Control The Flow Of Paperwork

One of the most common challenges in keeping your accounts up to date is staying on top of incoming paperwork.

When you are ready to work on your bookkeeping or send the paperwork to your bookkeeping service, not having all the required information on hand and organised, interferes with what should be a simple task. The time has been set aside to complete the job and it cannot be finished due to missing information.

These days invoices can be received by email, fax and through the post. This can result in duplicate copies going into the pile. Many bank and credit card statements are now received via email and often the email is just a trigger to login to internet banking to download the statements. This often results in missing and incomplete sets of statements.

You should set up a simple system to store and organise paperwork that still requires processing. The system should have a basic checklist to ensure that all the required information has been received.  This prevents you or your bookkeeper from wasting time working on an incomplete set.

Some people love well organised vertical file cabinets, the more horizontally minded like piles on their desk or the floor; some prefer lever arch folders and others like a system of document trays. It doesn’t really matter as long as there is a system and that it is organised in a logical manner.

Whether you want to use filing cabinets, piles, folders or document trays a great starting point is to organise the paperwork by type. I like to use coloured manila folders as I can visually tell which folder a certain type of paperwork goes in. I tend to store these manila folders in a document tray but this system works just as well in filing cabinets or in piles on the floor! If you want to use folders than subject dividers serve the same purpose but I find there is too much time wasted punching holes and sorting documents in folders.

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At a minimum you should have a separate folder for the following types of paperwork:

BANK – store your bank, credit card and merchant statements

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE – store supplier bills, purchase orders, remittance advice, statements

DOCKETS – somewhere to dump all the receipts that you collect during the month

PAYROLL – store tax choice forms, super / payroll tax / payg info, timesheets

Now I am not suggesting that you print transactions from your accounting software system to put in these folders. Not only would that be a waste of time, ink and paper but it is missing the point. This system is to store incoming paperwork so that it is easily accessible when you want to update your accounts. Items such as a customer invoices and payslips that are in your accounting software are already processed!

A basic checklist should be sitting on top of this set of well organised folders. The checklist should contain the name of each folder with prompts relevant to the folder. You should type up the checklist and print it at the start of each month when he paperwork cycle starts again. You then simply review the checklist and when it is complete you can update your accounts or better still send them to your bookkeeper.

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