ePrivacy, GDPR and Brexit

We’re going to keep this as straightforward as possible…

In case you missed it, the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) on 31st January. The UK is now in a transition period. Nothing has changed. When the transition period ends, nothing will change.

Clear? Good. Now we’ll go into a bit more detail…

The TASBooks market is based in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. As such, our market is based in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. If you trade with a country that is a member of the EU, you must conform to EU rules and regulations (such as ePrivacy and GDPR). The Republic of Ireland is a member of the EU. That means that we will conform to EU rules and regulations for our customers in the Republic of Ireland.

But what about customers in the UK? When we left the EU, all existing rules and regulations were rolled into one and transferred to the UK. As such, the rules and regulations that existed in the EU on 31st January continue to exist in the UK on 1st February. It means that in the UK our customers are protected by the EU’s rules and regulations and we must continue to abide by them.

Nothing has changed. To be honest, it’s made life easy. Instead of having two sets of rules and regulations to which to conform, we have only one. It would cost money and time to implement new rules and put into place new procedures.

What happens in the future is still a bit… vague, shall we say? If the UK agrees to stay close to the EU, then it should not prove to be a problem. If the UK diverges from the EU, we will have to abide by both EU rules and regulations (for our Irish customers) and any new UK rules and regulations.

In the meantime, we’ve already taken some actions to facilitate any future changes that may come to pass. First, we’re making sure that all of our data is held on servers within the EU. Our website is hosted on servers in Manchester but will be moved to servers in Germany in March. We use Office 365 and our data is held on servers within the EU. Our CRM of choice is HubSpot. They store data on servers in the United States and in Germany. These servers are regulated by the EU-US Privacy Shield. Our accounting and financial data is held on servers in the US. These too are protected by the EU-US Privacy Shield.

Secondly, we’re making some changes to the way in which we use HubSpot. We’ve used a variety of tools to get in touch with our customers over the years and data has been stored everywhere. We’ve decided to consolidate our customer data and our marketing data into HubSpot. In the future, all of our mail shots will come from HubSpot and will include the ability to amend or delete your communication and marketing preferences. We’re building new mailing lists and subscriptions to achieve this. We’re going to make it easier for you to opt-in to software updates but opt-out of marketing emails.

This work is ongoing. We’re trying do things with minimal interruption and without sending you mail shots by mistake. If we do – we’re sorry. We didn’t mean to do it. Please be kind.

We’ll let you know when everything is finished.

Making Tax Digital and beyond

It’s been twelve months since we launched our Making Tax Digital software for TASBooks and we thought it was time to step back, take stock, and let you know what we have planned for Tax Manager in the twelve months ahead…

Tax Manager has been a phenomenal success. Working alongside HMRC, we’ve been able to develop software that takes the hassle out of submitting a VAT return. The feedback from you – our customers – has been so a real boost; you’ve shared your experiences with us and provided us with some ideas for a little further down the road.

What’s most rewarding, however, is the money that’s been saved by all of you by using our software. We know that out software can save businesses over £200 on licensing and support every year. That’s why Tax Manager continues to attract new users every month.

But what’s ahead? Firstly, most (if not all) of our customers asked for submission receipts and we’ve already delivered on this. We introduced submission receipts to both Tax Manager and Tax Manager for MultiTAS. If you haven’t updated yet, you should visit our support section to download the latest version of our software. We have a few more ideas in the pipeline for how we can use these receipts, but we’re not going to reveal too much about them at the moment.

Second, we’re looking into ways in which we can streamline the entire process for those customers that have more ‘complex arrangements’ – such as exemptions or VAT groups – and make it easier to submit returns. We are looking to allow direct submission without the need to export returns. We want to make our software are easy to use as possible.

Third, there’s a new version of Tax Manager and Tax Manager for MultiTAS due to be released in the coming weeks. It includes new tools to combat fraud and augments the existing security checks between accounting software and HMRC.

Finally, one of the biggest issues has been downtime. We’ll be honest with you – HMRC haven’t exactly been forthcoming on this front but they are getting better. We’ve already added a Service Status page to the website and we’re adding some additional features. The home page on our website will include a ticker that features service updates and product releases. We’re also working on a notification system that will push an alert or message to users as soon as possible about potential issues from HMRC.

