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Reimbursements Employees blog

Do You Know What Reimbursements Your Employees are Claiming For?

Do You Know What Reimbursements Your Employees are Claiming For?

It's unfortunate, but employee expense claims are a common form of business fraud. Are you across all your employees' claims for reimbursement?

The best thing you can do to minimise expense claim fraud is to implement a process for reviewing and authorising expenses and reimbursements. Many business owners simply trust people to do the right thing and be honest.

While most employees are reliable, having good systems in place will mean that the dishonest actions of a minority do not jeopardise your business.

Examples of Expense Claim Fraud

  • Fictitious expenses based on faked or altered documents or even booking confirmations that were never actually paid for.
  • Asking for reimbursement for the made-up cost of goods or services provided for free.
  • Collusion with someone in another business who can provide falsified documents to show purchase and payment.
  • Personal expenses labelled as business expenses.
  • Duplicated claims, for example, an employee might claim for legitimate travel expenses in one month and then claim the same expenses two months later.
  • Purchasing an item using the business credit card and providing a personal card to receive the refund when goods are returned.
  • Inflating legitimate expenses, such as meals or meeting costs, paid for in cash.

Steps to Proactive Expense Management

  • Get a policy in place that includes limits on categories such as travel, office supplies or business meetings, and a clear authorisation process.
  • Randomly check all expenses to ensure no staff members are collaborating.
  • Get digital credit cards for employees who need to purchase items on behalf of the business regularly. Some solutions allow you to set monthly budgets and limits for specific categories.
  • Make it easy for employees. Using a phone app means there is no excuse not to get a photo of the invoice or receipt, and the authorisation process is built into the app.

Mistakes in claims happen, and not all expense claim errors are fraudulent. But by having a procedure in place, you'll soon pick up an innocent mistake compared to deliberate fraud.

Talk to us if you’d like to know more about apps, such as Divipay and Expensify, that provide a systematic process for proactive expense management.

Business Development

The importance of business development

The importance of business development

Business development is one of the most important areas of focus for any ambitious business.

If you want your business to grow, that’s going to mean having a razor-sharp focus on new opportunities and strategies.

That could mean exploring new markets, or nurturing new partnerships. It might mean diversifying to create new revenue streams, or coming up with new ideas to boost your profitability.

Ultimately, good business development comes down to having good ideas – ideas that broaden your reach, sales, revenues and external relationships.

As the founder or CEO, it's important to put business development at the top of your to-do list.

Put time aside for business development

Business opportunities don’t just appear out of thin air (sadly). To come up with an opportunity for a business partnership, or to bring in a big new client, you’re going to have to do some serious work. So, it’s a good idea to put business development (BD) time aside in your diary.

By blocking out time to devote to BD, you can step away from the everyday operational tasks and get into a more creative and objective mindset.

  • Where do you want the business to be in 6 months?
  • What do you need to do to achieve this goal?
  • Are there relationships you could build to bring this plan to life? 

Asking these questions and getting a more concrete idea of the answers will form the basis for your BD plan – and that’s the route map you can then follow.

Work on your BD plan and strategy

Once you have some positive BD ideas to work with, it’s important to get your goals and your strategy down into some form of plan. As with any kind of growth initiative, your BD activity needs to be well planned, so you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

Give each new strategic idea a clear timeline and assign jobs, activities and roles to the relevant people in the team. Cost out each project too, and assign a budget so you can be sure that you’re getting the best return on your investment (both financially and from a time perspective).

Most importantly, though, track your progress against your BD goals. Agree on a target, set a date and measure your progress and performance against that timeline.

Build relationships with potential partners and customers

Relationships lie at the heart of your BD activity.

You might be getting to know the executive team at a possible new partner’s company. Or you may be reaching out to a new customer audience with a brand-new product.

Getting to understand what makes these people tick is so important to warming them up as a potential partner, customer or supplier.

Trust is the real key here. 

People are more likely to engage with your business when they trust you as people and as a brand. So, spending time nurturing relationships and networking with other businesspeople and targets is time well spent.

Record, track and analyse your BD performance

With your goals, targets and timelines locked in, you’re ready to start putting this BD plan into action.

But to know if you’re making headway, it’s a good idea to track your performance.

If you’re using project management software or a client relationship management (CRM) app, it’s easy to add notes, record your progress and tick off the key actions in the project. 

You can put the financial reporting tools in your accounting software to good use. Track cashflow for the project, increases in revenue and monitor your sales and marketing expenses etc.

Get ambitious with your BD ideas

No business stands still. Your aims and goals as the owner will change. Your market will evolve and new competitors will appear. Economic conditions and business opportunities will change.

To keep your business at the cutting edge, it’s vital to keep your BD focus alive and well.

