All posts by Guest Contributor

Who is Still Using Paper Cheques?

Guest Blogger: Our guest contributor is Douglas Dickie, President of AccSys Solutions, the world’s largest Adagio Accounting consultant reseller and has mentored over twenty Adagio Dealer Business Partners across North America. Article reposted with permission

With the emergence of new digital forms of payment such as email money transfers, use of paper cheques has been steadily on the decline in Canada, shrinking by roughly five per cent a year, according to the Canadian Bankers Association. With advancements in payment technologies that enable services like wire transfer, debit payments, PayPal and Bitcoin, electronic payment has now become ubiquitous. For regular payables “cheque runs”, e-payments are fast becoming the norm for businesses of all sizes and industries. Many businesses now only issue printed cheques when an unexpected situation arises that prompts the company to issue a manual cheque.

Small businesses that are still relying predominantly on printed cheques are also grappling with the escalating cost of paper cheque stock and the rising cost for clearing printed cheques through their bank. This is quickly forcing small business owners to reconsider employing e-payments over cheques.

Ten years from now, a paper cheque will go the way of the rotary phone and the fax machine. Technology will continue to add convenience and efficiency to business processes such as payments.

At AccSys Solutions we use and recommend Telpay for Business. Telpay features password protected single and dual payment authorization and system access, allowing you to replicate internal controls. With enhanced reporting, Telpay allows you to maintain a clear audit trail of all payments, including accounting distribution and payment history. With no outstanding cheques, bank reconciliation is easy. Telpay for Business allows you to pay 100% of your suppliers, employees, CRA remittances and international payments all in one easy to use system. We encourage you to check it out. No pun intended!

 

Part 1- Improving Work-Life-Balance in the Busy Tax Season -Task Management

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Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor in a 2 part  improving work-life balance series is Jag Barpagga with Welcome Networks, a leading cloud provider with virtual desktop and managed IT services.

welcome-networkWant some more free time this busy season? You could stop taking showers or ban TV at home but there are more effective and less offensive options out there for you. During a webinar hosted by Accounting Today and Wolters Kluwer (CCH) a couple of months ago, improvement in processes and workflow ranked as one of the top concerns for most accounting firms. This is an area that can bring a huge improvement in your efficiency and productivity in the practice because you will be able to do more in the same or maybe in even less time.

The Role of Better Task Management

Harvard Business Review conducted a three years long study with 15 executives and 45 knowledge workers at different companies with the goal to find ways on how to be more productive. The study revealed that an average of 41% of the respondent’s time is spent on activities that do not offer a lot of value and can be done by others or can be removed from their daily tasks. The main takeaway was:

“Eliminate or delegate unimportant tasks and replace them with value-added ones.”

There are three ways to categorize your tasks

• Tasks that can be stopped now with no consequences

• Tasks that can be delegated with minimal effort

• Tasks that need to be refined to run more efficiently

The best results found were from delegating desk-based work – this saved an average of four hours per week. Completely dropping unnecessary tasks resulted in about two hours of time saved per week. Maybe these extra six hours can be used to refine your operations or going home early. Lotta Laitinen, one of the respondents in the HBR study, spent her freed up time supporting her sales team and found a 5% increase in sales. Think consciously about what a specific task is doing for yourself and your business.

“I use myself to build the brand, to build the sort of three or four hundred companies around the world, but I learned the art of delegation.”

–Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

You most likely have a strong team working with you so think positively when giving them the freedom to complete certain tasks and support the business like their own. Look for solutions that eliminate process time and allocate that time to something else. We at Welcome Networks monitor the type of programs and applications being used by firms and find that most progressive firms use programs and applications that drive efficiency and save time. This is being reflected in the yearly growth of their firms.  For example, one popular application being used is Telpay, a solution that allows you to pay suppliers electronically and securely. This can potentially eliminate an hour of your day and minimize the chances of cash flow planning being compromised. On top of the savings on postage, envelopes and cheque costs, the most important thing that you save is time, which ultimately reflects in your bottom line during the crazy, busy tax season. All this ultimately ends with happy clients who will positively impact your business.

