The best way to prevent future compliance risk is to have detailed documentation. However, there’s nothing worse than having to sort through paper or prohibiting productivity by constantly hounding your staff for receipts or time sheets. Adopting tools and standardized best practices can automate these pesky tasks, and can actually help promote efficiency in terms of invoicing customers faster, paying bills from your mobile phone, and paying and tracking your people.
Recently at our Aprio Cloud retreat, we had four of our valued partners join us and share the latest best practices for automating documentation and back office tasks for the entire firm.
Aprio Cloud partners offer many cutting-edge cloud-based software solutions that sync with Xero. The four partners we had the pleasure of meeting in person last month, are all great examples of how to automate outdated issues that burden business owners and accountants. Featured solutions include automated document collection, mobile uploads with optical character recognition (aka automatic data extraction from text/documents), and electronic expense and time reporting.
Fetch my docs for me
Don’t you just love downloading statements and documents from your bank or vendors? We can do it for our clients, but that’s not a good use of Aprio Cloud team member’s time either.That’s one of the main reasons Hubdoc exists. They have robots that automate the importing of the following types of documentation. It can also automatically read documents and publish them to appropriate document management folders, or to the chosen accounting or bill pay systems.
- Bank and credit card statements and CSV files -> Available for your accountant, and stored in your ‘bank statements’ folder in your Google Drive or Drop Box account.
- Utility bills that might vary each month -> Your accountant can systematically receive these bills and push them to your accounting system for management of your payables. The bill will automatically appear in your ‘bills or vendor’ folder in your document storage system.
- Vendor e-receipts (i.e. from your Amazon or FedEx online account) -> Details can be harvested instead of manually retrieved and uploaded where needed. Very helpful for distinguishing items and attributable customer or tracking information as part of your accounting records.
Read my receipts for me and then do ‘this’ automatically
Receipts can be a giant pain. Finding them, entering them, ‘filing’ them, and in the rare case of an audit - organizing and presenting them. The most important thing is that you keep them somewhere, just in case, especially if they are over $75.00. But where do you keep them?
Receipt Bank is where you keep them. They make it easy to upload and communicate details about the receipts and other documents, via your mobile phone or a dedicated email address.
However, storage and adopting a ‘picture and toss’ approach to pro-actively promote and ACTUALLY receive receipts is only half the battle. This is where the real beauty of Receipt Bank comes in.
Receipt Bank will read the receipts and documents and extract meaningful data (i.e. payees, amounts, dates, etc.) automatically for you. Resulting in very little manual data entry, reducing errors, and the means to do more with reliable and real time data. Hard examples:
- Easy reporting and printing of reports and documents for review and in case of an audit
- Sync with your accounting platform allowing your accountant to make sense of your expenses, promote good internal controls, and help pro-actively track detailed project or department level spending, without playing 21 questions each month
- Mobile notifications to communicate about your docs with your accountant and/or internally
Reimburse my employees and track my corporate card spenders
Cluttering an inbox with a bunch of last minute expense submissions from employees can lead to distractions and late or corrective payroll runs. Manually typing in those expenses is another time burning task that leaves room for error too.
This is one of the prime problems Expensify solves. Here’s the process:
- Smart phone and email for streamlining expense uploads in real time, increasing your staff inclination to submit expenses and documentation immediately as they spend vs. at week or month end
- Standardized policies that prevent staff from submitting incomplete expense reports or not attaching receipts, saving administrative staff time from having to chase down information
- Mileage calculator for tracking and submitting mileage
- Report submissions with automated communication workflows and schedules
- One click approvals that initiate the payment of funds directly to your employee’s bank account from your company account
The above eliminates the need to hinge reimbursement processes as part of your payroll process. Meaning you can run payroll when you need to, and reimburse on a separate, similar, or off-cycle schedule with much less hassle.
Expensify has another compelling use case for those who give up on expense reimbursements and/or issue their staff corporate credit cards. Expensify allows you to enforce policies and monitor staff card spending on an individual and real time basis. This is far more efficient than trying to manually review and communicate individual Excel sheets among your team or reviewing a master credit card statement with multiple individuals’ names and card numbers attached to it.
Expensify also happens to be one of the few apps that support a seamless billable expense sync feature with Xero. This can fast track customer billing and cut down on missing customer billable or related expenses. All of the above mentioned features also sync seamlessly both ways with Xero, to keep expenses in sync with your accounting.
Tell me what my staff is doing
Tracking and scheduling staff are two tasks you COULD do with a Google Calendar and Google Sheets. However, this leaves you running blind in terms of what you might collect in coming weeks, who and how much you’ll be paying for payroll or contractors in days or weeks, and no easy way to measure your clients, deliverables or staff in real time.
TSheets has been solving this problem for over a decade. They allow you to manage your staff schedules, work hours, reporting, and more. It also has an easy web and mobile based user interface to make it a simple transition and amicable way for them to track their time going forward.
Here are a few key examples why TSheets should replace your manual spreadsheets or time cards:
- Manage staff hours, policies, scheduled work and more from one place
- Track customer or project level time for insight on where employees are spending time and what customers and projects are taking the most time or effort
- Comply with hiring and workforce regulations with historical reporting for any period of time (this week vs last 2 years for example)
- Enforce and monitor policies around overtime and paid time off
- Harmonize TSheets with your Xero file to keep customers information synced and easily transpose customer time into a Xero invoice in a matter of seconds
- Easily approve time and sync it to your payroll software, streamlining your payroll run
- Sync this meaningful data with other tools you’re already using, including Expensify
- See what your employees are doing RIGHT NOW, even where they are right now with GPS capabilities
When and how to implement these tools into your business
The need for multiple applications, the intimidation and cost benefit factor of adopting change, and additional software subscriptions, is something we are constantly reviewing with our clients.
These software solutions have very specific use cases and problems that they solve. They may also overlap, as they do all automate documentation and sync with Xero. However, having the flexibility to select the right tools, for the right problems, at the right time, is something Aprio Cloud helps clients with all the time.
Some of our clients could have all four solutions: Hubdoc for fetching docs. Receipt Bank for uploading receipts or entering bills and pushing them to bill pay or a project management software like Workflow Max. Expensify for corporate card spending and/or automated reimbursements. TSheets for insightful time reporting and payroll automation/compliance.
For example, a particular client might have started with just Receipt Bank. As the client grew and needs changed, Aprio Cloud helped them with setup, integration and training with additional add-ons that benefitted their business operations. In some cases, clients may have only one or no add-ons, and Xero itself suffices.
We were thrilled to have our partners speak first hand with our entire organization so that we can continue to enable our clients to better streamline their operations, while minimizing the amount of burden we put on them or their staff. This provides our clients access to accurate, timely, and meaningful financial information. Our tax and advisory team can also provide additional value in terms of compliance and growth advice with this level of detail at their fingertips.
If you’d like to design the best cloud based eco-system to automate your back office, allowing you to get the most out of your accounting and reporting using Xero, while planning for and staying in compliance, we’d love to speak with you about how we can help.