto reply and turn off your phone. Leave someone you can trust in charge and take at least a week off. Try a change of scene and aim to completely forget about your business for the first few days. You will be amazed at the perspective this can give you. Towards the end of the break allow yourself to start thinking about your business again but think about the bigger picture, not the little things that drain you. Go back to your business with a plan for three things you are going to change about your business or about the way you manage your business and implement those changes as soon as possible.
- Get some advice. When relationships are in difficulty, seeking outside advice can be a real benefit; the same applies to your business. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a business owner is thinking that you know it all and that you can’t learn from anyone. Look for a business mentor, someone you look up to and can learn from. Arrange to meet with them to discuss the problems you’re having in your business. You may only need one or two meetings to put you on the right track.
- It’s not me, it’s you. Take some time to assess what is working and what is not working in your business. Try to be honest with yourself and your employees and even your customers. Do you have an employee that is not the right fit or perhaps you have a lot of customers that are not paying you on time or in some cases not at all. It’s time to let go of what is not working so you can move forward. If you have customers that take a lot of your time for free, it’s time to change your business policy and ensure that you are billing customers for your and your employee’s valuable time. Read More