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  • #969039
    sam_leader
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    Hi all,

    I have a love hate relationship with my role as Flying Solo’s bookkeeper. I love knowing where all our money is at any one time and controlling its flow. I don’t love the minutiae and paperwork involved.

    I don’t help myself by using outdated software – still Excel spreadsheets, I’m afraid – and our lovely accountant is continually trying to encourage me to upgrade, and I think he’s right.

    Concurrently, later this year we’re going to be offering more ad spaces directly to soloists (as opposed to the ad spaces sold via our agency.) It’d be great if, whatever financial software we end up using, could double up as a schedule for our new ads.

    By ‘schedule’ I mean something that tells us what ad spaces are available, when and which have been invoiced and which have been paid for. Currently we manage this using a Google spreadsheet, which is a bit clunky but kind of works. I’m thinking of switching this over to Google calendars, but if I could integrate it with the billing, that’d be ideal.

    It needs to be accessed by multiple users who aren’t on a network, which makes Google docs so appealing (as does its freeness!)

    Might this be doable from a finance package or is it asking too much?

    Any advice appreciated.

    Yours love/hatedly,

    Sam

    #1036546
    Rhys
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    Aahhh Sam, what a wonderful question. Wonderful because it goes to the heart of a problem that so many of us face. We run relatively small businesses, so need relatively small accounting systems . . . but somewhere in the business there is an area of greater complexity that needs a more sophisticated solution. Most packages for SMEs don’t build in these sorts of features, because doing so increases the cost and complexity for all business who use the software (and the vast majority don’t need the feature so don’t get any value from it). You meanwhile need a solution with a LOT more functionality than is available out of the box in just this one area, but you don’t want to spend mega bucks on a high end system (and even then I don’t know of any software that will do exactly what you are asking for even if you do spend mega bucks). So what solution would work?

    The difficulty I have in providing a recommendation for you is that I don’t have anything like enough information. You have given one requirement, but you must have lots more – so any suggestion might address that one need but miss a whole list of others. Without wanting to go into too many specifics the sort of other requirements I expect you will have for your systems could include some or all of payroll, management reporting, ease of use, multi user / off site access, low overall cost, maybe foreign currency transactions, maybe inventory, maybe accounting for fixed assets, recurring invoices, and so on. Without knowing the answer to these – and many other questions – it is hard to give a recommendation. And even with all these questions answered I am still not sure there is a software package available that meets all of your needs (and the fact that 23 hours after posting your query you haven’t had a single public reply suggests no one else has one at their finger tips either).

    Luckily we are living in an era where integration between multiple solutions is getting easier and easier, especially where those solutions are online. If you have read any of my posts previously you will not be surprised that I say that Xero is an awesome online accounting solution that could very easily provide the “hub” around which a complete solution could be built. The ad scheduling feature you need is most likely to be met by some sort of event or scheduling app of which there are many available (this could be done by Google calendars as you suggest but I think that in this context that has some limitations). It is likely that one of these could be integrated into Xero to provide the invoicing / accounting functionality you are looking for, but no point exploring that in detail without knowing all your requirements.

    A word of warning though: I would suggest that you are unlikely to find the perfect solution, perfect being all the functionality you need at a cost you like. Most businesses have to compromise somewhere, either more cost, or a workaround in one or more areas, or an add on app, or use Excel to “fill in the gaps”, etc. The trick is in finding the best compromise for your business.

    The good news is that you are starting at the right point: identifying your needs (rather than starting by buying the software then trying to figure out how to accomodate the gaps). It is easy to expand this to put together a list of all your needs and to rank those (as critical, important, not critical but nice to have and so on). From this you can look at the options available, comparing how well they meet your needs and the cost of each.

    I would be delighted to work with you on this, to look at what combination of solutions would meet your requirements – the starting point is identifying all those needs (and maybe a few wants as well)!

    Let me know if I can be of assistance.

    Cheers, Rhys

    #1036547
    Dardee
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    Rhys is correct. You will be lucky to find a package off the shelf that will do everything you want. I have a brother who works for a large online media company and even they have custom systems to do what they want as nothing is available to suit.

    Like Rhys, I would suggest looking at Xero for the core of your system and adding to that. Especially if there is a large volume of transactions. This is where Xero really shines.

    #1036548
    yourvirtualboard
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    Check out My Work Space http://www.myworkspace.com – Australian too.

    #1036549
    sam_leader
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    So much food for thought, I appreciate your input. I’m going to do some more thinking – I’m very good at that. The actioning… not so much.

    Thanks all for your suggestions.

    Sam

    #1036550
    Lily
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    Hi,

    I can see that you’ve been given good recommendations in this thread. But I’d add that you also have TioLive package which is a business software online and in which you can create as many users as you want without increasing the price (anyway it is for free).
    Maybe you should have a look at it during your “thinking period”.

    #1036551
    Jake@EmroyPrint
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    Hi Sam,

    I’m personally use Xero, and absolutely love it!

    They have a huge list of third party applications that seamlessly integrate, one of those may work for you.

    Perhaps Rhys could shed some light?

    – Jake

    #1036552
    Rhys
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    Thanks Jake, yes there are certainly lots of add ons for Xero providing lots of functionality in lots of areas. But not sure there is anything that exactly matches Sam’s requirement.

    More importantly, and this was the point of my original (very long, apologies for that) post, not sure that just putting up names of products is the right way to go for Sam or for any other user in a similar situation.

    Yes it’s easy for a dealer to recommend product A or for other contributors to say “my friend’s business uses product B and it’s great” but that doesn’t come close to figuring out whether either A or B meet your needs.

    So by all means talk to other users to get a perspective on ease of use, what the developer or dealer is like to work with, and so on, but in terms of whether the software will be right for you, you really need to do a proper needs analysis. Doesn’t have to be a big or formal exercise, just a list of what you really need, what you want but could live without, how much you are prepared to spend, then match products to this list, rather than starting with the focus on the products available.

    Cheers, Rhys

    #1036553
    sam_leader
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    Hi everyone,

    I have signed up with Xero and first impressions are very good. I actually think this will help solve my biggest challenge (managing the finances) which will in turn free up energy to work on a separate, scheduling solution. Trying to find One Thing may indeed be too much to ask, but just to have the financial management side more automated will be a big relief.

    Once I’ve got my head around Xero I’ll turn my attention to the scheduling and check out those links you’ve all mentioned – thank you so much.

    Onwards and upwards!

    Sam

    #1036554
    Jake@EmroyPrint
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    Won’t take you long to get your head around Xero Sam, I’m not at all accounting minded and was up and running with no time at all.

    Let us know how you go!

    – Jake

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