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How to run a successful accountancy practice

How to run a successful accountancy practice

I guess this is intended to get some thoughts rather than asking a question.

I just wondered how everyone runs their pratice - in other words, what sort of systems do you have in the practice for: -

1.  Accounts production (VT?)

2.  Book-keeping (Xero?)

3.  Payroll (Moneysoft?)

4.  Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)

5.  Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)

6.  Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)

7.  Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)

8.  Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)

9.  Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)

10.  Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)

I guess there's never going to be a book published called 'How to run a successful accountancy practice' so in the meantime it would be really good to get everyone's thoughts on what they use.

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21st Nov 2012 11:59

I am the first!!!!!

1. Accounts production (VT?)

VT

2. Book-keeping (Xero?)

VT

3. Payroll (Moneysoft?)

Moneysoft

4. Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)

QMS

5. Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)

Blue and buff files.

6. Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)

as 5

7. Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)

My brain!!

8. Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)

Hard drive with lots of backups.

9. Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)

Within 1 to 3 weeks of getting the client's books.

10. Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)

Don't do 'em!

Thanks (1)
21st Nov 2012 12:14

1.  VT

1.  VT

2.  VT

3.  Moneysoft

4.  TaxCalc

5.  Lever-arch files & paperless where possible

6. Client records are just that, client records & I return them each month in a neat & tidy state ... they then just file them away!

7.  Spreadsheet & diary

8.  Hard drive and backed up to cloud system

9.  Within 1-3 weeks of getting info from client, depends on how organised they are!

10.  Within 10 days of getting the info.

Hope that helps :)

Thanks (3)
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21st Nov 2012 12:31

systems
VTVT or XeroMoneysoftTax Calc - but will look at BTC in 2013Paperless where possible - or Lever Archlever Arch - returned to clientsSpreadsheetHard drive - backed up on to cloud & removable drive using Mozy1 Month1 Week

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21st Nov 2012 12:50

VT for accounts of course - but does nobody else like PTP for corporate, partnership and sole trader tax returns? Works well for me - VT can easily be imported into  PTP. 

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By occca
21st Nov 2012 13:33

.

 

1.  Accounts production (VT?)

VT

2.  Book-keeping (Xero?)

Xero, Sage, VT

3.  Payroll (Moneysoft?)

Moneysoft

4.  Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)

Taxcalc

5.  Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)

Paperless

6.  Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)

Return to client for them to store wherever possible - otherwise lever arch

7.  Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)

Workflowmax

8.  Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)

Dropbox

9.  Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)

Workflowmax

10.  Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)

Depends on client

Thanks (1)
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By Old Greying Accountant
21st Nov 2012 14:24

OK ...

... 1 -  8 could be IRIS, but 2 tends to be SAGE, I use either lever arch or pocket transfer files.for 5 & 6 and 8 atm is hard drive.

As it is just me paperless seems a lot of faffing for no real benefit. There are times it would be good but am not convince overall it s worth it yet.

9 is soon as poss and 10 rarely occurs.

I would add Co-Sec is all done on IRIS as is 90% of letter writing!

EDIT: PC, apples are for eating!

I use a pda with stylus when out and about, cannot abide touchsceens, they set my teeth on edge and bring me out in a cold sweat!

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21st Nov 2012 14:13

... one more thing...

... I meant to ask, PC or Mac (or iPad)?

... by the way, thank you to everyone so far!

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to MM Bookkeeping Services
21st Nov 2012 14:21

PC

jaybee661 wrote:

... I meant to ask, PC or Mac (or iPad)?

... by the way, thank you to everyone so far!

PC running Windows 7 64bit - 8GB RAM + 125GB SSD + two 1TB HDDs

This is a very interesting thread. VT must be liking it!!

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21st Nov 2012 14:24

We seem similar to most others

1 VT

2 VT

3 Moneysoft

4 Tax Calc

5 Paperless 

6 We encourage cloud accounting, so seldom see their paper records.

7 Spreadsheet

8 Hard drive backed up to cloud via carbonite

9 2 weeks

10 1 Week

All work done on PC

Thanks (1)
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By AccSec
21st Nov 2012 14:29

CRM solution considered?

Hi all, have you considered your Contact details requirements- personal, contact details (EM,etc), properties owned, mortgage/rent paid, spouse detials, Ltd Co details, UTR, Tax office, PAYE offices, date commenced,  ceased, etc, etc. How would all this information flow through these disparate software? Good old spreadsheets for this too?

In these difficult economic times how can one hold all this inofrmation in one's head (Point 7, nigelburge refers) unless one is probably a sole practioner and in charge of small number of deadlines to track.

