Is Your Business Fraud-Proof?

No small business owner wants to believe that their profits could be disappearing under the table – and certainly not by employees they trust. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) 2014 Global Fraud Study revealed that organizations lose a median of 5% of revenues each year due to business fraud. And it’s not just revenue.

Businesses also suffer indirect costs, including decreased employee morale and productivity as well as effects on their brand and reputation. Bigger companies have learned that if they want to succeed, they have to do the things necessary to prevent fraud before it happens.

As a small business owner, you may have limited time and resources to dedicate to the cause, but with even just a little effort, you can take the following steps to fraud proof your business just as effectively as the big guys:

Hire competent & trustworthy employees.

Learn as much as you can about a potential employee’s character through background checks (criminal history, civil history/fraud-related lawsuits) their employment history, education and references.

Implement internal checks & balances.

When two or more employees are responsible for the financial duties, it helps to eliminate the risk of a single employee embezzleing funds without anyone noticing.

Perform audits.

Periodic audits, whether scheduled or unscheduled, are the best way to detect and deter fraud. Schedule an external audit at least once a year.

Implement an anonymous reporting policy.

Create an environment where employees can feel safe to anonymously report suspected incidents of fraud within your company without feeling like they are risking their job or peer relationships.

Enforce mandatory vacations.

An employee who never takes time off work is a red flag for fraud. Safeguard your company by implementing a policy that requires all employees to take at least five consecutive days of vacation each year.

Take Security to the Next Level with Sage 50

Sage 50  has features that are designed to help you protect your business:

  1. Built-in audit trail – Keep a transaction history so you can see when a person enters, edits, or removes data. This not only helps you find mistakes and determine appropriate employee training, but also alerts you to fraudulent activity that may require action.
  2. User profiles – Specific profiles will ensure employees only have access to certain areas. If you have a lot of employees, create role-based profiles to save time.  Either way, select from over 100 specific areas to give add, edit, view-only or no-access rights. To get there, go to System -> Set Up Security Now.
  3. Internal accounting review – This feature searches data for potential mistakes or fraudulent activity and allows you to generate comprehensive reports. To use this feature, go to System, in the Data Integrity section find Internal Accounting Review and click on Run Report.

When it comes to preventing fraud, it’s your job to foster a culture that places an importance on honesty and integrity. Don’t take a lax approach. Your employees are watching you; set an example as a leader and stick to the policies and procedures put in place. This will help everyone get on the same page when it comes to preventing and eliminating fraud.

 

 

photo attribution: © tashatuvango/depositphotos

Small Business Accounting Challenges

There are days when running a small business can certainly test your limits. There are always going to be challenges – whether you’re dealing with customers, employees, marketing or technology. One of the biggest hurdles faced? Small business accounting challenges. Productivity provider, Wasp Barcode Technologies recently asked small business owners exactly what their biggest challenge was and accounting functions rose to the top.  

Greatest Small Business Challenges

In their Small Business Accounting Report survey, Wasp found that only 42 percent of small businesses have a CFO or controller. For companies with 11-25 employees it drops to 25 percent. And while accounting is central to running a small business, most entrepreneurs are not professional accountants and only 40 percent of small business owners feel they are extremely or very knowledgeable on accounting/finance.

Nearly 400 small business owners were surveyed in the industries of nonprofit, retail, agriculture, banking/financial, education, energy, healthcare, hospitality, service providers, IT and professional services, as well as manufacturing, military and warehouse. The survey found that business owners find the greatest challenges in these five areas:

  1. Accounts receivable/collections
  2. Cash flow
  3. Managing paperwork
  4. Closing the books each month
  5. Managing payroll

Other key findings included:

  • Only 17 percent of small businesses use an asset management system that allows auditing
  • Accountants ranked among the top professionals in order of importance to small businesses; and, 88 percent of small businesses are very or somewhat satisfied with their accountants

Why then do so many small businesses go without a senior level accounting professional on staff?

