Accounting Software – Ways to Save Time Entering Data

By Stephanie Elsen

Man using accounting software

Are you frustrated because your accounting data entry takes so long and seems so inefficient? Do you feel you should be able to cut down on data entry time and human errors? Here are some ways accounting software can help you do just that. Check to see if your accounting software offers these time-saving functions.

Date Entry Shortcut

When entering dates into your accounting system, you should have the ability to simply type the day and it auto-fills the month and year, or enter just the month and day, and it will complete the year. It should also have an option to not enter separators (hyphens, slashes, etc.) between the month, day and year. Many systems will have an auto-fill function that intuitively knows what you are trying to enter, and provides options for you to choose and shorten your typing time.

Lookups

The majority of fields in your system should have lookup functions so you can find the information you need for the field if it doesn’t have a default value. Many systems will also allow you to decide which fields it should look for a match in when something is entered in a field. For example, if you are in a field where it’s expecting a customer code, do you have to enter the actual code, or can you enter a customer name, phone number, etc. and it will still find a match. Having this intuitive lookup capability can help you find things more quickly and reduce frustration.

Function Keys

As you might be aware, function keys (F1, F2, etc.) are available to shorten functions you perform on your computer most often. Using them can really shave off data entry time from your day! Learn how the function keys work within your accounting software and you can save several clicks per transaction, adding up to a good amount of time saved per day!

Set as Default

If you find yourself selecting the same choice in a field every time, you would likely benefit from changing the default option to the choice you select most often. Many accounting software systems will allow you to change the default to the selection you use most often, saving on data entry time, and ensuring accuracy.

Custom Columns

Some accounting programs allow you to add or remove columns of information within modules such as accounts payable and accounts receivable. This is extremely useful, since most programs must have a wide variety of fields/columns of information to meet many kinds of businesses. Remove the columns of information you don’t need to see, and add those you do need, which can really help streamline your job.

Set Tab Stops

Fields of information within your accounting software may not always be ones you choose or need to use. That’s why many applications will allow you to skip past fields you never use or fields that auto-fill with the correct information. That way when you are hitting the ‘tab’ key to get to the next field, the ones you don’t use will be skipped, and you will instead be directed to the next field you actually want to go to.

Recurring Transactions

Monthly utility bills, insurance payments, and rent payments are all examples of payments you can set up as recurring transactions. Setting them up as recurring transactions eliminates the job of entering the same details each time you need to process the transaction. Furthermore, if you bill your customers on an ongoing basis you can also set those up as recurring accounts receivable invoices. Setting up accounts payable and accounts receivable transactions as recurring transactions can not only save on work, but can also help you become more organized.

While every accounting software system is different, check out your system to see if the above time-saving functions are available. Every little savings of time can really add up!

Pay Stubs

By Stephanie Elsen

Can a whole blog post be written about pay stubs? Well, if you manage payroll, you know pay stubs are important! A pay stub is the piece of paper an employee receives that contains information about their pay. If they receive a printed pay check, it’s typically attached to the check. If their pay is direct deposited or distributed on a pay card, the paper is simply handed out to those employees. Some employers even go a step further and offer electronic pay stubs, which eliminates the need for paper and allows employees to access their pay information securely online. No matter the form they take, the pay stub is necessary so employees can access information and details about their pay, employment, and benefits. Here are some things you should know about printed pay stubs.

Here are examples of some of the standard pay stub types available with a payroll system. What you put on the pay stubs for your employees largely depends on your company, the benefits you provide, and which information you and your employees need to see (or not to see).

  • Standard Pay Stub
  • Standard with Leave & Deductions Pay Stub
  • Standard with Benefits Pay Stub
  • Piece Rate Pay Stub
  • Standard with Piece Rate Pay Stub
  • Standard without YTD Hours Pay Stub
  • Standard without Leave Pay Stub

While many payroll software systems offer a standard set of payroll stub variations, some systems also allow you to design your own pay stubs, so they are exactly as your company and its employees with to see them. Red Wing Software’s CenterPoint Payroll does allow for designing of custom pay stubs with its Check Stub Designer, which is an optional add-on product.

Placement of the pay stub can vary greatly, and that’s why many payroll systems offer the ability to choose where the check and the pay stub are on the check paper stock. The page is typically divided into three sections, with one section being for the check itself, one section for the employee stub and the other section for the stub which the employer keeps.

Some payroll systems also offer users the option of providing electronic pay stubs. Employees are then able to access their current and prior pay data online, from any computer via the internet. This eliminates the need for paper pay stubs, and is also convenient way to provide employees in multiple states or locations with their pay information.

It is important to choose a payroll system that can create pay stubs for your company and its employees in a way that makes the most sense for you.

Pay Stub Sample – CenterPoint Payroll Software.

Pay Stub Sample – CenterPoint Payroll Software

How Your Payroll Software can make Wage Garnishment Simple

By Stephanie Elsen

As an employer, you are aware of the importance of making accurate employee wage garnishments. Calculating withholdings and making payments can be complex, and processing them incorrectly can result in legal repercussions. Here are some ways payroll software can help ensure deductions are made accurately and on time.

Set up and track garnishment calculations. By setting up garnishment calculations to compute automatically when payroll is processed, you are assured a consistently accurate dollar amount is being withheld, keeping both employee and creditor happy.

Set up and pay garnishment creditors from your payroll system. By setting up creditors within your payroll system, you can easily process and send checks right from the system instead of having to look up the address and print the check from another location. This also provides the ability to run reports to see who has been paid, and how much.

