School Accounts

Advantages of Outsourcing Financial Reports

When reviewing the accounts operations in your school there are two general options to go with – bring it all in-house and employ staff suitable to the job, or outsource part of the accounts to a company or person who provides school financial services.

There are the usual risks and pitfalls of employing staff – the cost of paid leave and other benefits, getting the wrong fit for your organisation, not having the skill set required for all accounting functions, office space/equipment required to house them onsite, the distractions they face everyday, and so on.

Here are some reasons why schools tend to outsource some or all of these functions:

  • Economy: The service becomes an accounts payable item rather than a payroll one. The school can claim GST on the expense rather than pay PAYE.
  • Expertise: Outsourced providers can have a whole team with many skills and strengths among them to problem solve and assist the school strongly in financial processes. They are continually upskilling, but not on your time.
  • Efficiency: Outsourced providers can focus on your accounts with no other distractions, and mistakes are rare. They already know the fastest way to handle accounts.
  • Endorse: Providers keep up with changing laws and regulations; that same expertise can also provide confidence around compliance, separation of duties, and reduction of opportunities for fraud.
  • Expand: As the school grows or change occurs, your providers can easily change their services accordingly, to expand or contract quickly. This provides flexibility that in-house staff just can’t provide.

Most of the benefits of having staff onsite can be matched with the benefits of outsourcing, especially if that provider is treated like part of your team and are great people to deal with. That ‘great to deal with’ factor can be what makes one provider stand out above the rest.

School Accounts

Reviewing your Accounting Provider

Many Boards of Trustees and Principals like to review how the accounting and reporting arrangements are going at this time of year when they are also setting budgets for the year ahead.

Regardless of whether you are anticipating change or not, here are a few good questions to think about:

1. Are we getting up to date information in good time, in order to stay ahead of financial indicators?

2. Are we getting reports the Board members can understand?

3. How did our year end process go? Did we supply auditors with all they needed ahead of time and easily meet audit deadlines? Did our annual report provider communicate well with the auditors, and in a helpful manner?

4. Are current school accounts employees well supported to work efficiently? Do they have someone to call on should transactions or events occur outside of their area of expertise?

5. Do we have management staff currently involved with finances who are overwhelmed with their portfolio?

Whether you have a business manager, school executive officer, finance accounts staff, or an outside provider co-ordinating your monthly and annual reports, the answer to these questions can help you assess the suitability of the current situation.

Looking after the Trees

Tree Care Auckland have a great article on Trees for Schools, a service they provide. Here is a snippet, and you can read the full article here…

When was the last time that your tree assets were checked?

We want you and your students to enjoy hassle-free, safe, and healthy trees. Well-maintained trees are not only safer, but they’re also an asset. They provide a free source of shade in which children can play or learn, shelter from other elements, and the connection with nature that children love.

Our structured approach, with regular site visits and the recording of the findings in our tree maintenance system, allows our clients always to know what work needs doing. It will enable stakeholders to budget for the cost, and the responsible parties to mitigate any liability.

Going Next Level (2) in the Accounts

This is an article I wrote back in May but never published at the time. Now that we are back in ‘level’ management with Covid-19 it is a good time to review the learnings from 2020 so far:

There was a lot of discussion and some good information covering how to ‘school’ in Level 2 earlier in the year. But what about the accounts office staff? How did you all fare working from home and what was the plan for transitioning to onsite work again?

In a previous article we highlighted the benefits of working remotely. Good technology, connectivity and a separate workspace at home were key elements of being successful. If you didn’t have children at home, you may have found yourself getting way more work done in a shorter amount of time without all those office interruptions that are inevitable at school!

Thinking time…
Some of you love those interuptions as they represent people whom it is most healthy to connect with. People you can help and people who help you.
But hopefully most of you got to realise there was a key ingredient working without all those interuptions under lockdown (or not working) and that is some degree of calm, thinking time, focus. There was a lot of problem solving to be done in a short time frame early on, but it was almost a luxury to be able to focus on ‘outside the box’ stuff and be part of the solution.

Whether you’ll be heading back to the office (next week?), are already there, or have arranged to keep working from home, I hope you are all able to maintain some more flexibility in the way you work, and schedule focus time into your day (deliberately).
May we never be the same again! May you put your heads together (not literally!) and discuss bringing some new strategies into the workplace. More efficiencies along with more thinking and planning time. And not taking collaboration or face to face contact for granted, even if it is with a mask!

So what are some of the specific things we are alluding to?

Focus Time – at least once a day you need breathing space to reprioritise, keep on top of scheduling type admin tasks that contribute to efficiency (and I don’t mean emails!), walk around the block to think about a problem that has several possible solutions, or just breathe and reset the mind to clear it from built up anxiety. It should be a full half hour, but 10 minutes is better than nothing!

