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Access rights for accountants in client administrations

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

Last Sunday we made a new Exact Online release available. This release contains a lot of new functionality – have a look at the announcement for some highlights. For accountants we introduced the Scanning service and some new overviews that I already blogged on in an earlier post. In this blog I want to explain an important change we implemented in the new release involving the collaboration connection between accountant and client.

The collaboration between accountants and clients is one of the cornerstones of Exact Online. Corporations that have their own Exact Online subscription can collaborate with their accountant by connecting to them within Exact Online. This will allow the accountant to have access to the client administrations to view and check the transactions. It also allows the accountant to perform certain tasks in the administrations, like creating and sending the VAT declaration.

Looking at the way the collaboration  between client and accountant is established and the feedback we received from accountants, it was clear that some changes had to be made to this functionality. The goals of these changes are to put the responsibility to perform certain tasks with the right users and to give the accountant more control over the process.

When a client defined the cooperation in the “Link to my accountant wizard” he used to get the page where he had to select one or more employees of the accountant that would get access to the administrations. Only the client could grant access to accountant users – the accountant always had to ask the client. This is not very efficient as there is little chance that the client actually knows the accountant employees and who should get access. Besides this, it is the accountant who in the end determines who should get access to a certain client administration. Depending on the agreement with the client it could be a financial or payroll administrator or a partner that needs access.

To make assigning users to administrations easier for both the client and the accountant we removed the step in the “Link to my accountant” wizard where accountant users are granted access to administrations. All accountant users with the ‘maintain rights’ role are now given access to the administrations by default. These users are always informed of the new administration access by a request in their workflow. They can then further assign other users access rights to the client administrations. Because workflow requests are created, the user that establishes the accountant link should have the rights to create workflow requests.

We also introduced the option for the accountant to indicate a user as account manager for the client. The client will be able to see who is their account manager in the accountant cockpit.

Although we mentioned it in the release notes, it is not yet possible to validate a client before activating the collaboration. We are putting the finishing touches to this functionality and plan to make this available later this week. When it becomes available I will also write a post to explain the new functionality.

If you have any questions or remarks let us know in the comments or send me an e-mail (robert.huberts@exact.com)

Top image credit: buddawiggi

Creating invoices for subscriptions

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

In a recent post Emiel Romein explained the process of creating invoices for subscriptions, see Turning subscriptions into money. In this post I am going to explain the process of creating the invoices in more detail and give you some tips that may help you in using the functions more efficiently.

As Emiel already showed you, the process of invoicing subscriptions only contains a couple of steps. You create some subscriptions and then go to the Generate invoices function in the subscriptions menu. In this screen you will see a list of subscriptions that can be invoiced. Select the subscriptions you want to invoice and press the Generate button. The generated invoices are now available for final printing and processing.

The subscriptions you see in the Generate invoices screen are filtered based on the values in the filter section in the top of the screen. There are several filters available, but two of them are important for showing the subscriptions that need to be invoiced.

The Invoiced up to and including field in the subscription holds the date up to which the subscription is invoiced. So the corresponding filter in the screen controls which subscriptions are shown in the screen based on the date they need to be invoiced again. The second important filter is the Not yet invoiced filter, checking this filter will result in showing all invoices that have never been invoiced (and therefore have an empty Invoiced up to and including date in the subscription).

Some tips to make working with the Generate invoices function easier

  • The invoice date in the screen is default set to the current date, however it can be changed if you want to. Keep in mind though that this date is only for planning the invoices, the actual invoice date is determined at the moment the invoices are printed.
  • You can enter a general description for the invoices, but it is not mandatory. If you do not enter a description, the description from the subscription is copied to the invoice.
  • The administration settings (subscription page) has a useful setting that will allow you to automatically add a number of days to the Invoiced up to and including date filter. So if you want to see all the subscriptions that need to be invoiced in the next 5 days, enter 5 in the setting.

  • Different subscriptions for the same customer that are processed at the same time will be grouped together in one invoice. If the customer wants to have separate invoices you can disable the grouping in the customer’s account card.
  • After you generated the invoices there is a confirmation message in the top of your screen. This message also contains a link to the Print invoices function, so you can go to printing the invoices in one click.

The invoice is not correct, can I still change it?