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to legerman
21st Nov 2012 14:59

Dear Lord above!!!!!!!!!!!!

AccSec wrote:

Hi all, have you considered your Contact details requirements- personal, contact details (EM,etc), properties owned, mortgage/rent paid, spouse detials, Ltd Co details, UTR, Tax office, PAYE offices, date commenced,  ceased, etc, etc. How would all this information flow through these disparate software? Good old spreadsheets for this too?

In these difficult economic times how can one hold all this inofrmation in one's head (Point 7, nigelburge refers) unless one is probably a sole practioner and in charge of small number of deadlines to track.

I don't all THAT info. in my head - it would probably explode. It is all on the clients' (paper) files.

I just keep most standard deadlines in my head with others diarised.

Sole practitioner, no staff, with approx 300 clients - fees from £100 to £4000. (Good idea Miss A.)

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By Old Greying Accountant
to legerman
22nd Nov 2012 14:27

Um ...

AccSec wrote:

Hi all, have you considered your Contact details requirements- personal, contact details (EM,etc), properties owned, mortgage/rent paid, spouse detials, Ltd Co details, UTR, Tax office, PAYE offices, date commenced,  ceased, etc, etc. How would all this information flow through these disparate software? Good old spreadsheets for this too?

In these difficult economic times how can one hold all this inofrmation in one's head (Point 7, nigelburge refers) unless one is probably a sole practioner and in charge of small number of deadlines to track.

... one word, IRIS! The PM module means you can access every bit of data from a central point, whether it be personal, related businesses etc. You can even group clients together; put them in categories; give them rankings; flag them to send birthday cards; pretty much whatever you want

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21st Nov 2012 14:53

Might it be an idea to also post the size of the practice, either by clients or partners/staff?

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21st Nov 2012 23:02

Useful points. Thanks for asking this question.

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21st Nov 2012 23:37

My turn

 

1.  Accounts production (VT?)

VT (may change to IRIS)

2.  Book-keeping (Xero?)

VT and Xero

3.  Payroll (Moneysoft?)

Moneysoft

4.  Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)

Taxcalc (may change to IRIS)

5.  Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)

Lever arch

6.  Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)

As above

7.  Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)

Spreadsheet but looking to change (as above)

8.  Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)

Remote on-line backup (occasional external hard drive back up too) but looking to move to Hosted desktop or something similar.

Also use dropbox to exchange data (such as Sage back ups) with clients and subcontract staff.

9.  Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)

Depends on the client, some done within a 1-2 months of year end, others spread some within a month of filing deadline (these are the one's I have to chase hard!)

10.  Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)

Depends on clients and varies from 2 weeks to 2 months.

11. Number of clients - around 90, fees range from £60 to £10,000+

How about adding:

12. Payment/billing method

Fixed fees mostly (around 70%) paid by monthly SO.

Looking to move to Fastpay direct debit

13. Staffing

Me, one part time, two occasional subcontractors

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27th Nov 2012 10:59

most of the above

Using spreadsheets for timelines has never been my greatest strength so we use HQ for accountants by selestial.com.  It also means that everyone can see all emails and docs relating to any clients at any time.  It also has a centralised database. 

Dont use dropbox because already discussed Data Protection Act issues so use Docsafe instead.  Docsafe also lets clients approve documents electronically.

Paperless office using Docsoft

Finally hoping it will be possible to file accounts electronically from with in VT.

 

 

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27th Nov 2012 11:06

Here is my set up

Vt for accounts and bookkeeping. Never found any better. Ace! although cloud version would be nice.

Brightpay for payroll - best payroll software by far and a great company to deal with.

Digita for SA, CT, Co Sec. A lot of money but fantastic product. (BTC is not bad, I looked at this last year when I received my Digita renewal. If it gets any better I may switch, but Digita still has the edge at the moment)

Credenza for outlook filing and costing (got this from another Accounting web post) Also this product is able to bring together all your client data and if you want sort it into date order. Designed for solicitors but works well for me.

Winscan2pdf for free pdf creation

I am as paperless as possible but I don't think you will ever get 100% paper free.

Adobe echosighn  - clients love this!

Dropbox for file sharing

Keep all data on your own hard drive and use something like Livedrive to back up.

 

 

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By rebtay
27th Nov 2012 11:28

Start up

I'm still fairly new to this but I use the following:

 

1.  Accounts production (VT?)

VT 

2.  Book-keeping (Xero?)

Xero

3.  Payroll (Moneysoft?)

Iris free version (I don't do many payrolls)

4.  Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)

Will be BTC probably

5.  Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)

Paperless

6.  Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)

Paperless

7.  Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)

Capsule (CRM)

8.  Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)

Wuala (EU based and encrypts files before sending, also larger storage for free than Dropbox) though still use Dropbox for exchanging files as more people use it

9.  Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)

As soon as I can but does depend on client

10.  Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)

Again as soon as I can

11. Number of clients 

Not that many yet!

