Nicola Scofield, Cloud and Digital Solutions Advisor for Rayner Essex has some useful advice and tips to manage your accounts when working from home.
Whilst working from home has been a regular part of some people’s working habits, many businesses are now having to adopt this policy across the board owing to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. For businesses, including our own, this can present many challenges, not least in terms of managing teams and ensuring information is secure but also, its effect on social well-being, time management and employee engagement. Making use of today’s available technology such as video conferencing and transactional software does facilitate this process and enable teams to work effectively and most importantly to stay safe.
In the weeks before lockdown there were a lot of procedures being put in place to enable as many workers as possible to work from home. Most of the software packages we use for accounting purposes are now accessible online, and almost everything else can be accessed remotely, obviously a good internet connection is paramount, but providers are proving to be doing a reasonably good job at supplying this.
So, what are we using, and how?
Some important factors to consider…
Still a desktop version of the accounting software, and although SageDrive is an option, this needs a strong, consistent, internet connection to remain secure when posting any volume of transactions, which cannot be guaranteed in the current climate. As SageDrive was never designed to be used for bookkeeping outside of the office, more for ‘view only’ report access, you should consider what you want to use this for whilst WFH.
Remote access via Google Chrome, enabling work to be done in the live Sage data by logging in to the office from a home computer. This process must begin on the host computer in the office where the Sage50 data is held, so would have to be prepared before WFH.
Remote app access from home through the office network to data we already hold. For earlier versions of Sage, datasets can be accessed via the individual copies of Sage50 files, however, we have found that the later versions 25 and 26 can only be accessed this way through Accountant’s Dataset Manager – Sage are unable to explain why these versions cannot be accessed remotely otherwise.
Where it is not possible to work on live data, when you usually would, you can create a Sage folder locally and work on a back-up. You can then prepare all transactions you have posted on an import in csv format, for loading into the live data when the job is complete. This is something that works very well in Sage50 with clear indication on the template where editing in the csv file may be necessary to ensure there are no issues.
The data recognition software AutoEntry, recently purchased by Sage, is an efficient way to save time on manual data entry. This online system will integrate with your Sage accounts system, therefore giving the same expense codes, VAT rates, etc, to allocate to your purchases. Upload your bills for processing, set rules to suppliers to automate the bookkeeping wherever possible, then this information will be processed directly into Sage50 via the AutoEntry app. AutoEntry works well with other accounting systems and integrates fully for automated processing.
Your business bank accounts can be linked with a direct feed to Sage50, however, this process does involve downloading, completing, and posting to your bank, a form from Sage.
Online accounting packages – Quickbooks Online, Xero, FreeAgent, Sage Business Cloud Accounting (formally Sage1)
The online packages can be accessed anywhere that you have an internet connection.
The same restrictions apply to all online packages in relation to the connection strength of the internet, and the device used. Restrictions within the software can occur where the internet connection is not stable, or the device used to access QB is not powerful enough to display it. For instance, you will have more functionality on a laptop than on a tablet.
In Quickbooks Online, the new data recognition option, Receipts, is a way to get expenses into the systems via the free mobile app at no extra cost. You can take a photo of your expense which can be uploaded into Quickbooks and allocated to a bank or credit card payment. This is not suitable for use with bills yet.
The data recognition software Hubdoc is now available for use in Xero for free and can be used to process bills into the accounting system. This is not for use with employee expenses, however, as Xero has an add on for this which has more advanced reporting functionality for employee expense claims. The Expenses addition carries a small monthly charge, and this can be added at any time by the subscriber. Hubdoc works well with other accounting systems and integrates fully for automated processing.
You can link a lot of bank and credit card accounts as direct feeds to the online systems, however, as the ruling for this has recently changed, this is not currently for all banks or types of account held. Where business accounts cannot be linked, if you can download your statement in excel/csv format from your online banking, you can manually import this information into the accounting software.
For all systems
The use of data recognition software is now widely available, and all are usually able to integrate with the various accounting systems, whether online or not. With Receipt Bank, when using with Sage50, you will need to download the information for import, as opposed to just processing direct as with AutoEntry, however, this is still a simple and efficient way to do your regular bookkeeping.
Revise the reports that are available to you within the accounting systems. You may find that you need information now that you have not required before, and there is a wide range of reporting to choose from in all the accounting systems.
The offers of support from all the service providers has been overwhelming, with many online webinars and virtual update meetings being offered on how to get the best from each system. With so many emergency schemes being put in place, you will need to be aware of how to make relevant changes, if necessary, within the various packages, depending on the individual options now available from the government for businesses.
If you would like to find out more about cloud and digital accounting please contact any of our team listed on the right or please fill out the form below and someone will contact you.