How can compliance be made easier?

How can compliance be made easier?

In a recent blog, whilst complimenting the financial conduct authority (FCA) on a quality publication, the CEO of the ICM said how two recently issued compliance documents were 40 pages and 646 pages respectively. Philip King went on to add that he did not envy the job of a compliance manager on that basis.

So what about the companies that do not have a compliance manager? Where the financial controller or credit controller has to try and divulge this information whenever it should be drafted or arrive on email from the FCA? Philip’s blog, which can be read in full here: http://www.icm.org.uk/ceoblog/rule-thumb-blog-philip-king/ points out and pokes fun at the fact that one of these FCA documents has four pages set aside for abbreviations alone. Whilst the CEO of the ICM says how the writing style is good, plain English, easy to follow to read, the blog highlights that this was issued at the very end of February by the FCA. Guidelines within effective from the 1 April in the same year. Nearly 700 pages of information for a company to read, digest, implement strategies around to change policy and procedure to ensure compliance, in just one short month. No wonder Philipp says he doesn’t envy a compliance manager!

Using the right software can help. Safe Financials and Safe Credit Control software for instance is powered by Safe, kept abreast with the latest regulatory and best practice changes. Those using Safe software are updated with software updates, user manuals, and offered training courses. Having Safe software in your business could really help take the pressure out of financial regulatory compliance. To find out more visit www.safe-financials.co.uk or www.safe-creditcontrol.co.uk. You can also call 0844 583 2134 or email info@safecomputing.co.uk.

Save yourself the burden of legislation

 

Save yourself the burden of legislation

 

Recent years have seen many businesses have struggled as legislation surrounding payroll continues to grow. Operationally, keeping on top of it all is tiresome. In smaller businesses resources can be stretched, trying to comply with the ever growing law of directives. 

 

The introduction of pensions auto enrolment has been rolling out in stages for a while now for larger employers. This year sees the smaller and medium enterprises hit with this new legislation, which they will now need to be able to cope with. Last year real time information came into effect. The combinations of these two new legislation pieces have made many employers switch to outsourcing, when they hadn’t necessarily considered it an option before. 

 

As well as ensuring compliance, a cost saving can be made by outsourcing, as instead of stretching internal human resources, outsourcing means using another company’s team to run your business payroll activities. Ultimately this frees your company’s resource, either to leave the business, or more often, to be reassigned to focus on more core business tasks. 

 

Outsourcing can bring further benefits. Service level agreements can be set prior to utilising the service. These SLAs could mean measuring aspects that either hadn’t been possible to measure or hadn’t been thought of as measurable before. 

 

Let’s face it, times change. Legislative changes surrounding HR will continue to occur in the future, if not from our government directly, than from directives cascaded down from the European Union. Further legislation will build further complexity to payroll operationally, and require increasing amounts of management in terms of resource. By far the easiest way to save the burden and enjoy economies of scale cost savings is to outsource. 

 

To see how a supplier of outsourcing services can help you to outsource your payroll, visit www.safeoutsourcing.co.uk and click on the ‘enquire online’ link, email info@safeoutsourcing.co.uk, or call 0844 583 2134.

 

14 million P2 Coding Notices and RTI

As HMRC continues to progress their PAYE computer system with the National Insurance and PAYE Service (NPS), they are expecting to issue 14 million P2 Coding Notices to employers in tax year 2011-12 as Pay and Benefits magazine recently reported.

The problems associated with incorrect tax codes were well highlighted in the national press during 2010, due to the introduction of this new system. These problems have been attributed to a mismatch of information between employers HR and payroll software systems, pension providers and HMRC. The system had to be updated to make sure PAYE will work well in time for the introduction of Real Time Information (RTI).

In readiness for the tax year 2011-12 and in light of previous problems, HMRC issued largely electronically P9s. For those unable to receive P9s electronically in time for the new tax year, HMRC advised they follow the P9X procedure, the main crux of which was to add 100 to any tax code ending in L to reflect a change in allowance. Perhaps ironically, those who couldn’t receive this electronically, thus perhaps the least technology savvy of their audience, were told the full details of how to follow P9X procedure were available on the HMRC website.

Pressure to modernise to leaner greener paperless electronic systems leads organisations such as HMRC to increasingly direct people and organisations to more electronic means. The large HMRC website for procedural information can make it difficult for payroll managers to keep up to speed with all the latest updates and impossible to those who still use paper based systems and manual approaches to payroll. HR software, payroll software, also other payroll solutions such as time and attendance software can all help with compliance through digital updates. However there will still be companies who can’t afford that level of investment, but need that level of processing power. For those, payroll bureau services, or fully managed payroll outsourcing could be the best solution to keeping HR payroll activities up to date.

