Archive for October, 2008

Top Ten Lessons from PACT 2008!

Written by on October 26, 2008 | Technology Startups

Had the pleasure of attending last weeks Plug & Play Acceleration & Collaboration Track (PACT for short) event down in Sunnyvale, CA.  The event included start ups from Spain, Japan, China, Australia and Canada and was organized on Canada’s side by Guillaume Parent from the SFO Consulate.  For a first time event it was extremely well done- primarily in that it happened! and without a whole lot of excessive logistical requirements!

Top ten lessons:

10. Thumbs up to the Toyota Prius Hybrid- takes a little while to get use to booting up your car but handled 100 mph on the 101 and comfortably seats 5 and 1 in the trunk (beauty Wayne) so very much impressed! 

9.  A bundle of valuable pitch advice from Chris Gill the CEO of SVASE a Bay-Area NFP helping start ups get funding and a bunch more.  Key points I got, not included in the hand out.

a.  Don’t specify your value in your pitch – “The market will set the value of the business”  

b. Ultimate pitch is 10 minutes.  

c. Sales cycle average- Awareness (3mnths), Consideration (3mnths), Trial (6 mnths), Approved (6 mnths), Purchased (6 mnths) so pitch viral marketing and sales accordingly.  

8. “SaaS” or Software as a Service means a lot things depending on who you talk to- some say that only web applications are SaaS, some say executable applications that rely on online connectivity are Saas, some say hybrids like QCDocs are SaaS and some say that provisioning of services over the internet like Tandem or our new friends from Corefino are even SaaS.   We’ll leave it up to our new friends from www.theSaaScenter.com to figure it out!

7. QCDocs may have a bit more margin to be had- Professor Matsuo from Kyushu University picked up QCDocs to just share business cards he’s received with colleagues around the world -“$25/month… done.”

6. Redwood Technologies Inc from Calgary are building some whicked mobile apps (cellphone client/billing management- sorry clients I’m doing something about my $500/month blackberry bill now!) LOL’s. Chatted up Terry Hughes (kick ass pitch by the way for a Brit!) about how QCDocs and the paperless online backoffice could jump start a whole new domain of business related wireless apps- ie. our blackberry remote cheque/check signing, sick day, time and vacation submission/approval sync to payroll/billings, expense reporting and doc approvals, paperless receipt mgmt, remote EFT payments, workforce management, etc.)

5.  Other companies to watch- Simo (before travelling LD with your cell phone check them out!), 3rdwhale(Boyd chat with BigRoom) and you’ve got a winner!), Coveritlive (because Boris was intrigued with the live blogging for obvious reasons!), odijoo (looking forward to getting our online training ported into pro-version!), Dynamite (because we’ll use this at some stage), Ariane Controls (because of my semiconductor days but proof is in the engineering),  Applocation(because this would be a nice add on to QCDocs for end-to-end asset tracking), Visionnet (because this would be a nice add on to QCDocs for SMB’s to streamline multimedia sales and marketing initiatives) andAdhack (People-powered advertising…brilliant, practical adaptation of social networking!)

4. Get on Guillaume’s twitter account so you don’t miss the bus!?  Also there’s something weird about downloading Googlemaps in the Google parking lot to find your way to Plug&Play…!?

3.  Some great Bay Area resources to help Canadian Start ups that I met – Guillaume of course,  Rick Rassmussen, working with Canadian trade commission out of Palo Alto,  Gordon Smythe with Invest-BC also working out of Palo Alto. 

2. Plug & Play – Wow!  Kick ass facility for incubating start ups.  Great starting point for early stage Canadian Tech Bay Area point of presence.  Jupe Tan, Jackeline Hernandez and Saeed Amidi were great hosts!

1. Beware of Danny’s “5 more Mie Ties” at Tau Tau’s (happy, happy btw) the night before 2 minute pitch to Tim Draper and VC panel.  LOL’s

Risk Master

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Understanding the Sales Cycle: CRM to Deposit Slip

Written by on October 12, 2008 | Accounting Best Practice, QCDocs Best Practice

Okay here it is- end to end CRM to bank deposit slip!  Understanding how to optimize your sales starts with understanding the paperflow and process best practices- so here it is as I see it!  I so look forward to hearing from the sales guys out there to correct the accountant!!