That’s it. We’re sure that over the next twelve months somebody out there will suggest a feature. If we can do it and if it would benefit everybody, then we’ll add it to the list.

Roadmap for 2020

You make think that March is a little late to set out a roadmap for the year and tell out about our plans, but… we’ve been quite busy.

Making Tax Digital was a big endeavour. There wasn’t much information to work from and accountants and software developers were all in the dark. To be fair, so was HMRC. Still, it’s done now and our VAT submission software has been a huge success. It’s advertised us to new markets and new opportunities. The feedback from our customers has been invaluable and we’ve already delivered on some of it. You can read more about our plans for Making Tax Digital here.

MultiTAS is, and always will be, the heart of our business. We’ve built a genuinely intuitive set of features and tools that help you, our customers, use TASBooks effectively. Your comments help us to understand how our customers use our software and are frequently the source of inspiration. That’s why Purchase Order processing will be added to MultiTAS in the next release. You asked. We’ve delivering.

The world is changing and so too are we. When you talk to us, we really do listen to what you have to say. Certain things come up time and again. That’s why we’re expanding the range of services we offer our customers this year. These include:

  • Health Check: The data you have in TASBooks is your most valuable asset. But like anything of value, it needs to be cared for. Sometimes, the amount of data you have can slow TASBooks and it takes longer to do basic tasks. The best solution is to start again. Our health check will help to protect your data and make TASBooks run more efficiently.
  • Website Development: A website doesn’t doesn’t have to be all-singing and all-dancing. It needs to be practical and useful. Our customers have neither the time nor the money to pour into a new website. That’s why we will offer website development to our customers from the Spring. We’ll handle everything for you – the design, the development, the fancy bits (if you want them), the emails and the hosting.
  • Digital Marketing: No. We won’t be making soft-focus John Lewis-esque adverts for a sprocket manufacturer in Cleethorpes. What we will do is help you reach the people you need to reach. We’ll optimise your website and make sure you appear on Google. We’ll make sure that your website is quick enough. And we’ll manage your mail shots and tell you how best to communicate with your customers.
  • Remember GDPR? We thought you would. Well, we’ve been working on some tools that may be of interest. It’s early days but think that a health check combined with our GDPR tools will help you get the most from TASBooks. At the moment, it’s on the drawing board for the second half of the year, but we’ll tell you more about it in due course.

And that’s it. The list isn’t exhaustive – there are some surprises that we’re keeping under our hats for now, but… That’s what we have planned for this year.

Coronavirus COVID-19

Where do we begin?

First of all, we hope that everybody is keeping well and staying safe. It’s not easy; overnight we’ve been asked to change the way we live and work and what normally would be the most natural actions – such as a handshake or hug – are now frowned upon.

It’s fine. We’ll get through this.

Secondly, we want to reassure our customers – and any prospective customers – that we are open for business and trading normally. If you have a support issue – get in touch. If you have a sales enquiry, get in touch.

You see, a few years ago we took a decision to close our main office and move all of our operations to the cloud. We’ve been working remotely from locations such as Scotland, Yorkshire and France for some time now. It may help you to understand how we’ve gone about achieving this and how it guarantees uninterrupted service in the months aheads.

  • Our phone system is entirely cloud-based using IP technology. This means that the number that you’ve always been able to contact us on continues to work to this day.
  • Like many businesses around the world, we use a range of software and services (such as Office 365 or HubSpot) which mean that our systems are always on and available (even if we’re not!)
  • We already use some of the advanced collaborative tools and file sharing software that only now you may be becoming familiar with – apps such as Slack or Teams, TeamViewer or Zoom.
  • We have the capability to access customer content remotely and any training can be provided using online screen-sharing platforms.
  • Our website is built using WordPress and hosted on servers within the European Union (EU) and delivered using CloudFlare CDN. We’re already taking steps to streamline our website to make our support more efficient and readily-available (you’ll see that in a few days).

So what does this mean?

The cloud-based nature of our systems means that there be no disruption to the software and services available from Infoplex. We already work remotely and we will continue to do so. As always, we remain committed to supporting you and your business with a high level of customer service.

If you have any queries at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you want to know more about remote working and some of the tools we use, feel free to get in touch. If you want something to help with your accounts systems, let us know. The unrivalled service that you’ve come to expect from Infoplex will continue.

In the meantime… Stay home. Stay safe. Be kind.

