The main reason for using any form of automation is time. There is never enough of it. Over my next three posts, I hope to give you ideas of how to automate your bookkeeping practices to get some of your free time back.
In this instance, automation doesn’t mean that I have found a way to get all of your bookkeeping done without you having to do anything. What I am going to do is go through different forms of speeding up your regular routines.
I am going to describe ideas for:
- Bank reconciliation
- Fixed assets and depreciation
- Journal entries
- VAT returns sent automatically using software
As each software provider has different ways of working, I can’t guarantee that you will be able to use all of these methods.
Purchases / Expenses
Receipt Bank, AutoEntry, HubDoc and Xero are some of the companies that automate purchases/expenses entry using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) techniques. I am not going to bore you with jargon, OCR is the method used to extract words from images.
There are three methods of getting the images to them:
- Apps. All the systems that I have mentioned offer an app for your mobile devices. You take a photo of your receipt or invoice and upload it into their system.
- Scan and upload. Each of the suppliers has a website that has drag and drop or upload capability for images, from your desktop computer.
- Email. You will be supplied with an email address to send your images.
What happens to these images? The OCR software retrieves the company name, date and amount of each receipt. It isn’t always successful, in those cases, they offer manual entry of details. This information, including the original image, is transferred to the software of your choice.
The majority of bookkeeping time is spent manually getting details out of receipts. This method not only gives you time back but also decreases the number of mistakes that happen through human error.
If you read through the HubDoc and ReceiptBank websites, you will notice other useful features. My favourite is the ability to log into other sites such as your mobile phone provider and import the invoices automatically into the system.
The cost differs per system, AutoEntry charges per use whereas Xero is £2.50 +VAT a month. The more features you want, the higher the price.
If you are interested in using their products I recommend looking at their sites to see if your accounting software is compatible.
Most software systems allow you to create an inventory of products that you sell. You should then be able to call them up when creating invoices. What few people know is that in many software systems you if you can also generate inventory items that represent the services that you sell. Then, just as with product inventory items you can auto-fill rows with a description of the service, cost for the item including VAT rate.
See part 2 for ideas to automate bank reconciliation.
- On October 1, 2018