Google has solved the photos problem

It is a long time since I’ve written anything here – its been busy! I wrote about this in our June 2016 newsletter and it decided it was worthy of expanding on.

The problem with photos (and videos) is we take a lot of them, they take a lot of space and often they are spread over multiple devices so we don’t always back them up properly (understatement). Also the photos are hard to find – I don’t know about you but I never seem to get around to organising them into logical albums all in one easy to find place. And the other problem is I occasionally like to show someone a photo or two and my phone just doesn’t have enough storage to keep a decent history of photos.

The backup issue is the big one – every year or so a friend (not usually the same one) calls up to say their PC has died and they have lost their photos. Everything else you can probably replace even if there may be a cost, but if the hard drive is gone and not recoverable and that’s your only copy of your photos then they are gone forever. Even if you do back them up say to a USB hard drive – how many of these do you have and where do you keep them? If you have a house fire do you still have a backup?

Google Photos solves all these problems in a free and easy to use way. It’s brilliant!

You go to the Google Photos link and follow your nose. Download the app onto the devices where your photos and videos are (PC/Mac/Phone), point it at your photos and let it go. If you have a lot of them it can take many hours but at the end of it all your photos and videos will be uploaded to google photos and they will be searchable and shareable.

There are just a couple of things to watch out for when uploading:

  • Take the option for high quality uploads (free unlimited storage) rather than original quality (limited storage). The high quality photos and videos are absolutely fine.
  • If you have a lot of photos/videos and you are not on an unlimited internet plan it may use up your data allowance during the upload – keep an eye on it. If you are on a phone do it over wifi.

At the end of the process all your photos/videos are backed up into the Google cloud – for free – and you can search them from your PC/Mac/Phone. I’d still keep a copy of the them on a USB drive in their original resolution just in case – in case your account gets hacked perhaps, or you delete some by accident.

For me the backup is the boring but necessary bit. The real power of Google photos is that it gives me access to all my photos anytime (that I have an internet connection) from any device, in particular my storage challenged phone – and the search is freakishly good.

It takes a few days for Google to analyse the photos but when done you can search on location, date or things like cat, car, beach etc;jm. You can also find people by clicking on a mug shot that Google generates. The search identified a person in a full face motorcycle helmet taken from 20 feet away. For the article on ANZ in the newsletter I knew I’d taken a picture of the ANZ sign being added to Hotel Intercontinental (when they should have been spending the money on their IT systems) but I couldn’t find it on my phone. A search of ANZ found nothing but using the term “hotel intercontinental” found it second in the list in Google photos.

No problem finding photos of the late and dearly loved Mr Cat either.

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And from my phone..

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So what have the Romans has Google ever done for us…?

  • Search
  • Gmail
  • Chromecast
  • Now Google Photos

 

What is the best payroll system for small businesses in New Zealand?

We have had a number of clients call us lately asking if they should be looking at using Xero Payroll so I thought it about time that I summarised what I have been telling them in one relatively concise post. If you want more detail contact us.

With sick pay, holiday pay, termination pay, PAYE, student loans, and Kiwisaver deductions payroll can be a very complicated thing and if you get it wrong and miss a payment to IRD you are looking at a $250 late payment penalty plus the hassle of fixing up the mess. So using the right payroll system can save you a lot of time and gnashing of teeth.

Broadly the choices are:

  1. Do it all manually using the IRD calculators
  2. Use a DIY payroll system that does the calculations for you and tells you how much to pay your staff and IRD – Xero payroll falls into this category
  3. Use a full service payroll provider that does it all for you
  4. Thankyou payroll

Manual payroll 

You use the IRD calculators to figure out how much you pay your staff and what you need to pay IRD for PAYE etc; You pay your staff and on the 20th of the next month you pay IRD the PAYE, and file with them two forms, the IR345 employer deductions form and IR348 employer monthly schedule. If you have a login to IRD’s myIR you can file these electronically.

DIY payroll

There are a number of desktop and online systems here of which Xero is one. The systems provide a workflow that helps you manage paying staff and a calculator that works out how much you pay your staff and IRD, and what you to put in the IR345 and IR348 forms. Some of these payroll systems (e.g. Xero) also provide export files that you can upload to myIR for the IR 345 and IR348 forms, and batch files you can upload to the bank to pay your staff and IRD.

