The changing face of business software

If you started a new business a few years ago you would probably have bought an office suite to help you run it. This would contain a word processor, a spreadsheet application, a presentations tool and maybe a drawing package and database program too.

Then you’d spend time setting up these applications to suit your business. That meant creating templates for documents, using spreadsheets as invoices and building presentations for clients. Office suites usually didn’t include an accounting package, so you’d have had to buy that separately, along with any specialist software.
This all worked quite well, but there were some major problems.

Five reasons why traditional software doesn’t work
1. Jack of all trades but master of none
These suites were designed for every business, which meant you were paying for features that you might never use. They also used a lot of computing power because they were so big and bloated.

2. Upgrade delays
Most software suites were updated once every year or 18 months, so you’d have to wait a long time for a new feature you really needed. And bugs took a long time to fix, too.

3. Poor integration
Connections between the software packages in the suite were reasonably good, so you could import spreadsheet data into your word processor, for example. But connecting to other applications, such as accounting software, was much more tricky. Sometimes it might work, sometimes not.

4. Expensive to use
Office suites have never been cheap, especially the ones from big software companies. For a small business on a budget, the cost could be a real problem.

5. Licensing issues per user
Office suites were usually sold on a per-user basis. You often had to decide how many licences you’d need and pay for them up-front. Not ideal for a growing business.
Things have changed, and now there’s a better way to get the right product for your company.e one-size-fits-all package is no longer the ideal option.

The new world of business software
Office suites are still available today, and many companies find them useful. They’re especially popular in larger organisations, where in-house IT teams can configure them in bulk to suit their users.
But for smaller businesses, the one-size-fits-all package is no longer the ideal option. The explosion of apps in the past few years has given small businesses much greater choice.
Now you don’t need to buy an entire office suite just to use ten percent of its features. Instead you can buy individual apps that provide everything your business needs, often at a much lower price.
Many of these new apps connect together almost like building blocks, sharing data with ease. And since they are often cloud-based, they can be accessed from anywhere, not tied to a single desktop computer.

Seven ways to make custom business software work for you
So how do these apps work, and what are the benefits? We’ve compiled seven of the main points here.

1. Pick and mix the software you need
Maybe you need a CRM application but not a word processor, or an accounting package but not a spreadsheet. That’s easy – pick and choose what you need, not what a software company thinks you need.

2. Find specialised software for your business
Plenty of software products are written by small development companies to solve specific problems. Chances are, one of them has written an app that does exactly what you need – and if they haven’t, you could ask someone to write it. Search the software marketplace and see what turns up.

3. Get fast upgrades and bug-fixes
Small, nimble development companies can upgrade their software much faster than big software houses. That’s because they’re only working on a tiny fraction of the code. It’s much easier to update a time-tracking app than an entire spreadsheet application, for example. So you get faster updates.

4. Join it all together
Business products should be designed to be easily integrated together. Some of the best can connect to more than 300 other add-on applications or software products. So you instantly have access to 300+ extra features that could be ideal for your business. You can build a solution that suits you perfectly.

5. Scale it up easily
If business is booming and you’re taking on more staff, no problem. It should be easy to add more users to cloud-based business software – and the best accounting software allows you to add unlimited users for free so that your business can grow with you.

6. Benefit from a fast-changing market
It’s a great time to be a user of business applications, because the market is changing so fast. Thousands of developers are competing for your business, trying to create the best software for you to use. No other software market offers such a wide range of business tools, and it’s growing all the time.

7. Access your software anywhere, anytime
Many of the better products are cloud-based, which means you can access them from your laptop, desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. This lets you keep up to date with your business wherever you happen to be, any time of the day or night.

Make custom business software work for you
So the key benefit of cloud-connected products is that you can shape the software around your business – instead of trying to shape your business around the software.

With a little thought and planning you’ll be able to buy the tools you need to manage different parts of your business. Then you can join them together easily so they share data with each other.
Why buy an off-the-shelf suite when you can buy individually-crafted product instead? Scalable, connected and regularly updated – cloud applications offer a better way to run your business.

Call us today to see how we can help to make custom cloud business software work for you.

Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support. Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns.

Thanks for Xero for providing this article

5 Secrets of Goal Setting for Successful Business Owners

For most businesses – especially those just starting out – there is one main goal, and that’s to make enough money to stay afloat. Beyond this, however, in order to continue to realize success, all businesses should have a set of real, strategic objectives that they’re working toward. Here’s why setting goals is so important to your organization.

They give you something to measure. Napoleon Hill once said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Without real goals, you’ll have nothing to measure and no real way of knowing what you’re doing right and what could use a little tweaking.

