in Business

Moving to cloud accounting – the benefits for your business

When managing business finances, you want the processes to be effective and consistent – and to take up as little time as possible.

But if you’re still managing accounts using Excel spreadsheets, paper files or traditional desktop accounting software then you’re losing a huge amount of that potential productivity. Time-consuming data-entry, poor integration with your systems and hours messing around with complicated formulae all eat into the working day and stop you achieving your goals.

By moving to one of the new breed of cloud accounting platforms, you not only improve the efficiency of your processes, but also gain a whole raft of benefits that can only be achieved by using an online financial management solution.

So, what are these benefits? And why is cloud accounting such a positive move for the longer-term success of your organisation?

Cloud accounting as the ‘new normal’

Cloud accounting is rapidly gaining a foothold as the solution of choice for businesses that want an improved level of control over their finances.

Recent research by the Cloud Industry Forum showed that 38% of UK businesses are now using cloud-based accounting solutions, with that figure increasing to 46% for the small and medium-sized business market. CIF research also shows that 16% of surveyed businesses are looking to expand their use of cloud accounting over the next year.

But when we spoke to our GoCardless customers, we found that 38% of our business users don’t currently use any accounting software at all, creating a huge opportunity to improve your productivity and financial control by embracing cloud accounting.

  • Access anytime, anywhere – with online accounting you have 24/7 access to your accounts, wherever there’s an internet connection. So you can check your cash situation from the local coffee shop, or send an invoice from your front room. Real-time reporting and forecasting – live bank feeds, smart-scanning apps and automated data processing come together to deliver a 100% current, real-time overview of all your important finance information. And that’s a huge benefit when you’re looking at future business planning.

  • An integrated system built on business apps – cloud accounting platforms allow you to add apps and FinTech tools to customise the functionality of your systems. Connect to a live bank feed, scan in expenses or improve your reporting with your choice of apps.

  • A more efficient way to control your finances – intelligent automation completes your bank reconciliation, chases your outstanding invoices and takes payment in an instant. Get real control over your financial management and focus your time on customer relationships rather than admin.

  • Better collaboration with your accountant – instant shared access to your data, and the real-time reporting that cloud accounting delivers, make it easier to have a productive and forward-looking relationship with your accountant and advisers.

Integrating GoCardless with cloud accounting software

Your GoCardless solution integrates with all the major cloud accounting platforms. Whether you need simple bookkeeping functionality, or full-blown multi-company accounting, there’s an online accounting solution that fits your needs and keeps you fully connected with GoCardless as your payment collection option of choice.

For freelancers, micro businesses and sole traders, FreeAgent and Sage 50 are a good basic place to start your cloud accounting experience. If you’re a growing small business, then Xero, Kashflow, Clear Books or QuickBooks all offer great functionality and helpful integration with a range of business apps. If your business is more complex, with multiple subsidiaries and group structures, then the Netsuite accounting and ERP system has scope to grow alongside the organisation.

Whichever online accounting package is best suited to your business, GoCardless will remain fully integrated as your Direct Debit solution, with full integration that pulls payment data straight into your accounts.

  • A hassle-free Direct Debit solution.
  • Full integration with your accounting platform.
  • Flexible payments and pre-authorisation of amounts.
  • Automation of recurring invoices and cash collection.
  • Low cost – just 1% per transaction capped at £2.

If you’ve never considered cloud accounting, now’s the time to do so! Why not move to a more powerful, flexible and integrated system? It makes perfect sense.

Find out more or give our sales team a call on 020 7183 8674.

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in Engineering, People

(Re)designing the DevOps interview process

Interviewing is hard. Both the company and the candidate have to make an incredibly important decision based on just a few hours’ worth of data, so it’s worth investing the time to make those precious hours as valuable as possible.

We recently made some changes to our DevOps interview process, with the aim of making it fairer, better aligned with the role requirements, and more representative of real work.

We started by defining the basics of our DevOps roles. What makes someone successful in this role and team? What are the skills and experience that we're looking for at different levels of the role?

It was important that the process would work for candidates with varying experience levels, and so it needed to be flexible and clear to assess skills at each of these levels.

The skills we’re looking for fall into three broad categories: existing technical knowledge (e.g., programming languages), competency-based skills (e.g., problem solving), and personal characteristics (e.g., passion for the role, teamwork and communication skills). After defining these skills, we mapped out how we would assess them at each stage of the interview process.

