Even small charities can have big complexities when it comes to choosing and using accounting systems.
There are two issues in particular which can be hard for charities to deal with on many accounting systems. The first is VAT partial exemption. Charities may have a mix of exempt income (grants, donations) and taxable income (eg selling goods or running a cafe). This means that they cannot reclaim all of their VAT and have to do “partial exemption” calculations.
A good Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system can make your business run much more smoothly. However, there are lots of systems out there which do very different things and lots of pushy salespeople. So it’s very easy to be seduced by something that looks fancy but turns out to be difficult to customise for your business.
In this post I set out a few things to consider if you want a new EPOS system.
If you’re reviewing your accounting system I would always recommend you go through these checks first. Having done this and decided that you definitely do need something different, how do you go about choosing a new finance system?
I’ve experienced a number of finance system implementations in my career. My early experiences have made me very reluctant to implement new systems, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I know they are often very disruptive and don’t solve the underlying issues. Or they save finance time, but at the expense of budget holder time (this has been my experience of most purchase order systems in large organisations).
I’ve also had experiences of lots of accounting systems, and none have ever blown me away. Some are worse than others, definitely, but I have long since given up on the idea that there is the perfect package out there, particularly when you consider that every organisation’s needs are different.
This isn’t to say you should just make do with the status quo. It’s about making sure that you are replacing the system for good reasons.
So over time, I’ve evolved a bit of a checklist to think about whether or not a new system is necessary.