It can happen that you have generated invoices for a number of subscriptions, but when you check the invoices before printing you notice one or more are not correct. Maybe the customer has more subscriptions that need to be invoiced or something in the subscription is not correct. At this point you can still correct this by deleting the invoice. This will cause the Invoiced up to and until date in the original subscription to be reset to the value prior to generating the invoice. So you can make adjustments to the subscription and generate the invoice again.

If you already printed the invoice and you or the customer notices it is incorrect, you can only correct the invoice by creating a credit note. This credit note will be linked to the subscription. If you need to create a new invoice you will have to do that by manually entering it in the invoice solution, it cannot be generated from the subscription solution.

When do you send the invoice?

In the last months I have had meetings with a number of customers that use the subscription solution in Exact Online. One of the things I noticed is that quite a number of customers sent the invoices in advance of the subscription period. Although it is not something you can indicate in the subscription itself you can manage this when generating the invoices. You need to change the Start or Invoiced up to and until date filters to look further in the future.

I hope the above information will make using Exact Online a little easier for you. As always let me know if you have questions or remarks by leaving a comment.

A new member for the Exact Online Family

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

Just before the end of 2010 a new module has been added to the Exact Online offering: Exact Online Subscriptions. The module is meant for companies that offer goods or services based on a contract (subscription) that is both invoiced and renewed periodically. Because of the integration with the invoicing functions, the Subscription module can only be used together with the Invoice module of Exact Online.

The module of course allows you to create and maintain subscriptions, but before you can do that you need to setup some master data. The most important data you need to setup are the subscription types. Subscription types define the renewal policy, the length of the subscription period and the invoicing frequency for the subscriptions. You can then use the subscription types when creating a subscription, by selecting a type all the conditions for the subscription are set. After creating the subscriptions for your customers, you can generate invoices based on the subscription data. If it is part of your procedure you can print a subscription confirmation for customers with a new subscription, however this is not a mandatory step in the subscription process.

As mentioned above a subscription is normally valid for a certain period of time. After this time the subscription is either renewed or stopped by the customer. In the Exact Online there are three ways to handle the renewal of subscriptions

  • No renewal: With this option the subscription will be active for the defined subscription period, after this period the subscription is always stopped and cannot be renewed. This option can be used for trial subscriptions.
  • Automatic renewal: With this option the subscription is always renewed automatically at the end of the subscription period. The subscription is only stopped when the customer cancels the subscription. You can cancel subscriptions when maintaining the subscription.
  • Manual renewal: With this option the subscription will by default be stopped at the end of the subscription period, unless the subscription is renewed by a manual action. The subscription solution has a function to manually renew subscriptions.

How each subscription is renewed can be defined in the subscription type master data. Because you can define multiple subscription types, it is possible to have different renewal options for you subscriptions.

In future blog posts we will explain some more features of the Subscription module and also share some useful tips. Now that this module is generally available I am very interested in your opinion of it. Is this a module that can help you in doing your business or are you missing functionality? Please let me know in the comments.

Coming to Exact Online: time registration and invoicing

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

You own a consulting company with a number of consultants out working for your customers. At the end of each month you want to invoice the customers for the time your consultants worked for them. So each month you go through the same process. The consultants send you their hours, often in a Microsoft Excel sheet. Then the hours need to be checked to see if they are complete and correct. Consultants that made errors or did not send their hours need to be chased to provide the correct data. When the correct time registrations have been received you need to copy them to your financial system so you can finally create and send invoices to your customers. All this should be done in a couple of days at the close of each month.

Does this sound familiar? How do you feel about a solution that makes this process more efficient? The new time registration and invoicing solution in Exact Online allows time spent working for customers to be registered and processed to an invoice with no need to enter data twice.

Weekly time entry

Your consultants can enter the time they worked and costs occurred for customers via the web directly into Exact Online. The entered time and costs can be easily reviewed, so you can make sure they are complete and correct. When you are satisfied that all entries are correct you can generate and then print the invoices. The solution will also provide you with overviews to measure how billable your employees are and the entered and invoiced amounts for each customer.

This solution is currently in controlled release and will be commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2010. Of course we want to hear from you as well, can a solution like this help you make your time registration and invoicing process more efficient?