The application review stage

At this stage, we want to check whether your background and interests align with our expectations for the role. Your CV and cover letter tell us about your experience and prior achievements; however, we also ask for a description of a technical project or problem that you’ve found particularly interesting. With this question, we’re looking to hear more about what motivates you and what kind of challenges you enjoy working on.

The phone interview

Assesses: motivations and communication

If we think there’s a match, the next step is a call with someone from the People team. In this call we’ll:

  • Say hi! 👋
  • Ask any questions we have about your application or background.
  • Find out what you’re looking for and your motivations for the role.
  • Guide you through how the rest of the interview process will work.
  • Give you plenty of opportunity to ask questions about the role, the company, or anything else on your mind - interviews are two-way processes and it’s as important for us to know about you, as for you to know about us (we hope the answer is yes!).

The video interview

Assesses: motivations and interests, and web knowledge

This stage involves a one hour video call with two of our engineers. They will start by digging into your technical interests and background and finish with some questions about web fundamentals and troubleshooting. As with the phone interview, you will have plenty of time to ask our team questions, so don't be shy!

The live challenge

Assesses: problem solving, communication, logic, OS knowledge, troubleshooting

Research indicates that work sample tests provide some of the best indicators of future performance (e.g., Bock, 2015). For this interview, we looked through post-mortems for issues that we’ve debugged on the job, and built an EC2 instance that exhibits a number of these issues. We’ll give you remote access to the VM, and work with you to solve them.

The main aim of this stage is not to solve everything, but to gradually progress as you encounter different issues during the interview. For example, we want to know how you approach problems and why you might choose one process over the other. We’re interested in how you communicate with the team during the process and how you address the issues that you find.

The final stage

If everything else goes well, we’ll invite you to our office in London to meet the team. This final stage consists of three interviews.

The technical interview

Assesses: domains of technical knowledge (e.g., Linux internals, networking, storage)

The technical interview is usually held by someone from the Platform team, along with our CTO. Our engineers believe in giving people the best opportunity and will allow you to select the topics you will discuss during the interview. The level of difficulty within each topic will gradually increase until you decide to move the next one.

Pair-coding with our engineers

Assesses: collaboration, communication, logic and coding

This is another live exercise, but this time you’ll work directly with the team. We'll spend 90 minutes working together on a coding exercise that’s representative of the kind of task you’ll be doing on the job.

The soft skills interview

Assesses: motivation, team work and influence, and shared values

The final interview is a chat with someone from our management team. We’ll discuss your motivations and aspirations and whether your values match those of the company. Most of all, we want to know that you’ll thrive at GoCardless and within the Engineering team. This interview isn’t a personality test - we’re not looking to hire people who are the same as us. Instead, we’re looking to hire people that care about the same things as us. Making sure we add to our culture is as important as the tech skills you bring in; after all, we like where we work, but we love the people we work with!

The outcome(s)

Redesigning the interview process has hugely improved the experience of our engineering team and their confidence in making decisions after interviews. We've also received great feedback from candidates, especially regarding the live problem-solving challenge, which many find challenging and fun.

Overall, the redesign was a success in targeting the main issues that the team was facing. However, we're always looking for ways to improve and we're constantly adapting our processes based on feedback we receive from candidates and interviewers.

If you're curious about GoCardless, why not apply?

in Announcements

Introducing our new developer site

The brand new

The API is at the centre of everything we do at GoCardless - thousands of our customers use it to integrate Direct Debit into their applications and business processes, and it powers our Dashboard.

We’ve long had a great API reference, but we wanted to create a real home for developers with a wider range of content about our API.

To that end, we’ve launched our brand new developer site, with revamped reference documentation and a brand new getting started guide, helping you get up and running with the GoCardless API.

The guide takes you through, step-by-step:

  • Using our API libraries in PHP, Ruby, Java and Python
  • Creating your first customers
  • Taking your first payment
  • Staying up to date with webhooks

Throughout the guide, we’ve included copy-and-paste code samples in PHP, Ruby, Java and Python to make things as simple as possible.

We’ve also launched a new guide to building a partner integration, and helpful content which explains our developer tools.

We’d love to hear your feedback and answer any questions you have about our API - just get in touch at [email protected].

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GoCardless launches in Spain

The expansion of GoCardless is now reaching Spain. Since the beginning of the year, we've been gaining traction in Spain with new clients such as Geo Alternativa, Tallerator, Glovo, Doofinder, elTenedor and many more.

And now, our Spanish team will be sponsoring one of the most important Spanish Tech events, South Summit.

For all of you who speak Spanish... here's our first ever Spanish post. Hope you find it informative!

