Retail Accounting

Retail Accounting news – brought to you by CounterBooks – www.counterbooks.com


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Migrating To The Cloud Isn’t As Complicated As You Think

cloud migrationThe cloud is growing in popularity but CIOs still have a number of concerns regarding system migration. A recent survey showed 56% felt that the migration process would be too complex and 81% were concerned about security. Many fear that moving to the cloud could cost into the millions, that the risks are too high and that the process is too time consuming. However, whilst justified, these fears are not reflective of the true picture.

In fact, the cloud brings numerous benefits to the company as a whole, the most notable being cost savings. For example CounterBooks’ cloud-based system automates 80-90% of the accounting process saving companies thousands. This automation also increases accuracy, thereby improving overall performance.

Data from traditional systems is easily migrated to the cloud and does not consume vast amounts of time or money. It’s also highly secure, for example with CounterBooks all data is encrypted, fully backed up and stored in servers with 24/7 maintenance.

Furthermore, the cloud provides an excellent platform to suit the growing trend of on-the-go flexible working, providing staff with the information they need whenever and wherever they need it.


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Video: The CounterBooks Story

 

 


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Gartner: Top 10 Strategic IT Trends For 2015

IT Trends 2015

Strategic technology trends are defined as having potentially significant impact on organizations in the next three years. Here is a summary of the trends:

1. Computing Everywhere

With the continued advancement in smart-phone technology, Gartner assesses that an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone. Gartner posits that smart-phones and wearable devices are part of a broader computing offering to include connected screens in the workplace and in public spaces. User experience design will be of critical importance.

2. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things will continue to expand, propelled by the ubiquity of user-oriented computing. Gartner posits that this will be replicated both in industrial and in operational contexts, as it will be the focus of digital business products and processes. Embedding technology more deeply will create touch points for users everywhere. This will form the foundation of digital business.

3. 3D Printing

The cost of 3D printing will decrease in the next three years, leading to rapid growth of the market for these low-cost machines. Industrial use will also continue its rapid expansion. Gartner highlights that expansion will be especially great in industrial, biomedical and consumer applications, highlighting the extent to which this trend is real, proving that 3D printing is a viable and cost-effective way to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.

4. Advanced, Pervasive, Invisible Analytics

Analytics will continue to advance due to the Internet of things and the embedded devices that trend will continue to foster. Vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside organizations will continue to be generated. Gartner points out that every app will need to be an analytic app. The analysis also concludes that big questions and big answers are more important than big data.

5. Context-Rich Systems

Embedded intelligence that is ubiquitous combined with pervasive analytics will foster the development of systems that are alert and responsive to surroundings. Gartner highlights that context-aware security is an early application of this trend, but that others will emerge.

6. Smart Machines

Analytics combined with an understanding of context will usher in smart machines. Advanced algorithms will lead to systems that learn for themselves and act upon those learnings. Gartner notes that machine helpers will continue to evolve from the existing prototypes for autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants and smart advisors. The analysis goes on to speculate that the smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT.

7. Cloud/Client Architecture

Mobile computing and cloud computing continue to converge and lead to the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. Gartner notes that cloud computing is the foundation of elastically scalable, self-service computing for both internally and externally facing applications. Apps that use intelligence and storage of client device effectively will benefit from lowering bandwidth costs, coordination and management will be based on the cloud. The analysis goes on to note that over time applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices. In the future, games and enterprise applications alike will use multiple screens and exploit wearables and other devices to deliver an enhanced experience.

8. Software-Defined Infrastructure and Applications

Agile development methods for programming of everything from infrastructure basics to applications is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Application programming interface (API) calls render cloud services software configurable, and applications have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically. Gartner notes that in order to deal with the rapidly changing demands of digital business with demand shifts both up and down require computing to move away from static to dynamic models.

9. Web-Scale IT

Gartner notes that more companies will think, act, and build applications and infrastructure in the same way that technology stalwarts like Amazon, Google Google, and Facebook do.  There will be an evolution toward web-scale IT as commercial hardware platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimised and software-defined methods become mainstream. Gartner notes that the marriage of development and operations in a coordinated way (referred to as DevOps) is the first step towards the web-scale IT.

10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection

Lastly, the analysis concludes that security will remain an important consideration through this evolution toward the digital future, but it should not be so heavy-handed as to impede progress. As many companies have recognized that 100 percent security solutions are not feasible, this will become more mainstream, and more sophisticated meathods of risk assessment and risk mitigation from a process and tool perspective will be implemented. Gartner notes that perimeter defense will be broadly recognized as inadequate, and multi-faceted approaches will be devised.  Security aware application design, dynamic and static application security testing, and runtime application self-protection, combined with active context-aware and adaptive access controls will all be necessary.

Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2015

Peter High is  President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. His latest book, Implementing World Class IT Strategy, has just been released by Wiley Press/Jossey-Bass. Peter will provide a free video or teleconference lecture on the book for any team that purchases 40 or more copies of it. He is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs Peter moderates the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. Follow him on @WorldClassIT.

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2014/10/07/gartner-top-10-strategic-it-trends-for-2015/

 


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PRESS RELEASE: CounterBooks Launches Newly Redesigned Interface

CounterBooks' Redesigned Interface

CounterBooks, a leading Online Retail Accounting Management Suite for the fuel, convenience and general retail industry, is pleased to announce today, the launch of the redesigned graphical interface of CounterBooks.

The focus of the redesign has been to improve the user experience from daily reconciliation through to real time reporting. This follows a series of exciting developments at CounterBooks including the introduction of the Retail Management Information System and the Billing Control System.