Specify a minimum net pay. Many garnishment court orders require that an amount be deducted from the pay, yet the employee pay should not go below a specified amount. By setting this up within your payroll system, you are confident the proper garnishment is taken out, and that the employee gets their minimum amount.

Set up a garnishment priority. When an employee has more than one garnishment, you will need to know which garnishment takes priority. Setting up a priority system within your software allows you to automatically deduct the garnishment in the correct order, so that the proper amount is deducted for each creditor.

Specify the priority of other deductions. A garnishment may be set up to allow the employee to contribute money to other areas before the garnishment is taken, such as a 401(k) contribution. In this case, setting up a rule within your system to handle this will make certain that the garnishment is taken only after the other deductions are taken.

Employee payroll garnishments can be complicated. Use every tool at your disposal to ensure you are in compliance with a court-ordered garnishment, and look after the needs of your employee at the same time. Payroll software is a tool that can work wonders in keeping both parties satisfied.

Wage Garnishment Setup in CenterPoint Payroll Software

Wage Garnishment Setup in CenterPoint Payroll Software

9 Trends + Tips for Cost-effective Digital Marketing in 2013

By Steve Lubahn, Vice President of Client Marketing Services at Vision Design Group, Winona, MN

Steve Lubahn, Vice President of Client Marketing Services at Vision Design Group, Winona, MN

It’s that time of year again, to look back on how we’ve spent a year in anticipation for improving our businesses in the year ahead.

Working closely with more than 250 businesses at our marketing firm, Vision Design Group, I looked back at 2012 to find five key marketing trends that can help direct your marketing efforts in the coming year:

  • Continued shift of traditional print and advertising budget to digital marketing. Many clients now have digital marketing budgets that exceed 50% of their total marketing budget.
  • Website redesigns are becoming more frequent. Where businesses once updated their website every 5-7 years, they’re now finding it necessary to update every 3-5 years to keep up with online trends, updated information and implement new technology to serve their customers. Remember when we used to come out with a new brochure every six months, or an annual catalog? The ability to make on-demand changes to your website comes with the responsibility to deliver a website that keeps pace with changes in your product and service offerings, as well as changes in internet technology.
  • Major increase in requests for mobile optimized websites. Most of our clients are now seeing mobile traffic ranging from 10% to over 30% of their total website visits. It’s no longer optional to consider both the tablet and smartphone device user experience on your website. If you are updating your website, strongly consider a responsive design that will adjust the page layout based on the size of the display, from desktop PC to tablet to smartphone. (See the article Do I Need A Mobile App for My Business? for examples of several types of mobile website optimization.)
  • Sharp increase in the number of clients using paid search.Clients who implement cost per click (CPC) paid search advertising on Google and other search engines are typically seeing increase of 5% to over 70% in website traffic. In addition, paid search traffic often results in conversion rates higher than website traffic sources.
  • Increase in commercial photography. Companies are choosing higher quality photography not just for printed materials, but also to improve their internet presence. Fewer websites use stock photos and now favor real-life images of company-related people and settings.

Based on this ongoing migration from traditional media to internet-delivered media, how can you cost-effectively improve your digital marketing efforts in 2013? Here are a few ideas that you can implement quickly to improve the performance of your website and increase sales leads.

4 Tips for Cost-effective Digital Marketing in 2013

  • Claim and optimize your Google+ Local listing. Google and other search engines are placing a heavy emphasis on local search. If you haven’t already, claim your Google+ Local (previously Google Places) listing. It’s a free and simple action you can take immediately. If you have multiple locations or branches, optimize the listing for each location. Once you claim your listing, add keywords related to your business and services to improve your search rankings. You can also customize your listing with your logo, images, business hours and products and services. Also consider claiming and updating your listings on Bing Local, LinkedIn, Manta and other popular business directories.
  • Spend more time on email marketing. Though not as glitzy as social media and other newer forms of digital marketing, email marketing to a solid in-house list continues to be one of the most cost-effective means of communicating with and selling to your customer base. Experiment with frequency and the call to action. A good mailing list can maintain open rates of 20%-30%, and many of our e-commerce clients enjoy an increase in orders after every email they send. Be sure to clean out bounced or abandoned emails to improve your email deliverability rates. For more information on email marketing trends, advantages, and tips, see our blog post Email - still your most effective marketing media.
  • Improve your website’s organic search results. If you want to improve your organic search engine optimization (SEO), start with making sure your page titles are unique on each page, and align with target keyword phrases on each page. For best results, try to limit page titles to about 70 characters maximum, and page descriptions to about 125 characters. Most search engines place little or no weight on the keyword metatags, so do not spend much time trying to tweak your keyword metatag. Looking for ideas on what keywords to focus on? Review your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools reports for keywords and phrases that are currently driving traffic to your website, and focus on those that are resulting in orders or other forms of conversion.
  • Consider adding live chat to your website. For anyone over 40, it is hard to image the need for live chat on a website. If you have high school or college age children, you know their cell phones are rarely used for voice communication, but they use them constantly for texting and sending messages via social media. Many businesses are finding implementation of live chat increases their ability to interact with potential customers, particularly those in younger generations. Live chat can also improve your customer service with more timely interaction and can often reduce the time per support case for your customer service staff. Live chat is quick and cost-effective to implement; for instance, a platform called SnapEngage can be implemented with up to four customer service agents at less than $50 per month. For more information on Live Chat, see the Vision Design Group blog article Use Live Chat To Increase Leads and Customer Interaction.

Steve Lubahn is Vice President of Client Marketing Services at Vision Design Group in Winona, Minnesota. Please visit their Web site at www.visiondesign.com. Contact Steve by phone at 507-453-0767, or by email at slubahn@visiondesign.com.