Goals help develop and foster teamwork. Setting, communicating and measuring goals is an excellent way to bring everyone on your team together and get them working collaboratively and cohesively toward achieving those objectives.

They help to identify areas of need. Without real, measurable goals, how can you know if what you’re focusing your efforts on is really achieving results? If you don’t understand exactly what you’re working toward, it’s much more difficult to identify areas where you’re wasting time, money and other resources.

Goals provide motivation. Lofty objectives, like “increasing sales” or “growing your team” don’t really provide any motivation for achievement. That’s because they are vague and non-measurable. With real goals in place and deadlines to back them up, you’ll know what needs to be accomplished and by when, which will provide the push needed to actually get things done.

Goals help to bring the big picture into focus. When goals are defined, communicated and put into motion, you and everyone on your team will be better able to see how every business decision affects those goals and the role each individual plays in the big picture of success. For instance, by defining a budgetary goal that includes both revenue and expenses, it becomes much clearer how things like making large purchases and landing that new big client can directly affect the end result.

While every business is different, and will have unique goals to work toward, one thing remains constant across every industry and business size: the need for setting and achieving strategic, measurable objectives. Only by doing so will you be able to continue to realize success and drive the future growth of your business.

Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support.  Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns.

Xero Quick Tip – Multiple Emails, One Invoice.

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Here is a quick Xero tip for today. How to add multiple invoices to a contact to enable the invoice to be sent to all email addresses. Take two minutes to learn this time saving tip.

Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support. Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns.
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Lost in Venice: How Software Support Helps You Navigate a New Application

Have you visited Venice? Rising out of the Venetian Lagoon like a dream, Venice is a tangle of enchanting laneways and canals lined with Renaissance-era palaces and churches. It is beautiful to behold and ranks as one of Europe’s most celebrated destinations. In Venice, there are no cars, tooting Vespas, or even bicycles. Visitors to Venice explore the city on foot or by water taxi or gondola.

Venice is a maze of anonymous streets. Very few streets have names, making most maps essentially useless. One of the great pleasures of Venice is to toss away the map and simply lose oneself in this magical labyrinth. But if you are trying to find your way back to your hotel at night or trying to find your hotel fresh off a train from the mainland, Venice’s no-name streets can prove frustrating.

Navigating a new software application can feel a lot like being lost in Venice: lots of beautiful dazzling features, but when you are trying to get from point A to point B and encountering dead ends at every turn, things start to lose their lustre.

Every software application comes with its own bible to study: a veritable paper storm of how-tos and FAQs. There are online forums, hours and hours of instructable videos, and detailed infographics. It is the equivalent of navigating Venice using an unwieldy folding map and a Lonely Planet guide book that could moonlight as a doorstop.

A dinky-di Venetian, does not need a map to navigate his or her city and neither does a visitor. Getting to grips with a new software application does not mean slavishly committing to memory  every command and process. It is simply a matter of unlocking the logic that underpins the software’s design.

The logic that underpins the layout of Venice is simple to grasp and once you do the city is actually easier to navigate than a metropolis with street names.

Venetian addresses are different in that they do not locate a business or residence on a street but in one of Venice’s six districts, called sestieri. For example if the address of your hotel is 5609 Cannaregio, then your hotel is located in the district called Cannaregio, not Cannaregio Street–it doesn’t exist.

Using a starting point like a bridge or a water taxi stop at the edge of a particular district, it is simply a matter of noting how the numbers above the doorways change. Simply follow the increasing or decreasing numbers to find your hotel. A big change in the number, means you may have crossed into another neighborhood. Simply turn around and go back the way you’ve come.

The path to unlocking the power of a software application is revealing the underlying logic that informs how it is laid out. And to do that you need access to expert users who spend their days navigating the software.

Notch Above offers new Xero users as well as more experienced users valuable insights into how Xero works. Sign up for your personal training session with one of our Xero experts.  You can answer questions specific to your business one on one with us from the comfort of your office.  You will come to know Xero the way a local knows his or her hometown.

If you run into a dead end in Xero, we will turn you around and put you on the right course again. Think of us like a hotel concierge providing you with directions you need to explore the highlights of a foreign capital.

Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support.  Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns. 

Travel and Tax Deductions

Claiming a tax deduction for travel-related accommodation and meal expenditure
A question that we are commonly asked at CNS Partners is “Can I claim for a deduction for accommodation and/or meals while away for work?”. This applies to both self- employed people and employees.
As a general rule accommodation and meals will only be deductible where the individual is found to be travelling overnight on work. This type of expenditure will not be deductible where the individual is found to be ‘living away from home’. The ATO tends to apply the 21-day rule of thumb. Specifically, where an individual is away from home for a brief period and it is difficult to conclude whether they are travelling overnight or living away from home, the taxpayer will generally be take to be travelling overnight on work where they are away for 21 days or less.