Cinco años consecutivos lleva celebrándose en Madrid el South Summit. El encuentro de los actores fundamentales del ecosistema emprendedor. Allí se dan cita startups, corporaciones, inversores e instituciones y por supuesto ¡nosotros no podíamos faltar! Durante los próximos días 5, 6, y 7 de octubre nos uniremos a esta grandísima iniciativa junto con otros más de 12.500 asistentes.

La innovación es in pilar clave de este encuentro, pero serán 7 verticales muy disruptivos los que despuntarán en la edición de este año: Fintech, Fashion & lifestyle, Health & Wellness, Food, Travel, Education, eFactory & Energy y Media & Entertainment; siendo el de fintech en el que nos centraremos.

Compartiremos espacio con grandes nombres del panorama fintech como Anthony Thompson de Atom Bank y Philippe Gelis, CEO y Co – Fundador de Kantox. Con ellos discutiremos sobre el cambio que necesitan los bancos a día de hoy. Un cambio drástico en su cultura corporativa que propiciará nuevos y distintos incentivos para poder seguir funcionando en el futuro. Pero ¿es esto posible? ¿Necesario? ¿Estamos viviendo el hundimiento de la banca tradicional? ¿Qué papel juegan las startups fintech en todo este movimiento?

Para responder a todas estas preguntas y a cualquier otra que pueda surgiros estaremos presentes durante toda la jornada del Summit con alguna sorpresa además preparada.

Además de en nuestro stand, podréis encontrarnos el miércoles día 5 a las 16:50 en el panel talk “Revolutionising the banking System through APIs”. Nuestra Chief Marketing Officer, Nicola Anderson, compartirá conocimientos con grandes nombres de la banca como BBVA, Raisin, PayPal. PayPlug y Ferrovial. Y en la ponencia del jueves 6 “How to go Global”, con Alfonso Sainz de Baranda, Country Manager en España.

La cita tendrá lugar en La N@ve. Un espacio que pretende convertirse en un centro de referencia dedicado a la innovación tecnológica y social y desde el cual estaremos retransmitiendo en todo momento lo ocurrido a través de nuestras redes sociales.

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in Business

Direct Debit top choice to avoid hefty card processing fees

Direct Debit could be the answer for businesses looking to avoid the increase in card processing fees after Visa removed its interchange cap earlier in September.

The change mainly affects garages, travel agents and other B2B businesses that accept customer payments by Visa debit card. Those merchants with Average Transaction Values (ATV) above £245 will be the most heavily affected.

This is not the first time Visa has made changes to its fee structure. In March 2015, the company changed its debit interchange rate from a fixed rate per transaction (8p for chip & pin) to an “ad-valorem” (% of transaction value) rate of 0.2% + 1p. This move created higher costs on all transactions above £35, particularly affecting merchants with higher value transactions.

But now that the new changes are in place, merchants are seeing significant increases in processing costs. For example, according to recent figures from CardSwitcher, a travel agent with a £500 – £1,000 transaction value would see their debit processing costs double or quadruple. A garage selling used cars at £5,000 – £10,000 would see their costs rocket by thousands of percent.

This is understandably a huge concern for merchants. So what can they do to mitigate the effect of these changes on their business? The folks at CardSwitcher advise the following -

  1. Find a new acquirer. They will all incur an uncapped cost of 0.2 %, but different acquirers will add different margins on top of this. It’s worth shopping around.

  2. Charge customers extra. This is understandably unpopular but it is becoming increasingly common, especially for credit card charges. At present, businesses are allowed to pass on their costs to the customer, but this may change in future as legislation brings in an outright ban on adding a surcharge to consumer debit and credit cards.

  3. Consider using another payment method. For affected businesses, the most logical response to this situation is probably to identify another payment method altogether - if your customers are happy to use them. Bank transfer is one idea, although this method lacks the chargeback protections that credit and debit cards benefit from.

For recurring payments, the tried and true method of Direct Debit is a top choice. According to recent survey results from YouGov, Direct Debit is the method that UK consumers feel most comfortable with.

With the rise of cutting-edge payment providers such as GoCardless, businesses can quickly and easily start using Direct Debit and get all their customers on board too. GoCardless helps merchants benefit from fully automated systems, real-time alerts and the ability to create flexible payment plans that precisely fit their customers’ individual needs.

Direct Debit offers an appealing alternative in these times of ever-increasing credit and debit card fees. By using GoCardless as your Direct Debit provider, your business can benefit from scalable transaction pricing between 2p and 60p, along with no set-up fees, hidden costs or minimum contract.

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