Xero Payroll is a good online full feature DIY payroll and getting better all the time. Another good option is Flexitime, with Flexitime you do get the option of allowing them to manage your PAYE filing and payments if you want.

Full service payroll

Now things start to get easy. When you sign up with a full service payroll provider you give them direct debit authority to your bank account. You fill in or check the time sheets for the employees and authorise the pay and the payroll provider does the rest. They direct debit the full amount of the pay from you on the due date and pay the staff. On the 20th of the next month they pay IRD (having already taken the PAYE $ from your account when the pay went out) and file the IR345 and IR348 forms for you at IRD.

We use and recommend online providers Smartpayroll and iPayroll.

Thankyou payroll

Thankyou Payroll gets a category of its own as it is just a little bit different.  It is very like a full service payroll except rather than direct debiting the full pay amount from your bank account you make the payment to Thankyou payroll each pay period. They still do the form filling and paying IRD. Updated: There is also a direct debit option, see Hugh’s comment below.

So which payroll is right for you and what will it cost?

The short answer is an online full service payroll or Thankyou Payroll are the best, and the best value, and these are the ones you should look at.

Manual payroll costs nothing but your time (and any penalty payments if you get it wrong). If you pay one or two people on salary and you do it via AP (same amounts each month) and you have a good 20ths of the month process and you always file things on time with IRD and you love doing paperwork then this is the payroll system for you.

Xero payroll is interesting but it still needs you to do the uploading and paying.  You can add payroll to starter, standard or premium plans for $10 for the first user per month, and $1 per month per extra user (all plus GST). At the time of writing this Xero don’t have a dedicated payroll helpdesk, if you need help it is via email to their normal helpdesk.

Who should use Xero payroll? If you have Xero already, and really want to hang onto your PAYE $ until the last possible minute, and you are disciplined about filing and paying IRD on time then Xero payroll is a good option.

If you are considering Xero payroll also look at Flexitime. There is a comparable basic $10 per month plus $1 per employee per month (up to 10 employees) plan with email support, or $20/$2 with telephone and email support and more features.

Full service payrolls are definitely the easiest and least risk. They do it for all you, no risk of missing payments to IRD. For Smartpayroll and iPayroll it will cost you around $25 – $35 a month for up to 10 employees. They also have very good email and telephone support help desks – invaluable if you have to work out termination pays or anything out of the ordinary. They also integrate with Xero.

Who should use a full service payroll? Anyone who has to pay staff should. They easily pay for themselves in the time they save you, even at minimum wages.

But there is more – Thankyou payroll is very close to being a full service payroll and it is free. The catch is that you have to transfer/DD the full pay to them three days before it gets paid, so they hang onto your money for a bit longer. If you are a charity, or donate regularly to one, or pay a small fee, then you can get next day payroll processing. Thankyou payroll also have a helpdesk.

Who should use Thankyou payroll? If you pay staff it is worth a look – the price is right and we have had good feedback from clients of our using it.

thankyou

The things that are important to us

Every accounting practice is different – these are the things that are really important to us:

It’s all about people

It isn’t about selling products or services, it is about helping people and making a difference. Clients, staff, our families, suppliers and the public – we treat people the way we would like to be treated and if we do this well the dollars and cents fall into line.

Responsiveness

An absolute priority is being responsive to our clients, answering phone calls and emails promptly and providing timely and understandable information.

Pro-activeness

If we see things that are not right, we will alert you and help you fix them. If we think you can improve or develop your business we will talk to you. We won’t hard sell or tell you how you must run your business, that’s your job and you will know a lot more about it than us, but we are happy to share with you what we have learnt over the years.

One thing we focus on is minimising taxes for our clients – why should anyone pay more than they have to? And if a client comes to us with out of control tax debt – we sort it out.

Being up to date

To be able to provide the best service we need to be up to date with accounting and taxation rules, best practices, and technology. Baubre is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Council, their NZ Regional Council, the NZ National Public Practice Advisory Group, and has been a member of the NZ Special Purpose Financial Reporting Group. We were very early adopters of Xero (2007) and have had a lot of ongoing input to Xero since then. Martin is currently a member of their Global Advisory Council.

