Choosing accounting software can be hard. Each product comes with slightly different features, looks different and the prices vary. Don’t think that you have to jump right in and purchase straight away – make use of a free trial and you can play around and have a good look at it before you decide whether to go ahead and purchase it. Even if you outsource your bookkeeping, you still need to be comfortable with finding your way around the software and getting access to essential information.
MYOB Essentials and Xero are popular cloud based accounting products in Australia. You also have Reckon One, Quickbooks Online, Sage One and Saasu. For tips on getting started with Sage One head over to Steve Bicknell’s blog and look at: How do you switch over to Sage One.
So I thought I would show you my experience of getting started with the 30 day free trial of Xero.
I went online to the Xero Australia homepage, clicked “Try Xero for Free” and filled in my name, contact number and email address.
From there nothing happened for quite a long time and I couldn’t move on to the next step. I refreshed the page a couple of times, which did nothing. I have “Ghostery” set up in my browser and I noticed it was blocking something – once I selected unblock I was instantly through to the next step. Success!
Entered my basic organisation details in the next screen. There is an option in this screen to convert your MYOB datafile over to Xero, if that is what you want to do. Xero had entered a default conversion date, which was not the date I needed. Not to panic – it also tells you on this screen that you can change the date via the Settings screen once you are set up.
Up and running – straight into my business dashboard.
Watched the 2 minute information video.
Went into Settings / General Settings / Conversion Balances and changed my conversion date.
And that was pretty much it! Ready to get into the finer details of setting up contacts, customising the chart of accounts, setting up bank feeds etc. You will need all your business accounting information handy for the next stages of set-up if you are taking it that far.
Just a side note – I had a question about something which I had typed into the Xero website and less than 24 hours later a representative from Xero phoned me (yes – not emailed, but phoned) to discuss. I thought this was good customer service.
If you are wanting to look at MYOB, then the Student Edition of MYOB is a great way to sample the product – it costs $15.00 at the time of writing and you get the desktop product in CD-ROM format. There is a limit to the number of transactions you can enter (is still quite a lot) but there is no timeframe that you have to finish using it by, which is handy. Students at TAFE use this when studying accounting and bookkeeping.
Alternatively you can try the 30 day free trial of MYOB’s online products here.
As a small business owner or non-profit are you contemplating moving your accounting software to the cloud, or thinking of changing which product you use?
This is a really great round-up of significant improvements and changes in cloud accounting software throughout 2015, as well as some insights into where accounting software may be headed in 2016. Margaret of Cloud Accounting Buzz knows her stuff when it comes to accounting software, so I hope you might be able to get something out of this post. Enjoy!
I just had to share this bookkeeping tip – it’s too good to keep to myself.
If you use Reckon for bookkeeping, you’ve no doubt used the “Find” feature at some stage to track down a past transaction. It’s quick and easy to use and I couldn’t do without it. Ctrl + F are the shortcut keys.
But just using the Find feature isn’t my tip.
Do you have transactions throughout the year that you aren’t 100% sure you have entered correctly and that you want your accountant to have a look over before your financial reports are finalised? Perhaps you have some GST transactions that you want your BAS Agent to look over before they prepare your BAS?
Well when you enter those transactions simply type “??” into the memo field. When it comes time to meet with your accountant or BAS Agent you simply use the Find feature (Advanced tab) to search for those transactions and generate a report. You can either print this off or memorise the report so that your accountant or BAS agent can simply click on each transaction and be taken straight to it.
No more having to stop and write down your queries on scrap pieces of paper or scrambling to remember what it was exactly you had trouble with throughout the year!
I can’t take full credit for coming up with this idea. It’s a gem of advice I picked up when I recently attended a Reckon workshop that I wrote about in my post So I attended a training workshop today.
Have you come across the term cashflow forecasting whilst skimming through business material? Maybe you have heard about it and thought to yourself that it’s pretty important but I don’t have time to look into it now?
Typically, a cashflow forecast shows your bank balance at the beginning of the period, the money you expect to come in, the money you expect to go out and then your final bank balance at the end of the period.
It gives you a chance to see periods in the year ahead where cash may be tight and periods where you may have extra cash on hand. Instead of flying by the seat of your pants, you can make more informed decisions about when to make your more expensive purchases or when you may need to look for additional finance.
For example – maybe you have kept an eye on your Profit & Loss Statement and your business is making a profit, however you don’t seem to have much cash on hand to pay your bills. You may have been spending money on capital items, have had to pay GST owed to the ATO or have large amounts of outstanding customer invoices – these transactions aren’t reported on your Profit & Loss Statement and are easily overlooked when trying to figure out where your money is going!
Reckon and MYOB both have cashflow forecasting tools. Otherwise a spreadsheet will also do the job. If you have been in business for a while you can use figures from the previous year and build on those.
If you are paying good money to use a well-known accounting system then you may as well make the most of it. If you aren’t using these features then it is worth making yourself a cuppa, starting up Reckon and setting up one or more of the following.
Save yourself postage, paper, envelopes and having to stop at the letterbox on the way home. Every time you get a new customer, ask them how they would prefer to receive their invoices. I have found that about 90% of customers request emailed invoices.
Ensure you have the correct email address in the customer’s email field.
Tick the Email box down the bottom – Save & Close (or Save & New)
Select FILE – EMAIL
Just like printing invoices, you can wait until you have created all your invoices, then send them off all at once in a batch.
These are particularly useful when you have loan repayments automatically coming out of your bank account at set intervals, for example on the first day of the month. When you go to reconcile your bank account, the transaction will already be sitting there to match up.
Enter the transaction, for example Write Cheque
Select EDIT – MEMORISE
Give the transaction a relevant name
Select AUTOMATE TRANSACTION ENTRY
Complete details as required
Select CLEAR if you don’t want this transaction to go through today
In my previous post 4 Common Bookkeeping Mistakes I mentioned that regular bank account reconciliations were a must-do. If you are using a cloud based accounting package then this feature will reduce time spent on manual data entry, reduce the risk of errors and reduce the time taken to do reconciliations – the transactions are fed directly from your bank to Reckon Accounts. Not everyone is comfortable with cloud based accounting solutions and this is another whole topic in itself. Don’t forget to do a back-up just before setting this up.
These are a couple of the useful ones, but there are many more if you want to be super-efficient. CTRL + A Chart of Accounts CTRL + F Find CTRL + W Write Cheques CTRL + I Create Invoices CTRL + P Print T Today’s date
A handy idea is to print out and laminate the ones you use most and attach it to your keyboard or monitor until you have memorised them. Don’t have it too far from your computer or you won’t bother referring to it. You could print them out for your employees or co-workers as well.
What time saving features of Reckon or Quickbooks have you find indespensable?