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Tracking of Client Accounting Records

As an Accountant in Practice for some time now, we are looking in February to review our procedures and the one item in particular is the booking in and monitoring of client accounting records.

At the moment, we have a manual system to record what records we hold and where abouts in the office they are stored.  What do other firms use?  I'm sure there must be something better but I've not seen anything.

Thanks for your help

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By Old Greying Accountant
17th Jan 2013 13:08

If you used IRIS Practice Management...

... you can book work in against a job stage, make notes as it moves down the line (eg - books with Colin!) and record when collected/sent back. You can also record communications so you can see when missing paperwork has been chased etc. Letters can come out of automail, e-mails can be logged by IRIS and telepnone calls can be logged in IRIS so it is accessible to all who need to know.

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17th Jan 2013 13:28

Is there a better way, though?

I've tried a few methods over the years but, in the end, reverted back to something very similar to what you do. As with many things, I personally find that the low impact method is the best trade-off of time v completeness.

If you're desperate to computerise and provide multi-user access, I would still keep it simple myself. A very simple Access database with one record per job and one big memo field into which notes could be typed seems adequate to me unless you've a very pressing need to record much more than the bare minimum.

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By Jimess
17th Jan 2013 13:50

BTC and Whiteboard

I set up the task on BTC when the books come in and the job also gets put on a whiteboard so that I have a visual of where everything is and what stage it is at.  Works for me.

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17th Jan 2013 14:15

impractical

iris is pretty impractical for anyone without a budget for iris.

our secretary loggs in all post(and accounting records-giving it out to individuals responsible for the job) but she  has no idea of the year end when she does it( or which were the last books/accounts done)-

 

this log is kept between our accounts senior and the managing partner who determines when the job is done (in an ideal world). This  depends on the billing/payment record of the client and is at the partners's discretion.

 

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
18th Jan 2013 13:54

Bee in your bonnet Potter?

david5541 wrote:

 iris is pretty impractical for anyone without a budget for iris.

our secretary loggs in all post(and accounting records-giving it out to individuals responsible for the job) but she  has no idea of the year end when she does it( or which were the last books/accounts done)-

this log is kept between our accounts senior and the managing partner who determines when the job is done (in an ideal world). This  depends on the billing/payment record of the client and is at the partners's discretion.

... Have you costed IRIS recently? The cost is not that much at entry level, but, the OP didn't mention budget constraints, and a fair assumption for a practice that has been trading "sometime" is that IRIS may be an option. If it is a small practice without a budget for IRIS the back of a fag packet should do nicely.

Time for a tune

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw7slVWtZto 

 

 

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17th Jan 2013 14:16

Pidgeon holes

Sometimes, you simply don't need electronic/computerised systems and something manual and simple may be better.

One of the first firms I worked at had a brilliantly simple manual method.  

They had a small room/office decked out, floor to ceiling with "pidgeon hole" compartments, large at floor level, smaller at the top.

When books were handed in, they were allocated a pidgeon hole number which was logged in a simple "books in" ledger.  They were put into the compartment by the receptionist.  When a clerk or manager wanted them, they'd go and pick them out of the room, leaving behind a large card with their name on it.  There was no storage/shelving near people's desks, so there was no temptation to hold onto books when they weren't being worked on.

If anyone else wanted the books, they'd look in the room, and if they weren't there, they'd go to whoever had left the card.

When books were returned, the receptionist would log them out in the same "books in" ledger.

Of course, discipline was necessary, but everyone knew and understand the system and respected it and followed the routine.  Very simple, but very efficient.  I can't ever remember chasing round the office looking for books or anything ever getting lost or mixed up.

Exactly the same kind of system for files - always in the filing cabinet, and if you took one out, you left your card behind to say who it was with.

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17th Jan 2013 14:19

gr8

Ken Howard wrote:

"Sometimes, you simply don't need electronic/computerised systems and something manual and simple may be better.