Using technology effectively

Technology has been a huge time saver for us and our clients – but it has to be simple and good value technology. Often when clients move to us they are still using old desktop accounting systems and a manual payroll system. Just by moving them to Xero and an online payroll provider saves them many hours each week.

One size does not fit all

Accounting is not a sausage factory. While we streamline and automate where we can every single client is different and this requires experienced and appropriately skilled staff to make the right decisions to get the best result. Our staff are qualified Chartered Accountants and we do all accounting work in-house, we don’t outsource our accounting work to third parties.

Price is what you pay – value is what you get (Warren Buffet)

We strive to provide the best service and the best value. We publish our rates on our website, tell you what your job will cost and when we will do it, and we stick to it. We don’t charge you every time you pick up the phone and call us or email us.

We don’t use paid advertising either, all our clients come from referrals or via our website. If you have friends that we can help or if you would like to talk to us about other ways we can help you then we would love to hear from you!

What’s wrong with this picture?

On the ANZ Direct Online (DLO) business banking site we see ANZ are dropping support for Chrome…

Good on ya ANZ

Wiki tells us Chrome is the most popular browser…

wiki browser stats

The NZ Herald tells us ANZ ranks bottom in the 2015 NZ Banking customer survey

2015 banking satisfaction survey

And also in the Herald we see the top paid CEO in New Zealand is the ANZ CEO!

ANZ CEO

So I guess there is nothing wrong with this picture, it all hangs together nicely.

anz

Come on ANZ, lift your game – this really isn’t good enough! Your Direct Online business banking website is dreadful (and you charge $29 a month to use it!!), you have no direct bank feeds to Xero for your credit cards and your internet banking is down. Maybe pay your CEO a bit less and spend the savings on sorting our your IT systems.

If you could sort out your IT systems you might become our favourite bank.

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Disclaimer: I have nothing personal against the ANZ, some of my best friends work there :-), it is just that their java requiring Direct Online site is an insult to anyone who has to use it. If you want to see how to do it properly check out BNZ’s site.

 

Cuba Libre

Having just returned from Cuba a few weeks ago I was delighted to learn yesterday that the 45 day legislative objection period had lapsed without objection, and the US had removed Cuba from its blacklist of terrorist countries, allowing diplomatic relations to be restored as a first step in easing trade and economic sanctions.IMG_3795

Clearly this is going to have huge changes for Cuba and they are in a unique position to choose what changes they want and how they want to change, having observed world progress over the last 50 years. I’m glad I got to see the country before these changes. Cubans secured their independence from Spain in 1898, were boycotted by the US over 50 years ago, and then abandoned by the Soviet Union in 1990 with the break up of the Soviet Union.

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For the last 25 years they have operated in a virtual wilderness. This is reflected in the iconic 1950s vehicles that we associate with Cuba. Interestingly these are now being imported from the US as they are a major tourist attraction.

The reality is that most of the cars are that old and many of the buildings are crumbling although the government is working to rebuild some of the classic older buildings, retaining their facades. It also partners with non-US hotel chains to build hotels, particularly in the capital, Havana, to provide for the tourists, a major source of revenue.

Our trip included driving through the country side, on highways with little traffic but lots of horses and carts, while oxen ploughed the fields. Almost everything is homegrown. So when we saw lamb on the menu we asked where they graze their sheep since it is so close to the equator. Apparently their “sheep” have horns and are what we call goats. But lamb is better understood by the tourist so lamb it is.

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Our visit to the cigar factory showed rows of people hand rolling cigars – the country produces around 1 million a day. Everything is very labour intensive with locals earning around $US10 a month. Tourists use a different currency aligned with the US dollar.

So what does change look like for Cubans we spoke to? They know they don’t want fast food outlets on every corner or multi-national chain stores throughout the main streets. They’re looking forward to greater opportunity to run their own businesses, a higher standard of living, more access to the internet and the outside world, and the opportunity to travel – things we take so much for granted.

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I’m looking forward to re-visiting in 5 years to see Cuba then.

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