Ava Blog

Ava RTI submissions have been tested and recognised by HMRC

Monday Monday, July 4, 2016 by Administrator

Added value applications Ltd is committed to reducing temporary staffing agency running cost to a minimum. We are also dedicated to maximising productivity across all aspects of running a temp Agency.

 

So we are very proud to announce that we have become an recognised supplier for HMRC RTI submissions. Passing of all HMRC RTI tests is a mandatory requirement by HMRC to merit this recogition.

 

A review of the suppliers on this list and their payroll and staff management packages will uncover a wide range of price structures. Whilst not a free product we have placed our product at the leading edge when it comes economy of usage and low cost of ownership.

 

HMRC RTI

 

What is more, we won’t be increasing the cost of our software to existing customers for this and other new features. Find out more: call us on 01491 845 400

 

HMRC RTI Software suppliers list

 

Brexit - what does it mean for the Temp staffing industry

Friday Friday, June 24, 2016 by Administrator

Brexit - what does it mean for the Temp staffing industry?

 

Short term not a lot! In a year or two then there are certain to be effects dependant on how immigration policy is formulated.

 

It will be a bit more complicated for the Scots: with their love of referenda, my Scottish blood tells me they will probably have a referendum to decide if they should have more referendums and then one to consider if they should re-join the EU.

 

Whist most large company shares dropped quite significantly, especially Banks, Rolls Royce was unchanged. This points to a degree of realism, large companies that export and large foreign EU companies that import to the UK will push hard for the trading process to be largely unchanged. VAT however will have to change hands for these, and the likes of Microsoft, Starbucks and friends will with any luck not be able to transfer funds around the EU without paying tax on their profits from the UK tax payer. Win!

 

At the top end of the Housing market, things are unlikely to change or maybe get pricier. The super-rich always have ways around these things. At the bottom end in the affordable housing market things are likely to ease (relatively) as the migrant pressures hopefully ease.

 

How will it differ across Healthcare workers, Construction, Events etc.?

 

When the mooted points system comes into force, IT and Healthcare workers are likely to score well. Builders and Events staff not so much. However, there will be increased barriers and unit costs and margins are likely to come under pressure. So it will be even more important to keep avoidable overheads under control. Specifically those associate with book keeping and accountancy. Modern web temporary staffing software can all but eliminate admin, book keeping and banking costs. Our software is at the fore front, offering probably the easiest to configure and most flexible payment and invoicing system, HMRC approval and standard file formats for one click uploading to Banks or in the case of RTI and other standard HMRC payments direct one click submission to their services.

 

Give us a call on 01491 845 400 to find out more.

 

 

 

How to develop your own temporary Staffing recruitment software

Tuesday Tuesday, June 21, 2016 by Administrator

How to develop your own temporary Staffing recruitment software
Let’s face it: that is always going to depend on how big you are. So what are the figures?


Typically a software development company with any degree of longevity will have invested between a quarter of a million and two million pounds developing agency staff software. This includes essential testing, then refining the features as the temporary staff management processes and market evolves. Testing again, updating again due to changes in the law or regulations and then re-testing.

 

Over the last 10 years,  regulation changes have been a more than annual event. With layers of bureaucracy continually thickening, it’s not ever likely to decrease. Essential continued development means that is a lot of your profit to absorb. You can buy or lease software at a fraction of this cost yearly and even or perhaps especially over a ten year period.


You may say “I don’t need all the features they have” and “I need some features they don’t have”. I want “perfect” software for my temp staff supply agency niche. Unfortunately the world does not stand still and this makes for a “perfect” moving target for "perfect" software.


So there some things to consider when you are developing your perfect staff agency software:
You are specifying it. Ultimately your consultants and your bottom line are testing it. To be fair this occurs to some degree for any new software. Fortunately for any group of customers, the live implimentation process is spread across a much wider customer base. The commercial customer probably only "beta tests" the features they specifically asked for.


Who is going to write your TemporaryStaff Agency software? An indivual, a team of short term contract developers or a specialist sofware develpment company? If they are a specialist company do they know your industry so they can spot the questions you should ask in developer speak? What sort of contract are they on? Is it a fixed price contract or are you writing an open cheque? Is Any credible Development Company likely to enter into a fixed price contract without an exhaustive and complete description including test cases? A credible developer will want to prove they have done exactly what you specified so they can demand payment. This is irrespective of the product meeting your actual needs as opposed to the ones you specified in the initial document. This is not unethical or immoral, you entered willingly into a business contract and they have fulfilled their part of it (or gone bust which leaves you out on the end of a pier).


