Is Double-Entry Accounting here for eternity?

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Take any popular

accounting software
 today, be it a SAAS player like us or our desktop counterparts or even the entreprisey ERP solutions, and I bet they all are based on double-entry accounting. For the uninitiated, double-entry accounting is a system of bookkeeping that enforces recording two aspects of a financial transaction – one that indicates the source of amount involved and another to indicate how it is put to use. It is said that this method was first codified by Luca Pacioli, an Italian monk in the fifteenth century (and I’ll leave it to The Almighty

Wikipedia
 to explain the rest).

It is fascinating to see that a system devised to catch financial inaccuracies six centuries back still finds its place in the world of accounting software and remains largely untouched. This when accounting software by itself is undergoing a transformation of sorts from desktop to the web.

To explain this phenomenon, let me first enunciate the benefits of manual double-entry accounting. Double-entry accounting is advantageous because it:

  • Is self-balancing in nature, enforcing arithmetical accuracy.
  • Makes it to easy to understand the source and uses of funds.
  • Ensures all aspects of all financial transactions available in a single place, so preparation of financial statements is easy.
  • Helps in fraud detection.

All of these are extremely helpful in producing accurate financial statements. And when human beings step aside and software takes over, much of these benefits still hold true. The reason for this is that double-entry accounting enforces some sort of a relational structure on the way transactions are recorded. For example, an accounting software would still record the two sides of a financial transaction and moreover, all of these are typically recorded in a single place (table in Relational database parlance), which makes it easier to summarize financial information.

Alternative accounting models like

REA (Resources, Events and Agents)
 that did away completely with double-entry and models that retained the double-entry flavor but tweaked other aspects failed to take off. My reasoning for this: the traditional double-entry model was deeply ingrained in the business person’s and accountant’s psyches, and it was never going to be easily changed. Also, amongst the more complex accounting alternatives, double-entry has remained one of the easiest and most effective solutions.

The accounting software industry will definitely undergo some changes in the times to come, but double-entry accounting will be as relevant as ever. And I bet somewhere up there Luca Pacioli must be smiling.

Discipline your customer strategy with a financially directed approach

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Many people believe that customer service is based on common
sense. And while that may be true, it’s not the basis for forming, or more
importantly, growing a business based on delivering customer excellence. What
would it mean to your business’ bottom line if you could deliver an excellent
customer experience? If you could actually calculate that, then you would have
the financial motivation to deliver top-tier customer service, explains Lior Arussy of the

Strativity Group

.


The reason many organizations don’t deliver “Customer Experience 2.0,” Arussy explains, is because they believe they’re already
doing an adequate job. Their attitude may be, ‘Our customers are already buying from
us, why should we change?’


Arussy refers to that attitude as the “Return on
Nothing.” Specifically, there is a cost to not delivering excellent customer service.
Look at the delta between how much you currently charge and what you can
charge: that’s the amount you’re losing by not delivering a great customer
experience.

“Go beyond the parity line to the unexpected,” said Arussy.
You can’t simply ask customers what will surprise them, so you need to understand the entire ecosystem and their pain
points. With that knowledge you can best address their concerns and deliver top quality customer experience, each and every time.

Watch the video to learn more from Arussy on maximizing your customer experience.

And tell us about your customer service strategy. What works best for you?

B2B company’s guide to getting up and running with CRM

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When it comes to rolling out CRM, you need to “think big, but implement in stages,” says John Johnston, eBusiness Marketing Manager for Volvo Construction Equipment .

As you’re building out your integrated CRM strategy for your whole organization, think about what your database is and the inputs you create. Will they or will they not integrate with your CRM system? You want to integrate with as many systems as possible. “The goal is to use CRM to compliment, not replace, your existing data,” Johnston explains.

“Next step is to identify your key deliverables/key performance indicators (KPIs) and synchronize them with your CRM application to make your customer relation campaigns measurable,” Johnston adds.

Got the “big picture”? Test it out with a small group of people and then roll it out in stages to others.

“Realize that when you implement your CRM not everything is going to go the way you want it to go at first,” admits Johnston, speaking specifically of a stumbling block his team had with data integration.

Volvo Construction Equipment discovered that certain data couldn’t match with their existing content. They had to replace the source and the data feed, which slowed them down and forced them to regroup.

In his closing advice, Johnston suggests that if you’re interested in a CRM solution, you need to get a team together to determine what your short and long term solutions are. Figure out what you can and can’t do. Ask lots of questions now, because they’ll be a lot easier to tackle before you start implementing.

 

Thank you, John, for sharing these tips! To hear more about Johnston’s experience with implementing a CRM application, check out the rest of our interview.

Can Small Businesses Benefit from Custom Software Apps?

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Every business can benefit from custom software applications, regardless of the service or product it offers. However, if you are a small business, spending on the right applications is particularly crucial due to a tighter IT budget and being more vulnerable in the dynamic corporate world. This could lead to conflict about whether you should spend on generic desktop software or custom web software.