You’re The Eliminator or The Delegator

Pause, reflect, and execute. Be a great delegator to distribute the workload or eliminate tasks to free up time. Being humble and open can allow you to find someone that is better than you in a specific task so you can focus on the bigger picture. Managing a multitude of tasks isn’t easy – eliminating them or finding someone else to do them isn’t either. It’s up to you to weigh out what is most important to you, your company, and your lifestyle.

If you wish to read HBR’s report visit: https://hbr.org/2013/09/make-time-for-the-work-that-matters

Part 2: Improving Work-Life-Balance in the Busy Tax Season – Time Management

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Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor in a 2 part  improving work-life balance series is Jag Barpagga with Welcome Networks, a leading cloud provider with virtual desktop and managed IT services.

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When it comes to getting things done, results boil down to 2 things – How fast can you get it done and how well can you do it? Accountants and bookkeepers need to perform on both of these with precision during the busy tax time. Accountants know numbers and one thing is for sure, we only have 8760 or 8784 hours in a (leap) year. If you go by the average life expectancy of a Canadian, you have 711662.4 hours to spend time with your family, friends, at work, and for those moments you need to yourself. No, we can’t force our days to have more than 24 hours so we need to force ourselves to free up our time and allocate it to the more important areas of our lives.

Back to the Basics

Start with understanding what needs to be done throughout the day – every hour. Scheduling every hour of your day may seem like a waste of time but physically setting a plan will give a higher chance of following it. This goes to what happens inside and outside of the office. Whether it’s in your notebook or in your calendar app, enter your tasks and objectives in. Have you ever heard of a business prospering without a business plan? Allow your days to follow the same concept. Business plans and your daily schedules don’t have to be perfect but setting checkpoints, guidelines and anticipating bumps in the road will only benefit you. Dedicating you and your team’s time to specific tasks throughout the day will keep everyone engaged and motivated to meet those deadlines. You also need to plan those breaks in your day to give yourself a sense of reward at the end of a busy work session. But how can taking breaks during the busy tax season benefit you?

More Free Time Reduces Burning Out

If you read our previous post about task management, you will understand how to find some more time in the day. Maybe those extra hours you free up should just go to relaxing and following stress-free activities.  Although tax season is when you are most overworked, efficiency can increase if you take those breaks. Some call it “The Refueling Principle” – taking a step back and relaxing your mind. When your mind is bogged down with constant work, your efficiency decreases overtime. Yes, you continuously get things done if you don’t take a break but not at a more accelerated rate when following the refueling principle. Entrepreneur.com explains it quite nicely:

“You get more done quicker when you step back and recharge the brain and body.”

It’s as simple as that. Studies show that we have a limited amount of cognitive resources. So whether you find time for you and your team to take a break, remember that it will only be beneficial once you get back to work in the tax season rush.

Maybe you don’t have time to leave your desk and take a vacation. Solutions today ensure that you don’t need to be chained to a desk in order to reach your full potential. Many accounting firms allow employees to work from home or even from a beach with seamless access to all accounting and bookkeeping applications.

A multi-location firm like SunRonkai LLP Chartered Accountants found huge improvements from the day they moved to virtual desktops in cloud. Now both offices work seamlessly with better security and that was always a top concern for their partners. Nothing replaces the peace of mind and better productivity achieved due to strategic vision of the firm. Keep in mind you may find it fulfilling to resolve a client’s concern from a cruise ship, vacations have been shown to lead to significantly higher performances when returning to the workplace, so enjoy.

Time to Obtain Efficiency

Try it out for a week or two – planning out your day and following the refueling principle. Come with a strategy that will allow you to work at maximum efficiency. At the end of the day and when done right, the results will improve employee engagement and happiness. Nobody wants to come into and leaving work at a low level of satisfaction. Stay on track, don’t burn out and stay motivated.

Pillar 8: Business Management – Customer Selection and Ranking

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The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.

