Blog posts written during November 2016

Formatting your data for import into Ava advanced agency web system

Thursday Thursday, November 24, 2016 by Administrator

Importing your data into the Ava advanced agency web system

When you are importing data from an existing system, the data will be in the order that it is exported or copied from your existing system or systems. Whist there are a few standard obsolete or obsolescent systems, there are many that are based on evolved Excel spread sheets. Put simply there are an almost limitless number of variations in the way data can be layed out for us to import.

If you are replacing your existing system with our more modern, reliable and feature rich software, you will be happy to know that we can import data from any system and even combined systems that don’t talk to each other well.

Import is always done using excel spread sheet as the intermediary. We both want to keep your migration costs low so here are a few if the mistakes that can push your costs up or delay the migration process.


Ava can store a range of addresses, all these can be imported

For employees (not limited to), home address, full time work address, reference addresses, next of kin address, a limited company invoice address etc.

For customers (not limited to), organization address, main address, invoice address, contact address(es), work location address etc.

Address should be spread across up to five columns with a separate column for the post code:

Address Column Usage


Ava can store a range of employee skills or job descriptions:

Job descriptions, skills, positions, levels of employment.

These really need to be in separate columns with a simple “yes”

Job Column Usage

The same is true for all training and certification data which can be imported. Where the system stores documents or images, these must be uploaded manually.




Excel has the facility to format (display) dates how you like:

We like “dd mmm yyyy” format which is totally unambiguous as far as UK and other (US) date formatting is concerned. Please apply formatting to all date columns. If you format in this style then it is immediately obvious where the data is either ambiguous or badly formatted. Here is a (made up) example of what can happen:


Exported data:


Formatting Dates


The solution is to format by right mouse clicking on the highlighted cells you want to format. Your actual experience may vary depending on the version of excel or other (Open Office etc.) spreadsheet software you are using.

Formatting Dates 2


You will get the format option box

Formatting Dates 3


Select custom and type in "dd mmm yyyy"

 Formatting Dates 4

 Then click ok to apply this format to the selected area. You may need to google how to do this if your settings prevent this from immediately happening. If the displayed format does not immediately update, you need to copy the data and then (paste) re-enter the data as values.

New values change when you move off the cell.

Formatting Dates 5


You need to enter dates with forward slashes between the day/month/year. Once again experience may vary from version to version and spreadsheet to spreadsheet.

Formatting Dates 6


Phone numbers


Excel is a pain for phone numbers, at the earliest opportunity it will convert them to a pure number lopping off the leading zero.

As you enter it:

Phone Numbers


As it is instantly displayed in the cell

Phone Numbers 2


But when you move off the cell, this happens!

Phone Numbers 3


So enter phone numbers like this:

Phone Numbers 4


And the result is:

Phone Numbers 5


Matching up data for Employee names from two separate sources


If you have a list of employee names with different information from two separate sources e.g. payroll and booking, because they are separate there is no earthly reason to expect the two to match perfectly. Actually one of the reasons for adopting our system is to avoid the sort of problems this causes.


Here are a few examples:

Matching Names


I know my name is "Pettman" but is it "Tony" or "Anthony" Williams or are there two and they are distinguished by using the diminutive for one of them? Is there a Jon and a John Smith?


Only you know! To help this process, we will carry out this comparison and produce a report of miss-matches, and you can then "clean" the supplied data for us to then do a final import.


We can also import historical shift booking information.


This is a separate cost and we will quote for this on sight of example data.


How long does this take?


Using these processes we can get your site up and running from your receipted order usually within or around 10 working days. This is providing there is always someone available who can clarify any ambiguities as they arise.




Ava payslips RTI, the payroll process and HMRC reporting

Thursday Thursday, November 17, 2016 by Administrator

Ava payslips RTI, the payroll process and HMRC reporting

Some systems boast “seamless” integration of scheduling with various payroll packages. These packages usually come at an additional cost. Ava advanced Agency Web system with RTI generates payslips, P60s. P45 information and Invoices for Limited company employees without needing additional costly software. Of course we also support using 3rd party payroll packages either as an interim measure to facilitate a smooth and gradual transfer to Ava or if you simply just prefer keeping your current payroll system or processer.