Evidence to support expense
If you incurred work-related overnight travel expenses and want to claim these expenses as a deduction, the nexus has to be established. If you are selected for a review or an audit, you may be asked to provide the following records to the ATO:

  1. Details of employment duties, including information about the requirements to undertake overnight travel for work-related purposes
  2. A letter from your employer, including contact name and telephone number, to confirm:
  • why you were required to undertake overnight travel in the course of carrying on your employment duties
  • details of any relevant reportable fringe benefits, or reimbursement to compensate your client for expenses incurred
  • details of specific travel allowances paid to you

Substantiation
In order to claim deductions for meals and accommodation expenditure in relation to work-related travel, taxpayers are generally required to substantiate this expenditure by providing receipts and/or maintaining a travel diary.
As an exception, these substantiation requirements do not apply to meals and accommodation where an employee is paid a ‘bona fide’ travel allowance to cover such travel costs, and the amount claimed by the employee does not exceed the Commissioner’s prescribed reasonable amount.
For more information on claiming travel expenses please contact CNS Partners.

Author

CNS Partners

CNS Partners

http://www.cnspartners.com.au/

Note: We at Notch Above Bookkeeping are BAS Agents and can’t provide tax advice. This information is general purpose only from Tax Agents, CNS Partners.

Receipt Rage? Keep Calm and Follow These Tips

Along with flying cars and holidays on the moon, the 21st century held the promise of paper-free offices; but alas, no. Twenty-first century bookkeeping still involves an awful lot of paperwork. While most civilians can safely toss their receipts away, small businesses operatives have to hold onto the invoices and receipts they amass, sometimes for years.

Not only are invoices and receipts easy to lose or misplace, but keying essential information from hundreds of these slips is a time-sucking experience. While collecting, transcribing, and archiving receipts are tasks that just need doing, there is no reason to lose your mind over these itty-bitty pieces of paper.

If you have a veritable hill of receipts waiting for you in your office, you need to conquer it with a plan, and once you have your receipts under control, make it a habit to capture your receipts every day by scheduling time for this task.

Reduce Your Mountain of Receipts to a More Manageable Molehill

Use Receipt Bank to Capture Receipt Data

If the prospect of keying in hundreds of receipts and invoices fills you with despair, chin up, because there is an application that takes care of that chore for you. Receipt Bank is a mobile application for iOS and Android devices. Instead of keying in a receipt, you take a picture of the receipt or use the desktop version of the application to scan the receipt.

The application then extracts all the essential information like the vendor’s name, the receipt total, the GST you paid, and the date of purchase, and then uploads this data. What is more Receipt Bank seamlessly integrates with Xero. With an application like Receipt Bank, a tedious process that can take hours is reduced to minutes. From there Notch Above can get you back on track with the bank reconciliations and BAS.

Life often gets in the way of best laid plans. A business trip, a sick child, or looming fulfillment deadline could take your attention away from dealing with your receipts. If you are juggling a lot right now, you do risk dropping an important ball. By delegating the task of reconciling your receipts and invoices, you will have one less ball to juggle.

We at Notch Above can help you catch up on your invoices and receipts and take on other Xero bookwork tasks, leaving you free to concentrate on growing your business and fulfilling the needs of your customers, as well as giving you back time for family and friends, and personal time for yourself.

Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support. Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns.

We Vote for OneNote

If you’re anything like me, you’ll get your finest inspiration at the most inopportune times. Light bulb moments will come half way through downing a good bottle of red with friends or mid-way through a 5k run. One option is to try and lock the revelation into your brain for later recall. The other option is to whip out your phone or mobile device and jot down the key ideas. We spend more and more of our life on the run and the chances are more and more of your staff is doing the same.

Whether visiting with clients, between meetings, or having inspirational moments while at the gym, the potential need to jot down notes, thoughts, ideas and images while on the move is increasing. Enter OneNote, a powerful note program with some great advantages for the user.

OneNote was developed by Microsoft as part of the Office suite but as a standalone version it is available for free on various platforms, including the iPad, Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS devices. It allows users to create notes and supports inserting images, photos, web clippings, audio files, and more into files. Here are our top reasons for loving OneNote.

1. Access and edit notes anywhere

The most recent version of OneNote can take advantage of the Microsoft Office365 cloud services, making this tool more accessible than ever before. Previous versions required a manual sync in order to access the application on different devices. Now it is automatically synced on your Office365 OneDrive meaning that you can view and edit your notes from anywhere in the world on any device that has an internet connection. Supported by Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, makes this application extremely versatile.