Let us take a very simple starting example:


You specify that when you record a customer’s request for shift to be filled by your agency, you take the customer’s name, the location to be worked, the dates, the times and any compliance checks necessary for that job. This is fine and simple and the developer agrees that any issues are fixed within a year free of charge. Although compliance checks do change, let us assume no authority makes any new rules. The compliance checks you specified are recorded, properly checked and met.  Just over a year down the road the database performance degrades. Is it that someone has hacked into your system? Is it a hardware fault? Is it just a matter of the number of records that need to be checked by your system? How do you find out?  Is it simply that it’s a lot easier to find something when you are choosing from a few dozen or even hundred records but when it comes to approaching or exceed a thousand then the completely acceptable half second for under a hundred becomes 10x half a second or 5 seconds when there are ten times as many record to check?


So how many shifts do you have? 1,000, 10,000 or with some Ava systems 1 Million plus? So you need to test with the number of shifts, customers and employees that you expect to have 3, 4, 5 or more years down the road. Where does this test data come from? It has to be you because are you are specifying the system.


So you are now happy that the system works with not only a small amount of data but real amounts in every part of your system and it gives as good a response as something you could buy off the shelf.


One of the reasons for any system is to minimise expensive bookkeeping or accounting efforts and leverage your consultants’ time. You want to put data in once and everything to come out the end, correct? Minimising expensive bookkeeping is one of the main areas where your system will pay for itself. So your perfect system will be calculating pay (or generate statements for self-invoicing limited companies) and customer invoices.  It will submit mandatory RTI information to HMRC and avoid their fines. The system will be submitting payment details to your bank so avoiding a substantial part of your hard erned profit margin going to factoring or accounting companies. So passing HMRC tests this year is a must. If and when there is a failure with next year’s HRMC format, your departed developers will fix it the same day? Its what HMRC demands. Best you keep a developer on and adding to your costs?


Of course there is a solution. You could take a developed Temporary Staffing package from a willing company and ask them to add the specialist bits you need. The day to day updates to ensure general compliance will be covered under their standard commitment to their product and you will only need to cover special features you alone will require. You can even have access to their code through a 3rd party software escrow process.

Teamviewer or Join.me accounts hacked and why we dont use either

Wednesday Wednesday, June 8, 2016 by Administrator

Some years ago we were investigating which remote support tool to adopt for our customers.

I must admit we were jaundiced to start over this product as we had previously had one of those scam phone calls (which we recorded) where we were asked to download remote access software to fix our computer performance problems as there were apparently “red lights” on the Microsoft monitoring equipment. The software (to be) used was a previous incarnation of Teamviewer.

We contacted them to advise their software was being used in this scam.

We got no response.  

We got a couple more scam calls and as with the first one we kept them on line as long as possible stringing them out on the principle that the particular scammer was not calling some unfortunate less knowledgeable person if they occupied by being on the phone to us. The scammers got quite irate when we “apparently” could not understand their instructions or “accidentally” did not do what they asked. Ah happy days!

A second reason for not choosing TeamViewer is that it left parts of itself on our machine even when we tried to uninstall the trail.

We use a product call ISL online. It wasn’t as pretty as Teamviewer and it hasn’t been entirely issue free. The issues have been occasional and importantly to us and our customers, none of those issues to date concern security.

So you can be as confident as possible that that you are not exposing yourself unnecessarily when we demo our software and when you close the session, the remote support software is removed as completely as possible.

 

Relevant links:

 

BBC News item on hacked accounts.

What is concurrent usage and how does it benefit customers

Monday Monday, May 23, 2016 by Administrator

Added value advanced agency web system is licenced on a concurrent user basis. That means if you have 4 back office users but only two of them are logged in at one time, you only need 2 licences.

So what are the advantages?

  • This normally works out significantly cheaper that other licencing models (for example needing a licence for every user).
  • Fairer: You only pay for what you are using.
  • More accurate: You can keep an exact track of who has done what without incurring additional costs.
  • Simply better security: If a user leaves and is replaced by another, then you cancel the previous leaver and add the new user: no extra cost and access by the leaver is blocked as soon as you cancel their access.

If you have an extremely distributed management model, then pleas e contact us to discuss a per transaction licencing agreement.

New EU data security law may result in punitive fines for breaches

Thursday Thursday, April 7, 2016 by Administrator

You're in the Employment Agency business and that means you store personal data.
 
Previously in this blog we reported on the average cost of data breaches: it was around £20 per personal item breached. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service received a fine of £200, 000 for a breach a few years ago. It meant that 10,000 of their customers did not have the correct protection when indulging in the relevant activities.

Well the GDPR fines are going to get a bit more serious. The maximum fine is now going to be £20 million Euros: enough to bring tears to even the most affluent Director.

This is the headline for the new General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR as it is being referred to. So when you see an article about GDPR, this is what it is about.

The following links may (or may not!) help as typically the advice is very general. However it has to be said that Data protection is in our view an attitude of mind and starts with the ground floor approach.