Christmas 2019 – Support Availability

It’s Christmas. Again. If we hear the letters M, T or D one more time…

We know that some of you will be working over the Festive period and will no doubt uncover a variety of bugs, glitches, hiccups and quandaries that, well, quite frankly, should not be there. With that in mind, you’ll want to know what our plans are for Christmas (aside from turkey, brandy butter and port – not together, obviously).

  • We will close at 5pm on Friday 20th December and re-open at 9am on 6th January 2020
  • To allow human batteries to recharge, during this time we will operate a reduced support service
  • Email support will be available on 27th December, 30th December and 3rd January. We will respond to support requests as quickly as possible but please note data issues, help with software upgrades and software installation on new computers and such like will have to wait until the New Year
  • We will not be undertaking any new development work until the New Year.

All that remains is to wish all of our customers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (if we don’t speak to you beforehand) – we really appreciate your business and support.

Christmas 2018 – Support Availability

How on earth did that happen? It’s Christmas again. No, seriously. Where has the year gone?

We know that some of you will be working over the Festive period and will no doubt uncover a variety of bugs, glitches, hiccups and quandaries that, well, quite frankly, should not be there. We’ve had some gems over the years – there’s easily a blog post in there for the New Year…

With that in mind, you’ll want to know what our plans are for Christmas (aside from turkey, brandy butter and port – not together, obviously).

  • We will close at 5pm on Friday 21st December.
  • From 24th December onwards, we will still be answering emails and responding to support calls so if you need assistance please phone the normal numbers.
  • Please leave a voice-mail and someone will call you back (voice-mails you leave get emailed to us no matter where we are at that time).
  • We will not be undertaking any new development work until the New Year.
  • We reopen at 9am on 7th January 2019.

All that remains is to wish all of our customers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (if we don’t speak to you beforehand) – we really appreciate your business and support.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) and TASBooks

UPDATE – Infoplex announces Tax Manager for TASBooks

Infoplex has announced the development of its own easy-to-use VAT submission system for TASBooks. Click here to find out more about Tax Manager for TASBooks.

The deadline for Making Tax Digital (MTD) is on the horizon. With any significant overhaul of the tax management system, there’s been a lot of concern, speculation and contradictory information. At Infoplex, we’re committed to ensuring that you have the most accurate information available at all times so that you can make informed business-critical decisions.

What is Making Tax Digital (MTD)?

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is the cornerstone of HMRC’s move towards digitising the tax system. From 1st April 2019, any business that is VAT-registered will no longer be able to file its VAT submissions using the HMRC gateway. In its place, VAT-registered businesses will need to use commercial accounting software that has MTD submission capabilities.

Is TASBooks suitable?

The simple answer is yes, but there’s a big twist.

All of the information that you need when your business files a VAT submission is in the TAS database. It is – literally – at your fingertips. Unfortunately, there’s no in-built way to access this information and send it to HMRC.

Is there a solution available for TASBooks?

Yes. In the last few months you will have seen an email from Sage about MTD. It sets out the steps that Sage are taking to help VAT-registered businesses. They have built a special module for TASBooks which will let all VAT-registered businesses file their submissions online and meet HMRC’s compliance requirements.

Can I buy a solution directly from Infoplex?

Yes. We’re working with a company to develop an easy-to-use, low-cost solution.  We’ll have an announcement on our plans in the New Year. In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss your requirements, then feel free to get in touch with George by calling 01592 598101

New MultiTAS GDPR add-on

No doubt most of you (if not all) will be tired of hearing about GDPR and what it means for your business. We’re sure that, by now, your business has followed the rules to the letter and all of your data is safely and securely managed in a GDPR-compliant way. No? Well, read on. We may just be able to help…

The way in which your business can obtain and use sensitive data has changed. Your business now needs solutions for assessing, implementing and maintaining GDPR compliance everyday. To help TASBooks users, Infoplex has developed an essential GDPR add-on for TASBooks.

Data Compliance Manager

Our Data Compliance Manager can help your business handle sensitive financial and personal data efficiently.  The add-on will search the TASBooks database and ‘wipe clean’ any data that is no longer needed. If a customer wants to be ‘forgotten’, the Data Compliance Manager can locate any records associated with that customer and remove their data securely.

