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Sun 28 Jan 2018 09:00 AM

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Accounting & beyond: Running a service oriented business on Zoho Books

Brand View: See how Zoho Books can help a typical service-based business in the UAE

Accounting & beyond: Running a service oriented business on Zoho Books

Every service provider would agree that it's important to centralise accounting and project management on a single platform.

Why? Because projects are money, and one can't exist without the other. Bringing them together saves time and makes your work more efficient. To see this in action, let's see how Zoho Books can help a typical service-based business in the UAE.

Hyder runs a digital design and marketing company based in Abu Dhabi. His team of 40 people manages various projects, ranging from website design to crafting user interfaces to running social media campaigns for his clients.

A typical business workflow for Hyder would start with identifying business opportunities, gathering background information about his leads, sending out quotes, and negotiating with the potential customer before signing a contract. He then figures out how to allocate his resources for each contract, and sends out one of his sales reps to collect an advance before initiating the work.

While the project is going on, he has to submit periodic progress reports and invoice copies for any expenses he incurs on the client's behalf. Upon completion of the project, he can invoice the customer and get paid. Some of his contracts may also involve after-sales service, in which the customer pays an agreed service charge periodically in exchange for ongoing services.

Hyder recently registered under VAT, since his turnover was greater than the threshold. Now he needs an accounting software capable of handling all of the above, plus taxes. Following a friend's advice, he has signed up for a free trial of Zoho Books to keep track of his business finances and do his VAT returns.

What is Zoho Books all about? Zoho Books is a cloud-based accounting app that manages contacts, transactions, inventory, bank feeds, and more. It helps Hyder keep in touch with his customers and vendors, track his transactions, file VAT returns, and run project reports and journal entries all from the same system. He can also expand the functionality of each of these modules by integrating Zoho Books with a host of payment gateways and other apps from the Zoho ecosystem.

Managing client data

Hyder generates new leads from various sources: events, podcasts, startup forums and surveys. After some intense followup, his sales team then adds all the quality leads along with their background details, contact information, order preferences, and VAT treatment (including their TRN) to a spreadsheet that can be imported in bulk to the Contacts module in Zoho Books. If Hyder is using Zoho CRM to manage his sales processes then he no longer needs manual data imports since customer data gets updated inside Zoho Books from Zoho CRM in real time. These contacts can now be accessed from any form, whether it's an estimate, order or invoice.

Winning new deals

With the help of his sales team, Hyder has identified a new potential in one of his regular customers: Kaijuu Foods, an online food retailer based in Dubai. Hyder has learned that Kaijuu is planning to open a new outlet in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so they will need a new domain and a brand-new website tailored for KSA-based customers. He has already given them a 5% discount on all future services, based on the purchases they have made in the past, but he knows that it takes more than a discount to win a new deal. So he creates a detailed project plan based on his knowledge of Kaijuu's brand and business needs, wraps it up in a personalised estimate, and emails it directly to them.

Collaborating through the client portal

Now that the estimate is sent, it's time to negotiate with the customer. The partners at Kaijuu Foods can access the estimate either from their inbox or from the Zoho Books client portal. Doing the latter will allow them to add comments about their specific needs, and see any changes that Hyder makes to the estimate. When both parties are happy with the terms and conditions, and the partners have accepted the estimate, Hyder can send them a retainer invoice asking for an advance before his team starts to work on the new website.

Managing project tasks and finances

After winning the deal, Hyder needs to get his project management framework ready. He creates a project in the Timesheets module, and defines the project budget, the tasks involved (including time-based tasks that need to billed on an hourly basis), and the members working on the project. Now the designers working on this project can track the number of hours they have worked on each specific task, along with their hourly wages as applicable.

If Hyder has to hire a specialist for any part of the work, he can record the cost as part of the project, to make it easy to bill it forward to the client at invoicing time. Similarly, if he needs to purchase any items or services in the course of the project, he can keep the invoices for those purchases in his project expenses and make sure that the client is billed for them properly.

VAT compliant invoicing

In Zoho Books Hyder can either periodically invoice Kaijuu Foods using Recurring Invoices, or just bundle everything together and issue a single project invoice in either English or Arabic according to FTA standards. To meet VAT requirements, Zoho Books will designate all invoices as Tax Invoices while automatically capturing the TRNs of both parties (in this case of Hyder and Kaijuu Foods) along with the place, date and value of supply. Since the transaction is happening in the UAE, Zoho Books will automatically associate a VAT of 5% with all the taxable items and services that have been listed on the invoice.  Any VAT collected by Hyder from Kaijuu Foods will be captured and used to create his system-generated VAT return within Zoho Books.

Project Reporting

If Hyder needs an overview of his project, the Zoho Books reports module will help him see who worked on which task and for how many hours, review his billed expenses, and check for any unbilled amounts. He can also monitor his project finances by adding the project to the dashboard watch list, set payment reminders for invoices, and track payments using customer balance sheets and aging summaries. These reports can then be exported as PDFs and emailed to customers if needed.

Throughout this project, Zoho Books has helped him win the deal with customised estimates, track his progress with tasks, bill the client accurately with time sheets, and recoup his subcontractor costs through expense reporting.

Are you a service provider like Hyder? Do you run a small or medium business in the UAE and need a single operating system for your business operations? Try Zoho today and see how we can add value to your business. Have a question about VAT or Zoho Books for the UAE? Drop an email to support@zohobooks.com or call us toll-free at 80004440824. You can also learn more about VAT from our resources section.

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