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Did you get to the end of the Financial Year in good shape?

I certainly hope 2014-2015 was a good year for you and that you are looking forward to lots of new prospects, sales and good business in the next. I have outlined below some end of year things that you should take note of.

Financial Year End Tasks - Backups

There are lots of things to do at Financial Year End. Preparing Trust and Company minutes, getting stocktakes done and preparing final things for your accountant are some of the important ones. However in this newsletter I want to highlight some often neglected ones.

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First of all remember a copy of your data is not necessarily a backup. If you copy it, label it and store it securely it can be. The important test is that it is not being overwritten. So using your daily backup without taking monthly or at the very least annual snapshots of your data is a poor process. At the very least you should be able to locate and recover from the last 1-5 financial years data. If you do not have a “proper” backup process in place then ask us how to do so. These components should be a checklist for you. A Proper Backup should:

  • Allow you to recover from the last day, week, month, year – meaning you have access to media with those data sets on them.
  • Be labelled – clear and time proof labelling (not post it notes)
  • Be recorded – note who did the backup, when and what was backed up as well as the media it was stored on if your system does not do that for you automatically.
  • Be tested – at least once every 3-6 months you should run a recovery test to ensure that you can recover your data in the case of a failure.

Contact us now if you can’t tick off all those items for your backups.

Financial Year End Tasks – Using Excel Spreadsheets

Nearly every business uses Excel Spreadsheets. And none more so than office staff, accountants and book keepers. While Excel is a fantastic Business Intelligence tool a quick google search on parliamentary inquiries excel errors will scare the pants off you. I have seen first-hand how QLD government has reported incorrect numbers based on spreadsheets with errors in them. Most businesses also have the same problem – even mine! Relying on spreadsheet data for financial information needs to be done with the right auditing tools in place to ensure fidelity of the data, and comparison with the source (accounting) data. Done right Excel Reporting tools can greatly improve a business’s ability to manage their financial information, management reporting and other data. I have 27 years of experience of working with financial data in Excel (since version 1 and Lotus Notes before that). If you would like some assistance to ensure that your spreadsheet design (or your accounting staff’s spreadsheets) are accurate there are some simple things we can do to assist you. Even if that is just a couple of hours of specific training in good spreadsheet design techniques.

Talk to us about Excel and VBA training for your business. We provide customised training that your end users will find useful straight away – not just going through a manual on formulas and functions they will never need or use.

Financial Year End Tasks – Filing and Archives

CB107982_LoResI grew up in businesses with large filing archives, microfiche machines, rooms full of filing cabinets, stacked shelving and the dusty ceiling space storage accessed with a torch in times of desperate need only!

Today we create data in multiples so much greater than those days of typing pools, slow copy machines and dusty archives. However often digital data is stored in the same method that we used to store analogue data. This is really rather ridiculous when we think about it. Before computers data could only be stored in one place in a filing system and the indexing method needed to be able to help you easily find that data. Today with the use of metadata we can store data anywhere and use powerful search algorithms to find and locate data. The key is the metadata. Without it we can be as lost as the person in the archives who discovers all the vertical tab filing labels have fallen off.

The modern office stores data in most if not all the following places. Email, hard drives, network servers and storage, cloud storage places, USB external drives and mobile devices. How many times have you or someone you know spent ages looking for the file, email or image you “saved” and now can’t remember where it is?

Talks to us about how we can help you make the best use of your digital filing systems and reduce wasted time

Quick Steps in Outlook

outlook quick stepsEmail management is probably the largest time waster for businesses and office workers today. From Outlook 2010 on there is an awesome feature in Outlook that enables anybody to quickly and easily automate repetitive email management tasks. Effectively they are shortcuts that you can create that will mark items as read, move them to folders, forward emails to preselected team members and many other customisable actions.

Click on an email and in the ribbon select the quick steps box. You can open the manager and look at the default ones, modify or duplicate them and play with the options. More help online to manage Quick Steps.

If you are processing more than 100 emails a day ask us for help with managing them in significantly more efficient ways than what you probably are doing now. this applies to those people with hundreds of unread mails also!

Follow us on Social Media

As always Jethro is your web, cloud and technology specialists. I am constantly learning new things and spending time researching, playing and testing new systems and reading about other people in the IT world doing the same thing. If you want to follow along with what I share in various spaces then connect with me:

All content © Tim Miller. Feel free to share or send these emails on. If you want to unsubscribe just reply with Unsubscribe in the subject.