The same great features and benefits of CounterBooks have been maintained but navigation has improved with fewer clicks, easy to follow navigation (breadcrumbs), dynamic menus and enhanced drill down. The redesign is currently being rolled out to all CounterBooks’ fuel, convenience and general retail clients in the UK and across Europe.

John Roberts, Managing Director, CounterBooks said “Having launched the first cloud based version of CounterBooks in 2003 we started on a redesign in 2013 and I am delighted to be able to roll out the new system to all of our customers this autumn. With over 1000 files and 150 pages to modify, our IT team had their hands full and I’m pleased to say, they did a great job. Enjoyment and accounting systems use probably don’t go hand in hand, but I am sure our customers will love the improvements.”

To learn more about CounterBooks please visit www.counterbooks.com

About CounterBooks
CounterBooks was developed in 2001 – 2002 and launched on 1st January 2003 as the world’s first on-line full ledger accounting system designed specifically for retailers. CounterBooks was originally developed as a Pro-Retail MS DOS system by a frustrated computer-programmer-turned-retailer who struggled with traditional accounting systems which were not developed for retail businesses. His aim was to provide an easy to use system suitable for a retailer with no accountancy experience while still providing full easily understandable data reporting.

For further information about CounterBooks, including case studies, images or interviews, please contact, Laura Shafer – Marketing Assistant:-

Telephone: +44 207 099 1050
Email: lshafer@CounterBooks.com
Website: http://www.counterbooks.com


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Cloud Computing a New Era for Energy Companies

We found a great whitepaper from Accenture which discusses why energy companies should consider cloud computing.

Cloud Computing

In this whitepaper you will learn:

– How the cloud can change the game for energy companies

– About the cloud and production operations

– The cloud and customer engagement

– How BP are leveraging the cloud

– The future of the cloud for energy companies

Download the whitepaper: http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/Accenture-New-Era-Energy-Companies-Cloud-Computing-changes-Game.pdf

 


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14 things to consider when choosing a CODO / dealer accounting management suite?

Checklist1.    Service station / gas station specific – Traditional accounting systems are not designed to handle many of the industry specific complexities of service station or gas station accounting. The chosen system should have been designed from conception for service station and gas station businesses; this can avoid any unnecessary and expense consultancy fees in adapting the system for a service station/gas station business.

2.    Cloud based / online – On-premise systems are not suitable for Company Owned Dealer Operated (CODO) networks due to their complex reporting requirements and the geographically dispersed nature of the network. Cloud / online systems allow all users to securely access the single source of information under strict permission rights. Cloud / online systems can be deployed rapidly and can reduce the necessity for major capital expenditure as they are hosted and managed by the software company. Upgrades and updates are automatically applied across the network reducing further hassles and complications for both the dealer and the oil company.

3.    Full suite – An online software suite which includes a full general ledger accounting system for the dealer and a management information system for the oil company, will reduce the challenge of collating reports and then re-entering the data into a secondary database which is often costly and can impact the accuracy of data.

4.    Track record – A proven track record is essential. The chosen system should have a history is delivering projects on time and on budget.

5.    Multilingual and adaptable to the local country – Many oil companies operate in numerous geographical markets, therefore deploy multiple systems to meet the requirements of each country such as local languages and accounting standards. Operating multiple systems often result in additional support and training costs as well as consolidation challenges. All of which can be avoided through the deployment of a single “multilingual retail accounting management suite”.

6.    Automated accounting – The chosen system must be able to integrate with other retail IT systems and data sources, this can deliver substantial cost and time savings while increasing the accuracy of the data, as it removes any re-entering errors.

7.    Customised reporting – One size does not fit all and out-of-the-box reports will often not provide the necessary insight, it is therefore important that the chosen system has the ability to have customised reports to focus on the key areas of the business.

8.    Consistent reporting – It is critical to have consistent reporting across dealers to allow for comparisons and provide insight through benchmarking to unlock value within the network.

9.    Easy to use – It is imperative that the accounting system is easy to use and intuitive. A difficult system can prolong the project deployment because of additional training and support requirements all of which can be avoided.

10.    Network reporting – Through deploying an online retail accounting management suite across a dealer network such as CounterBooks, the oil company will gain full transparency and a consolidated view of the network’s performance without spending an extensive amount of time and cost collating and analysing data. Network reports which can assist in the management of a dealer network include:-

  •  Network Profit and Loss report (with budget comparison) which shows the network profit and loss performance by dealer and against budget.
  •  Purchase Compliance to assess dealers spending with approved suppliers and by category.
  • Network Net Worth and Liquidity report to assist in monitoring the financial stability of dealers.

11.    Data analysis capabilities – Through analysing data, oil companies can identify trends and benchmark dealers which can assist in gaining a maximum return on their investment. The chosen system should have an easy to use and powerful data analysis tool to assist in “slicing and dicing” data to aid decision making.

12.    Drill down functionality – Static reports such as spreadsheets and PDFs do not allow the oil company to look beneath the figures. With drill down functionality on reports, it will allow the oil company to investigate any irregular aspects of the dealer’s financial reports which could be mis-postings or legitimate exceptional items.

13.    Period locking – Oil companies can struggle with maintaining the data integrity of the dealer’s accounting records. At the end of the period, the dealer will send their financial reports to the oil company, after doing so, the dealer might make adjustments to “mask” the true financial performance of the business. The “Period Locking” feature is a highly effective control to restrict such circumstances occurring. Once the dealer has finalised their accounts and reviewed by their accountant, the period is locked which restricts the dealer from making any further adjustments.

14.    Budget reporting – Budget comparison reports are indispensable to managing the expectations of the dealers, providing a performance management tool while also assisting oil companies with the distribution of financial support to dealers.

If you are interested in understanding how to you can develop your dealer network into a world class retail operation, please visit our website – http://www.CounterBooks.com or speak with us today.