Image credit for the header image: Robbert van der Steeg (from Flickr)

New functionality in the accountancy solution

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

The last couple of years has seen the accountancy market in the Netherlands changing, accountants facing new changes and challenges. New government regulations, clients more critical of service pricing and wanting more insight into what their accountant actually – in other words, they want ‘more value’. As such, there’s an ongoing discussion among a group of accountants on how their business should change to make it more transparent and provide the extra value their clients are looking for (see TUACC, in Dutch).

Collaboration between accountants and clients is one of the foundations of Exact Online. The accountancy solution already contains a lot of functionality that helps the accountant work together with clients. However, to help accountants realise their goals, we need to provide even more tools to increase efficiency and add value. During discussions and workshops with accountants we have identified several areas where we can help even more. Having already released a new version of Exact Online with new options to promote further collaboration, further functionality to help accountants check the financial status of clients is also on the way…

Activating functionality in clients administrations

You work with a client in Exact Online, having access to their administrations. They have assets but do not want to do all the registration work, asking you to do it for them. With the new Accountancy version you can now activate the assets functionality in the client’s administration, allowing you to do the asset registration and processing. The functionality is only visible to you. The only thing the client will notice are the financial results.

Administration types in adminstration card

You can activate payroll, budgeting and banking functionality in the same way. This functionality is currently available for accountants with the Exact Online Accountancy Advanced solution.

Archive administrations

Sometimes a client’s administration activities are stopped, but for legal reasons they still need to have access to the financial data. In November we will release the option to archive your administrations. This means that you cannot enter or change any of the data in the administration, but can still view it. Archived administrations are not free – when you archive an administration an archive administration will be added to your license in place of the previous fee due.

Scanning service

It is very common for clients to collect all their purchase invoices, receipts and other documents, put them in a shoe box and deliver it to the accountant. The accountant than has to make sure it is entered manually in the financial system so it can be processed. This involves a lot of work and is not very efficient. Fortunately technology has advanced in such a way that there is a better way to handle the documents. With the Scanning service in Exact Online it is no longer necessary to manually enter purchase invoices from the documents. The client can scan his invoices and upload them in Exact Online. The scans are sent to the scan service where the invoices are transformed to entry proposals. The only thing you have to do is check the proposal and press the button to create the entry. Even better, this functionality is also integrated in the Exact Online iPhone and Android apps! Simply take a picture of the invoice or receipt and upload it to Exact Online using the app (for more information or to download the app see the Apple app store or the Andriod market).

The scanning service is currently in controlled release, but we expect it to become generally available in the coming months. Feel free to join the controlled release program if you want to know more right now.

Administration overviews

Over the last couple of weeks the development team created three new overviews that will help you decide which of your clients needs attention based on their financial results. These overviews will become available in November.

The first overview will show all the clients and administrations you have access to in Exact Online with some key financial figures for a period (revenue, margin, DSO, etc). The overview also shows the difference between the reported period and the previous period. Administrations will be marked if there are big differences between the compared periods, so that you can quickly see which clients need your attention.

Administration financial overview

With the second overview you can easily compare the period results on general ledger account level for an administration with the results of another period. You have great flexibility which periods you want to compare, for example the overview has standard options to compare the period results with the same periods in the previous year or with the previous periods. This allows you to look for differences between comparable periods.

Compare financial periods

You see that revenue has dropped 30% compared to last period? It could be that the client has forgotten to book some invoices, or maybe sales were really down. In any case it is worth a call to your client.

The last overview shows in which journals general ledger accounts have been entered. This will allow you to easily spot entry mistakes that need to be corrected. For example when a bank account entered in a general journal is not something that you would expect to see.

General ledger entries per journal

I hope that with this functionality we will help you work more closely and more efficiently with your clients. But our work does not stop here, we have more plans and ideas that we will realize in future releases. We will keep you informed on these developments, so keep an eye out for more posts on this blog. If you have ideas for functionality in Exact Online that would further help you in your work let us know in the comments or send me an email (robert.huberts@exact.com).

Top image credit:  www.SeniorLiving.org

How to setup prices for subscriptions

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

In previous blog posts we’ve introduced the Exact Online Subscription module and provided some information about how to use it. In this post I’m going to continue the story and explain how you can setup prices for subscription items.

Prices for subscription services or goods depend on the length of the invoice period. If you send an invoice for a subscription for a year the price is different then when you send an invoice for the same subscription for a month. This is of course very obvious, but it is an important point as this is not an uncommon scenario. In Exact Online you can setup your items to support prices for different periods without the need to duplicate items.