Payslips can be printed or automatically created as pdf files and emailed to employees. (Click on the images to see a fullsize version.)


Payslip Image


The RTI submission to HMRC is just a few clicks and our software connects to HMRC and submits your RTI return directly.


Rti Submission


Self-Invoices for limited companies are similarly generated as PDF’s and individually emailed as a single batch to the appropriate respective recipients.


Self Invoice Issue


Most Banks these days accept a single file upload of bank payments. Ava advanced Agency Web system with RTI will generate these files with a single click to be uploaded to your bank by you in a few seconds.


Export Payroll To Bank Or 3Rd Party Software


Or to your chosen 3rd party payroll software using an equivalent process.


It's as simple as that. Contact us now to find out how we can streamline your administration and improve your profitability.



Changing to Ava Advanced Web System with RTI from other systems

Thursday Thursday, November 3, 2016 by Administrator

Changing to Ava Advanced Web System with RTI from other systems.


There are a number of reasons for considering changing to your temp or temporary staff allocation or scheduling system to Ava Advanced Web System with RTI.

  • You currently have multiple packages (payroll, invoice, scheduling, compliance, messaging, CRM, candidate applications, accounting etc.) and they don’t talk well to each other or it is costly in terms of time to get them to talk to each other or keep them talking to each other. Time is Money.
  • Your system has evolved from a sensible simple spreadsheet and it is not easy or growing in difficulty to have increasing numbers of users on one Excel spread sheet. This can often result in double bookings to the annoyance of both workers and customers and of course loss of profit.
  • The support for your existing system is poor.
  • Your existing staff scheduling system’s developers have informed you that your existing system requires an expensive upgrade.
  • Your existing system does not support HMRC’s “Making Tax Digital” or other modern messaging features and there is no upgrade path available.
  • Your existing system is less than reliable.
  • Your staff scheduling software developers no longer exist or declined to develop the system further.
  • Your existing staff planning software is on a server in your office and the server needs replacing.
  • Your existing booking system is on a server in your office and does not offer the modern flexibility of the web.
  • A bit sensitive this one: you have spent a significant amount of money developing a custom system and it isn’t performing as promised or the cost of keeping up with changing needs is becoming prohibitive or is already prohibitive.

    Let us examine the last in more detail. You have developed a system, it was delivered on time, it has no bugs and it does everything you want. So it has mobile devices for communication to your employees which means iPhone, Android and possibly Windows phone and it talks to HMRC and does all your returns. Every year Apple releases a new iPhone, each year they improve it. Each year they update the software that runs the phones (Android are no different). Unfortunately your app may not run on the new iOS. Apple are not alone, you want the system to do your HRMC returns. Well we all know the budget changes the rules on an annual basis. What is less well known is that as developers, we get “updates” from HMRC on a more or less weekly basis. So when you budget for developing your perfect system, be aware that you are aiming at a moving target. You certainly need to budget for continued development and support on a regular basis. At this point you feel hard done by. The system was perfect, on time, in budget but was only perfect for a year and is becoming more and more costly in terms of continued development or features that are no longer usable.

Ava Advanced Web Systems cost a few pounds a day per user and should support each user achieving may be 25-30 bookings per day or may be more. Even with 50 users, the development costs of a bespoke system far outweigh Ava licencing costs. Bespoke developers may be good but in general they don’t have a deep understanding of your business.

There is one problem that may make your upgrade path difficult. Screen layouts are different in different software or spreadsheet packages.

The good news is that Ava Advanced Web System has uniquely configurable employee and customer displays able to mirror your current system and so making your consultant training transition far less painful that it might otherwise be. We can also import your customer and employee data: even historical shift data.

There is more good news: our pay and invoice module has unparalleled ease for setting up complex pay and invoice rules allowing you to improve your margins and get business that requires otherwise “difficult” contractual flexibility. On the other hand if your rules are simple a couple of clicks allow you to apply those rules to any group of customers.

We even do bespoke development at below the market rates.


We are happy to discuss your needs however simple or complex, just give us a call on 01491 845 400 or send us a message with your contact details and an outline of your needs to start the ball rolling.




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