To resolve this conflict, we look at the key performance indicators of any business: the data about its customer-practices and business process management. What the organization has learned about its customers and how effectively it uses this data to provide better and relevant solutions to its users is what keeps them on the charts. In such data-centric times, an organization’s data is distributed across various inevitable software solutions it uses: CRM, accounting applications, project management, inventory management and resource allocation, support ticket management, enterprise resource planning, revenue, expense and commission trackers and much more. That means multiple copies of data are stored at multiple locations, leading to ineffective usage of resources. What if all the data pertaining to your customers could be stored at a central location, and all the custom software applications you use could access the data relevant to them? What if all these software solutions could communicate with one another, effortlessly?


Well, this is possible if the applications are from the same vendor and hosted online. But it is more about picking from the lot, those applications that best suit your business. Why insist on appropriate ones, and not generic ones? Because not all businesses are run alike. Each has unique use-cases, and thus needs unique applications for each requirement. Generic software applications are almost always full of compromises. You end up paying for more than what you actually use. This is one good reason why you should consider building your tools, yourself. Building custom applications using web application building platforms is more beneficial than settling for ready-made software. Customization not only costs a lot less, but it also speaks your language. Not all of us are programmers, after all. What stops you now? Get started with custom apps today!


The New and Improved Zoho CRM App for iPhone is here

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Two months ago we released the Zoho CRM App for iPhone. It was the first iPhone app for Zoho CRM and most of you had been waiting for it for *ahem* a while.

We didn’t want to make you wait any longer for our follow-up release. The new version addresses the most common suggestions customers like you had about the app. We appreciate all your feedback and we ask you to please keep it coming.

Here are some of the things the new version has to offer:

  • The app now also includes access to the Cases module. Now you can view/create/edit/search cases records from your iPhone.
  • You are now able to import contacts into Zoho CRM from your iPhone address book. And the other way around as well – you can now export contacts from Zoho CRM into your iPhone Address book.
  • A very common asked-for feature: access to related notes and related potentials for the record details page.
  • An improved home screen.
  • We now support additional custom views in the Potentials, Accounts, Leads and Events modules.
  • In addition, we’ve made some tweaks to the way you can search for information in your device as well as bug fixes.

The new version is available in the Apple App Store today.

Rodrigo

If you have a smart enemy and a dumb friend …

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… dump the friend and embrace the enemy. 

Several years ago, we had many rounds of meetings with Yahoo on ways to cooperate. It was very clear that Yahoo had lousy leadership. On the other hand, I was quite impressed by the Google leadership I met. 

What did we end up doing at Zoho? We never pursued a Yahoo partnership, and we made our peace with Google. Yahoo just demonstrated, yet again, that we made a wise choice. Dumb friends are more dangerous than smart enemies.

Finally making the switch from Outlook Express to full blown CRM

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Raja_Selarka_small

Hong Kong importer-exporter makes one of the largest relationship management leaps we’ve ever seen. From one of the most rudimentary contact management software applications to a full blown CRM system.

Business:

Raja Selarka is the owner of Comet (HK) Ltd, a 15-year-old import-export business. Comet purchases consumer and household goods from China and exports them worldwide.

The Challenge:

For 14 years Selarka managed his business through Outlook Express, the free email/contact manager application that comes pre-installed with every copy of the Windows operating system. He wasn’t using any CRM software. He hadn’t ever been exposed to it.

Outside of his own memory and a few scribbled notes, Selarka had nothing to remind him to call and email clients, vendors, and suppliers. When he travelled, he had no resource to look back at his history of communications. All that information was back at his office on his computer.

How discovered Zoho CRM:

Selarka never looked for another solution beyond Outlook Express because he simply never came across any type of CRM solution. It appears he didn’t even know about the category of CRM. That was until he saw Zoho at a friend’s office and realized, this is exactly what I want.

Competitive analysis of CRM:

Zoho CRM wasn’t the first CRM solution Selarka saw. He saw others. Was impressed. But the costs were so ludicrously high that he didn’t even bother. It’s understandable that Selarka balked when he first started looking at CRM solutions. For 14 years he had been using a free application to manage business relations.

Zoho CRM’s price didn’t send a shock to Selarka’s bank account. It was at a price he wanted, and he started using it just one year ago.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

Selarka is a very traditional CRM user. He takes advantage of Zoho CRM’s reminder features, which was his greatest need after leaving Outlook Express.

Given that an import-export business involves endless transactions with numerous suppliers, Selarka loved having contact information and invoicing all in one window, not scattered across multiple applications. In addition, all of Comet’s pricing information is within Zoho. So if he’s out and about and a customer asks about the price of a product, he can just look it up online. He doesn’t need to go back to the office.

Advice for others:

Selarka has become a complete convert to Zoho.

“If you have Zoho, you don’t need anything else,” he said.

We appreciate the compliment, but with all the other great tools out there (many of which Zoho integrates with) we can’t take full credit for answering all business problems. But if we’d previously been running our business on Outlook Express we’d agree as well about Zoho. Thanks Raja.