Computer Solutions For Clubs
Uses of Computers
Computers are acquired by clubs for a number of reasons:-
· Accounting Packages and Cash Books – choose the right accounting software package and you will save time, make fewer mistakes and obtain useful management information. A computerised system can simplify and automate routine tasks, for example, there will no longer be any need to add up the cash-book
· Payroll – A pre-requisite for the submission of R.T.I. reports, the calculation of PAYE; NIC; Statutory Sick Pay; Paternity Pay; Gross and Net Pay. Maintenance of staff time records
· Members Register – for recording names and addresses; class of member; date of joining; subscriptions due; subscriptions outstanding, etc.
· Stock Control Systems – sophisticated computer packages linked to the club tills. Such systems are frequently the first contact a club has with computers. The problem with these systems is that they require time and expertise to ensure their effective operation. Many clubs install such systems but never received the full benefit. Where they are properly used by the club secretary and committee they can be very effective in reducing losses and increasing stock surpluses
· Stocktaking Software – although most clubs prefer to employ the services of a professional stocktaker
In selecting software it is important to select the right software for the job, for example, spreadsheets are very flexible and ideal for displaying and manipulating data in tables, but are not always suitable to maintaining the cash-book as the main accounting records of a club.
· Secretaries and club officers usually work part time and require a system that is quick and easy to use
· The system will become the main record of the club and should have security controls and high quality accurate reporting function
· Availability of local training and support
· Cost – expensive packages do not always relate to the best club software. The dearer packages usually have the most expensive stationery and support costs
· Suitable for use and checking by external organisations, eg, H M Revenue & Customs, Accountants, etc. A club secretary should never computerise its records without regard to the requirement of these organisations
ACCOUNTING AND BOOKKEEPING PACKAGES
Club secretaries tend to be neither trained accountants nor willing to spend money on training courses. It is, therefore, essential that the software they operate is easy to use with minimal training and has good help facilities. The leading accounting packages for small business users such as Sage Instant Accounting and QuickBooks appear to be scaled down versions of higher end packages. They are good products but they do not cater for the inexperienced user nor for a member’s club, for example, they are not ideal for dealing with cash sales where there are no credit customers and thus no requirement for features such as customer sales ledger.
Cash Book – More and more club’s use spreadsheets such as excelll for cashbooks, some use simple cash book packages such as Quicken or Microsoft Money. Although Quicken and the very similar package Microsoft Money are primarily designed for home users they can also be used for small businesses particularly cash businesses such as a club with a bar trade. These packages provide a very powerful cash book and reports to track the club’s income and expenditure, far beyond what you would expect for the price. The key part of each programme is the cash-book or ‘register’. The register would look familiar to most secretaries as a sheet of paper where each transaction is entered one after the other down the page. Transactions can be given more than one category so you can find out how much you spent on each separate item. A large selection of reports are available which will help the club monitor transactions, cash flow, income and expenditure to a level far beyond the sophistication previously available.
Accounting Packages – Some clubs may prefer a more advanced package and would choose to opt for a system which in addition to a cash book can handle more advanced features such as a suppliers’ purchase ledger, VAT reporting and even a nominal ledger. The major small business packages specialising in this field include, Sage Instant Accounting and Quickbooks. Quickbooks is produced by Intuit the suppliers of Quicken and the two programmes share many similar features. However, for most clubs especially where there is limited experience of computer packages we would recommend Quicken upgrading to Quickbooks once a level of proficiency and understanding has been achieved.
Most clubs like many small businesses cannot cope with the raft of new legislation effecting payroll. With the introduction of Real Time Reporting (RTI) good payroll software are a pre-requisite, these packages do more than just calculate wages and print pay slips. Advantages of these packages include:-
– The software ensures compliance with statutory rules and procedures
– It performs complex calculations involving different tax and National Insurance rates, automatically interpreting tax codes
– The software should be able to calculate Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, holiday pay etc.
– Gross pay is calculated from hours worked
– Payslips are automatically produced
– Additional deductions can be made for court orders, pension contributions, etc.
– The software will print P45’s, P14’s and P60’s
Once a payroll package is acquired it is necessary to buy upgrades every year. For a small annual fee these upgrades take account of changes in income tax and National Insurance legislation. It is not advisable to use packages based on prior year tax tables. When purchasing a payroll package it is important that it can handle the number of staff you employ remembering to add on an allowance for starters and leavers during the year.
A few clubs successfully operate a member’s ledger on a word processing or spreadsheet package; however, these are not ideal because they have limited reporting functions. A database system such as Microsoft Access is a far better programme providing stronger control and reporting functions. It should not be necessary for a social clubs to pay a great deal for a member’s register, the Association of Conservative Clubs provide a reasonably priced specialist package, Access contains a member’s register built in which is suitable for many clubs.
A number of specialist packages exist although these tend to be expensive especially for the smaller social club, and the packages tend to be designed for members’ clubs with a high subscription rate, or for golf clubs who require a more detailed record of members, eg, including handicaps, etc.