In this edition, we’ll be helping you decide if you’re using the right accounting software. We will also be sharing some health and safety advice from Luke at Orchard Compliance. Plus lots of exciting news from the COS crew (including an upcoming wedding).
COS Crew News – Summer 2019
Find out below what staff and members have been up to.
Wedding Bells are around the corner
A bit of news about myself (Becky)! I’m excited to announce that on the 23rd of July, I’ll stop being Miss Garrattley and become Mrs Vanden! I am so excited to get married, at the epic Peckforton Castle, to my amazing fiance Lee.
There will be a number of staff members absent that day and some on the surrounding days. I will then be on my honeymoon in New York from the 25th July and I won’t be back in the office until the 8th August.
Time for some Girl Power, and a house move!
Steph went to see the awesome Spice Girls at the Etihad Stadium with her 2 sister-in-laws in May. Despite a public transport nightmare (which resulted in missing the supporting act) she still had an absolutely amazing night. She cried it was that good!
Steph also recently bought her first home! We’d like to say a huge congratulations to her and her family.
Eid Celebrations all around for Tasnim
Tasnim caught up with us to tell us about her recent festivities…
“Eid is a celebration marking the end of Ramadhan. Our day commenced with early morning prayers at the mosque followed by having a big family get together. We enjoyed a delicious variety of home made traditional Indian food, cakes, and biscuits. We spent the rest of the day visiting family and friends, exchanging gifts, and feasting.”
We hope all our Muslim friends had a wonderful Eid.
Ann L. sings away with Westlife
Ann Lavelle had a great time at the MEN area watching Westlife earlier this month. She managed to get free seats in a box for her and her two friends. Thanks to the wonderful Leonard Curtis for that opportunity.
Westlife did a cover of Mandy and as Ann is big fan of Manilow, she loved it! They also did a Queen medley which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Are you using the right software for your accounts?
There are so many software packages and apps out there that it can be quite overwhelming to know where to even start. Individuals with a lack of technical knowledge can find it especially frustrating and can be concerned they will be duped. You might be using a software but aren’t sure if it’s the right fit with your business.
We’ve created a set of questions to ask yourself to help you decide the best way to choose the software for you. There’s also a handy infographic you can download at the bottom of the article.
1.) Which features are Essential to your Business?
There is no point in paying for a software that doesn’t meet the needs of your business. This might sound an obvious statement but unfortunately many businesses are paying for something that isn’t right for them.
Often we find that a friend has recommended a software because it’s worked for them, or they’ve been told by their Accountant they must move onto it. Neither of these are good reasons to use the software. The needs of your friend’s business might be entirely different to your own. Also, certain Accountancy practices will only use one type of software and will only work on client data that is contained in that software. That is their decision but that does not mean you should not be forced to go with it. By all means, take their advice, but the decision is yours at the end of the day.
2.) Does it, or will it, save you time?
Think about how long you spend on your accounts; think about how long your Accountant and/or Bookkeeper spends on them too. If you could save money and time why wouldn’t you? Don’t fall into the trap of staying with the same software you have used for 20 years because it’s what you are comfortable with. New software can be intimidating, especially when it involves your accounts, but don’t let that stop you from moving your business forward. After all, you could also save yourself money as well as time. And who wouldn’t like more money in the bank and more free time?
3.) Do you understand how it works?
Without the proper training, it can be easy to make a hash of things. Use all the resources you can to stay up to date, often software companies bring out monthly updates and videos which are sent to your email. Watch them, stay on the ball. If you’re stuck: ask your Bookkeeper or Accountant, or contact software support. Attend courses, then go on them again a year later. Software constantly changes and even if you use it every day, you might not realise new functions it has gained.
If you feel it’s too much for you, then make a decision: do I pass the work to someone else, or do I try to find something else that is easier for me?
4.) Is it Safe?
Be cautious to avoid being that company with an old version of a desktop software stuffed onto an old machine. A big part of software updates is to improve security. For instance: If you have an old version of windows that you can no longer update, then hackers are more likely to be able to break into it. You could have a potential GDPR security threat too.
5.) Have you spoken to your Accountant and Bookkeeper about it?
In order for Accountancy and Bookkeeping practises to survive, they must constantly look forward and try new technology. Your Accountant or Bookkeeper should be trying to make your life and their life easier. They should be there to support you along the way. Obviously, practices can’t be trained in every software package out there but a forward thinking practise will at least take a look and advise you. It’s about working together.
We hope that has given you a helping hand. If you require any assistance with training, software, payroll, or bookkeeping please don’t hesitate to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0161 850 3355.
Xero raise their prices by £2 a month from August
If you are on the standard or business edition of Xero you will be affected by their price increase. If you subscribe through us and you aren’t sure if you’ll be affected please email our accounts department: email@example.com.
Does health and safety fill you with fear? No longer! Your questions answered.
Interview with Luke Taylor at Orchard Compliance Solutions
Q.) Health and Safety is a minefield, where do I even start?
First and foremost, don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. Compliance with Health and Safety is achievable by all businesses, but as with most things it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time, effort and resources to achieve and manage.
So, if you are just starting off then there are a few things to map out –
What does you company do? – Set out your activities and who they affect.
How risky is your business? – Not like the 1983 Tom Cruise film, but think more: are you a low-risk business like an office or a high-risk business such as a Construction company?