Are all customers good customers? Generally, the answer depends on the industry you are in. If you have a homogeneous product or service that can be found anywhere, then you probably don’t have enough customer interaction to really worry about whether or not a client is a good fit for your business. However, if you offer a unique product or service and have an extended customer relationship, then it becomes imperative to be selective with the customers that you take on.

For example, if you are a custom home builder that takes a year to build a high-end house, you will likely be very interested in having a customer that you can work with.

There are two parts to client selection and ranking. You can first filter out unsuitable clients up front if you are clear as to who your ideal customer is. If, however, you have a lot of customers, then you need to look at your existing clients. When I work with my clients, we often look at their accounting records to determine how many customers it takes to make up twenty percent of their revenues. We compare that to how many customers bring in the remainder of their revenue. In most cases, the numbers are very revealing. You can often build your business just by focusing on your top customers.

Pillar 8: Business Management – Key Performance Indicators

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The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.

Key performance indicators (“KPI’s”) measure how well your business is meeting your CSF’s. Well-designed KPI’s will help you answer some variation of the question: “Are we getting closer to our definition of success?” KPI’s will be very specific to your business type or industry, as they are created based on the CSF’s that keep your business going.

If you do not currently have KPI’s, do research to see what others in your industry are measuring. Implement KPI’s slowly at first. I often see a lot of businesses going from no KPI’s to suddenly having a significant number to monitor. Too much at once can be counterproductive and confuse staff. I suggest picking your most important CSF and creating two or three KPI’s around it. Once you are comfortable with the process, start to expand to cover additional CSFs.

Next: Part 3 – Customer Selection and Ranking

Pillar 8 – Business Management – Part 1 – Critical Factors

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The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.

The best run businesses focus on key performance indicators in order to determine areas that need improvement. Monitoring business results and seeking improvement are critical aspects of working on your business. Gross and net revenue are two easy numbers to determine, though they may not yield much in terms of overall business insight. Find the right key performance indicators based on your personal objectives for your business. Track them, monitor them, and make business decisions that are consistent with your objectives.
This may sound very high level and theoretical, so we will break it down into the following areas:
• Critical Success Factors
• Key Performance Indicators
• Customer Selection and Ranking Continue reading

PART 3: Building Relationships- A Black Swan POV

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Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor this post is Melissa Michalski, co-owner of CertPro Accounting Team, a proud member of IPBC, a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and a graduate of the Black Swan Project.

In the first and second part of my Building Relationships blog series, I discussed building connections with suppliers, customers, and within the company. While these are vital parts of a successful company, is it crucial to ask yourself the following questions; are you satisfied with its operations? Are things running smoothly, are your emotions in a good place?  Can you count on your team? No one is perfect; it is okay to answer no to some of these questions. However, you should find ways to have your company operate smoothly.  This can help your company achieve greatness.

Here are the areas that our company focuses on, to ensure things are operating as smooth as possible:

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Scheduling
  3. Accountant relationships
  4. Professional development
  5. Meetings

Continue reading

Pillar 7: Value Added Services

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The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.

Providing good products and services at fair prices will earn you trust and loyalty from your customers. The great news is you can leverage this relationship to identify customer issues and offer more in-depth solutions.

The range of services you can offer is limited in part by your industry, but it may also be limited by your own imagination. For example, you may not be able to offer much to your customers in the way of value added services if you are in a tightly regulated industry with externally imposed limitations.

Continue reading

A Tribute from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

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Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor for this blog post is Trudy Schroeder, Executive Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.  

Over many decades, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) has been fortunate to have the interest, support and encouragement of Mr. Bill Loewen. As he celebrates his birthday this month and TelPay celebrates 30 years of existence, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra wants to recognize the important role that Mr. Loewen and Telpay have played in the success of the WSO.

From the earliest days of his involvement with the WSO, Mr. Loewen included services of his companies in with his support of the symphony. The WSO is probably among the first clients of TelPay and we have been very happy with the service and relationship with this innovative and client oriented company. For many years Telpay has sponsored a summer season with performances at the Forks, Lyric Theatre and Kenora during the months when the WSO had previously been absent from the community. Both Bill and Shirley Loewen have been active parts of the continuing vitality and musical service of the WSO to the larger community.

