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Monday, 15 August 2011

Accounting Package

You might think it strange that I am discussing accounting on this blog, but it is vital to any business; get it wrong and you could end up in a right mess.

The conventional accounting route has been Sage, but a good number of people I know say that Sage is expensive, sometimes complicated and not particularly user friendly to the non-accountant types.

My accountant recently introduced me to Xero which is an on-line accounting package.  There is a month's free trial and then, if you take it up, a subscription each month.

Xero was founded in July 2006 by successful technology entrepreneur Rod Drury and specialist small business accountant Hamish Edwards. Xero is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and is a fast growing company with teams in Wellington, Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the UK.

I found that it was easy to use, presented data in a logical manner and best of all it ensured that my data was secure and always available.  No more back-ups.  I can access Xero from anywhere there is an internet connection and I only need the one licence.  I can allow my accountant access to my data so I can get problems sorted out much quicker than before.  The package has a vast FAQ’s and an online help facility.  My one query to the online help desk was answered in less than two hours.

The system is intuitive and easy to use; errors can be rectified quickly and efficiently without the need to do journals all over the place.  I often found that in Sage I would do a journal to correct an error only to find that I had done it the wrong way round and doubled the original error. One novel feature is that it can download bank statements and tries to reconcile the bank data automatically. Naturally you have to authorise the reconciliation but it takes the pain out of this monthly chore.   I have spent hours chasing an elusive payment or odd pence in a transaction.  This does it for me.

Data is presented in a format that is easy to understand; a dashboard shows the financial position of the Company at a glance and allows me to get the accounting bit done accurately and much quicker.

The one thing that Xero doesn’t do yet is print cheques, but it is on the wish list from customers.

As you can tell I am pretty impressed with Xero.  I would urge everyone who is involved in accounts to have a look at Xero and take up the month’s free trial. I am sure that, like me, you will be impressed and will want to use it.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

More Data Loss

We at Quality Matters use internet banking and just recently I realised that checking and double checking  before pressing 'send' is pretty important.  I meant to send a BACS payment to one of our suppliers but managed to send it to entirely the wrong bank account.  I was lucky that the receiving company realised that this payment was not for them and alerted me and fortunately returned the remittance.

Something similar happened recently within the NHS where patient information was sent to the wrong fax number.  The Information Commissioner rightly stated that hospitals hold very sensitive and personal information and once lost or compromised cannot be undone.  He accepted that there were good procedures defined but the loss of data within the NHS remains a systematic problem as these procedures are not always followed.

What is needed is a complete culture change where data was concerned, he said:

"Non-encrypted data sticks, lost laptops and exposing data to unauthorised persons are still top of the data loss charts."

ISO27001 systems and procedures are a good method of defining data protection, but procedures alone cannot safeguard data;  it must be impressed on staff  that data protection is a number one priority and regular update training should be carried out to reinforce the message.

A look into a railway lost property office will show just how lax some security measures are.  I saw laptops, memory sticks, paper files and correspondence clearly marked as restricted or confidential. All these had been left on trains.  The sad thing was that some of these had been in the lost property office for some time;  the owners obviously did not attach the same level of importance as I did.    I wonder if the loss has even been noticed!

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