To find out more about Safe EMS HR and payroll software and bureau or managed services visit www.safe-ems.co.uk and click on ‘enquire online’, or call us on 0844 583 2134 quoting ref ‘HMRC RTI’ to arrange a free demonstration.

 

Go anywhere credit control and spread the word!

Go anywhere credit control and spread the word!

As there is an increasing trend to work from home, so there is a need for more portable and accessible ways of working. Working from home or indeed the local coffee shop, saves company space and resources, and provides employees with a more comfortable working environment.

Additionally in these days of distributed office environments, for example, branch networks either locally or internationally, access to key management information from these disparate locations is crucial to business success.

Furthermore, providing business critical data directly to your clients, will generate a rapid return on investment not to mention empowering your most valuable asset, your clients.

For some reason though, a surprising number of companies seem to keep their credit control function and teams in house, and trapped in a single environment. Current, cost effective and readily available technology means this does not need to be the case. Software is available now which allows credit controllers, branch colleagues and their clients, to work externally to the localised environment. The reach of credit and query management can be extended using web based software via an online portal. Within a web browser, permitted users can check reports, handle enquiries and interact with the internal credit control team.

Trusted colleagues gain access to all their associated clients credit control related data and clients themselves may access a reduced subset of their own data.  Available data includes client turnover, aged debtor profile, balances and outstanding queries, not to mention full access to all current and historical transactions including the ability to download copy documents.  Other documents, chase letters and customer statements may also be viewed and downloaded via the portal.

The option to interact with the credit control team by adding notes or changing the status of a query or outstanding action radically improves the interaction with the team.  This shortens resolution time, hence enabling outstanding debt to be resolved in a much shorter timescale.

To find out more about Safe Credit Control, visit www.safe-creditcontrol.co.uk and complete an online enquiry form.

 

 

 

 

Eddie Stanley, Safe Computing, Commercial Director, Financials and Credit Control.

 

 

Credit control and CRM, working together?

Credit control and CRM, working together?

Customer relationship management systems are an increasingly hot topic in the IT related press. Organisations are increasingly seeking to automate their ‘front office’ activities where possible, and see credit control as very much a ‘back office’ function. Traditionally, credit control is a reactive exercise, controllers chasing late payment as Rottweilers, not the cuddly teddy bears associated with CRM.

Adopting a softer, CRM based approach to credit control is, as the name suggests, about cultivating a relationship with the customer.  By employing CRM techniques, we give the customer the impression they are special, and that the credit controller has a holistic view of their account and the person they are communicating with. Any software system should therefore be able to provide all relevant customer facing personnel with a comprehensive view of all dealings with the company. An all round, sometimes called ‘three sixty degree’, view.

Creating a relationship on a one to one basis, encourages trust between the parties involved.  A customer promising to pay transactions is far less likely to default, if they feel they are letting a ‘friend’ down rather than the unknown face of a traditional credit controller. One software and service provider has embraced this concept, combining CRM practices into credit control activities which in turn separates them as a thought leader in the market.

This software solution, available today, tracks every single communication between credit controller and customer, each conversation, every letter, all emails, the whole relationship committed to record.  Automated events are diarised to drive a daily workflow for the credit controller.  Typical events include overdue invoices, exceeded credit limits and risk reviews to name but a few. The credit controller is guided towards their daily tasks, with all the related information necessary to complete the task readily available.

To find out more about Safe Credit Control, visit www.safe-creditcontrol.co.uk and complete an online enquiry form.

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie Stanley, Commercial Director - Financials and Credit Control, Safe Computing.

 

Can you afford to wait 61 days to be paid?

It seems acknowledged that typical payment terms are usually 30 days, but according to research average debtor days, in some cases extend to  61 days*. Remarkably many companies appear not to place sufficient focus on such excessive debtor days. However in times of recession, where cash flow is one of the most important things to manage, who can really afford to wait that long?

Waiting two months for payments due is in my humble opinion far too long. Businesses in these tough economic times do not have the borrowing abilities they had previously, as banks become increasingly inflexible, and under closer scrutiny, since the public bailout in the UK. Indeed, the new UK coalition government has just unveiled plans to scrap the financial services authority (FSA) for not keeping banks on a tight enough leash. Control will go to the Bank of England, which will no doubt in the long term mean stricter rules for banks to adhere to, and less borrowing to be had.