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Did you know that email newsletter campaigns are more effective than any social media campaign as a way to grow your business? If you want help writing and sending newsletters like these that you can send to your mailing list then just talk to Tim today. Let me know if these are useful for you – and if you have a burning “how the heck do I do that?” question then ask that as well and we can write about it next newsletter.

Advance Notice

We will be running a Seminar early June with Jerrod D. Smith Attitude Coach. Pre-register your interest as we expect to sell out early as seats are limited to 25

Cloud Management Tips – Accounting systems

One of the easiest places to find potential time and therefore cost savings is in shifting your business accounting into the cloud. There are numerous advantages, but also some things to watch out for.

Advantages of cloud accounting

This isn’t an exhaustive list but some of the more popular features that most cloud accounting packages will offer or use as promotional or sales features:

  • Access to your data anywhere on any device (note this isn’t always true – many do not have apps that work on all mobile platforms and many have plugins that are also similarly hampered.)
  • Access to your accountant for live data review. Not having to close off your accounts, send them to your accountant and then wait for them to finish with them before carrying on working (or go and make the same end of year journals they just made) is a huge advantage. Your accountant can login (usually free) and make the changes while you can continue to operate.
  • Up to the minute reporting. This sounds good but isn’t necessarily so. As a management accountant for many years I know the danger of providing inaccurate data to business owners. GIGO or Garbage in garbage out is a software development acronym that also applies to Accounting packages. If you don’t have all the data entered in correctly then the reports you might be relying on could be inaccurate.
  • Licensing cost means updates are “free” and you are only paying an easy monthly fee. This has a catch for some systems – if you stop paying – your stop having access to your data. Some systems have offline data, others will allow you to download into excel. But this can catch people out so make sure you choose the right package.

So how can you choose? We are partners with Financials for Office 365 so our advice could be biased but we can certainly give you some broad level advice as to which package might or might not be right for you. However for true unbiased advice feel free to get in touch with one of our customers Dianne Kennedy from Small Business Know How on 07 3343 3796.

We can sit down with you and talk about your current accounting system and how to migrate this into the cloud in the most cost effective and efficient manner. Call to discuss today on 0414 770 002.

Windows 10 is Nearly here – crazy amount of news being released

Windows 10 will be released later this year. And if you upgrade from Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 in the first year from its release you will get the upgrade free*.

I'm not going to try and talk about everything Windows 10 related that has happened in the last 2 weeks. There’s been an avalanche of news both from Microsoft itself and also from the media speculation and hype growing around release dates, inclusions and exclusions and so on.

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Here are a few key points:

  • We are telling customers to hold off on Win 8.1 upgrades now. There is no point in spending money on that when the Win 10 upgrade from Win 7 will apparently be free and “painless”. Of course we will be testing that thoroughly before we start assisting our customers to upgrade. However if you want to be a test dummy then feel free to let us know. There is a 12 month free upgrade deadline from release date so you do need to factor that in.
  • The new apps store will include carrier billing – that means not having to enter credit card details on a mobile device – it will bill your mobile carrier instead. And there’s a rumour that iOS and Android apps will be ported into the store.
  • A release date was “leaked” for July – still not confirmed officially but seems pretty likely. A second release of October will likely be for the first major refresh with features that didn’t make the cut in July being implemented in this one.
  • Solitaire is back – hooray! The best time waster of all. Where is the productivity tip here?

If you are interested in previewing Windows 10 we can show you some devices with it running and then talk about when your business will migrate to Windows 10 and take advantage of the under the hood features that will make your staff more productive.

*Doesn’t apply to customers running Windows Enterprise or on Software Assurance.

Office 365 Introduces Outlook Clutter Feature

o365-clutterClutter is a new feature being progressively rolled out to Office365 customers. If you want to try it ask me and we can see if it is available for you and turn it on. It is turned on organisation wide but off by default and needs to be enabled per user account.

How Clutter works

Clutter learns from your actions to determine the messages you are likely to ignore. As less important messages arrive, they are automatically moved to the Clutter folder. Clutter does this by leveraging Office Graph’s sophisticated machine learning techniques to determine which messages are Clutter. It gets smarter over time, learning from your prior actions with similar messages, and assessing things like the type of content and even how you are addressed in the message. The Clutter experience is personalized to each individual and reflects an email experience that adapts to your actions and preferences without you having to do anything. The information Clutter learns from each user’s actions are only applied to that user’s experience and are not shared with anyone else.

More info here http://blogs.office.com/2014/11/11/de-clutter-inbox-office-365/

Let us know if you get a lot of email per day. There are smart ways to work with your inbox that can help save you time and money. Training your staff in how to use email more efficiently and effectively is a small investment that can make them more productive. Call us today!