If you get back to the office and find the day returns once again to the whirlwind of interuptions that used to dominate your day, something needs to change. Start jotting down the issues and when ready, go over your thoughts with a trusted colleague or friend to brainstorm some ideas. You cannot be efficient or retain good mental health with no focus time ever!

Meeting Time – the MOE have recommended onsite Staff meetings are minimised to be safer. If you have to meet onsite, fabulous, make them short! This forced measure has created the opportunity to change forever some bad meeting hygiene such as going on too long, hooray! As for online meetings, no doubt you’ll be working hard to keep these from drifting into sigh territory too. Apart from addressing technological issues, here has been an amazing opportunity to deliberately open up the floor for focused collaborative work.

Working Online – it may be time to review the programmes, software and even hardware being used to get the work done now that online needs to be the norm. Cloud storage and filing systems are crucial, accounting and reporting software needs to be accessible and efficient, authorisation processes need to be able to be performed online, email systems need to be robust and well managed, and of course security set high for all of these. There are a lot of good resources to help, along with courses and workshops offered.

Here are a few links to get you started…all from a great accounting firm.

Running effective online meetings…

Remote working: how to get ready…

The top 10 time wasters in your working week…

Also introducing email guru Debbie Mayo-Smith, an NZ motivational speaker who also runs all sorts of ‘do it better’ type webinars: check out her website for more options.

At School Accounts Ltd we offer a number of school specific workshops. Check out what is on offer this year here.

School Accounts

HubDoc Partners

Did you know if you are using Xero you now have access to their FREE data entry software called HubDoc?

What does it do?
It takes all your bills and receipts, and once set up properly HubDoc automatically uploads these into Xero draft purchases, ready to be reviewed and approved. This is a very efficient way to reduce data entry time (and human error) and get the source document attached to the transaction in Xero. This eliminates unnecessary filing and keeps even the auditors happy.
We’re HubDoc experts…
Give us a call today if you would like to get started from April 2020. We can provide training and set up.

School Accounts

Remote Possibilities

We’ve Always Been Remote…

School Accounts

…but not in a socially distant way!

In these uncertain times schools are having to adapt and embrace the remote services model.
Distance is our strength. School Accounts operates remotely from virtual offices with our team based across Auckland and beyond.

We’ve got this…
Our technology is effective and robust – We have always embraced technology and now in these unprecedented times this technology helps us ensure your business continuity. We have always used the internet, telephone and mobile office connectivity to run our business and this is second nature to us, rest assured we are here for you at all times. While traditional service providers may face the possibility of extended social distancing measures, we are already well experienced online collaborators and will continue to provide an excellent service for our clients.

Time to upskill?
School Accounts continues to hire great skills and as such as we have capacity to provide additional services for your schools – let us know and we will reach out for a discussion.
For example, it may be that your accounts staff struggle to work from home, but with just a little input from us they can be back on track in no time. We manage remote learning via Microsoft Teams, and this can be just as effective as being there in person.

Annual Report blues?
We have our clients annual reports just about all wrapped up, so if you are struggling to make deadlines we have capacity right now to help you out!

The Robots Are Coming!

…but our jobs are still safe.

Machine learning and automation of data entry is already here, and Xero Accounting software is the leading school accounting software provider on this to date.

Receipt Bank:
You may have seen me harp on about this before, but as an Add On partner with Xero, Receipt Bank already has this area sussed. You can forward the emails from your suppliers, or drag PDF bills into Receipt Bank (or take a photo of your receipt from your smart phone) and hey presto! The bill ends up in draft in Xero with the data already populated AND a PDF of the bill attached. You are still able to check the details and get it approved for awaiting payment (no loss of user control!). You can even go paperless entirely if your school team has the appetite.

Credit Cards:
Imagine the added bonus of being able to send credit card and cash payment receipts into Xero directly from the user’s phone (before the receipt fades or gets lost in the car)! Receipt Bank can even detect when a receipt comes through t he bank in Xero and suggest a match. This makes for a timely, transparent and easily auditable accounts experience.

People like change they choose. This type of change can revolutionise the way you spend your time. Most leading experts assure us that the coming of AI will not make humans defunct in the workplace, rather release us to do more of the building relationships stuff that is essential to effectiveness. It makes accounts payable quite enjoyable!

Hit me up for a FREE demonstration of Receipt Bank in the next few weeks, so you can see for yourself it is something that will benefit your accounts team.

School Accounts

Time for a Sea Change?

Ahoy there, to the school professionals who are keeping our schools, preschools and high schools financially afloat. The ship may be low in the water but if she’s still moving forward congratulations!

Whether you are the Principal making key decisions with your stakeholders all in mind, or the data entry person keeping the information needed to make those decisions up to date, you will be challenged/invested/interested in having great people, processes and technology in place.

