Something we find when talking to business owners about real time bookkeeping and payroll information, is that the concept of ‘real time’ means different things to different people, writes SARAH DALY
As well as confusion about what ‘real time’ means, there is sometimes insufficient awareness of the importance of maintaining accurate records in order to get the best out of the realtime systems the business has invested in.
So, let’s take a look at what ‘real time’ is really all about from a bookkeeping and payroll perspective.
Real time information …
Enables you to run your business more efficiently
Enables you to spot emerging problems and address them before they escalate
Transactions must be recorded promptly and accurately
Real time bookkeeping
Most businesses today use cloud accounting solutions to manage their bookkeeping records. The advantages of these systems are that they streamline time-consuming processes and provide ‘real time’ access to information. ‘Real time’ in this context means:
- Immediate access to data that has been entered and processed in the system, and
- Ability to access this data 24/7 on any of your authorised devices
That’s the theory. In reality, though, the value of ‘real time’ information can be undermined if the procedures that underpin it are not properly maintained.
When you think about it, this is obvious. Unless orders are entered on the system, you won’t be able to view them. If invoices aren’t raised on time, you won’t be able to access them either. If your data entry is error prone, those errors will carry through into your ‘real time’ dashboards. If backlogs developed because you and your team were too busy, or because your team was disrupted by COVID-19 restrictions, that too will undermine your real time information.
A more fundamental problem is that if you can’t access accurate, up-to-date information, that can have really serious consequences for your planning and decision-making, particularly during periods of volatility or uncertainty such as we are experiencing at the moment.
Similar issues affect realtime payroll information. Unless the data entered on your system is up-to-date, accurate and complete, your payroll will be error-prone.
There’s a lot that can go wrong when you have incorrect data in your system —
- Employees on incorrect tax bands
- Incorrect or late wage payments
- Incorrect deductions
- Incorrect payslips
- Workers labelled as ‘self employed’ when they should be classed as employees
All of these have knock-on consequences —not just for your own oversight and management of your business but also for the returns that you submit to Revenue.
So, what’s the solution — How do you get real about real time?
The most important first step is to identify any of your procedures that need improvement and tighten up. This is something to keep in mind when setting next year’s goals with your team. If backlogs have built up, now is the time to deal with them. If your business has grown and you simply don’t have time to keep your bookkeeping up to date or run your own payroll, perhaps it is time to consider recruiting a bookkeeper or payroll administrator or outsourcing these functions to a specialist provider like GroForth.
When selecting providers, always check that they are properly qualified and plan the handover for the start of a New Year as this will help ensure a smooth transition.
Accurate, reliable bookkeeping and payroll records are essential in every business. If you need support or advice on how to get the best out of your real time systems, contact GroForth for assistance.