You can create your notes on your computer and then retrieve them from your mobile device, or vice versa. If you have access to a computer that doesn’t have OneNote installed, you can simply find the application on the Web. Go to your OneNote page on the internet, log in to your account and use as normal.

2. Organise data in notebooks

The cool thing about OneNote is its capacity for diversity. You can create a bunch of different notebooks for a variety of different subject matter. For instance, you might create a notebook for personal use, one for client information, and another for content and blog ideas. Each of these notebooks will then contain their own sub-folders with colour-coded tabs making it visually easy to organise files.

The ability to colour code is a particularly useful feature if you are working with a large volume of data. If the colour coding isn’t helping, searching for specific data is straightforward with a convenient search function.

3. Third party integration

Rather than looking longingly at some nifty or useful feature on a different application, you can simply integrate it with your OneNote. What does this mean? It means that OneNote is not limited by its own built in capacities thanks to third party integration. The latest version of OneNote has a new cloud API that allows other applications to be used. You can enjoy many more features because you are not confined to the features that are native to OneNote. One of the apps that you can use is OneNote Clipper. Install this on your browser and use it to automatically save clippings from the Web in just one click.

4. Work on important tables

OneNote is not only for jotting down simple notes and thoughts, akin to what you might jot down on a notepad. OneNote also allows you to create tables, which are a particularly useful method for creating databases or for comparing and listing data. Going one step further, OneNote also enables you to sort data within a table, designate header rows, change the colour of the cells, as well as insert an Excel spreadsheet into your notes.

5. Write handwritten notes

For those of us that brainstorm through jotting down notes, drawing diagrams, mind maps or other visual features, One Note has got you covered. Providing you are using OneNote on a supported touch capable device, you can write notes and draw using a stylus or your fingers. This is especially helpful for jotting down quick notes or reminders about what to insert on a page. Circling or underlining a word or group of words is quick and easy to do.

Technology moves pretty fast! Keep up with the times and find out how OneNote and other tech innovations and updates can support your business productivity. Get in touch today!

Author

Ben-Headshot-2

Managing Director of Grassroots IT

Google+ Page

www.grassrootsit.com.au

Is My Data Really Secure with Xero?

Given recent global events in which sensitive financial data was stolen, it’s no surprise that people are more aware than ever about the privacy and security of their information. One of the most commonly asked questions about the use of Xero for business bookkeeping is how risky is it. Believe it or not, using Xero is not only secure, but it can actually be safer than standard outsourced business bookkeeping practices. Here’s how.

Access and Password Protection – One of the things that makes Xero more secure than traditional outsourced bookkeeping is the way data is accessed. Rather than sending sensitive content via email, where it could be intercepted and stolen, your accounting professional can simply log into Xero via a secure password to view and work with all necessary data.

Data Encryption – On those occasions where data must be transferred, either between users or from the business into the programme, Xero uses the same high level of data encryption that is used for online banking.

Multiple Layers of Firewall Protection – We’ve all heard about the devastating results of hackers gaining access to millions of consumers’ financial information in recent months. Xero uses multiple levels of firewalls to protect against external access, proactively preventing this from happening to any of the data stored on their servers.

Server Security – With customer data stored on external servers, it’s critical that these servers be protected with the highest level of security. All of Xero’s servers are located in enterprise-grade hosting facilities, which are guarded by onsite security guards, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Regular Data Backups – Xero is constantly backing up all the data stored on its servers, including database backups every 10 minutes. This means your information can be quickly and easily restored in the event of a service interruption. These interruptions are rare, however with Xero boasting an availability rating of 99.99%.

Xero is Actually Safer…

You may still be asking yourself: wouldn’t it be safer to keep all of my financial information in-house on my own server? Isn’t turning over sensitive data to the cloud inherently risky? To the contrary, it’s actually a much wiser business decision to store your information in the cloud.  Provided that data is kept secure, which Xero takes very seriously, it’s also protected from loss due to technical problems, accidents or natural disasters.

Think about it. If you’ve got all of your critical financial data stored in your office on desktop software, what will happen to that data should your server crash or become physically destroyed by a fire or flood? When your files are stored with Xero, they’ll remain safe and secure no matter what happens in your office.

Now, more than ever, we are able to rely on cloud technology to help us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively. We use this technology on a daily basis, from surfing the web on our smartphones to streaming videos through our computers, tablets and even our televisions. Yet, when it comes to harnessing this incredible tool for business accounting, it’s only natural to be hesitant. The good news is if you choose to work with an accounting professional that uses a reputable service, like Xero, you can use the cloud to handle even the most sensitive of data securely.