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How to have a better self assessment season – part 3: making the most of technology

22nd Dec 2022
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BTCSoftware develops feature-rich and cost-effective products.

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In the final instalment of our three-part series, we explore how technology can help you have a smoother and calmer self assessment season. Take a look at why software is so important - and not just for filing!

Keeping you current 

When you’re busy, you need to be confident that your tech stack is getting things right. Technology should work hard for you, not the other way around. So choose self assessment software that’s been updated with all the latest developments.   

Obviously the past two years have brought many changes in fiscal legislation, and you'll want to be current with the latest position. BTCSoftware by Bright is regularly updated to the latest fiscal policy and rules so you don’t have to worry.   

When it comes to tax filing software updates, check with your provider when they’re issuing the latest one - particularly if you’re reliant on a desktop application and it might disrupt your busy season.  Do your research and find out how long an update will take.   

Different software providers’ updates can vary in down-time for busy practices. Luckily, BTCSoftware’s updates are quick to apply. For our desktop version (with a good internet connection) updates typically only take a few minutes. With our cloud/online provision the updates are instant and will be applied when you next log in. 

Supporting your specific needs 

You also want to be sure your software can cope with the variety of returns you need to do – eg Individual (SA100) including SA302, Partnership (SA800), and Trust (SA900) Tax Returns, including Scottish rates. 

Check that your license covers you for the volume of returns you need to complete – and check sooner in the season rather than later. If you’ve won more clients in the past year you might have maxed out on your limit and need to upgrade. 

While you’re busy supporting your clients, your software should be supporting you. Is there any additional provision during the self assessment season? Avoid any unexpected delays and check out their support team’s availability and opening hours. 

Shopping around 

If it’s time to invest in new software, always check out reviews to find out how fellow accountants have found the products.  Investigate whether the software integrates smoothly with your current systems. What handy time-saving tools does it come with?   

As an example, the selfassessment software from BTCSoftware by Bright integrates smoothly with a whole host of leading bookkeeping and document management products.  It also has inbuilt links to Corporation Tax and Accounts Production modules.  Our software links directly to HMRC’s systems and prefills data so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. 

Avoid gremlins – a handy checklist 

Technical issues are the last thing you need right now. With that in mind, we’ve put together a mini-bootcamp for your tech in 7 simple steps: 

  1. Keep your systems up to date. This includes Microsoft Office, your operating system and any other commercial software. Updates are issued with good reason, and you ignore them at your peril. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 
  2. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date but not too aggressively set. 
  3. If you run (or plan to run) a network I’s best to keep all PCs on the same operating system e.g. Windows 11 and 10 and ensure printer drivers are correctly installed on all machines. 
  4. If you’re running a proxy server on your network, make sure you add an exception to the proxy server so you can file to HMRC. 
  5. Use a proper offsite backup service for your data. Hard discs, memory sticks and the like just won’t do! We recommend www.mozy.com which is reliable and cost effective, but there are plenty more out there. 
  6. Make sure your internet connection is up to speed, and test it every so often. This can impact Microsoft updates and online filing. 
  7. Run regular maintenance sessions on your PC(s), remove unused files and run disk defragmentation. Keep files/icons on the desktop to a minimum as these can also slow you down. 

The self assessment season will always be a busy time for you. If you want to be successful, be prepared: 

  • Be proactive in getting the information you need from clients  
  • Organise your practice and yourself to cope well with the stresses and challenges   
  • Use technology to streamline, automate and ensure your work is efficient and accurate 

If you’re looking to have a better self assessment season this year, help is at hand. Chat to the team at BTCSoftware.