Sunday, July 31, 2011

Recurring Entries

Setting up recurring entries can save you both bookkeeping time and act as a reminder system. Recurring entries can be set up for cheques (payables) and receipts, and for both trust and general bank accounts.

A few examples of how recurring entries can be used:

For the general bank cheques – Pre-authorized monthly payments for car, insurance, leased equipment, rent, etc. Salaried employees that receive the same pay and have the same deductions every week, can also be set up as recurring. If money is tight, setting the reminder for a day or two before the due date gives you time to make sure the funds are on deposit.

General bank receipts – You may have a client paying off their accounts receivable balance by instalments. Setting this up as a recurring entry will remind you if the cheque did not arrive.

Trust bank cheques – Suppose you are acting for an estate or acting under a Power of Attorney. You may need to make monthly payments to a retirement or nursing home. For an estate, you may be selling the home, but, in the meantime, you still need to make the equal billing payments for heat, hydro, etc.

Trust receipts – Most often used for estates / Powers of Attorney, for investments like dividend payments or annuity payments, etc. Litigation files might involve settlement funds paid by instalments. Again, recurring entries can act as a tickler system to remind you that the payment has not arrived.

The Recurring Entries buttons are located just to the left of the OK button on cheques and receipts. To set up a recurring entry, do your receipt or cheque entry as normal, but do not click OK. Instead, click Create – then name your entry i.e. car payment, set the frequency, and who to remind – OK to save the recurring entry – then OK to post the original entry. 

The next month, you will receive a reminder when you sign-in on the due date. You can process the entry from the reminder window – just be sure you place a checkmark in “Prompt for Che/Rcpt #”. Click on the entry (entries), then click Process. If the bank transaction occurred on a weekend, be sure to change the “Process Date”.

Recurring entries can also set up for random use too. For example, if you do litigation, you could set up a cheque for a Statement of Claim, payable to Minister of Finance, with the amount, explanation code, and G/L account all filled in. Open a cheque window as normal, click "Use" Recurring Entries, select the entry, enter the matter number, Print.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Workstation Settings.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Memorized Transactions

This feature is turned on in System Settings - Memorized Transactions tab.  You can choose where you would like this feature to be applied: general bank, trust bank, or accounts payable.

By typing in at least the first three letters of the payee or payor, the program will fill out the rest of the name for you. The setting allows you to pick and choose what other things you would like the program to remember for you. Things like: the bank account, the amount, the explanation, the matter, the address, and the G/L account.

Sometimes when entering a cheque or receipt, you make a typo on the payee/payor name. If the typo is higher in the alphabet than your original payee/payor, PCLaw will insert this one instead of the one you want.  To correct the error – System Settings – Memorized Transactions – Edit Payee – find the error payee and Remove.

A final tip:

When entering a receipt on a matter – trust, general, A/R payment - always enter the matter number first, to have the received “From” automatically filled in for you.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Recurring Entries.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Numbering Variations

When you are searching for anything in the Register or pop-up menus, you can click on the headings to sort the list, and thereby reduce your search time. You can reduce your search time even further, by altering the numbering format for your matters and invoices. These examples are only suggestions – you can design whatever system you are comfortable with.

For example:

Some matters inherently short in duration, like real estate closings, which are typically about 60 days. These matters could by numbered by year:
11-0001, 11-0002, etc.

Other matters like estates or litigation are long-term, and can go on for several years. If you are maintaining corporate records with annual filings, etc., these too would be long-term matters. For these matters you might consider grouping them by type of law:
estates: 900001, litigation: 800001, corporate: 700001, etc.

You can also use alphanumeric numbering for matters – CORP0001, EST0001, etc. It is possible to use a matter numbering system to give you information on the file at a glance: C08-0001 for a corporate client new to you in 2008.

You can gradually move to a new numbering system as old matters are closed and new matters are opened.

If you want to change your old matters to conform to a new numbering system:

1) Print a list of your matters – Reports – Client – List of Clients – on the Matter tab – checkmark “Sort by - Type of Law”.

2) File – matter – renumber matter/client.

Your invoices can also be issued by year. When doing your first invoice of the year change to 110001, next year 120001, etc. On OK, you will get a message asking – “Would you like to set next invoice based on this one? – YES.

Invoice numbers are limited to six digits (that you can manually change), so you are limited to 9,999 invoices in one year. This blog is written for solos and small firms, so this should not be a problem for you.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future post topics. Next week – Memorized Transactions.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Updating Lawyer Rates

When you opened the PCLaw program the very first time, you set up yourself as a timekeeper and entered your hourly rates. As self-employed individuals, your income tax returns were due in June, so now is a good time to review of your net earnings from the previous year.

Are you comfortable with your net income? Are there ways you can reduce costs? Are your recovery procedures capturing all client expenses? And finally, do you need to increase your hourly rate to become more profitable?

If you do determine an increase is needed, you would normally send out a notice letter to all of your clients, informing them that the increase will take affect on a forthcoming date.

How do you make the change in PCLaw?

Options – Lists – Lawyers and Rates. Select the lawyer – Change – edit the rates as you like – set the effective date, being the date in your notice to clients – OK - OK.

Entries made before the effective date will bill out at the old rate; entries made on or after the effective date will be billed at the new rate.

You may have one or two clients that comprise the majority of your billings, and they may not be open to a rate increase, and doing so could result in a loss of business. Or, you may be contractually obligated to maintain a certain rate for the length of a contract. Use Matter Manager to adjust the rates for these matters individually, adding a new rate for the effective date, if you changed/eliminated the old one.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Numbering Variations.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Virtual Legal Bookkeeping

A question I am often asked is “Why do you provide your services virtually, as opposed to on site?
There are actually many reasons, but here are a few of them:
  1. I can help more of you. Operating virtually enables me to distribute my experience and expertise throughout Ontario.
  2. I have more time to help you. Eliminating travel time frees up a lot of time over a month to help clients. I am, of course, always willing to travel to see a new client, as people often want to initially meet their bookkeeper face-to-face.
  3. By hiring a virtual bookkeeper, you are doing a good thing for the environment, as virtual bookkeeping has an extremely small carbon footprint.
  4. You save money. I offer a higher level of service, including seeking out and correcting ledger imbalances, however, my rates are competitive with other bookkeepers. I pass my overhead savings on to you.
  5. You do not need to provide me with extra office space, a desk, or a computer. I can access PCLaw afterhours / on weekends.
  6. You can receive real-time answers to any question you might have, or I can help you with any bookkeeping problem you are experiencing. I can sign-in and get the report or answer you need – immediately. A full-time bookkeeper can do this for you too. But, a once-a-week/month bookkeeper does not operate this way, and would breach confidentiality if they accessed your computer while working at another firm.
  7. Your financial wellbeing is protected. With few exceptions, I can help you do almost anything that an onsite bookkeeper can do, but I cannot write/print or sign cheques.
  8. And lastly, everyday I get to enjoy the beautiful Muskoka scenery outside my window.

As always, I invite your comments and suggestions for future posting topics. Next week – Updating Lawyer Rates.