This article was originally written for the Business First publication.

So, you walk into a big box office supply store (OK, Staples) and there you see it.  That piece of technology you’ve been eyeing for months.  Sleek, powerful, wrapped in eye-catching packaging, you just know it’s going to make your life easier, increase your productivity by 69% or whatever.  And look, they’re on half-price sale today.  Snatching up one for yourself and another for your friend, you head off to the checkout.  You’re not really sure what it can do, but you’ve just purchased Simply Accounting.

For quite a few business owners, this is roughly where their relationship with their accounting software ends.  I’d love to know how many shrink-wrapped copies of Simply Accounting and QuickBooks languish at the bottom of desk drawers.  You know those advertisements you see sometimes in magazines?  The one where a smiling business owner assures you that she just paid her bills, finished her employee payroll, and paid her sales taxes, all while sitting at the end of her dock at the cottage in Muskoka?  I don’t want to come across as negative, but this is hardly realistic.  Sure, it’s possible, but I think it creates a bit of an unrealistic image about how a new piece of software will change your bookkeeping.

I’d like to spend a few minutes outlining what Simply Accounting can do.  I actually love Simply Accounting.  I also like QuickBooks, but Simply Accounting and I go back a ways.

First, it will help you create professional looking sales invoices.  Even without customizing a thing, Simply Accounting will still spit out a decent looking sales invoice.  You can personalize it quite quickly, by inserting your logo, maybe increasing the font size, or adding a touch of color.  You can easily email invoices directly from inside Simply Accounting.  Do you ever find yourself wondering if someone has paid their invoice?  Simply Accounting is also good at tracking receivables.

On the flip side, you’ll also want help with knowing what your expenses look like.  You’ll enter all your purchase invoices and receipts into Simply Accounting, and you can see at a glance where your money is going.  Once you have some history built up, you can compare your current period with a previous period.  For example, maybe you want to know what your expenses look like this month compared to the same time last year – with a system like Simply Accounting you can pull up this report in a few seconds.

Simply Accounting has a powerful payroll system built into it.  If you’ve ever spent any amount of time calculating payroll remittances manually, you’d probably appreciate their payroll reports.  And there’s a lot more……bank reconciliations, project tracking, GST/HST reporting, etc.

I’ve seen quite a few Simply Accounting files, and I’ve had the pleasure of helping set up a number of them.  I can’t stress enough the important of getting the file set up correctly.  I’m convinced that the biggest reason people lose interest is that the file doesn’t get set up right.  If you are a bit uncertain how to proceed, do yourself a favour and get qualified help with setting it up.

Simply Accounting works, and it can work very well.  But don’t kid yourself, it’s not going to do it for you, and you’re probably not going to be preparing your next HST return from the end of your dock.

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ROE Web Service


September 8th, 2012

Following is my article that appeared in the recent Business First publication…… I consider it my personal mission in life to get more businesses to use the ROE Web service!

 

Do you ever wonder if life would be easier without technology?  Wouldn’t it be better if you never had to wonder why your computer didn’t recognize your print driver?  Or if you never had to worry about Windows freezing during the most critical part of your day?   Have you ever fantasized tossing a rebellious piece of computer hardware off an overpass?

Computer technology gets a bad rap too often – after all, it’s easy to take out your frustrations on your computer.  I’d really like to take a couple of minutes to quickly tell you how technology can make your life a wee bit easier,  especially if you are an owner or the payroll administrator of a small or medium sized business.

Most businesses have at least one employee.  At some point or other, and for a variety of reasons, most employees need to be issued a Record of Employment form, also known as the ROE form, layoff paper, separation paper, etc.  As the name suggests, the ROE form is given to an employee when there is an interruption in his earnings, whether due to a lack of work, a sickness, or whatever.  I’ve never met a person yet who truly enjoyed doing one of these forms on paper.   And that brings me to the real point of this article:  preparing Record of Employment forms using technology.

The new online system is such an improvement over the paper forms, it makes preparing ROE forms almost fun.  The biggest challenge is getting set up.  You need to visit a Service Canada Centre as part of the registration process.  I’ll quickly outline the registration steps here, and then I’ll go on to talk about how the new system works.

  1. You download and complete a Registration Form available on the Service Canada website (just do an internet search for “roe web registration.”
  2. Visit your nearest Service Canada centre.  Bring along your Registration Form and two pieces of ID.
  3. Service Canada will then create your ROE Web account and mail you your activation code.

Once you begin to use the ROE Web service, you’ll see why it’s such an improvement.  The web service will perform validation steps, to avoid some of the more common calculation mistakes.  That means you’ll get fewer follow-up phone calls from Service Canada officers!  When you submit the ROE, your worker can retrieve it quickly when they apply for Employment Insurance benefits.  This makes it easier for them to apply for their EI, and can help avoid delays in receiving their benefits.  If, after you submit the ROE, you find you made a mistake you can even correct it online.

Probably best of all, if you use accounting software such as Simply Accounting or QuickBooks, you can export the payroll information directly to the ROE Web service.  As long as your payroll numbers are accurate in your software, you can have even a complex ROE done in a matter of minutes!

So again, if you are an employer still using the old paper ROE forms, make this a priority.  Go to the Service Canada’s website, download that Registration Form, and take the first step to efficient ROE forms.

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Sage Simply Accounting says it’s time for a new name.  Effective October 2012, Simply  Accounting in Canada will be known as Sage 50.  If you want to know why the name change, it’s something about positioning themselves as a stronger brand in a global marketplace, so that they can provide superior customer experiences…….. as far as I can understand it.

The good news is, your older Simply Accounting software will still work fine.  And for now, they aren’t changing their pricing.  Actually, for now nothing is really changing, except the name.

As you may have guessed, you can work your way up the accounting software chain, and purchase Sage 100, Sage 300 and even Sage 500.  I’m going to have to start remembering to say Sage 50 instead of Simply Accounting…….. unless I’m talking to one of my clients who still uses an older version of Simply Accounting.  Since I have clients that still prefer to use some really old versions of Simply, I can see that being a bit confusing for the next few years!

You can read more about how Sage Simply Accounting plans to provide you with a superior customer experience by going here:

http://na.sage.com/sage-simply-accounting/lp/sage50accounting?WT.mc_id=SA_HP_Sage50

 

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Have you ever wanted to email the Canada Revenue Agency? Until now, that’s not really been possible.  It still isn’t, but at least now you can send a secure electronic message through the My Business Account service.  It’s another great reason to register for Canada Revenue Agency’s my business account.

For now, this is only available for business related questions, but I wonder if they’ll make this available at some point through the personal My Account service as well.

Here’s the official news release from the CRA.  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/nwsrm/rlss/2012/m04/nr120417-eng.html?rss

And remember, you need to sign up for the My Business Account feature before you can use it….. it takes a few days for the activation process to be completed, to be sure to register before you need it!

 

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