So what is the impact on your enterprise? With money you are potentially owed sitting earning interest for your customers rather than you and potentially paying interest on overdrafts, you are losing out big style! Whilst your overdraft facilities could potentially previously handle the deficit in the short term, your bank holds the right to change that. If your bank was to withdraw your overdraft tomorrow, would your cash flow cope? Your company can make a loss more than once, but running out of cash could be the end.

Rather than wait the traditional 30 days before manually chasing, our software tries a softer, earlier, automated approach. The impact for our customers is a vast reduction in debtor days, improved cash flow, and much better customer relations. The impact to you could be the difference between trading today, and gone tomorrow. If you think our software could help your business, get in touch. info@safecomputing.co.uk.

*Source: http://www.findoutinfo.com/direct/CD001?stylesheet=USE315.xsl

 

 

 

By Eddie Stanley

 

Increasing margins by decreasing processing costs

Eddie Young writes ...’A wise man pointed out to me many years ago that for every pound of unnecessary expenditure, it takes two extra pounds of revenue to return it to profit.

Competition has never been greater than in the staffing world. The fight for margin is a tough one, especially where clients hold the upper hand on billing rates. This situation tends to focus the mind of staffing companies on the ‘coalface’ of sales negotiation. With the hope that volume negotiated there, will offset low unit margin. It is the service industry equivalent of ‘pile them high, and sell them cheap’.

Basic bookkeeping teaches that revenue generation is just one half of the equation. Controlling costs is equally important. Many employment businesses find their processes have grown around ‘necessity’, without regard to cost. Volume business, discounted or not, might improve the gross margin but can severely impact the bottom line. Support systems responsible for the processing of the payroll for workers, and the raising of invoices to clients, and cash collection, can struggle to keep up. The solution is all too often an increase in headcount, or squeezing even more commitment out of staff in the middle or back office.

It is time to take a step backwards and regroup.

Firstly, there should be no ‘sacred cows’. Laissez-faire should  absolutely the last option.

Secondly, how much of the additional strain is there on systems which process data the business collects? Could these strains be eased by thinking a little bit smarter? How much of your data is collected and keyed into computer systems multiple times? The days of duplication should be put firmly behind us. Such duplication is not only inefficient, it breeds error.

Thirdly, can the increased efficiency of such a systematic review only benefit your staffing business? Can efficiency also improve the level of service to stakeholders, such as the clients, workers, and suppliers you interact with?

Fourthly, business systems are already available to address the challenges of the modern staffing world. It is not unchartered territory.

Finally, you can bet your bottom dollar that even if you eschew any consideration of change, your competitors probably won’t. Change can be for the better of your business, and can sometimes even put you ahead of the competition.

Go on. Make the change. Feel the benefits!

Cutting costs, increasing margins

Hi I’m Eddie Young, and this is the second in a series of blog entries I hope to bring you, exploring some of the burning issues faced by our industry today. In this instalment, I’ll be talking about ways you can cut costs and increase efficiency, both important for survival in our difficult current economic climate.

Clients are savvy these days, you can’t get the most money just by charging the clients more! You have to create efficiencies by reducing procedural costs, while increasing business efficiency. We have developed products to try and assist with these aims. These include timesheets which can be sent to a fax server. Or, we can even help with electronic collection of timesheet data via scanning, web portals, and client timesheet data via spreadsheets. The days of one size fits all are over! You don’t have to have one stakeholder doing all the work. Someone could be doing the inputting remotely, and sending it to you electronically, saving you precious time and resources.

Removing a paper trail is vital. Not only is this vital for saving our planets resources in these increasingly greener days, but also to save time, and reduce margin for error. Electronic timesheets eliminate the time lag between a timesheets completion, authorisation, and processing. Debtor days are reduced, as invoicing can be completed days earlier than the paper based equivalent.

I’m not describing the world of science fiction, this is happening today. Even where some of our clients don’t feel ready for electronic authorisation of timesheets, there is a gentle introduction. The ability to deliver to a worker their timesheet for the week, and print it ‘in the old fashioned way’ once completed, can be achieved electronically. This method is regarded by some of our software users as an introduction to the principle.

I’ll be writing a further few blog entries soon, but would be interesting in hearing your thoughts on these matters or anything else relevant to our industry on info@safecomputing.co.uk!

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