So the prices depend on the invoice period. In the earlier post Subscriptions, a first glance we showed you that the invoice period is set in the subscription type. We currently support four invoice periods: Month, Quarter, Half-year and Year.

So how can you setup your prices for these periods? Follow these steps:

  • Go to the menu to maintain your items.
  • Open and edit one of your subscription items (or you can create a new item).Prices section
  • In the edit screen there is a section called Prices. In this section you can enter values for the Unit and Sales price. The unit should be a time unit that is supported for subscriptions and matches the (default) invoice period. Enter the price you want for the invoice period in the Sales price field.
  • Save the item.

If you only have one invoice period for subscriptions with this item you are now ready! If you want to have multiple invoice periods for this item continue with the next steps:

  • Open the item again and click on the Prices link in the monitor section
  • You now see an overview with all prices for this item. At this point it will only show the price you entered in the previous steps.
  • Click on the New button to create a new price for the item.Maintain item prices
  • In the new price screen you start by selecting the unit (invoice period) for which you want create the price. Again this should be a time unit that we support for the invoicing of subscriptions.
  • When you have selected a new unit yout can enter the conversion factor between the default unit and the new unit.
  • In the Price field you will see that a price is suggested. This price is calculated based on the price for the default unit and conversion factor you just entered. You can keep this price or can enter a different price.
  • Finally you can limit the time the price is active by changing the Start and End date.
  • Save the new price and repeat the above steps to create more prices for different units or time ranges.

When you enter a subscription the invoice period is determined from the subscription type you have selected. The subscription line price is automatically retrieved from the item prices data based on the selected item and the invoice period. In the subscription lines we only allow items that have a price for the invoice period. So if you have selected an item that has no price for the subscription invoice period you will see that the unit price in the subscription remains zero. The subscription cannot be saved when the subscription lines contain items with no defined prices.

I explained setting up multiple prices for an item in the context of the subscription module, however if you have the Invoice or a Logistics module this functionality is also available to you. In case you have any remarks please leave a comment.

Introducing a new menu style for Exact Online

Written by Robert Huberts on . Posted in Exact Online

At Exact Online we’re constantly trying to improve our solution and make it easier to use. As part of this effort we’ve created a new menu style. It has been available since May this year, so you might have seen it already.

This new style – ‘Tab’- is quite different from the original ‘Panel’ menu, so let’s look at its main properties and some of the ideas behind them.

  • New colors
    Instead of the panel menu’s bright red, we used more subdued blue and gray colors (no other colors are available either)
  • All menus in one place
    The panel menu offers three ways to access a certain menu or functionality – the toolbar (the top section with the icons),  the top menu (the drop down below the toolbar) and the left menu. They complicate setting up the menu and can lead to confusion.
    With the new style, the tabs in the top of the screen are the only navigation option. Move your mouse over the tabs to expand the menu and show the available menu options. They are organized into functional areas: Finance, Sales, Purchase, and Person. The tabs are displayed according to the modules in your license.
  • Direct access to important functions
    We also made certain functions directly available from the tab menu – like creating a financial entry or viewing all customers. We obviously can’t place every menu option on the tabs so there are links that will direct you to the full menus for each module.
  • Navigate with bread crumbs
    Just like for Hansel and Gretel, bread crumbs now show where you were coming from, allowing you to easily track back to an earlier page. They’re visible as links in the top left cornor of the screen.
  • General search available
    The panel menu offered serveral search boxes. In the tab menu, one general search field accomodates all data types found in Exact Online. Just type what you want to search for, hit enter, and all results matching your request will be shown

Want to give it a try? You can easily switch. Just go to your user settings and select the drop down ‘Menu style’ on the general tab. Change the value to ‘Tab menu’ and press save. That’s it! Changing back to the ‘Panel’ menu works the same way.

If you haven’t tried yet, here are a few extra handy tips:

  • The Home tab contains general menus like the user settings, your own user data and your account data, as well as access to the system menu.
  • The right side of the menu bar contains the ‘Log off’ link and help access
  • The ‘More’ links in the tabs lead to the full menu for the applicable module

We made the tab menu available to get feedback from you. So please do give it a try and tell us what you think. Your comments will help us to keep improving it and make using Exact Online easier for everyone.