12. Payment/billing method

Majority fixed monthly fees by standing order.

13. Staffing

Me

I also use ReceiptBank with Xero for processing invoices and QuotientApp for sending quotes.

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27th Nov 2012 11:29

Cloud convert

For Accounts production we use VT

For bookkeeping and payroll we use Liberty Accounts.

For tax returns we use Tax Calc.

For Client permanent records we use lever arch files (Red!)

Where we do client bookkeeping we either return paperwork to them or store in archive boxes, but most clients keep their own and use Liberty Accounts in collaboration with us.

Liberty Accounts login screen shows date of last payroll run, the annual return due date, the date of the last bank reconciliation, the end date of the last VAT Return period and the status of the latest open accounting year.  We supplement this with spreadsheets to keep up to date on tax returns.

We use Apple Macs with everything backed up hourly automatically on to a hard drives using Time Machine.  For tax returns and VT accounts, we use a Windows laptop, with pdf files the stored on the Macs.  We use Dropbox for client interchange, such as scans of supplier invoices or HMRC Correspondence they receive.

As most of our clients have 31st March limited company year ends, we aim to get the year end all of the accounts done by the end of July each year.  Some clients have open VAT Returns that span the year end and this tends to determine priorities and delay the final accounts.

Because we use Liberty Accounts, we keep the accounting up to date during the year, so all of our clients can use the system to help them run their businesses, so we don't really do management accounts, as reports can be run from the system as the year progresses.

Number of clients about 60, with virtually all on monthly fees.

Staffing - me doing accounts and tax returns and my wife does payrolls and bookkeeping.

There are many good suggestions in the other posts, so will have a few avenues to explore.  

 

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27th Nov 2012 11:35

Ideal Systems

. Accounts production: VT

2. Book-keeping : VT Transaction

3. Payroll :Moneysoft

4. Tax returns/CT600s BTC

5. Filing of accounting record:  Paperless- INVU

6. Filing of client book-keeping records:  INVU & Disk

7. Deadline reminders: ACT

8. Storage of client computerised records: Hard Drive/Tape/ Cloud - Trend Safe Sync because clients worry about security of Dropbox.

9. Timing systems: Depends on clients feedback - but 6-8  weeks from arrival

10. Management account: 14 days

Chuck in Company Secretarial from Absolute and life is complete.

Peter T

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27th Nov 2012 12:41

Sole Practitioner - no staff - 200 clients

1 - VT

2 - VTT, but looking at Xero

3 - Moneysoft

4 - BTC

5 - Spring folders

6 - Return to client ASAP

7 - Currently searching.  Looking at WorkflowMax, owned by Xero.  ACCA have recommended

http://www.mbpracticemanager.com/ 

Has anyone used either software for pracitce management?

 

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27th Nov 2012 13:59

Bookkeeping Practice - Organisation is key

 

1.  VT

2.  Sage, Quickbooks, Xero, Excel

3.  Quickbooks Payroll - Great package as you can have 50+ customers on one license, legally!

4.  TaxCalc

5.  Lever-arch files printer labels with all info stored.

6. Lots of Lever-arch files - returned as soon as possible (or I will need another extension :-) )  

7.  Magnetic wipe board, Laminated clients names, colour coded and fixed with magnetic strips. Sorted my VAT return period, then alphabetically

8.  Hard drive and backed up to cloud system

9.  Within 1-3 weeks of getting info from client, depends on how many clients files arrive at once !

10. Within 7 days of getting the info

I love the visual effect of my wipe board, ticks on the left when paperwork is requested and date on the right when VAT & CIS returns are filed. Clients are impressed as well :-)

Catherine, Catherine Bookkeeping

 

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By morgani
28th Nov 2012 20:52

Our practice
1.  Accounts production (VT?)
Keytime
2.  Book-keeping (Xero?)
vtt+ & accounts portal
3.  Payroll (Moneysoft?)
money soft
4.  Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)
keytime
5.  Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)
paperless
6.  Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)
Spring files
7.  Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)
spreadsheet - current reviewing options
8.  Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)
Own server
9.  Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)
4-6 weeks
10.  Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)
N/a

We are a husband and wife team with around 150 clients.

Currently considering iris and hosted desktop

Around 60% of clients pay monthly some SO some DD all new clients are DD.

