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What's up with accounting software?

If you're using one of the popular small business accounting cloud platforms, you've probably received recent notices of fee increases, new improvements or changes to the layout of the program. You may even be disappointed at the loss of particular features too.

As a public bookkeeping and BAS Agent practice with years of experience across these platforms, we're here to help you understand some of the changes and assist with choosing the best option for your unique business.

Shock waves

If you're a fan of Wave, like us, you may have been shocked to learn it was acquired by H & R Block and soon after, the recent announcement that bank feeds will be cut off for Australian customers. Being a free software, we think it's still an amazing product for small businesses not needing payroll and if you don't need your accounts reconciled on a daily basis, then it can still work perfectly if you're willing to spend a few minutes periodically to import your bank statement. And yes, contrary to what others might tell you, it does track GST perfectly if you set it up correctly :) You just might need some assistance at BAS time to enter the correct journals to keep your reports on track. Feel free to contact us for bookkeeping assistance with this.

We knew it was coming

We get it. The last few years with the onset of cloud accounting and never-ending subscriptions, we knew the day would come when we're bullied into moving to the cloud.

If you're a MYOB or Reckon customer you may feel ripped off right now, especially if you purchased a product outright so you could use it to your heart's content without worrying about another bill. Just recently, support and updates may have stopped which means they are no longer compliant and you are forced to move to another product or the cloud. If you run payroll and need to lodge STP (single touch payroll) then this makes sense - we can blame the ATO on this one - but for simpler business needs we feel your pain.

Check out Reckon One (we're impressed with their pricing structure where you only pay for the features you need), or MYOB Essentials Accounting Starter - you'll actually wish you did it sooner because of the time you'll save! Skip down to our recommendations to see other easy and affordable options.

The biggest players

Quickbooks Online and Xero are among our favourites (probably a little biased from an accountant's perspective as they're basically built for us) which have loads of features, reports and integrations that are improving and growing continually. There's a good chance your financial professional has recommended them - we'll enlighten you on that soon.

But first, let's talk about the elephant in the room... Both providers are putting their subscriptions up in early 2020. We admit the improvements such as km/location tracking, project improvements and new export options are winning features. We also love the improved app interfaces and their features on both programs. You may need to ask yourself, are you paying extra to cover improvements and features you don't necessarily need? But the biggest elephant yet, might well be Hubdoc - we absolutely love Hubdoc and it's auto data entry into both programs, but seriously, how is this going to work when it's now owned by Xero? We're watching this space closely to see if QBO comes up with its own data extraction technology.

The pricing of these platforms is complicated with their own tiers and features, but we do believe QBO is a bit more competitively priced, especially at the Simple Start and Essentials plans which include a lot more than the very limited Starter plan that Xero offers.

Oh yes, we promised to enlighten you. These programs (among others) offer accountant and bookkeeping practice managers a whole load of client management tools at the back-end. This enables us to manage your data a lot more efficiently than you could imagine, not to mention the commissions or software discounts available for holding client subscriptions, and free advertising platforms if we collect enough 'points'. This is why many registered agents will be exclusive to a particular software and give you the sales pitch on why it's the best software on the market. Remember though, all registered tax professionals should abide by their codes of professional conduct and be transparent with you about any such benefits.

Start-up recommendations

We want you to be on the right track from the very beginning - by this, we don't necessarily mean a software to go with forever - just something that's going to record what you need to get you compliant for now, it really isn't hard to upgrade or change later. You need a good system with accurate reporting to make those important decisions to grow your business. Some of you may have left it for some time and worked on getting your business going first...not the best but not to worry! NOW is the time to get your books sorted :) Contact us to help with your rescue work.

Ok, so here are some entry-level products we recommend:

Our HOT tip - Xero business editions, though a little more expensive, will soon include Hubdoc as part of your subscription :o ...A big saving right there.

You will need to consider your basic business requirements when choosing the right software such as the volume of transactions, GST coding, payroll, invoicing, other software integration and data capture. For example, you may not need invoicing if you use POS (point of sale software) or other eCommerce systems, but you may need scanning and data capture if you have lots of loose dockets or emailed bills to deal with. Also consider cash transactions that are sometimes overlooked. Not all products offer these features so do your research. You may also like to consider whether the company is Australian owned.

Bookkeeping software a must for payroll, BAS/IAS and tax time

Yep, we're basically saying ditch the spreadsheets and the box full of receipts. That simply doesn't cut it heading into 2020. And keep in mind, handballing everything to your tax accountant at EOFY is going to cost you big time - most aren't bookkeepers so they'll charge you a load extra to put that hat on, or worse, contract the work out.

Get yourself a good BAS agent or at least some upfront training from a bookkeeper/BAS agent to get you on track throughout the year, including your payroll, activity statements and super lodgements if required - the right software will cover all these compliance obligations seamlessly. Put some financial procedures in place to work from and you'll be good to go.

A final note, getting back to the separate services a bookkeeper/BAS agent offers compared to tax agents. You may think your cloud accounts are perfectly on track, reconciled and ready to do your tax, but keep in mind the extra bits and pieces your accountant needs to deal with. For example, unexpired interest on loans, asset depreciation and director loans that may need to be journaled into your accounts. This will ensure your balance sheet is up to date for the commencement of the current year.

Please contact us for all things cloud accounts including choosing the right platform for your needs. As professional partners of most popular software providers, we can also offer special subscription discounts.

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