Tag Archives: Software

Choosing an Accounts Package

Choosing an Accounts Package

Pile of coinsCashflow and finances are the backbone of all companies. It’s important that businesses can manage their money in a way that is easy, understandable and legal!

But with the number of different accounts packages available, choosing the right solution can be daunting.

As with anything relating to IT (and any major business decision) planning is key.

If you are looking to move from paper records or simple Excel spreadsheets, then now is a perfect time to think about what you want from your accounts package. These days, accounts systems can do a lot more than raising invoices and reconciling the bank statement!

If you are looking to change your accounts system then write down what you like and dislike about your existing system and the additional features you require. Also consider how easy it is to export and import data from one system to the other and whether this will incur additional costs from the supplier or whether you will need external help to do this.

Here are a few pointers for consideration:-Pencil and calculator

  • If you manufacture, build items or hold items for sale, would some level of stock control or bill of materials system be useful?
  • If you are a labour-based business then a system that allows you to allocate employees time to jobs and then calculate bills based upon those figures may be helpful.
  • Do you require a purchase ledger side to your accounts? Not every company will need this if they do not resell items as part of their business.
  • If you employ staff, would incorporating Payroll into your accounts package either save you outsourcing costs or time entering data into 2 systems or manual calculations? Make sure the system allows for Real Time Reporting to HMRC of payroll data and can manage end of year reporting.
  • Are you VAT registered? If so, make sure the system you consider accounts for the different types of VAT reporting available and allows for online submissions
  • Do you require a system that can cope with multiple currencies? Many do not do this as standard!
  • Do you require a system which is installed locally on your PC or could you use a hosted solution, which you access via the Internet?

Accounts softwareGenerally, accounts systems will be available in different levels, depending on the functionality required, or will be modular, allowing you to bolt on different functionality. The more features you need, the more expensive the system will be. If you don’t need a feature right now but may do in the future, make sure that there is a cost effective and easy upgrade path, or that your base version will accept the particular add-on modules you are considering.

Make sure you understand the licensing structure. Some systems will be based upon concurrent users; for example, you may have 5 members of staff but only 3 ever access the system at once, so 3 licenses will be required in this scenario.

Some software will be based on actual users, so in the scenario above you would require 5 licenses.

There may be a licensing model per company, so if you manage accounts for more than 1 trading entity you may require additional licenses or a different version of the product.

Finally, make sure you get a fully functional trial of the software you are looking to purchase to make sure it meets your requirements, and make sure you use it with real-life scenarios! Run systems in parallel for a week or so as the only way you will ensure the system meets your needs is by using it!

If you need help choosing a system or installing a new accounts package, please contact us.

Choosing an IT Support Company

Choosing an IT Support Company

IT SupportWhether you have just decided to outsource your IT Support or are looking to change provider, choosing the right company to work with can be a daunting and time consuming process.

Here are a few tips to help ease the process and demystify the  world of IT Support outsourcing.

Do Your Homework – make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, your budget, plans for the future.  Be honest with future providers about these things as they will determine the cover to offer.

What Level of Cover is Needed? – Think about which areas of IT are important to your business i.e email or printing?  What hours do you need cover and how long can you afford to be down before assistance reaches you?

Telephone, Remote or Onsite? – Do you want an all-inclusive insurance style policy – one fee covers everything – or can you live with remote and telephone support, paying extra for someone to come onsite if you need it?

Small and Local or Large and National – Do you need cover for multiple locations or just have a single office?  Do you want to work with a smaller local company where you will get to know all the Engineers and they get to know you or look to a larger national company who may have more enterprise level expertise but have many more engineers and lack that personal touch?

The Final Choice – Make sure you meet with all your providers.  They should want to visit your site and check what equipment they will be supporting.  Ask to see a sample contract to check the small print.  Try calling the helpdesk number to see how easy it is to contact the company (you may need to check if they have a designated contract telephone number).