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By marks
to TraceyBookeeper
28th Nov 2012 21:12

1.  Accounts production (VT?

1.  Accounts production (VT?)
VT - but thinking of going to taxcalc for next year
2.  Book-keeping (Xero?)
SAGE though looking to offer Xero as online option
3.  Payroll (Moneysoft?)
Outsource to former work colleague who has payroll bureau
4.  Tax returns/CT600s (TaxCalc?)
Taxcalc
5.  Filing of accounting records (lever arch files or paperless?)
Spring folders
6.  Filing of client book-keeping records (as above?)

Return to client when finished
7.  Deadline reminders (spreadsheet/IRIS?)
excel spreadsheet but looking at glide
8.  Storage of client computerised records (hard drive/Dropbox?)
Dropbox
9.  Timing systems (such as how long after the year-end do you aim to have the accounts produced by?)

Depends when get records and what my workload is like
10.  Management accounts (how long after the end of the month/quarter do you aim to have them prepared by?)
Depends when get records and what workload is like

Have about 40 clients ranging from £75 to £7k that service in my spare time given work full time for a CA firm in Edinburgh.  Clients on fixed fees with a mixture of yearly fees and SO though all new clients get to sign SO when I agree to take them on at meeting.

Regards

Mark

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13th Feb 2013 12:49

 

 

1.  Accounts production - VT

2.  Bookkeeping - VT

3.  Payroll - Moneysoft

4.  Tax returns/CT600s - BTC

5.  Filing of accounting records - Mixture of paper and PDF

6.  Filing of client book-keeping records - Mixture of paper and PDF

7.  Deadline reminders - BTC

8.  Storage of client computerised records - Mixture of hard drive and Dropbox 

9.  Timing systems - Nothing set in stone, 1-2 months max ideally

10.  Management accounts - Not currently produced (wish to god VT would offer this!!)

Sole practitioner, 150-175 approx SA clients (210pa) and a handful of small LTD's (£900pa).  Fees are paid in advance throughout the year by monthly standing order (i.e. my 2012-13 clients are now 11/12's paid up).

 

I love VT however it's now becoming a problem having to enter everything manually on behalf of my clients - I would prefer an interactive process but simply can't afford the likes of Xero/Iris (their monthly fees per client would roughly be the same as I charge!).

 

I'm also not 100% convinced with BTC.  It's great for tax returns but I use their PM solution as my CRM/reminder system and just don't find it very fluent at all.

 

I'd really REALLY like to streamline things much more this year but without the extortionate costs involved!!  Not because i'm tight but because I simply can't charge my clients enough to cover it!

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By VLH
13th Feb 2013 12:44

Our practice..

1. Accounts production - IRIS

2. Book-keeping - Sage/Spreadshees/Direct to IRIS

3. Payroll - Sage

4. Tax returns/CT600s - IRIS

5. Filing of accounting records - folders in hanging files in filing cabinets

6. Filing of client book-keeping records - ring binders

7. Deadline reminders - IRIS

8. Storage of client computerised records - hard drive

9. Timing systems - IRIS

10. Management accounts - N/A (we have our own done within a week of the quarter end but currently no clients who have management accounts).

 

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04th Mar 2013 14:32

One stop system shop?

Really interesting thoughts from everyone! I've spent the last 2 weeks looking at all the various systems for the various tasks we need to do - why oh why is there not a single software package that does all of this seamlessly???

The closest is IRIS but it costs a fortune...

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12th May 2013 20:08

It's got to be iris or a similar package
We use Iris for all accounts/tax/billing/co-sec etc, Iris payroll and Sage for bookkeeping. Use iris opendocs for paperless office but keep working papers files for a year and produce paper files which are scanned and shredded when completed.

Management accounts are prepared in excel using ODBC links to data in Sage etc. within 3-4 weeks of quarter end depending on the clients ability to get their book-keeping up to date (we turn them around within 4 days of getting the data on most occasions).

Accounts are turned around usually within 4 weeks of getting records but can be longer at busy times and is one area we want to work on improving.

I think you're running a massive risk not having a decent PM system in place to log deadlines, automate letters etc, especially as the practice grows.

We use Iris staff planning for managing the workflow of our team too.

We also use ACT as our CRM system for marketing to clients and prospects.

Oh, and we now also use Iris openspace to send accounts etc to clients an these can be approved electronically so no need for post by us or our client.

I know iris is expensive and there are similar products out there, but you save more than it costs by being much more efficient in my experience.

Sorry for ignoring the numbered order above, I'm using my iPhone and it's too much hassle to keep going back up to see what each point referred to :)

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