To become an accomplished Clerk you first need to understand the common accounting problems and how to overcome them.
In our 4 part ScribeFest series Hannah, Jane and Jade from the Scribe team dive head first into the common accounting problems Clerks experience when managing Council’s accounts.
In the first video of our series the team uncover the importance of good data management to make collating the data effortless.
Implementing this framework at the beginning of the financial year will pay dividends come Year End.
Check out the video below
1. Where you manage the data makes a BIG difference
2. Recording your data in a manageable format
3. Reviewing the actual spend against the budget
Good Morning, welcome to our session this morning where we will be looking to help you overcome your accounting problems.
Firstly introductions - I'm Jane, I work on customer support here at Scribe, this is Hannah our support accountant and Scribe genius who will be sharing her thoughts on the issues raised today and this is Jade who looks after our new to Scribe customers and will share some ideas around how Scribe can help.
This is an interactive session so please do ask us any questions you may have in the live chat box to the right of the screen and also let us know where you are watching from and your Council name so that we can say hello!
So just to let you know a little bit about us.
Scribe Accounts have been around for over 25 years.
We came into existence when an experienced RFO became increasingly frustrated with how time- consuming it was to provide his Council the data they needed.
Back then Scribe was loaded onto your PC from a floppy disk but now we are web based which has allowed our customers, and us, to log in from anywhere and work from home during the current crisis.
We are a small friendly team based in North Norfolk and we love supporting our Councils with their accounts whether it be offering free events like this to one on one accounting sessions for a new clerk. So we are here today to talk about some accounting problems that we most commonly discuss with clerks and our top tips to overcoming these.
Please let us know what is your biggest headache currently - is it dealing with the ever changing Covid rules or perhaps the new website regulations - pop it in the chat box so that we can see.
The first issue I would like to discuss is collating the data and the headache that lots of clerks I speak to experience especially when starting the role or when moving over to Scribe from their current system or attending our training sessions. Hannah what would you say is the biggest issue with collating the accounts data?
I think the biggest issue in collating the accounts data is often down to the accounting system being used. This may be because it has been inherited without the proper handover or training or that it no longer suits the needs of the council.
But however you keep your data - be it written in a book, on a spreadsheet or in accounts software, such as Scribe, it is really important that it is up to date and accurate. This means regularly entering details of receipts and payments and ensuring you have a full paper trail for the entries. Completing regular bank reconciliations is also really important to confirm that the data entered into the cashbook is correct.
When recording your accounts data it is important to do it in such a way that you are easily able to analyse it and produce timely and useful information from it. This could be in terms of monthly reports looking at actuals vs budgets or at year end when you want to be easily able to calculate your total figure for staff costs for the AGAR, for example. It’s also really helpful if you are able to easily drill into your accounts data to provide substance to the figures being reported - for example an overspent budget code that you are asked to provide further information on.
Therefore try to structure your cashbook in terms of the budget your council has set - and allocate the payments out to those budget codes. This will easily allow you to review the actual spend against those budgets which will help with forecasting. Also consider if there are certain budget areas that you would want to report on - such as your allotments or the village hall so you can group these together.
I would also recommend reviewing the cash book regularly, at least annually, to identify ways to improve it and keep it up to date. This could be in terms of adding additional codes to allow you to analyse the spend further or recording more information so that it is easier to refer to if need be.
A lot of the people I speak to already have some form of breakdown in place when it comes to what we refer to as cost centers or codes- you may call them anything from budget headings to nominal or analysis codes. The key thing is every council is different so there really isn’t a one size fits all- many people like to keep things simple by having say Income and Expenditure as their main over heads with multiple descriptive codes then listed below each. There’s no need to over complicate matters if you don’t want to and when working with Scribe it’s down to you to set up a breakdown that you’re happy with and that the councillors can easily understand. The nice thing with Scribe is whether you want a simple breakdown like I just mentioned or you want a highly detailed, almost 3 tiered breakdown it’s easy to set this up.. Lots of people really like the fact that when they do set up their cost centres and codes in scribe they can also assign budgets right away- this is what will then make it easy to report from- there’s lots of options when assigning your budgets and you’ll let the software know how you want to manage them moving forward- be it an even monthly spread or a more tightly managed flexed budget for things like grass cutting where you can reflect little to no spend over winter months compared to a more escalating spend over the summer. Once this kind of data is in Scribe and set up- reporting on the budget figures for meetings can be done by clicking a button- and at the end of the financial year as Hannah mentioned- you can simply copy these codes across to your new year and review and amend any codes you’d like to change and begin assigning your new budgets.