There are ways to save on costs by managing some of the back-end work before it gets to an accountant, which can be simplified by managing it through your accounting software.

Simplify Your Business Accounting

With today’s advancements in technology and wide options of accounting software that can help you with your accounting functions. Sage 50 offers a business solution that manages your accounting as well as all your other operational needs, including:

  • Inventory
  • Sales Activity
  • Job Costing
  • Payroll and Taxes
  • Payments

These are just a few of the things well-rounded business solutions can manage for you. If you’re accounting software doesn’t offer all these benefits, you may not be using the right solution. Quantum Buyers has several solutions and can help you find the right one for your specific business needs.

 

Stay on Track with 8 Essential Accounting Tips

The New Year is here! It’s a time when many of us make resolutions to improve our health, finances or family situations. As a business owner, New Year’s resolutions are also a great way to make positive changes for the future – especially when it comes to finances and accounting. If you’ve struggled with the daily challenges of running a small business, here are some essential accounting tips that will get you back on track and on the road to success.

Think ahead. Are there some expenses you’ll need to incur in the coming year such as new office equipment, computer upgrade or remodeling/repairs? Plan ahead by setting aside money now so you’ll have the resources when you need it. You can also take the stress out of next year’s taxes by putting back a certain amount of cash each month.

Invest in accounting software. A little investment in accounting software upfront will make all the difference in the long run. Programs like Sage 50 allow you to keep everything you need in one place for easy access and recovery and will help you track unpaid invoices, billable hours and your budget as well as create customized invoices. Always be sure your current program is up-to-date.

Don’t mix business with personal. As your business grows, it’s important to separate your business and personal expenses. If you use personal funds to supplement your business, record them as loans or capital contributions. Your accountant can assist you with any questions you have.

Check, check and re-check. Even though your accounting software does a lot of the work for you, data entry errors still happen. Monthly reconciliation of your bank account as well as running monthly error reports can go a long way in making sure your books are as accurate as possible.

Keep an eye on inventory. Track all inventory (i.e. dates purchased, stock numbers, purchase prices, dates sold, etc). Managing your inventory will help cut down on “misplaced” items or alert you to suspicious activity or theft.

Track every expense. Avoid using cash for businesses purchases whenever possible. A credit or debit card will make tracking statements easy, plus it will help you and your employees in recording true business expenses (which is information you’ll need to know come tax time).

If expense reports are a pain in your side, Expensify integrates with Sage 50 and makes capturing receipts, tracking time or mileage, business travel and creating expense reports in a timely manner easy — for both you and your employees. Just be sure to set up a clear, published time frame for submitting expenses — whether bi-weekly, monthly, etc). When employees delay filing their expenses, not only does it hurt their pockets, it can also cause cash-flow challenges for you, not to mention associated accounting nightmares.

Make your clients pay. Sending out an invoice doesn’t always mean a check’s in the mail. Don’t let your clients avoid regular payments and always follow up on unpaid invoices. Sage 50 allows you to put an account on hold once it reaches an outstanding dollar amount (set by you) so additional orders can’t be placed. This safeguard keeps past-due clients from accidentally slipping through the cracks.

Make time for your books. Don’t get caught up in the “end of the year scramble.” You may find yourself spending hours trying to track down receipts and other documents that are several months old and that is just plain stressful. Put your bookkeeping day on the calendar and stick to it – you’ll feel much better when the end of the year rolls around.

Can’t do it all?
Running your business can be stressful enough without dealing with all the financial responsibilities that come with it. If you simply don’t have the time it takes to keep it all straight, that’s OK. Hire a part-time bookkeeper to help keep you on track with finances and payroll. Maybe there’s a financial advisor or an accountant in your area who knows your industry that you can rely on for expertise and advice when needed.

Year-End Survival Checklist

There’s no doubt the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but once the celebrations are over, that tune quickly changes. January can be the busiest time of the year for you and your business with all that goes along with year-end close. Use this year-end survival checklist to get a strong start on the new year.