Who is going to be responsible for what? – Rome wasn’t built in day, and it wasn’t built by 1 person. Set out who will be responsible for what? Do you have the right resource in the business at the moment to address Health and Safety? If not, then you can look to outside parties for support.
What you should get from the above is a starting map of the who, what, where, and why in regards to health and safety. It is important to be on the right track from the start, so if you feel that you don’t have the right competency then ask for help. In the long run, this will save a lot of time and effort. This is the foundation for you to build your Health and Safety systems and culture on.
Whether you have decided to manage Health and Safety internally, or you have sought external support, you can build on this foundation by implementing your health and safety policy. Control risks via suitable and sufficient risk assessments and then review training requirements within your business. If you have 5 or more employees, then you must have this documented, though I would always advise having risk assessments written even if under the 5 employee mark.
Q.) Where can I find health and safety information?
Like most things in business, Health and Safety Legislation can evolve in various ways over time so it’s important to make sure you are aware of the changes that may affect your business in advance.
There are a whole host of available options to keeping up with the world of Health and Safety, so to help we have listed a few for you:
- Use the HSE website – Here you can find free copies of approved codes of practice, guidance notes and updates surrounding legislation with their free bulletin service.
- Sign up to relevant industry newsletters and read trade publications. These often have sector specific updates that can be easier to digest.
- Speak to an external expert. For example, we offer an advice-line service to all our clients and provide regular updates regarding health and safety via email newsletters to ensure they are kept up to date.
Q.) Who’s responsible for health and safety at work?
Simply put – everyone. The Health and Safety at Work act 1974 (which is the main piece of Health and Safety Legislation in England, Scotland and Wales) places a duty on both the Employer and the Employees. They must ensure the Health and Safety of themselves and those around that they may affect (which includes members of the public).
Employers must look after their employees and any persons affected by their working activities, which includes (but aren’t limited to):
- Providing a safe working environment with access to suitable welfare facilities.
- Given access to training, instruction, and supervision that is relevant and suitable for the activities being undertaken.
- Ensuring that all work equipment provided is in a safe, suitable, and maintained condition.
- Suitably assessing and controlling risks as far as reasonably practicable (that’s the balance of the Cost, Time, and Effort against the reduction in Risk). Always involve your employees in this process as they will have the day-to-day knowledge of activities and perhaps a different insight that could highlight hazards that you may not be aware of.
Employees must co-operate and work with their employer, working to all required safety measures and not acting in such a way that would cause risk to themselves or others. This includes not tampering or interfering with any safety measures or devices.
Q.) I’m a small business and don’t have the budget for health and safety procedures. What should I do?
Health and Safety isn’t designed to break the bank. You also need to look at it as an investment as there are many hidden returns to effective Health and Safety which many businesses don’t consider, including (again, not limited to):
- Reduction in accidents that reduces sickness wage bills and temporary staff costs.
- Reduced maintenance costs due to providing suitable work equipment and the staff being trained to use these correctly.
- Reduced insurance premiums from a reduction in claims.
Chances are, the procedures themselves are already present in some way, shape or form within the business and it is a case of formalising them. In some cases, there will be an outlay of costs such as: providing fire safety and first aid measures for example. In these cases, they are a necessity and requirement under law so the business will need to allocate the right resources.
If you are worried about costs and processes then I advise sitting and talking to an expert who can point you on the right track as there isn’t a “one size fits all” option because each business is unique. We often meet with small businesses and give guidance on what steps to take in a cost-effective manner.
Q.) Can I leave staff on their own?
You can, as long as it is safe and practicable to do so. Leaving staff on their own would class them as “Lone Workers” and is quite common with lone working activities in many shapes and sizes. These can include a cleaner in an office to mobile workers such as salespersons and engineers. There are some basic areas to consider before allowing it:
- Assess the activities they will be required to undertake. First and foremost, can they be completed safely by a single person? Where they can, consider the hazards posed by working alone and put in measures to control the risks as far as practicable.
- Check the level of training of the staff to make sure they have the proper knowledge and ability to work alone
- Make sure there are measures in place to communicate with workers. This could be providing a company mobile phone where the activities are lower risk, to full “man down” systems where there is a greater level of risk
- Arrange and communicate procedures for emergency situations to the staff and all other appropriate parties so the lone workers know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Q.) My staff want to go home on hot days in the Summer but I need work to be done. What should I do?
We have all had it haven’t we? The hot summer days looking out of the window wishing it was our day off. Let’s be honest over here Summer can come and go in a day.
Maximum temperature is a very common question we hear as many people see it as a golden ticket. However, under the regulations there is no maximum temperature, instead, it states that temperatures inside buildings should “‘be reasonable”. So this means, if you have multiple members of staff complaining that it is too hot, then you need to look at different options to make the temperature more comfortable and continue working. There are portable air conditioning units that can be used if you are in an office environment, or perhaps provide chilled drinking water and consider short rest breaks.
Assess the work activities and the environment your workers are in and then consider what reasonable controls can be put in place.
Luke Taylor of Orchard Compliance Solutions
07923 165 406/ 0800 118 1674 | firstname.lastname@example.org | orchardcompliance.co.uk
Upcoming Events – Summer 2019
|Xero Level 4 Course||Thursday 4th July|
|Xero Level 1 Course||Tuesday 16th July|
|Xero Level 2 Course||Tuesday 30th July|
|Xero Level 1 Course||Tuesday 13th August|
|Xero Level 2 Course||Tuesday 20th August|