Using Absolute References in Excel

Excel uses a powerful vector system for managing formulas. Each cell can be linked to many others using formulas. In a simple way of explaining this, 2 cells can be added together in a third cell using a formula that references them. Most people do not know how to use absolute references to speed up their formula development time, and ensure accuracy of formulas in a table. I have a comprehensive article online detailing what they are as well as how to use them. Read all the instructions on how to use absolute references in your formulas at http://spyjournal.biz/back-basics-using-absolute-references-excel

If you want to know more about using some of the more powerful functions in Excel to improve your productivity then give us a call.

Google Mobile Friendly Test – do you pass?

 

In case you haven’t heard the biggest thing in recent times in search engine optimisation happened back on 21 April 2015 (22nd for Australia). Google implemented a major search engine ranking algorithm change for mobile search. With a huge rise in the use of mobile devices for search, and the high likelihood of local search using these devices it makes sense for Google to deliver localised results. However they are now saying for a mobile user the results should be optimised for the mobile device. So if your site is not optimised for mobile (passes the mobile friendly test) then it will automatically drop down the rankings in preference of sites that are friendly.

Test your site today https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ Enter your domain name.

If you fail the test talk to us about if you even need to pass. And if you do then we can work out the most cost effective way for you to achieve that. It doesn’t need to cost thousands of dollars.

Follow us on Social Media

As always Jethro is your web, cloud and technology specialists. I am constantly learning new things and spending time researching, playing and testing new systems and reading about other people in the IT world doing the same thing. If you want to follow along with what I share in various spaces then connect with me:

All content © Tim Miller. Feel free to share or send these emails on. If you want to unsubscribe just reply with Unsubscribe in the subject.

I haven’t sent a newsletter out for a long time – but there has been so much happening that this is the easiest way to update all our customers.

As always I am available to respond to your requests, queries and provide you with information.

I don’t charge by the phone call – and as I often say “it’s cheaper to ask me then it is for me to fix something after its done wrong”.

Now onto the news.

Office 365 is really booming along with Microsoft constantly releasing updates, new features and other tools. Here are just some of the more recent ones you may or may not have noticed.

Remember because the service is always online in the cloud it will update in the background without you even being aware of it most of the time. If you really want to check to see if you have the latest version then in any Office application on your PC click the File menu and choose Account.

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Click the Update Options button and click Update Now.

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You should get back this message. If not it will update for you.

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There have been lots of behind the scenes work to make the Office 365 system more robust and error free including better spam management and performance improvements.

However there are some big items for users as well.

Android and Apple Apps

If you have an Apple or Android device there has been a rash of recent updates to the apps for both these systems.

Go to the Google Play Store or the iTunes App store today and download these apps to your device.

· Lync 2013

· One Drive

· Office Mobile

And brand new today is the new Outlook App for iOS released today and a preview of the new Android app coming shortly. This can replace the normal iPhone or Android mail app and is far better at managing your email.

See here for all the details http://blogs.office.com/2015/01/29/deeper-look-outlook-ios-android/

If you need help configuring this on your device call me. No charge!

Online Browser Apps

The browser apps have been updated and are constantly being updated to include more and more functionality as well as better browser compatibility. Login to your Office 365 account with your email and password at https://login.microsoftonline.com and check out the new apps today.

One of the major changes is in the layout of the online workplace.

Depending on your access level and account you will see all or some of these apps

clip_image006Click the blue icon on the left hand side to access these.

Note: Delve is in development and not rolled out to all users yet. It is designed to work closely with Yammer and drive deeper collaboration in your organisation over document management and productivity.

Talk to me today if you want to know how to access these tools and have them set up in your workplace.

Storing your data in the Cloud

Cloud storage is one of the number one business conversations right now with businesses everywhere transitioning. At least 63% of Australian businesses use SaaS cloud apps and around 20% are using some form of cloud storage and this number is growing rapidly. Most major companies in Australia are already using some form of private or hybrid cloud. Email is the biggest app right now with more and more companies migrating their mail into the cloud. Financial apps and other business management apps are also growing rapidly.

In Office 365 we have two forms of storage and with a Microsoft ID you have a 3rd space. Add Dropbox which is now supported by Office 365 and you have 4 separate spaces you can store data in. I’ll try and explain what each is and how to use them.