Make your list and check it twice
Here are a few items every business should look at and/or make sure are completed before closing the year:

  • Reconcile general ledger accounts to bank statements
  • Complete all invoicing
  • Record all your supplier bills
  • Print year-end reports for historical review (i.e. accounts payable/receivable, inventory, financial, payroll, etc)
  • Make adjustments to reports as needed ( i.e. write off bad debts, account for depreciation expenses, adjust entries for accruals of payroll tax liabilities or pre-paid expenses, etc)
  • Print and mail 1099s (due by 1/31)
  • Print and mail payroll forms if you do it yourself (W-2, W-3, 940, 941)
  • Print and mail 1096 to IRS (by 2/28)

Wiz Through Year-End with Sage 50 Year-End Wizard
When you’re ready, close any other applications and start the process at the end of your business day because you’ll want to leave your computer running. Before launching the wizard, print out any items such as invoices and payroll checks as well as clear the Waiting on Bill from Vendor check box in the Purchases/Receive Inventory window for any outstanding vendor purchases.

The Year-End Wizard guides you through the process. Simply select Tasks, System, Year-end Wizard.  Sage 50 requires you to make a backup so give the back up a unique name and consider putting it on removable media (CD, flash drive, external memory, etc.) for future reference.

You will also be prompted to run year-end reports, which you can do on paper, export to Excel, or to a PDF file. It’s recommend you retain a backup file of your Peachtree/Sage 50 data for seven years, plus save PDF copies of the following reports for seven years as well:

  • General Ledger for the year you are closing
  • Under general ledger, General Journal for the year you are closing
  • Under accounts payable, Check Register for the year you are closing
  • Under accounts receivable, Cash Receipts Journal for the year you are closing
  • Under payroll, Payroll Journal for the year you are closing

The best advice to survive year-end? Keep your financial activities consistent and thorough each month of the year (with the help of Sage 50), so you’ll prevent year-end from becoming a major undertaking.

 

photo attribution: © melpomene/depositphotos

The Beauty of Archives

Sage 50 Premium and Quantum products come with advanced accounting features including advanced budgeting, archive company data, and change order processing.  Previously, we showed you change order processing earlier, so now let’s take a look at archiving company data.

Purchase orders, sales orders, and stock transactions can all be archived before closing out your year.  This will help with software processing speed plus keep your data clean.

Back Up

You should always make a back up of your data before making these types of changes to your system (within Sage 50, go to File -> backup).

If you absolutely must keep copies of your invoices and other records, consider creating .PDF copies of them and storing them in a separate digital file on your server or external hard drive.  This will free up space in Sage 50 for increased performance.

Archived company data can still be retrieved by opening the archived company from the file menu.  But by pulling it out of your current data, your system runs faster allowing you to get more done every week.

Clear the Audit Trail

Go a step further and clear the Audit Trail to remove paid and reconciled transactions to free up even more space.  Consider doing this annually to keep your system from getting bogged down unnecessarily.  This can be accessed by going to Tools -> Period End -> Clear Audit Trail.  The online wizard makes the process easy.

Struggling to keep up with change requests?

Last week we took a look at managing projects in the Job and Project Management Center. This month, we’re going to explore this management center further with Change Order Processing, a feature allowing you to track change requests and their approvals.

A change order is a way to track changes to job estimates.

Sage 50’s advanced change order tracking system lets you quickly see how job changes will affect overall profitability, keep track of when an estimate changed, how much and even who approved the change order.

This can help make sure each job stays profitable and helps protect the business by staying on top of changes.

