From payroll to invoices and expenses, these clever accounting add-ons might save you a lot of time and help you do some constructive planning for your business.
Accounting software is about more than just accounting these days. Functions such as enhanced reporting, payroll that allows staff to login and look at their statements and apply for leave, electronic invoices with a "pay now" button clients can click, CRM and more.
The aim here is to introduce you to some of the useful types of add-ons and integrated extras you can use with MYOB, Xero and the like.
Whether these are included in the main product, offered at extra cost by the vendor, or available as a third-party add-on, varies between systems.
Instead of typing transactions into your accounting software, the system automatically sees transactions in your bank account and records them in your accounting software.
In some cases, third-party backup services exist to automatically and regularly extract your data and make it available to you if your accounting provider has a catastrophic failure.
While some packages include basic CRM functions, many businesses require something more advanced. It’s easier if details flow between the two systems to avoid re-entering data.
While any decent accounting system can provide you with important information about your business, a dashboard puts the crucial figures right in front of your face.
Your accounting software may not be able to read the invoices you receive, but there are services that take PDF invoices, extract the details and feed them into your accounts.
Automating your debtor tracking and invoice chasing can save time and keep that side of the relationship on a more businesslike and less personal level.
Can dramatically reduce the amount of manual processing and keep the books up to date. Typically achieved through ‘connector’ software that bridges the two systems.
Make it easier for staff to record and substantiate their expenses. A mobile phone app may be a component, allowing staff to photograph the receipt and enter the important data.
Invoices and receipts need to be stored for a period. Being able to attach digital documents (eg. PDF invoices or scans of those received on paper) makes it much easier to find them.
It can be a fine line between payroll and human resources. With a payroll function a roster can flow into a timesheet and into the number of hours an employee must be paid.
Industry-specific management software
Rather than doing all the work these programs often integrate with accounting programs. That way you get software from the experts.
Don’t rule out accounting software if it doesn’t have this function - it’s an add-on for some packages. With real-time integration you always know where you stand.
It’s basically about keeping an eye on profitability, making sure that the correct prices or rates are applied, and perhaps also being able to see that projects are progressing.
If you run a membership-based organisation such as a private club, membership management software that integrates with accounting software can be a timesaver.
This might let you check on key information at any time, entering orders or invoices while in the field, or being told which client you need to visit next.
Useful for merging accounting information into a form letter, or to create a new invoice with items based on rows in a spreadsheet. Or simply keep both sets of contacts in sync.
It’s becoming increasingly common practice to send invoices by email, and a growing number of accounting packages let you include a link to a web page where your customer can pay.
Being able to generate an electronic payment from the accounting system can be a time saver. Think of it as the modern equivalent of printing cheques rather than writing them by hand.
Some systems provide employees with online access so you don’t need to print and distribute payslips. They may also enter leave requests, timesheet details and so on.
in any situation where you have to provide a quote it’s far more convenient if it flows into the accounting system if the job goes ahead.
Point of Sale
In most cases you want the POS system to be integrated with the accounting system. That helps keep books up to date and eliminates the laborious task of transferring data.
All accounting programs provide at least the basic reports, but in some cases you need to opt for a more-expensive version to get a full range or the customisability you want.
Want more info? The essential resource is the 44-page Australian small business accounting software guide. The guide compares MYOB, Xero and others, as well as payroll, bookkeepers and other software basics. Click here to register for free and download it.