Continue reading

Raven Bay Services: Make the Right Decisions with the Right Information

raven bayGuest Blogger:   Our special blog guest contributor is Denise Tsang from Raven Bay Services, a Telpay client whom we met at this past Spring’s Financial Executives International Conference.  Raven Bay Services provides guidance and best-in-class technology, integration and talented technical services. 

Recently Raven Bay Services was a sponsor and exhibitor at the annual Financial Executives International Conference in Winnipeg.  We were excited to be invited since our focus and passion is utilizing information technology to help financial executives leverage trusted data to understand the state of their business.  We are head quartered in Western Canada and have helped organizations in various industries streamline and improve their reporting processes, so what better match for us than the FEI members at this conference?

The theme of the conference was “Leadership beyond Finance”.  These events are a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, partners and clients. One of the many rewards of attending conferences is to hear firsthand the challenges business leaders face.  Everyone is keen to participate when it comes to solving problems.

Continue reading

PART 2: Building Relationships- A Black Swan POV

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Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor this month is Melissa Michalski, co-owner of CertPro Accounting Team, a proud member of IPBC, a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and a graduate of the Black Swan Project.

swanIn January 2015, at the Black Swan Summit, we, of course, discussed value pricing concepts but there was also a focus on building stronger relationships.  After a debriefing of the summit, my business partner and I have concluded that there are three kinds of relationships we want to improve: suppliers (which I previously discussed in my first blog of this series), customer relationships, as well as those within the company.   

What are your customers worth to you? For us, they are everything.  The value conversation is very important when meeting new customers, you need to listen and ask the right questions in order to determine their needs, because each customer is different.  For example, some customers might want to see monthly reports, while others might just want their bills paid on time. In order to provide excellent service, you have to understand each customer and know what the most valuable service is to them. The most important part is providing the outcome they want, and this is a big task!

Continue reading

Pillar 6: Technology – The Cloud – Part 2

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The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.

Part 2 – Core Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud solutions can provide greater security. However, the real benefits usually revolve around availability, cost effectiveness, flexibility and scalability.

Cloud providers will usually have a written guarantee to demonstrate that their systems will be available. Most offer some variant of 99.99% “up time”. You can even get greater up time, usually measured by another 0.009%, if you are willing to pay higher fees. It all comes down to how much down time will impact your business.

Cloud solutions are cost effective, flexible and scalable, because you can often pay only for what you need. If you need five users, you pay for five users. If you add a sixth user, you pay for one more. Cloud solutions are built on large-scale hardware, so they can easily accommodate the addition or removal of team members on your side. We will focus more on costs in the next section, virtual versus physical servers.

Continue reading

PTE Appreciates Telpay

Audience_Slider_Mainpage_ptePhoto: Robert Metcalfe, PTE’s Artistic Director

Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor for this blog post is Cherry Karpyshin, General Manager of Prairie Theatre Exchange.

Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) wishes Telpay a very Happy 30th Anniversary.  PTE’s first partnership with Telpay’s founder, Mr. W.H. (Bill) Loewen goes back many years to Comcheq.  In 1985, we desperately needed a corporate sponsor for our new play, SECTION 23:  THE FRENCH LANGUAGE REVIEW.  Upon reading our plea in the newspaper for corporate support of this controversial subject, Mr. Loewen took the initiative and called to say Comcheq would support the production.  From this day forward to the founding of Telpay in 1985, this company and its predecessor is and has been a true supporter of our work.  Telpay understands and values risk, research and development, return on investment, partnerships and building relationships which PTE also relies on to do the work we do.  Because of these values, Telpay and PTE have been most fortunate to work together over many projects.   We wish Telpay many, many more years of success while continuing to be an important supporter in the work of not only PTE but for many other not for profit organizations.  Bravo!

Artspace Arts Management- Bookkeeping for the Arts

artspaceGuest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor this month is Randy Joynt, executive director of Artspace.