You may notice that the entire Ava web site is secure.
We use the latest recommended https security standard.
Passwords are at least eight letters and there needs to be a punctuation mark included.
Our servers are "locked down" according to best practice.
We use a top rated ISP for our servers.

Some useful links where you can read more:
Preparing for the GDPR: 12 steps.pdf

ico.org.uk: for organisations: improve your practices: a data protection self assessment toolkit

wikipedia General Data Protection Regulation

Previous blog on The British Pregnancy Advisory Service fine of £200, 000

 

 

 

Microsoft kills security patches for older versions of IE

Thursday Thursday, December 3, 2015 by Administrator

Back In last August last year, Microsoft made a long overdue decision that Internet Explorer (IE) users must upgrade when it announced that most user needed to be running IE11 by 12 Jan. 1016 . After that, Microsoft will support IE9 only on the barely used Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and IE10 only on Windows Server 2012. Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, must run IE11 or Edge or have no security patches.

You can download the latest verion of IE (Internet Explorer) here

The article to ensuring compatibility with services requiring earlier versions of IE is here

New Enhanced feature market leading automated messaging

Friday Friday, July 10, 2015 by Administrator

Ava advanced agency web system for scheduling temporary workers has been able to send automated email and text notifications for quite a few years as a legacy from our original windows application.

There is now a full featured “What you see is what you get” drag and drop email message designer for any one or all of the 20 plus fully automated emails that our system will optionally send in throughout the booking and billing process.

Emails can be free flowing text containing “fields” of booking related information or have tables with booking information or both.

These automatic notifications can include attachments of documents, pdfs and image scans from employee data. E.g. Identity photos and certificate scans.

Automated emails may contain (mail merge) any of the 50 or more items of information about the customer, individual booking, employee details and certification.

The designer allows you to copy or blind copy any sent emails to any email addresses of your choosing in addition to specific email addresses for each customer and customer site.

The designer also allows you to drag and drop images of company logos or signatures. This means that your automated emails to your customers can be completely professional in appearance and customised to your exact need to a level limited only by your imagination.

 

Happy time saving automation!

 

 

Let us save you £450…

Thursday Thursday, June 11, 2015 by Administrator

There a quite a few organisations around that will try to charge you (or charge well over the odds) for services that are free or of minimal cost from the Goverment direct: passports, birth certificates etc. Here is one to beware of from the buisness to buisness sector and its not an entry in an "international" "directory".

So let us give you the heads up and save you £450 and a day of your time.

We have all heard of the BFI (British Film Institute) https://www.bfi.org.uk/ but there is another BFI... Business Forums International https://bfi.co.uk/. (Warning this is an uncertified insecure web site)

Curiously there is also a Business Forums International ™ https://www.businessforumsinternational.com/ which is nothing to do with bfi.co.uk. 

I am always suspicious of companies with “International” in the name. In my opinion Business Forums International (UK) seem to be some sort of scamming organisation. Apart from having an insecure site( this is never a good sign) and asking for your email address and no doubt other information they also offer £450 workshops on


* How to verify a non-UK candidate’s immigration status
* Checking and verifying identity documentation from outside the UK
* Policy and procedure to ensure your organisation is working within the law
* Essential legal considerations update and best practice
* Understanding what to look for when checking non-UK documents and qualifications to avoid fraudulent applications
* Discover how an enforcement visit works and what to do if your company has one
* Ensuring all your current employees are working legally
* Compliance with Home Office/UKVI and PBS guidelines


These offers come in the form of spam to a non-existent email address.


Well there is a really good free work flow document on the Gov web site which you have already paid for (with your taxes).
https://www.gov.uk/legal-right-work-uk
We use this (and freely incorporate it) as the basis for the Right to Work compliance section in our product and when completed ensures you have recorded all necessary documents to comply with UK legislation.
Interesting in a direct comparison with our Advanced Agency Web Staffing System £450 would represent in the region of a year’s licence for our staff management software and the Right to Work compliance aspect is less than a tenth of the total product.

 

 

How to reduce a £300,000 NI bill to zero: BBC alleges Anderson recruiting has aggressive tax scheme

Friday Friday, May 29, 2015 by Administrator

The BBC apparently recorded Ian Moran of Anderson Group pitching an aggressive tax avoidance scheme to a recruitment agency. The scheme alegedly involves setting up hundreds of limited companies (something you can do on the web for under £30) and then claim NI government Employment Allowance of £2000 for each of the limited company’s of two or three workers.

 

The full article is here:

BBC web site buisness news

Anderson group web site As the Anderson web site is not a secure one you may get an "untrusted" notification from you browser. Simply remove the "s" from https in the adress bar and you can process to their site. It's still not a trustworthy site though!

UK Government web site for limited company formation

 

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