Remember to:

  • Define your goals and make it clear what you want the business to achieve
  • Align your BD activity with the company’s main growth plan
  • Log your ideas and potential opportunities and add them to your BD plan
  • Warm up your targets and potential partners and keep notes on your progress
  • Track your BD performance against your targets, budgets, revenues and timelines
  • Keep revisiting your plan and flexing your BD activity to the current market.

If you want to expand your business development activity, get in touch with us. We’ll help you integrate the appropriate apps to support your business development.

Become a digital business

Become a digital business

Become a digital business

In the online, connected world that we now live in, it’s important for your business to become a digital business.

Digital technology has revolutionised the options you have available as a small business. There are a wealth of cloud-based solutions and apps to help automate your admin, enhance your productivity, open up your business data and market the company online.

Making the technology work for you

Becoming a digital business isn’t about using technology for tech’s sake. It’s about seeing the huge value and potential of applying digital processes and software tools within the company.

By moving your systems, processes and customer interactions over to digital, your small business can quickly become more streamlined, more efficient and more profitable. And with the ineffective elements of the business removed, you’re ready to grow, scale and expand.

Key benefits of digital transformation include:

Cloud accounting at the heart of the businesss

Cloud accounting moves your bookkeeping and financial management online. This gives you access to your accounts, reporting and key performance indicators (KPIs) through your web browser, on any internet-ready device. You can literally run your finances, invoicing, credit control and bank reconciliation from anywhere with Wi-Fi. And that helps you keep in control of the numbers..

Automation of low-level tasks

The manual tasks involved in company admin begin to eat into your business time. Many digital business tools have elements of automation built in, to help you automate the key time-consuming tasks and become more efficient. Automated bookkeeping, automatic bank reconciliation and automated payment collection all put hours back in to the business and help you do more.

Fintech and payments

Keeping on top of your finances isn’t just about accounting. Financial technology (fintech) tools help you ensure that money is flowing into the business, cashflow is being managed sensibly. And online payments are being made, and collected, automatically – helping to maximise your financial health.

Job management and productivity

Planning and running your operations and project work can be tough. But with software project management and workflow apps connected up to your central system, you’re always on top of the workload and resourcing. Talk to us about which app would work in your business. 

Digital marketing and social media

Most consumers and business customers will begin a search for products/services online. So having a good website, a bold online presence and the right social media channels in place is vital for your sales and marketing strategy. By positioning your brand in the digital space, you make yourself relevant, easy to find and connected to your ideal customer base.

If you’re planning a digital transformation process for your small business, come and talk to us. We’ll help you review your systems and processes, identify your key business needs and recommend the software tools and apps that will build your ideal digital system.

Get in touch to start embracing the digital future.

automation can ease your workload

Automation can ease your business workload

Automation can ease your business workload

Small and medium-sized businesses are spending on average 120 hours a year on admin tasks, according to recent research into productivity at UK SMBs.

If your people are spending 120 hours wading through tedious and unproductive admin, that’s bad for the business and for your overall efficiency. Fortunately, technology and software automation can go a long way towards automating the low-level admin tasks.

Better productivity through automation

Automation is an important way to ease your business workload, with a host of different business apps and cloud solutions offering ways to automate your admin.

With ‘smart business tools’ increasing in number and choice, software is utilising automation algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cognitive solutions to help remove the mundane admin tasks from your workflows.

Core processes that will benefit from automation include:

Automated bookkeeping

Just take a photo of your receipts, expenses and invoices and ‘optical character recognition’ (OCR) technology will digitise the output and pull it through into your accounts software. No data entry, no human error and no lost receipts! We can do the rest to ensure your records are accurate.

Automated credit control 

Chasing up debts and late-paying customers takes time. Automated credit control apps track your debtor numbers and automatically sends out customised chaser emails as soon as an invoice is late. This reduces your credit control time, speeds up cash collection and cuts your aged debtor figure.

Automated payment collection

The easier it is to pay you, the faster your customers will pay. Automated card payments and cloud-based Direct Debit solutions allow you to automatically take payment from a customer as soon as an invoice is due. Some solutions will even automate the invoice matching and bank reconciliation process.

Automated reporting and forecasting 

The better your reporting and business intelligence, the easier it is to make informed decisions about your company strategy. Accounting platforms and fintech tools now offer automatic, real-time reporting and forecasting, giving you access to the important numbers and metrics, fast.

Automated digital marketing

Digital marketing is key to raising your brand’s profile. Marketing platforms offer important time-saving ways to schedule and post social media content, or email automation that sends a pre-programmed cadence of emails to specific target audiences within your wider customer base.

Talk to us about embracing the power of automation

If your admin is starting to hold you back, come and talk to us about how automation can pick up some of the heavy lifting as well as giving you the metrics you need for decision making. We can review you business processes and identify the automation opportunities, helping you choose the best apps to drive your business efficiently.