At School Accounts Ltd it is our passion to help schools achieve the above. It can be as simple as updating the accounting software you are using, or just using what you are using to the best of its ability. We talk Xero (we live and breathe and work Xero!) and have created school monthly and annual reports templates that can be tailored to your school. We can up-skill your key staff in technology or efficiency improvements that can release them to better use of their time.

We are pretty excited about our annual reports processes. No more gathering up papers, photocopying, putting folders together for auditors, being asked to repeat work you’ve already done, or spelling out what seems to be obvious! We show you how to store in the cloud at the time of the transaction, and provide you with online folders to drop extraneous information throughout the year. You simply give auditors access at year end and we can manage their queries for you. School Accounts Ltd are keeping up with cutting edge ways to improve methodologies without disrupting your ship’s navigation.

We like to make sure you have everything sorted ahead of time to minimise delays, or stress when it comes to school reporting deadlines. Our staff are handpicked for their friendly natures. Dealing with us is like having someone on your crew who is willing to understand your quirks and passions and get the job done without creating unnecessary waves. Who wants to get sea sick when you could be enjoying the view from the deck?

Invite us on-board and we’ll show you our charts. Drop us a line (call or email) and we’ll arrange a time to talk ship.

School Accounts

Term 2 Tweaks

Welcome to Term 2, the land of opportunities! You made it through Term 1’s new year duties, welcomed new children into the fold, instigated the ideas and budgets formulated in 2016, and took your school for a test drive in 2017.

Term 2 is often a great time to review and consolidate. You know the drill: What is working well? What is not living up to expectations? If you can, do a quick ‘pros and cons’ inventory of your key objectives and projects for 2017. What are the stand out things that may need tweaking in Term 2?

Things that are going well: What are the key strengths of your arena that contribute to the success? How can you celebrate, encourage, reward and do more of that?

Things that are not so flash:  Do they just need tweaking, revisiting the goals, or scrapping altogether and replacing? Does it relate to personnel, programmes, or processes? Is it a minor weakness that can be addressed, or a major failing that needs urgent attention?

Outsource or Up-skill?

Having someone take care of the annoying-but-necessary week to week stuff may be what is needed to release you to take care of the big stuff – things that contribute to the main thing – kids learning and quality staff retention. What can you outsource? What is the best use of staff time?

Investing in professional development for internal staff who handle key processes, can make all the difference to efficiency, quality of services, or delivering on compliance.

How can we help?

School financial service providers can be a source of assistance when budgets, software, financial processes or skills of support staff need assessing.

We have your back when it comes to locally raised funds, property projects, asset management, Board member education, cyclical maintenance, and budget setting. As well as that, one of our favourite things is to train staff in school financial processes (and Xero tips), or new Board members in school financial literacy.

Providing an outside ‘fresh eyes’ perspective on how things are operating can sometimes give you the resource you need to make changes. Here are three reviews that School Accounts Ltd offer for example:

  1. Processes Review. We ‘follow the dollar’ both from an accounts payable and accounts receivable point of view and let you know if there are any processes that can be practicably improved to benefit the school. This includes handling of locally raised funds.
  2. Xero Review. We take a look at how internal staff are using Xero and provide feedback and training if relevant (and keep it fun!)
  3. Specialist Review. Whether it is your budget, fixed assets, cyclical maintenance or school building projects, we can help.

Term 2 is your opportunity to shine and make 2017 the best year ever yet! Just like George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces reviews, “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life!” could be rolling off the tongue as onlookers shower their approval of your arena. Okay, we’re getting carried away. But aim for the best anyway.

We do.

School Accounts
Go home sooner!

How many times has your Principal told you ‘go home, it’s late’ and you say ‘I’m just going to finish entering these invoices, we really need to pay them tomorrow.’? How would you like an APP that could do all the entering for you, so that all you need to do is check and approve them?

What would you do with that extra hour a week? Go home sooner?

Or perhaps get to that job the boss REALLY wants you to do?

Accounts payable (entering and paying suppliers) can be really time critical, time draining, and time dependent. We have an amazing solution our clients are just ecstatic about.

Not only can you send invoices to it by forwarding an email, scanning a hard-copy, drop and dragging a PDF, or by taking a photo on your phone, you can also send Visa receipts to it. It then sends the invoice or receipt all done through to Xero where it awaits your approval and payment, or ready to match against your Visa statement.

What’s more, a copy of the invoice as a PDF is attached to each invoice or spend money in Xero, so you no longer need to file hard copies in the office. Free up some space!

This APP is called Receipt Bank, and as a Receipt Bank Partner School Accounts Ltd can subscribe your school, train and support your Accounts Payable staff, or even do all the work for you if needed.

Have you been thinking about freeing up your Admin and Accounts staff so they can get on to some more school focused tasks? Or are you concerned about staff morale as they constantly work overtime and struggle to meet deadlines?

We can help. We LOVE to help. Find more about it by clicking here.

Subscribe through School Accounts Ltd today and watch the smiles and gratitude bloom!