With Data Compliance Manager, your business can safeguard customer and supplier data but retain business-critical information. This includes contracts, transaction data and VAT records. You can search the TASBooks database using in-built filters – such as customer, supplier or marketing codes – and make changes individually or in bulk.

We know what you’re thinking. Why now? Is it necessary? How much is this going to cost? Well, to help you out and explain things a bit more, we’ve put together a quick list of the most common (obvious) questions and some answers.

Why aren’t TAS doing this? Surely this means that TASBooks will be mothballed?

Not at all. Sage and TAS are under no obligation to update their software to make it GDPR-compliant.  Under the GDPR legislation, the burden for compliance shifted from software developers (like Microsoft or Sage) to the consumer (your business).  It is now your responsibility to make sure that your business and your software is compliant.

What does that really mean for you and your business?

Well, you could ask TAS to develop a solution for you. They will either say no or attach a pretty hefty price tag to it, along with a new support contract.

So why Infoplex and why now?

We’ve been the official TAS development partner for some years now. As such, a number of businesses reached out to us before the GDPR deadline asking for advice and help.  We explained the situation to them.  We’ve had time to look into the issue and work out how we could best help TASBooks users.  The Data Compliance Manager is our solution to the problem.

I thought GDPR was done and dusted at the end of May. Why are you asking me about this now?

If only. If only… It’s not as clear cut as that, we’re afraid.  Your business needs to identify, analyse and manage the data it holds everyday.  Data that was relevant to your business last week may no longer be so next week.  Your business needs a way to manage that change as quickly and as easily as possible. To put it simply, GDPR is for life, not just for 25th May.

How much is it?

We don’t know. We’re still working that out. It’s based on a lot of different factors, including the amount of time that we’ve spent developing it. What we can tell you is that not only will there be a one-off charge but there will also be an annual recurring fee too.

Why is there a recurring fee?

We want you use the latest software.  Every so often, we will let you know that there’s an update to the GDPR add-on and you can download the latest version.

Why will there be an update?

First, the GDPR rules will change.  At the moment, ‘personal data’ is anything by which a person can be identified.  The problem is that we can be identified in lots of different ways, not just our name or our address.  The definition of ‘personal data’ will change and we want to update your software to reflect that.

Second, there’s a new law called the ePrivacy Regulation.  It will complement the GDPR and offer individuals control over all their data and ensure that businesses handle data with care. It will be approved by the end of 2018 and come into effect next year.  To make things easier for your business, we’re going to update our GDPR add-on when the ePrivacy Regulation comes into effect.

Third, there’s Brexit.  We don’t yet know how data protection requirements will change after Brexit.  During the transition, we expect there to be ‘regulatory-alignment’ and ‘divergence’.  We want to help you stay in control and will be updating GDPR add-on as appropriate.

When is it available?

Soon. We’re testing it out at the moment. We’re seeing how easy it is to break (we’re experts at breaking things). Once we’re certain it’s ok, we’ll release it.

In the meantime… if you want to know more about it, why not give George a call on +44 (0)1592 598100 or send him an email at sales@infoplex.co.uk

Cleaning your TASBooks database

Is TASBooks a little slow? Is it a bit sluggish? Is it taking you longer to run a report or find a record than it used to?

This is something that we hear a lot at Infoplex. Obviously, there are lots of reasons for this. Over time, you’ve saved lots of transactional data that you only used once or twice. If you’re like us, you’ve built up multiple copies of files and lines of code that you’ve never even used. You have records that are out of date – customers have moved on, products have been discontinued and suppliers have changed.

In these circumstances, the best solution is to start again. Build a new company from scratch in TASBooks. Think of it as a ‘factory-reset’ for mobile phone.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy that. Can you imagine having to re-enter all of those records? Your customers, your suppliers, your products, opening balances and orders. Everything would need to be re-done. And let’s not even think about Dynamic Discounts…

That’s where we can help you with (drumroll, please) our new TASBooks Data Migration service.

Our new TASBooks Data Migration service will:

  • Analyse your TASBooks company data
  • Identify which data to migrate
  • Work around you to ensure minimal disruption
  • Work alongside you to clean up your data
  • And, of course, migrate your data.

Our new service will launch sometime in June. We’ll tell you more about it closer to the time and explain in greater detail how it all works. In the meantime, if you want to sign up to be notified when we launch this service, head on over here to let us know!