Contact us to discuss your automation opportunities. 

Making Data Meaningful

Making data meaningful for your business

Making data meaningful for your business

In today’s world the fast pace of business requires business owners to be able to react quickly to conditions.

This means having the ability to compile, analyse and act on data is increasingly important. Having access to your business data allows you to forecast and potentially identify trends and patterns before they emerge.

So, what is data?

When it comes to business, data includes the facts and figures that your business processes every day.

Over time, your business will obtain data.

For example, if your business is already using cloud software for bookkeeping and accounting, payroll, project management or CRM (customer relationship management), you likely have access to a goldmine of data. And that data gives you valuable insight into your sales, revenue and expenses, profit, payroll, and other business details that can help you make smart business decisions.

If you aren’t recording accurate data for your business, you can only rely on gut feel and assumptions about your business’ past performance to inform and guide your future business decisions.

It’s important to remember that your business data only becomes meaningful when it has context, relevance and purpose.

Data is only powerful if there is context

You want your data to be able to provide insight into answering these questions:

  • What is your business goals?
  • What is happening in the business now?
  • What has influenced the past?
Is your data relevant?

With all the tools available for data collection it’s important to focus on what’s relevant to your decision making.

Make sure you know what data is necessary rather than what’s nice to have.

  • Are your financials up-to-date?
  • Are the right systems and processes in use for different parts of your business?
  • Are your cloud systems set up correctly (and being used correctly)?

The worst thing you can do is to attempt to analyse irrelevant data and then make business decisions based on it! Make sure you’re collecting and looking at the data that’s relevant for your business.

Your data needs to have a purpose

Don’t forget what you’re collecting your business data for.

Focus on what truly matters and build from there.

  • What data/numbers/information determines success for you?
  • What do you want to understand most about your business?

If you want help with setting up and understanding your data, so you can forecast and make better, informed business decisions, get in touch.

We can accumulate, analyse, report and advise on your data; or show you the tools to use.

Streamline your business administration with digital record keeping

Streamline your business administration with digital record keeping

Streamline your business administration with digital record keeping

Good record keeping is the mainstay of accounts management. It assists you to both meet your compliance obligations and provide verification for all your business transactions.

The Government requires that relevant records exist to support all business transactions – purchases, sales, payroll, and other business matters such as loans or foreign currency dealings. It is a business owner’s responsibility to maintain and store accurate records for all financial transactions.

Did you know that you are allowed to store all business records digitally? This is both more efficient and sustainable than having to keep years’ worth of paper records at your office.

The most important thing to take care of if you are moving to electronic record keeping is the security of your information.

Using cloud accounting platforms, such as Xero, with add-on apps and systematic electronic record keeping makes it so much easier to run your business. 

This is because you will not waste time trying to find documents when you need them; whether that’s for yourself, your bookkeeper or your tax agent.

Most government departments allow business records to be either in paper or digital format. The legal requirements for record keeping are the same, regardless of format.

All records must be:

  • True and correct
  • Unaltered once stored
  • In English and legible
  • Stored in a secure system, whether physical or digital
  • Easily accessible if required
  • Held securely for the statutory five to seven years, depending on the type of record.

For best protection, store records both locally on your business computers and secure external online storage. This makes the records easily accessible from anywhere at any time.

Always take care of who has what level of access to your documents and manage user access accordingly.

If you need help understanding which apps will work with your business systems, we'd love to hear from you.

What value can automation bring to your business

What value can automation bring to your business?

What value can automation bring to your business?

Automation has the capacity to revolutionise your efficiency and productivity. But how many of the automation features that are available to you are actually being used?

Could you be getting more value by building automated processes into your operational framework?

Removing the manual workload to streamline your processes

There’s a very simple mantra when it comes to making the most of automation

If there’s a manual task in your business that’s taking up time, automate it now!

The more time you and your team spend on low-level administration, data-entry and form-filling, the less time you have available for actually running your business.

With your software tools maximised, your automated processes can be chugging along in the background, doing the heavy lifting and freeing up your time to focus on client service, sales and strategy etc.

So, which elements of your everyday operations could you be automating? And which apps and software solutions can help you to achieve your automation goals?

Here are some areas where automation and smart systems can really help to add value

Automated bookkeeping and digitisation of paperwork

Apps like Dext (formerly Receipt Bank) offer you the opportunity to automate your bookkeeping and record-keeping. These solutions let you snap a photo of a receipt or invoice, digitise the contents and then automatically create an expense claim or bill in your accounting system. There’s no keying in and the whole process is synced with your choice of cloud accounting platform.

Automated employee expenses

Apps like DiviPay give you automated control over your employee expenses. Using either virtual or physical credit cards, your staff can pay for expenses and payments are then automatically synced with your main accounting platform.