We are fortunate in Manitoba to have a vibrant and varied arts and cultural scene that goes a long way to defining who we are as Manitobans. We are also fortunate to have companies like Telpay and individuals like W.H. (Bill) Loewen that value and support arts and culture.

In 2013, with the support of Telpay and Mr. Loewen, Artspace launched Artspace Arts Management (AAM), a program to provide bookkeeping services to small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations.

Arts and culture and a large part of our economy and the organizations that create, produce and present cultural offerings are for the most part, not for profit businesses that employ people and buy and sell products. This means, just like any other business, they have books to keep. As small to mid sized arts and cultural organizations do not have dedicated finance staff, they historically utilize contract bookkeepers or rely on another staff person with multiple duties to do their bookkeeping. These practices come with many challenges; from the contract bookkeepers leaving the organization or not being familiar with the unique requirements of not for profit or charitable organizations, to too much information resting with one staff person.

After two years of operation, AAM is flourishing and meeting the needs of small to mid sized arts and cultural organizations by providing standardized, cost effective bookkeeping services and promoting best financial management practices. As a charitable and not for profit organization itself, Artspace could not have managed the start up costs of this new program without the invaluable support of Telpay and Mr. Loewen.

It has been exciting to provide a needed service to a client group that is contributing so much to our province and to add stability to their back office operations so that more time and resources are dedicated to their core work, creating and producing shows, exhibits, festivals, films, books and more.

Telpay and Mr. Loewen have long been champions and supporters of arts and culture in Manitoba. They exemplify the importance of giving back to the community and like the arts and cultural organizations they support, we are better for them.

Pillar 6: Technology – The Cloud

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The series is from Chartered Accountant, consultant and author, Jeff Borschowa, from his book, 8 Pillars for Exponential Business Growth. The series is focused on how to find new and better ways to integrate innovation and technology to enhance the customer experience and improve efficiency in the accounting process.

In this section, we will discuss:
• What is the cloud?
• Cloud security
Through this discussion, we will also examine key criteria to evaluate when looking at cloud solutions.

What is the cloud?
The cloud is essentially a metaphor for the Internet. Specifically, an external server or servers performs the bulk of the processing work for a given task. The user accesses the computing power via the Internet. The real power of the cloud is that the computing power is no longer held within the actual device accessed by the user, thus, we can dramatically reduce Information Technology spending by integrating lower cost devices, such as tablets and smart phones in place of expensive work stations. The other advantage to cloud solutions is that we can literally access our programs and data anytime and anywhere, as long as we have reliable Internet connectivity.
There are various terms that you will hear in relation to computing, but the most common one is “Software as a Service.” This particular model involves software that is hosted no a central server and you pay a monthly per user access fee. The provider maintains responsibility for software updates and maintenance, freeing you up to focus on your core business needs.
We are seeing more people becoming comfortable with cloud computing. Perhaps an example or two will clarify the definition and demonstrate that you are likely already using the cloud, whether you call it that or not. Online functions such as banking, booking flights, and reserving hotel rooms are all examples of cloud solutions. They have been around long enough that most of us do not even question their existence any more.

Cloud Security
We hear a lot in the media about hackers and attacks on large facilities. Unfortunately, this gives us a false sense of security in thinking that hackers are targeting large organizations and will leave small businesses alone. The reality is that most information technology issues or security breaches in small businesses are the result of hardware failure, internal errors or disgruntled employees deliberately sabotaging data and computing resources.
Hacking instances make for good news fodder, but they are not indicative of the real risks you there. The reality is that a centralized computing environment, such as the cloud solutions available today, represents an opportunity to centralize security efforts and build a stronger defence around our data.
When you are selecting a cloud solution, pay close attention to their security and privacy policies. You want to make sure that you retain access to your data, they don’t have access, and your data is in some way encrypted. One word of caution, some industries have specific guidelines that govern their use of Information Technology, including restrictions on what data can be in the cloud. Ensure that you know about any unique rules surrounding your business before you start looking at cloud solutions.

Next Month – Technology Part 2 will cover the following:

• Core benefits of cloud computing
• Virtual versus physical servers
• Examples of cloud technology