One of the first firms I worked at had a brilliantly simple manual method.  

They had a small room/office decked out, floor to ceiling with "pidgeon hole" compartments, large at floor level, smaller at the top.

When books were handed in, they were allocated a pidgeon hole number which was logged in a simple "books in" ledger.  They were put into the compartment by the receptionist.  When a clerk or manager wanted them, they'd go and pick them out of the room, leaving behind a large card with their name on it.  There was no storage/shelving near people's desks, so there was no temptation to hold onto books when they weren't being worked on.

If anyone else wanted the books, they'd look in the room, and if they weren't there, they'd go to whoever had left the card.

When books were returned, the receptionist would log them out in the same "books in" ledger.

Of course, discipline was necessary, but everyone knew and understand the system and respected it and followed the routine.  Very simple, but very efficient.  I can't ever remember chasing round the office looking for books or anything ever getting lost or mixed up.

Exactly the same kind of system for files - always in the filing cabinet, and if you took one out, you left your card behind to say who it was with."

Sounds wonderful right out of the days when only qualified acountants could and would audit and the audit threshold was so much lower and systems worked because there were not staff changes/changeover..........

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18th Jan 2013 20:11

Many thanks for the help and advice.

We do have Sage Practice Management which is great for looking after the jobs once they are booked in.  What we find very time consuming is the actual recording of where clients' records are stored.

We currently have a folder full of A4 sheets, one for each client which record which box, shelf etc they are stored in.

I've not seen a computerised option that can help unfortunately.

We looked at IRIS a couple of years ago after we had been with Sage for a couple of years, to see how they compared.  My only complaint with IRIS is the price.  Although we pay somewhere around £6,000 for our Sage Software (Accounts, Tax, Payroll Practice Management, CT, Company Secretarial), the IRIS price was about £15,000 for the same thing

Looks like we will be sticking with pen and paper !

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By Old Greying Accountant
18th Jan 2013 21:12

If you need ...

... £15k of IRIS that should be a small amount in terms of your profit and well worth it for the efficiency savings, IMVHO, and you would get Automail too which completes vast amounts of the job tracking for you if used properly.

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19th Jan 2013 20:24

Glide system

Hi,

Please do take a look at our Glide system, www.whatsglide.com - primarily a workflow, deadline & staff management tool for accountants however could cover the above issue as follows.

It contains collaboration tools such as conversation boards that can be held on any workflow, e.g. a set of accounts or tax return - firms us this for a variety of reasons including recording the whereabouts of books and records / when they have been received/returned etc.

Any queries do get in touch.

Best regards,

 

[email protected]

 

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PaperLess Accountant

Maybe 2013 is a year when becoming a PaperLess Accountant is possible for you.

In this way you help yourself as well as your clients.

Phil

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By ralan
22nd Jan 2013 11:37

clients books

For years now we have had an index book where the books are booked in under the clients  name/partnership name etc and simply stick a cloakroom ticket to the box/bag , small jobs go into numbered storage boxes. and the date of receipt is recorded.

When a job is started it is signed out of the book by the clerk and signed back in when finished.

Wen the job has been reviewed and PAID I then sign that the books can be returned and when they are collected they are signed out.

£1 for a book of cloakroom tickets as and when and can't remember what the book cost as we have had it so long.( you have two sets of numbers per book and by the time you get to the end you can start again with the duplicate tickets)

Typical yorksireman watching the pennies, no need to spend thousands on software!!!

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By jndavs
29th Jan 2013 00:16

Spreadsheet

I have always found a spreadsheet quite adequate for tracking the location of clients books.

My current version is driven by client type (ltd Co, Charity, Solicitor etc) and year end.

From these it calculates filing deadlines (using the EOMONTH function) and with a bit of conditional formatting I can see at a glance where things stand. I have columns for books requested, books received, expected completion (Received + estimated time to complete) and books location (which is updated by staff members as and when the books are moved).

It's simple, free and works well.

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