That means no late expenses claims, no need for petty cash and no wasted time keying in the receipts. All employee expenses can be tracked, measured and paid, with the whole expenses process automated from start to finish.

Automated payment collection from your customers

With payment gateways like Stripe and GoCardless you can automate your cash collection. By using a modern payment gateway, you make it easier for clients to pay their bills. 

But you also automate the actual cash collection and bank reconciliation process too. Money can be instantly paid to your main business account and all the transactional data pulled across to your accounting platform. That means less admin, and faster payments too.


Automated marketing and social media posts

Digital marketing is key to finding customers and growing your business. You can automate a large chunk of your marketing work. These solutions let you create automated emails, target specific customer audiences and track your return on investment (ROI) in forensic detail.

Talk to us about understanding the different App options to help you automate your business.

The benefits of offering online payments

The benefits of offering online payments

Did you know the easier it is for people to pay you, the faster you will get paid?

So, how easy do you make it for your customers to pay you?

One of the best things about the digital world is the ability to pay online. And businesses that offer online payments get paid faster.

If your customers can make an instant online payment, they’re likely to pay you more quickly – and they’ll appreciate the simplicity too.

What are online payments

In simple terms, online payments are the methods you offer so your customers can pay you on-line.

Different online payment methods include services like Stripe or Paypal (known as an Automated Clearing House or ACH), credit and debit cards, online wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and recurring payments through direct debit (either from a credit/debit card or bank account).

The right set of payment methods not only offers your customers payment flexibility and convenience, they also reduce the chance of fraud.

It’s important, however, that you choose a provider that can integrate with your accounting software.

Talk to us about integrating the appropriate online payment method, for example, Stripe or Go Cardless, into your business.

What are the costs of online payments

Most online payment service providers won’t charge any set-up fees. However, they will charge transaction fees.

Transaction fees usually range from 2-4% of the payment amount for credit cards. Direct debit transactions are usually a fixed amount - often under $2 per transaction.

On large-ticket items or services, some businesses don’t like to offer online payments. This is because the fees can add up. However, if you include these fees in your profit calculations and offer online payments for these large-ticket items, that point of difference may be the difference between making the sale or not.

What are the benefits of online payments

At the end of the day, businesses that set up online payments get paid faster.

Offering online payments can be a point of difference for your business (especially if you have big-ticket items or services).

Online payments allows you to reach more customers globally.

Offering the right mix of payment options can increase the chances of a purchase.

If you want to add online payments to your business offering, talk to us about integrating the appropriate online payment method into your business.

Choosing the right apps for your business

Choosing the right apps for your business

Software technology has evolved massively in the past decade, with cloud-based apps now fundamental to many of the internal and external processes in your business.

To ensure you’re getting the best from the available tech, it's important to choose the right apps for your business and in your specific industry or sector.

But how do you know if the latest ‘must-have app’ is really going to be an asset or just an additional software cost?

The Xero app store is a good place to start so that your apps integrate with your accounting system.

Choosing the right apps

Before you dive headfirst into the Xero app store, it’s important to do your homework and give yourself some firm foundations on which to base your app purchase decisions.

Decide on the main aims of your software systems

Look at the specific aims of the business and tie each app into the various operations within your business model. A construction company, for example, will need a site management tool, staffing solutions, health & safety tools and an inventory app, to mention just a few.

Make sure your apps integrate with Xero

Xero’s open API (application programming interface) allows all the apps in the app store to connect directly with Xero. This means that data and financial information can flow seamlessly between your apps and Xero, helping you keep all your management information up to date.

Look for opportunities to automate manual processes

If there’s a low-level manual process in your business, try to find a way for your apps to automate this. For example, a bookkeeping app, like Receipt Bank, will snap photos of your receipts and automatically digitise and code the contents.

Research the app market in depth

Look at online reviews, talk to your industry network and find out which apps your peers trust and would recommend. Where possible, try out free trials and demos, so you have had some hands-on experience of the apps in your shortlist. The more user time you have, the easier your purchasing decisions will be.

Look for an excellent user interface (UI) 

If you and your team are going to be using an app every day, it needs to be easy to use, with a small learning curve. Choose apps that have a great UI and offer a quality user experience. The sooner you can get up and running with your solution, the more value this app will add for the business.

Partner with apps who offer excellent customer support

The functionality and ease-of-use of your app are obviously important considerations when you’re looking to buy. But don’t underestimate the importance of solid, helpful and personalised customer support. Look for apps with phone support, good customer service ratings and a happy and satisfied user base – check app forums to get the lowdown on this.

Talk to us about your app requirements

Our job as your bookkeeper isn’t just to deal with your numbers.

We specialise in helping you review your operations, formulate the most efficient systems and choose the apps that can deliver the most effective and productive business performance.

If you’re looking for help in choosing the right apps for your business then talk to us