If it works, don’t fix it. I’m sure everyone has heard that statement, but is this philosophy always good to live by? That depends on what it is that “works”. In some cases, you can get away with letting things fail, and then take the action to fix or replace them. In other cases, it’s a good idea to fix things at the first sign of trouble, and sometimes things should be “fixed” even before anything appears to be wrong. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Let’s say the speakers on your computer are making a funny noise, and it’s not because you’re watching hilarious YouTube™ videos. It might be okay to put up with the noise because if the speakers fail, it’s probably not critical to running your business. Or, your car is making a noise that you have identified and it is not compromising safety. In this case, you can turn the speakers up and not hear the noise anymore.
About two years ago one of the sensors in my wife’s car that tells when the tire pressure is low malfunctioned and was always on. The tire was fine, but the light was a little annoying, so we spent the money and got the sensor replaced. Recently, the light came on again. Of course, the first thought is a bad sensor, but after checking the air pressure, we determined it, in fact, needed some air. Problem solved, the light went out… for a couple of days. When the light came on again, we discovered there was a screw in the tire. It was a good thing we replaced the sensor and didn’t ignore the light in the first place, or she may have been stuck on the side of the road.
Finally, how is your computer running? I’ll bet it’s running just fine, so why would you need to back up your information? Computers rarely give you a sign that something is about to go haywire. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a backup. And, while we’re talking about technology, how old is the computer and/or software that your business is relying on? Eventually, the computer will fail, and the old software on it may not run on new equipment. Are you prepared to reenter all the information you need to run your business because your data will not move to newer software? Think about it.
Sometimes things need to be fixed, even if they still work.
Spring is here according to the calendar. Although, with snow on the ground in many parts of the country, it may not feel like it. The arrival of spring prompts many of us to start thinking about doing some spring cleaning. Included in your spring cleaning should be a review of your financial information. Here are a few things to think about cleaning up.
When entering transactions, it’s easy to enter, as new, the name of a customer or vendor that may already exist in your database. This creates a duplicate of that name and may make it difficult to find transactions related to that name. Having duplicate names also skews the numbers, when performing analysis of the business you’ve conducted with that person or company. In CenterPoint, you can easily go into setup and combine duplicate entries, making it easier to find transactions for that name.
Another example is one that I recently completed with my own personal data. Since I started keeping my personal records in our software (November 1987), I have had separate accounts (subaccounts) for electricity and gas under a utilities account. After over thirty years, (apparently, I’m a slow learner) I realized I have never looked at my utility costs at that level, so I combined the two accounts into a single utilities account I called “gas and electric”. Not a big deal, but it makes my data a little cleaner.
Of course, it’s also the end of a calendar quarter, and that’s always a good time to take a look at how your actual business is doing compared to the budget you created for the year. (You did create a budget, didn’t you?) Also, it’s good timing to check inventory that you have on hand against the information in your accounting program.
I’m sure you can think of a number of other things that can be done as part of your spring (data) cleaning.
At Red Wing Software, we know the importance of keeping payroll tax tables up-to-date. We make every effort possible to ensure you have the latest tax table information, in most cases even before they become effective. I read an article indicating one of the popular off-the-shelf payroll packages was touting that they would have the new federal withholding table available as early as mid-February. These tables were available in CenterPoint Payroll for our customers the very next day after they were published by the IRS. We also stay on top of the payroll tax changes in all states and territories, making sure our customers are using the most recent data.
While we keep the software updated, there are other things that need to be considered when it comes to proper withholding. Keep in mind that some employees may request additional withholding be taken each pay period based on their experience with previous years’ results. With the changes to the default tax tables, it may be important for them to recalculate the estimate of taxes they will owe for the year, and rethink the amount of extra withholding they have deducted. It’s a good idea to inform employees of this situation, and request they complete new W-4 forms if they would like to adjust their number of dependents or extra state or federal withholding.
January was a very challenging and successful month for Red Wing Software. As we expected, there was a large number of calls for support as our customers were completing 2017, starting 2018, and processing payroll reports and Federal tax forms. Even with the huge increase in call volume, we continued to maintain a direct call pickup above 90%. For those calls that were posted to our call board, it was rare that subscribers to our Silver and Gold Customer Care Memberships waited over an hour for a return call. There was a great effort by our support staff and several others in our company to minimize the wait time, and provide the best service possible at the busiest time of the year.
With more of our customers wanting to get their software training online, we have decreased the number of live classroom training sessions to six classes in three weeks for 2018. You can view the schedule here: Live Classroom Training.
In addition to our classroom training, we are offering several virtual classes, both live and recorded. You can view those offerings here: Virtual Classroom Training.
Several of our staff members will be at industry trade shows throughout the country. We will have staff at shows in Texas, Kentucky, California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and that’s just in the first quarter of 2018. We always appreciate the opportunity to talk to our customers at these shows and hope you can stop by and say “howdy.”
As I write this article for our monthly newsletter, I am watching TV and found out this new tax bill that just passed will make everyone so successful we will all have our own personal jet airplane. Oh, wait … I just changed the channel and found out this is the worst thing that could possibly happen to all of mankind, and as soon as I finish writing, I’m heading out to stock up on food and water since the world will certainly end. Whew, I’m thankful the “Power” button still works to turn this noise off.
Sarcasm aside (which is not easy for me), the changes in the new tax law will have a different effect on each of us. It is vitally important to understand our individual financial position, and how the changes affect us personally. This means having a firm grasp on our business, and the changes we may need to make in reaction to the new rules. I heard one “expert” say they prepaid as much of their real estate taxes for next year as they could, and the very next “expert” say not only is that a bad idea, you can’t legally do that. Since neither of these people know my personal situation, I think I’ll ignore their advice.
At the risk of repeating myself from earlier articles, here’s where the importance of working with trusted advisors pays off. These professionals know your business and will be able to guide you through the maze of changes.
You can count on us at Red Wing Software to keep you up-to-date on payroll tax tables, depreciation calculations, and any other changes that need to be made in our software, as the rules are solidified. Unfortunately, this may mean more frequent releases of new versions of our software so we can ensure you have the most current information. We are also expecting a higher than normal load on our Support Team, and will do the best we can to provide the service that you’ve come to expect from us. We will do everything in our power to help keep you informed with as little disruption to your operation as possible.
Thank you for your continued support, and have a happy and prosperous New Year.