Two-step verification adds a second level of security to your access to Exact Online.

In addition to your user name and password, you enter a code that's generated by a mobile or desktop application.

To install the Authenticator App watch the video below.

Making a start is the important bit as once we have started we tend to get immersed.

In developing a solution, for example; designing an Excel template for users to fill their monthly expenses, the next step is getting it to a usable stage – it doesn’t have to be perfect (and don’t aim for perfection as you’ll never get there).

Then test it with users using real information.

Then make improvements and test it again.

There are some tasks that keep getting put off, they’re not urgent and don’t seem important so they stay on the job list.

Then, eventually, many job lists later and when it has become urgent and is beginning to annoy; it’s time to work on it.

Half an hour later and, ‘voila’, it wasn’t that difficult to do, it all seemed to make sense and was relatively easy.

It turns out that the really hard part was just getting started!

If you want your organisation to work smarter, cloud accounting could be the way to go. Working in the cloud will give you a solution that grows with your needs and delivers results in an intuitive and easy way providing you with a better overview of your finances and your organisation.

A workflow is a pre-determined path that an electronic document (pdf, Excel sheet, Word doc, image file, etc.) will pass through, taking it from one person to the next. There can be any number of people in a workflow (with the exception of 1, obviously!).

So many options…

  1. Store in Google docs, except that when you really need to access it, there’s no internet!
  2. Store in Electronic Document Management system, except that when you really need to access it, the remote desktop session doesn’t let you log in!
  3. Store in a word doc on laptop, except that when you really need to access it, you’re using another pc!

Revert to no.1 one, go round and round!

  1. Save space – reduce manual filing, files and cabinets
  2. Save time – search and retrieve fast on specific criteria
  3. Ease of access – access from your desk or from home and easy access for others
  4. Compliance – security, accuracy, workflow and archiving
  5. Recovery – minimise loss
  1. Understand what is currently happening. Describe the current systems and draw out the processes.
  2. Identify and clarify your objectives & constraints. Can they measured? Is there a value to achieving the objective? What do you want? Perhaps survey staff to identify their wants and concerns and get buy-in. If possible, pull together a guiding team who can help you look for improvements.

  • Tell me and I'll forget
  • Show me and I'll remember
  • Involve me and I'll understand

Filing consistency…We are accustomed to creating a folder and within the folder, creating another folder and so on. For example; create a folder called Staff, then within that Contracts, and within that Bob Smith or should it be Staff, Bob Smith, Contracts?

With an Electronic Document Management (EDM) system, a document is filed in a ‘Filing Cabinet’ perhaps named Staff or HR. When it is filed, the user is prompted for the Name and the Document Type. Want all documents with a certain name; no problem. Want all documents of a certain type; no problem.

Allow 10 minutes. Sit down with another user (and a coffee). Watch what they do. Learn from it. If they do something in a different way to you, you may have a suggestion.

It’s a two step learning process: 1) learning what they currently do and why they do it and then, 2) if they’re open to it, finding a better way, using the tools they have.

Fear of the truth, fear of exposing a weakness, fear of wasting time, fear of spending money?

Why not face the truth, build a strength, save time and save money?

Finding solutions is about coming up with an idea. The idea may solve a problem in one area but in all likelihood may create a perceived problem in another.

For example, an organisation wishes to implement a purchase ordering procedure; makes sense and sounds simple. People are used to ringing up and placing orders without having to do much else. Problem is there is no control or consistent detail or official approval.

  1. Trial it
  2. Test it
  3. Assess it
  4. Evaluate it
  5. Pilot it
  6. Use it
  7. Learn it

If you like it, keep it.

If you know what you want out of a cloud accounting system, if that is clearly defined, then it is clear what needs to be done to set it up and what needs to be entered in from the outset.

For example, if your organisation has 3 offices or branches and you want to be able to see a profit & loss for each along with a budget comparison, one way of achieving this would be to create 3 cost centres/departments. A budget would be entered for each cost centre and then when transactions are entered into the system they would be assigned to the relevant cost centre. At the end of the period, the system can then produce the desired reports.

It’s not uncommon to download a trial balance into Excel and then make adjustments within Excel to produce the desired set of management reports. Problem is; that we’re back to using Excel and Excel, as good as it is, is notorious for allowing us humans to make mistakes.

Technology today should allow us to make the adjustments in the accounting system and extract the information quickly in the way we want to see it. With the right technology, it is possible to create dynamic links between the cells in Excel and the data within your system - using Excel as your report writer: set it up once and then refresh the data when needed.

So, no more typing into Excel, Download – yes, dynamic linking – yes, pivot tables from ODBC driver data – yes, making adjustments in Excel – no (unless you really really have to!)

Browser based accounting software will probably have ‘Dashboards’. Dashboards show top level summary views of information often in a graphical form.

Providing your accounting data is up-to-date, a dashboard will show you key performance information. A basic financial dashboard might consist of:

  • Total money in bank/cash accounts along with a breakdown
  • Total owed along with an debtors aged analysis graph
  • Total owing along with an creditors aged analysis graph
  • Current Year-to-Date Net Profit along with a Year-on-Year Result graph

Click on any of these and the system should drill down to provide further information.