  1. Leads – They’re everywhere (Yellow pages to Cards gathered at a tradeshow to LinkedIn) you just need to prioritize and record them somewhere so you can go after them! Word, Excel, Maximizer, ACT!, Salesforce.com
  2. Accounts- Now that you have your huge list of leads you start the process of going after them and you move them into Accounts- you start recording more information about them and strategize about how you’re going to sell to them.  Accounts are at the Corporate level.
  3. Contacts- Are all the people within the “account” that you can talk to, email, etc. that can influence or influence purchasing decisions within your Account/client.
  4. Opportunities- Opportunities arise from communicating with your Contacts and they consist of the “please send us a quote, or you should be aware of this RFP (request for proposal) that we’ve got, or we want to add what your selling to next years budget, etc.”
  5. Quotes/Proposals- This is where documents start to take over- These consist of all the materials and communications that help you convince your potential customer to buy!  
  6. Signed Quotes/Engagements/Purchase Orders- I highlight this one, which is really an extension of 5 as it is the first key document that must interface with accounting!  ie. This is when QCDocs connects with the CRM to takeover to ensure Sales connects to Accounting and Engineering/Production!   Signed quotes and Purchase Orders form your Backlog!  
  7. Credit application form- Okay now you’ve landed the sale, and for most you may have figured this out in the CRM but you should get signed credit application on file so collections can monitor and maintain customer records properly.
  8. Work Orders/Pick lists/engagement plans/Time sheets etc.  – This is where production personnel document the inventory items or work items that need to be assembled for delivery.  Sometimes this can involve several layers of subassemblies which are different forms of inventory processing (See Inventory flows).  This step can also consist of time sheets used to record time spent on delivering services.  Unbilled Work Orders are called WIP and are an asset recorded at cost.
  9. Shipping Documents/Packing Slips/Service slips- This is where the products are boxed up and shipped and accounting spits out a packing slip (best practice) is to correspond to a customer invoice (see 9).  The packing slip has no financial information but references the customer PO # above and details the items being delivered.  Sometimes short shipments are made (see Inventory flows) which details on the packing slip what was order and what was actually shipped.   Service delivery slips can be used for one-off field services.
  10. Customer Invoice.  As mentioned, customer invoice should be prepared at the same time as the packing slip.  Accounting applications generally record revenue at this stage so important revenue recognition considerations at this point to consider worthy of stand alone blog.
  11. Customer Statements- Okay, customer is past their 30 day credit terms so you send  them out a customer statement.  Practices differ significantly here- some do this only with problem accounts others with good collections practices do this as a matter of course.  Interest charges on late payments are an interest discussion which I’ll preserve for another blog.
  12. Customer Cheque/Check-This is a critical document for obvious reasons in accounting because you really only get a chance to record this right once and they can get screwed up easily if you have multiple cheques on one deposit or short payments, etc.   Best practice- scan your customer cheques into QCDocs before depositing and/or keep a really orderly deposit book- see 13!
  13. Deposit Slip-  Deposit slips serve to document who paid you and are especially important if you deposit more then one cheque in a day.  Trick for ATM deposits- deposit one at a time but waste of envelopes…makes accounting for deposits really easy though!!  Key rules- no outstanding deposits at month end (lazy accountant!) and messy month end close!  Credit card deposits 2-3 day lag unavoidable.

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Understanding Payroll Systems

Written by on October 1, 2008 | Accounting Best Practice

Canadian payroll is so simple!  You just need to know a few key rules and your set!  Five options as I see it-

1. Do it yourself- definitely the cheapest!  https://apps.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/rhpd/startLanguage.do?lang=English

Go to this site, fill out the online form, print out the paystub, grab your chequebook, fill out the cheque and the stub of course with the gross amount, the net pay, the CPP, the EI and to help your bookkeeper put a quick note and calculate the business expense portion which is the CPP + 1.4* the EI amount! example 2,500 pay.  If you are doing it yourself I recommend that you pay out the statutory 4% vacation.  Hit your EI and CPP maximum’s (http://www.payworks.ca/Info/Resources/Guide/CPPEI.asp) and you stop withholding them and stop paying the Company portion!  Pretty simple eh!  

Other hints- avoid group MSP- Medical Services plan as it complicates everything and doesn’t really end up helping employee out that much- just pay them more hourly/salary and let them pay their own!  Reiburse for cellphone use for work!  Definite early pre-tax expense!

You withhold the taxes and company CPP and EI each paycheque (this all goes into Payroll liabilities account) and then you pay it out by the 15th of the following month.  You should make sure that the payroll liabilities account is clearing out regularly.  Payroll remittance payments can be done using online banking (easiest!) but you need to process generally one day in advance of the due date- ie. process on the 14th.  If you miss this cut a cheque and drop at your bank or CRA office along with a copy of the PD7A.  

Example PD7A

Example PD7A

 

 

G/L best practices- don’t get insane with all the G/L line items -ie. EI expense, CPP Expense, EI withholdings, CPP witholdings, Tax withholdings is as bad is can get.  2 does the job!  Payroll tax expense (CPP & EI) and Payroll liabilities!  Just make sure the payroll liabilities are clearing out each month.  You can setup a Payroll tax expense for each Department.

2.  Use Quickbooks or Simply!  These are pretty easy to use applications and great if you’re doing the bookkeeping at the same time!  Ideally you have your bookkeeper crank out the payroll for you – plug for Tandem Accounting of course!  There are few tricks to help you get your payroll to flow into chart of accounts nicely by department and by employee for so really nice reporting capabilities.  You need to pay the annual fee for payroll tables.  These track payroll withholdings, CPP, EI nicely as well as vacation, taxable benefits, etc.  They print nice paycheques or paystubs!  I recommend www.hyperwallet.com for direct deposit even though they don’t advertise it and don’t count on much support.  It is dead simple and only 0.75/paycheque and clears in like 2 days if you process in morning.  If you use Telpay (the QB’s default) get ready for a serious learning curve and a GUI from hell!

3. Payworks

Slick and very cost effective.  Quickly has become our payroll provider of choice in Canada.   When you grow beyond super cash management you want to hook this up to simplify payroll process and year end T4’s.  You’ll still need QCDocs to help with hourly employees or vacation/sick day tracking.  Big issue with payroll providers is you’ve got to fund 100% of your payroll each payday… they make some money presumably on the remittance timing to the following mid month date!?

4. Ceridian- close second to Payworks.  Works well but a few extra hoops to jump through and marginally more expensive then Payworks.

5. ADP- Oh why, why can’t you be more like your big brother software from the USA!?  I was shocked to move back to Canada and immediately started using ADP assuming it would be the same as the US software- big mistake.  I’m not sure they’ve upgraded this application in 15 years?  I still don’t get it… see point 1!?

Where does QCDocs fit in- whatever payroll system you use you will distribute paystubs and archive payroll reports- QCDocs does just this.  Also hourly employees or billable hours need to be recorded by employees- QCDocs streamlines this right into accounting applications or aggregates it for entry into payroll system.  It also trackes vacation and sick days as well!

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