Easier Processing

Revising revenue estimates is easy; simply open a “new change order” to record your revisions.  Once the order is approved, it’s automatically applied to job records and report estimates.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open a new change order
    • Click on the “Jobs” button and select New Change Order
    • Enter the change order details (Job, date, etc.)
    • You can also change the projected end date if necessary on this screen.
    • Enter any relevant notes you want to tie to the change order (why the customer requested the change, etc.)
  2. Enter the specific change
    • Enter change estimates for units, expenses, revenues by the amount the current estimate is changing by (example: if the existing expense estimate is $200 and the new estimate is going to be $150, enter -50.00 as the change amount).
  3. Approve
    • Approve the order by checking “approved”
    • Select “applied to transaction” to keep track of orders applied to a proposal or invoice
    • Enter the date and approvers name
    • Select “Update Job Estimates”

You can also print or email change orders by selecting the option on the toolbar.  This is helpful if you want to quickly confirm with your customer and keep them informed of the changes to the job.

Tip: You can view a full list of all change orders by selecting “list” on the toolbar

Sage 50 Job Management Center

Feature overload?

Extra features sound great when you buy a product but, when it comes time to use it, can seem overwhelming and tough to get started.  This is very often the case with software.

The Job Management Center in Sage 50 seems like a lot – and there IS a lot of functionality there.  However, by spending a few minutes to set up your job system, you can save loads of time down the road with simplified processes.  Did you know you could proactively track job status and quickly access interactive, real-time reporting in the Job and Project Management Center?

If you’re not yet using the Job Management Center in Sage 50, read on… there is a lot in there to make your life easier.  (For instance, did you know you can even apply labor burden rates for employees at the job level?)

Simply efforts – even if you only have a few jobs

Access the dashboard under the Jobs tab. There are two screens available – the Jobs Navigation Center and the Job Management Center.

The system is set up with standard defaults for the dashboard, but like many other dashboards throughout Sage 50, this is customizable as well.

Customizable views

Access job status, information on the client, purchases and sales transactions applicable to a job, and Job-to-date Profitability reports are available in one central location.

Sage sets a few default modules on the dashboard.  But if you take advantage of customizing your dashboard view to highlight the information most relevant to your processes, you’ll be able to make faster, more informed (and more profitable) business decisions.

There is a long list of job-related modules available to add to the dashboard (availability is dependent on individual user security settings).  Plus, each module can be further customized to fit user preferences.  Reports can also be printed (or emailed, exported to Excel or PDF) straight from the dashboard.

  • Change orders
  • Credit memos
  • Payroll entries
  • Time tickets
  • Vendor credit memos
  • Receipts applied to revenues
  • And many more…

Key Features

Interactive reporting allows you to analyze specific information on a job or project – activity or history of job, phase, or cost code.

One feature many people overlook is the change order functionality.  Using this feature protects your business plus provides greater insight into the impact that change orders have on a job’s revenues and expenses.

  • Updates estimated revenues and expenses once changes are approved
  • Eliminates manual change order tracking processes
  • See when a change order is approved, when it’s applied to transactions, if the changes impact the projected job end date
  • Plus, all your notes are maintained in one place… with the job.

Rethink Job Management

If you’re not yet using this Job Management Center, or not using it fully, we encourage you to take a 20-minute look in the Job Management Center to see how much more you can do.

Running a business at peak efficiency is one of the most important things you can do to help your business grow.  If you need additional guidance on setting this up for your specific business, give us a call 866-686-1329; we can certainly help with that.

What To Look For When Selecting New Accounting Software

Over the years we’ve helped a large number of customers choose the right software solution for their business.  So we know a thing or two about selecting new accounting software and we’re pretty good at helping you figure out what you need too.

Needs Assessment and Priorities

Develop a list of must have features and like to have features.  A software partner should be able to help you narrow this down and prioritize the features absolutely vital to your business’s success.  Ask for a needs assessment from your vendor to help you assemble and organize your list.

Ease-of-Use

Of course there will always be a week or two for a learning curve, but whichever software you end up with needs to be easy for you to use or you’ll days will soon become nightmares.