SharePoint

Most Office 365 customers have SharePoint. This is a document management system that is far better than using your local computer hard drives or even worse storing data on a USB drive! You can connect your SharePoint Document Libraries to your computer and they will sync across multiple devices. They are also accessible via your web login and mobile devices. This gives you real time access to your data on the go. Work on your client quote document in the office, access it again from your laptop or mobile device while in the taxi on the way to the airport. At the airport quickly login securely on a kiosk machine and review your email and check the quote one last time. At the meeting with your client access your spreadsheet with the data on it from their machine securely and make changes they require – leaving no trace once you log out. Finally after you have sealed the deal with the client login on your mobile and forward the revised quote to them. You can even give them read only access to the file right on your SharePoint site so as you change it they can see where you are up to. Once the project kicks off share your project timeline and task allocation to the client as well as milestone updates via SharePoint while keeping your internal workings private to your team.

Can you see how much faster this can make your communications with your client? No more waiting until you return home, pass your notes to your secretary who types them up and sends it back and forward in an email chain until you get it right.

SharePoint space is reasonably small – it starts at 10GB per customer and an additional 500MB per user account. It is designed for documents and spreadsheets and is ample space for most businesses. There are many features including very fine grained security access and sharing, version control and management.

Talk to me about how you could improve staff productivity, reduce leaks of draft documents and get better mobile access to your work.

One Drive for Business

Each user gets 1TB of space to store their personal data in. This could be company data or just their own pictures. Data can be synced between computers, accessed on mobile devices, shared with others as needed etc.

One Drive

One Drive is the retail free space that come with a Microsoft ID – which is what you log into your Windows 8 computer with. It is used to synch your personal settings from PC to PC as well as store your personal data in. it is a 15GB space. This should really be used for personal data, synching your phone camera pictures etc.

Dropbox

Dropbox is an alternative cloud storage similar to one drive. It can be setup to automatically upload all your phone pics and videos (Apple, Android and Windows Phones). It comes with 2GB free for starters but there are ways to get more space for free or you can buy space.

All these spaces will synchronise to a Windows PC or a Mac.

Each have their use and I can help you work out which is bets for your data and usage requirements.

Call me to discuss today on 0414 770 002.

Microsoft Office Financials

We are now partners with Financials for Office 365. With my accounting background as well as the integration with Office 365 this is a common sense approach for us and we are excited about this product. As with anything else we will be using it – and are already in the process of understanding how to migrate our accounting into the new system. Check out all the information at http://www.o365financials.com/

We are looking for a foundational customer – someone who is happy to be a bit of a guinea pig. We won’t charge for all the work we do – but come to an arrangement that works for us and the customer as we learn this new system inside out. If you are interested – particularly if you hold inventory then call or email me.

Office Productivity.

As always we are on top of the cutting edge of Microsoft Office, learning how to speed up our workload, from creating email merges like this document to spreadsheet tricks and PowerPoint presentation tips. Anything that can be used to produce a better result faster we store away and share with our clients whenever possible. If you want us to provide a 1 hour training session on Outlook, PowerPoint Word or Excel or just using Windows 8, I will guarantee that when I leave you will have learnt things that will save you minutes or even hours per week. That translates into getting more things done or savings if you are paying staff.

Special Deal – mention this newsletter and get a 1 hour training deal for up to 3 staff – in your office for only $165 including GST. One on one remote session for $88.

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As always we are your web cloud and technology specialists. I am constantly learning new things and spending time researching, playing and testing new systems and reading about other people in the IT world doing the same thing. If you want to follow along with what I share in various spaces then connect with me on these platforms:

Twitter https://twitter.com/spyjournal technology, cycling, social media, management, business, and web

Linked In http://www.linkedin.com/in/jethromanagement

Delicious https://delicious.com/jethrocon saved links

Blog http://spyjournal.biz/ all sorts of stuff including personal and family updates

Spyjournal Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spyjournal.biz tech, cycling, and other stuff

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Dreamcoat Photography Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DreamcoatPhotography

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Red Hot Snapper Facebook https://www.facebook.com/redhotsnapper roller derby

The Australian Tax Office has increased the threshold at which you must hold a tax invoice for claiming GST tax credits.
It used to be that to claim a credit for an amount over $55 (including GST) that you had to have an invoice, but for amounts below that cash receipts ot some other proof of purchase was good enough.

Now the threshold has been increased to $82.50, or $75 excluding GST.

Check the ATO website for more details.

We have excellent relationships with our Lawyers and Tax Accountants.

If you need legal advice or solutions in QLD Australia we are happy to recommend Baker Johnson for all your legal services and litigation needs.

For accounting needs in Brisbane, Australia, we would refer you to Trevor Zimmerman of Merrotts Accounting.

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Ian's three key issues of business highlighted areas of my business that I need to consider more.

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