With electronic documents in image form it is possible to do everything that you can with a paper document, for example, you can:

  • Write on it
  • Highlight certain areas
  • Draw on it
  • Stamp it
  • Black out areas
  • Attach another document
  • Copy it
  • Append to it
  • Split it
  • File it
  • Place in someone else’s In-Tray

One of the key benefits of accounting period control is the ability to close off each ledger once entering transactions for the period has been completed. This prevents users from changing information in a period where management reports have already been produced.

This means that a transaction can no longer be entered against a previous period which, in turn, means that any management reports produced will not change. The debtors, creditors and profit & loss and balance sheet have, in effect, been locked down.

  • True browser based cloud solution
  • Accounting period control
  • Ability to handle profit/cost centres as well as departments/cost units
  • Multiple budget scenarios
  • Ease of uploading and downloading information from/to Excel
  • Import/feed bank statement data with good reconciliation functionality and ‘rules’
  • Easily classify sales and purchase accounts into multiple groups
  • Upload and view purchase invoice pdfs with data-entry fields on same screen
  • Handle foreign currency transactions storing the FC value as well as the base currency value, keeping track of exchange rates on a daily basis and good revaluation process.

What’s the difference between a browser based cloud application and the others?

There are a lot of so called ‘cloud’ offerings and they broadly fit into one of two categories: Browser and non Browser based applications.

A browser based application is an application that was written to run over the internet in a web browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari etc. For example; most banks offer internet banking in this way, there are also applications such as Google Docs, Google Sheets and accounting applications such as Exact Online. These applications run in any browser regardless of whether the browser is on your pc, Mac, laptop, tablet or phone – all they need is a web browser and an internet connection.

How many times do you here this? I hear it quite a lot but then I ask the question “Why do you do it that way?”

No one has ever said to me, “Well, we looked at the options recently and decided that this way would work best for now”. Perhaps the way it’s being done is fine, it’s easy, you’re used to it and it seemingly works.

Is it worth looking at the options to see if it can be made easier? Possibly.

Is there ever a good time to make a change? Probably not.

Is there ever a good time to start investigating whether to make a change? Yes – Now!

If there is something not quite right, something that you know could be better, improved upon, made slicker, faster or more robust, the time to start thinking about the possibility of making the change is now.

Think about it; you’ve identified that a change is likely. It’s probable that it will happen at some time. Well, wouldn’t you have more time to think, plan, reflect, test, reject etc. if you made a start now?

Why wait?

Times have changed; banking for most is now online and immediate. Gone are the days of writing out cheques for suppliers, paying in cheques from customers and waiting for the bank statement to arrive in the post.

Of course, in the old days when we did write out cheques and pay in receipts, it was critical to reconcile the bank to your ledger/cash book. You needed to agree the balance on your bank statement with the balance in your ledger and list the items that made up the difference. So, with the advent of on-line banking and payments and receipts being made electronically, do we still need to do a bank rec?

Planning or, to put it another way, having a strategy will help smooth out the negative attributes that creep in when implementing. Taking the time to create a well thought out implementation plan might have the following benefits:

  • Clear vision
  • Smooth & timely transition
  • Buy-in from key staff
  • Controlled implementation
  • Key requirements fulfilled
  • Opportunity to catch potential problems early on
  • Empowered users
  • New system, new culture

As the saying goes…fail to plan, plan to fail.

What is it that we are trying to achieve and which aims do the objectives sit under? The objective to me is like a mini vision of the future or an element of the vision, a small but important part of it.

The next step is to take each objective and create a job list (micro objectives) of what needs to be done. Then focus on completing the jobs and ‘hey presto’ the objective is achieved.

Why is this important if you want to make improvements?

It’s a starting point. It clarifies the current processes and describes how things currently work. Writing out procedures, drawing diagrams, discussing them so that they are clearly understood is a key step.

Communicating what is currently happening to each other, to new team members or outsiders becomes easier.

It may be that all is fine, nothing needs to be changed, the way things are, works.

It may be that you begin to see that improvements can be made.

Not for too long, just enough time to understand a few key concerns so we can look at a way of making the concern a little less of a concern.

So we can generate a few ideas, discuss options, not over-complicate and find a keep-it-simple type of solution that might help for now and even for the future.

So let’s talk for a little, agree on a plan and action the plan.

Sometimes we struggle through without realising that if we learned the underlying principles, we would be a lot more able.

For example; coaching someone by going over the fundamental principles of bookkeeping and accounts dramatically reduces the amount of time taken to do tasks as well as the amount of help needed from others.

Realise that it’s not the software application causing the problem but the lack of a fuller understanding.

Stop, think – don’t rush.

Think about where you want to get to. Just like planning a route or setting the SatNav, it is better to do it before you set off.

Same thing applies to a work task. For example, making entries into a system…if you bash away at the keyboard as fast as you can, are you really helping yourself? Particularly with Accounting entries, if a mistake is made, it needs careful correction, make a mistake with the correction and you’ve compounded the error. Now it could take 3 or 4 times as long than if you spent a little extra time upfront.

Upfront training or coaching on a particular task can also pay dividends.

Take a moment to think about what you need to achieve and ask yourself: is there a better way?