Monday, 24 November 2014 17:16

MYOB cuts bookwork with Smart Bills and online invoices

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New and forthcoming features in MYOB's small business accounting software aim to further reduce the paperwork associated with bills and invoices.

One of MYOB CEO Tim Reed's goals was to reduce the need for manual data entry by 70% by the end of 2014.

The automatic processing of bank feed data went a long way towards meeting that aim, and with Smart Bills and PayDirect Online "we're well there," MYOB general manager of design Ben Ross told iTWire.

Smart Bills (already added to Essentials Accounting and coming to AccountRight in the first quarter of 2015) automates the entry of bills that were either received as PDF files or scanned from paper.

A user can either drag and drop the files onto their MYOB in tray, or forward the email to an MYOB address. Either way, the server OCRs the image, extracts key information (including supplier, invoice number, date, quantity and price) and creates a transaction that the user can accept or correct.

When the transaction is saved, the image of the document is stored with it for later review (e.g., by the business's accountant) or to meet retention requirements.

The system learns how to allocate bills to particular accounts, said Ross.

MYOB's plans in this area include extending its OnTheGo smartphone app to allow users to photograph bills so they can be processed by the Smart Bills feature.

The next step will be to add support for capturing images of receipts such as cash register dockets.

"It's still the same technology, but we'll have to train it and add templates for receipts," said Ross.

PayDirect Online is MYOB's approach to online invoicing, and will be added to AccountRight in the first quarter of 2015 and to Essentials Accounting sometime after that, he said.

The idea is that instead of emailing invoices to customers, PayDirect Online sends an email with a link to an online invoice.

The advantages are said to be that this provides a 'pay now' button (linking to MYOB's PayDirect credit card acceptance service), an unobtrusive reminder of any other unpaid invoices, and a log of when invoices were created, delivered, viewed and paid, etc.

Ross said that while direct electronic invoicing between MYOB users is on the company's development roadmap, it is not a high priority as it has found that the lion's share of the invoices received by small businesses are from large suppliers that don't use MYOB software, such as utility companies.

Interestingly, this is an established feature of the competing Xero cloud accounting product. The two companies have been engaged in a war of words over market leadership claims.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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