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Friday 28 March 2014

Accounting Software Feature Comparison

A tool created by The Insitute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) to allow the Bookkeeper to capture all the business processes of their client and then compare against the various software providers. Welcome to the first instalment in our software feature comparison project. It is a big undertaking to compare the features of the main software players. We are comparing the main products of 5 companies: MYOB, Intuit, Reckon, Xero and Saasu.

We have invited them all to be involved in the process of assessing what features each software plan offers—most have agreed in principle, however the Sales comparison has been done largely in-house and utilising the services of paid software consultants. We hope to have direct input from the companies for future sections.
Our process has been firstly to assess in-house against a basic list of features. As we compare the products, the feature list grows and the list goes back and forth a couple of times as we seek further information or clarification about a particular feature or product. Then we seek external input from the software companies, and refine and finalise the list.

We have done our best to make sure the list is accurate at the time of publication. We anticipate updating the website regularly as software features and plans are added or updated.

We see this as being a valuable tool to help you assess products on their own merits and independent of the marketing material published by the software companies—not that there is anything wrong with their information, just that we hear from our members that it can be hard to compare “apples with apples”—so this tool is designed to help you make that comparison more easily.

Our intention is to compare different parts of the bookkeeping process in turn. This month it is Sales, next month will be Purchases, followed by Payroll. In future months we will look at banking, chart of accounts, BAS, analysis and other areas. All up it will likely take us until August to cover all areas of bookkeeping processes in the software products.

We remind you of related ICB information on selecting software for your clients, checklists for software choices, and our previous list of compulsory items which was the start of this whole process:

Note: at the time of publication we were unable to test the Intuit product “Simple Start” but we hope to have this information available for future newsletters and we will update the website with the features once we have this information.

We have extracted a small sample of the comparison chart below — download the spreadsheet to view the whole list.

New Privacy Laws from 12 March 2014

From 12 March 2014, there will be many changes to the Privacy Act.  Although this seems a while away, if the Privacy Act applies to your business, it’s a good idea to start preparing for the changes now.

Does the Act apply to my business? The Privacy Act protects personal information handled by large businesses and health service providers of any size.

The Act may also apply to a small business if it has an annual turnover of more than $3 million and either:
·       is a health service provider
·       trades in personal information
·       provides services under a Commonwealth contract
·       runs a residential tenancy database
·       is related to a larger business
·       is a reporting entity under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act
Check the details at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.  If you’re still not sure, you may need to seek advice from your lawyer or other business advisors.

What is changing?  A new set of privacy principles that covers the handling of personal information by businesses will be introduced.

The changes will affect how businesses can:
·       handle and process personal information
·       use personal information for direct marketing
·       disclose personal information to people overseas.
The Privacy Act changes will also give the Information Commissioner the ability to:
·       investigate serious breaches (including the right to impose penalties on businesses)
·       assess the privacy performance of businesses.
To comply with the Privacy Act from 12 March 2014, businesses will need to have a clear and up to date privacy policy that is easily available.
For details of all changes to the Privacy Act, visit the Privacy law reform page on the OAIC website.

For an introduction to privacy legislation, try the snapshot of the Privacy Act for small business

SUPERANNUATION Clarifications on MySuper System

On the ATO website there is some confusing language regarding the MySuper system. We received some clarification from the ATO Superannuation section.

The website states that the employer must choose a default fund that “offers MySuper products”:
What this really means is that the default fund or product MUST be a MySuper product. It is not enough to choose a fund that offers MySuper products—the employer must nominate an approved product.

If an employer is swapping their default fund from a ‘non-compliant’ product to a MySuper product, a super choice form must be provided to those employees who have not chosen a fund and the default fund has been used.  The employee using the existing default fund has the choice to stay with the fund or move to the new Mysuper default fund.  If the employee does not return the super choice form within 28days then the New MySuper default fund must be used.

The employee can of course choose to stay with the previous default product, but would have to complete the super choice form to indicate this.  If the employee ends up with two super funds because of the employer having to swap over to a new default product, it remains the worker’s responsibility to initiate the rollover of multiple super funds into one of their choice