I’m not just talking about a pretty interface either.  Are reports simple to run? How many steps does it take to enter a deposit?  Can you run bank reconciliations while managing other tasks?  Are there too many features you don’t use that makes the software tough to manage?

Functionality

If you run a distribution company, you more than likely need a solution with features specific to your business (like advanced inventory management and reports necessary for you to run an efficient business).  If you’re in manufacturing, look for a solution with control and tracking of assembly jobs.

Industry Requirements and Regulations

If you’re looking at software that claims to be made “just for your industry,” make sure it’s up to speed on all industry regulations.  For instance, if you take credit card payments, you need to make sure the software is PCI compliant.

Compatibility

Make sure your existing set-up (current hardware, network, any software that should integrate with your accounting solution, etc.) is current enough to be able to handle your new software requirements.  Or, if it doesn’t, make sure you have the budget necessary to cover the improvements to your system.

Most solutions list all the system requirements on their website or on the product box, but any software partner or vendor should be able to also help you determine if everything will work happily together.

Usability

Do you need access to features on the road? Do you need to be able to view inventory from your iPad?  Make sure your solution works where you do.

Longevity

Check to make sure the software manufacturer is financially sound and committed to its product.  You don’t want to be left without program support next year and have to start all over again.

If you are just starting to look for new accounting or ERP software and have questions or would like a free software needs assessment us at 866-686-1329 or e-mail us today at sales@quantumbuyers.com.

Accounting Doesn’t Have to be Horrible

Let’s face it, very few of us like accounting but no matter how much you might dislike numbers, you simply can’t avoid them if you’re running a business.

Proper accounting practices are a small price to pay for understanding the profitability and status of your business. It’s not as brutal as you might think though.  If you’re imagining a dark, dusty office with an old desk and a ginormous calculator stacked on top of accounting ledgers, journals, and filing cabinets, that’s just your nightmares talking.

With today’s advancements in technology and wide options of accounting software, you can take care of most of your accounting functions quickly, correctly, and not have to worry about your calculator running out of paper tape.

Most accounting software today really is more like business management software.  Capabilities are far beyond simple accounting. If you’re still manually struggling to take care of any (or all) of these tasks, or even using different software solutions to manage each task, consider moving over to a business solution that manages your accounting and all your other operational needs (it helps cut back on multiple data entry too).

Business Management Software can help you manage:

Inventory – Manage inventory automatically – every time you create an invoice and add products, those items are deducted from inventory. Reports can be completed quickly and accurately (and typically run while you’re grabbing your keys to head to lunch).

Sales Activity – Today’s accounting software can offer real-time information for its networked users.  This is very helpful when you want to know what your sales look like every month.  (How about those last few days of the month and you want to know every minute if you’re getting closer to hitting your numbers?  Sound familiar?)

Job Costing – In addition to standard sales reports, you can stay on top of job costs and always know if you’re profitable and on target.

Payroll and Taxes – You know as well as I do that paying employees goes far beyond simply writing a check every couple of weeks.  Your software should give you the option of a simple payroll solution. One that simplifies your processes, tracks your payroll taxes, employee taxes, filing and paying taxes, and even track vacation and sick time.

Payments – If you accept credit cards as a form of payment, your customers will love you.  If you don’t, ask yourself why not.  Invoices are typically paid faster, internal processing costs are reduced by about 16% on average, and sales are generally about 20-30% higher from customers paying with a credit card.

So if you’re worried about the 2-3% credit card fees, you’ll be able to cover that just in the time you save by not having to manually enter all those payments! Credit card processing can integrate with your accounting software so payments are automatically applied to invoices.

These are just a few of the things well-rounded business solutions can mange for you. If you’re accounting software doesn’t offer all these benefits, ask yourself if you’re using the right solution.  Quantum Buyers has several solutions to help you find the right one for your specific business needs.

Call us at 866-686-1329 or e-mail us today at sales@quantumbuyers.com to learn more about a business solution that can help you run your business more effectively and efficiently.