Choosing an IT Support provider should not be a quick decision based purely on cost.  There is a lot to consider from both parties.

For more information and for a more detailed copy of this article please click here.

Are you ready for Windows XP End of Support?

Windows XPOn April 8th 2014 Microsoft are retiring all support for its Windows XP operating system and Office 2003. XP has been a reliable and stable operating system for more than a decade, but increasing demands for faster, more secure, highly functional computing have now brought about its demise. In fact the last major upgrade Service Pack 3 was released in April 2008 so XP computers are generally at least 4 years old and we know of some systems that are 10 years old and still working!

If you are still a Windows XP user and it does all you want; “So what” you might say. “I can do all I need with my current computers and don’t want to spend money on replacing or upgrading.”

The first thing we would say is that you can’t expect your computer to last forever, one day it will fail and will need to be replaced (possibly urgently). Compatible spare parts will become even more of a rarity as time moves forward so repairing becomes less of an option.

Putting aside the possibility that you may have lost all of your historic data if you haven’t been diligent in regularly backing up, users will have a steep learning curve to cope with the most modern Windows operating system; currently Windows 8.1. There are also compatibility issues with other software and devices to consider and, if replacing a PC in an emergency situation, this can turn into a costly exercise when discovering that printers or accounts software also needs to be replaced in order for it to work.

Microsoft issued “security patches” are designed to plug holes in their operating systems (and applications) where “hackers” are trying to compromise the program for their own uses. You could ask “why isn’t the product 100% secure from its initial launch” but when you consider there are billions of programming instructions in multiple languages it is an impossible task. You also have to consider that hacking tools have been greatly advanced since the release of Windows XP and what was secure a decade ago is no longer so. In fact all Microsoft operating systems have improving inbuilt security as you move towards the current releases.

What are hackers trying to do on your computer?  Primarily extortion, getting their hands on your money, or using your computer to impact the operations of larger corporate organisations. Wide publicity on the impact of hackers is routinely seen in the press and having good quality fully updated antivirus is a must as a first line of defense.

Windows 8 laptopUsing scare tactics, we could be quite justified in saying that from 9th April 2014 Windows XP computers are open field for hackers. It is believed that areas of Windows XP have already been exploited but the hackers are keeping a lid on these loop holes until they know that a fix will not be issued; i.e. wreaking havoc on all XP users. Conversely we could point you back to the beginning of this century when it was suggested that many computers would become vulnerable to hackers due to their inability to roll over the date from 1999 to 2000. Commonly known as the “Millennium Bug”, it really turned out to be a non-event.

Undoubtedly XP computers will be targeted by hackers and really the impact is unknown but there is most definitely a greatly increased risk of infiltration and possible exposure of personal information.

The purpose of this article is to highlight these risks so you can make a judgment on what to do. Are you prepared to risk that this will be a non-event and can be ignored or do you need to take action.

If you decide that action is required the import thing is that this is a managed process. Give yourselves time to assess which PC’s need to be replaced or upgraded, assess if any compatibility issues will arise and get users trained on new systems.

Putting aside the scare factors, due to age XP computers will fail and need replacing. Managing this process on your timescales and budget will be a far easier and cheaper transition than picking up the pieces in a disaster scenario.

ACS Technologies can help your migration from Windows XP in a variety of ways and manage the process from initial assessment to installation and training if you require.

1. Assess your current IT systems and review which systems need to be replaced and any systems which may be suitable for upgrade

2. Look at associated hardware and software to confirm compatibility

3. Put together a quotation and project plan. This can include finance options and roll out plans for staged migrations on larger projects

4. Supply, install and configure new systems onsite

5. Train users

6. Provide ongoing support to cover the hardware, software, network and users for trouble-free IT infrastructure.

We are currently offering FREE initial review sessions if you would like to discuss upgrading your systems and find out any implications. Please contact us if you would like to book a session with one of our consultants. We do have a limited number of free sessions available so please don’t delay!