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Design Changes in Octa GST 7.0

Since the launch of first version of Octa GST in August 2017, we have continuously updated it to introduce new features & improve existing ones. Your praise is highest reward for us and your criticism is our biggest motivator. We listened to your feedbacks and tried our best to incorporate them.

With Octa GST, we strive to deliver all feature that boost your productivity while working on GST compliance, but not at the price of simplicity. Simplicity is under-rated by many software makers. In order to pack more and more features, they end-up making the software too complex to understand and use. If you need a manual just to start using a software, you can assume something is not right! We don’t wish to make this mistake so we are rolling out two significant changes in Octa GST design.

Missing Context Bar

 Context Bar before Octa GST 7.0

Context Bar before Octa GST 7.0

Since the beginning, Octa GST had a context bar on the top right corner. This context bar gives you an always-visible and clear context of current workspace. Since Octa GST was designed to make GST return filing simpler, it made sense to make it clear & obvious which GSTIN and return period you are working on. It helped make the navigation simpler and it served us well for last one year.

Going forward, we have a long line-up of features that we want to implement in Octa GST. But many of those features simply didn’t fit in the context-bar model. For example, our users wanted to add multiple GSTR-2A files in one shot. It is a reasonably request and especially important when you are working on the reconciliation of whole financial year. But this feature did not fit in our current design of single context. How can you import the GSTR-2A files of multiple return periods in one shot when you are working on a single period? We could still allow it but that would make the user-interface inconsistent and difficult to understand; something which we cannot accept!

The solution was to do away with the context-bar completely. This was a big design change which affected almost all the modules of Octa GST. We accepted this challenge and reimagined all the modules in absence of context bar. This change is being rolled-out in Octa GST version 7.0. If you still want to see the sales/purchase transaction belonging to a GSTIN or period, you can do so using the filters in search box.

 Search filters in Octa GST 7.0

Search filters in Octa GST 7.0

Missing Quarterly Periods

Note: If you are not using Octa GST to file quarterly GSTR-1, then this change does not affect you.

At the advent of GST in India, all regular tax-payers were required to file monthly returns. But very soon, a provision was introduced by Govt of India that some tax-payers (depending on the turnover), may file their returns quarterly also. These tax payers also needed to file one monthly GSTR-3B return. In order to support the business data set for both monthly and quarterly period, separate month and quarter periods were introduced in Octa GST. The idea was that user can maintain two separate data set for each period.

But it turned out to be confusing for many users. Some users found it difficult to understand that Jul-Sep period is separate from Jul, Aug, Sep monthly periods. Also we found that our users were essentially entering the same data twice. Monthly for filing GSTR-3B, and again quarterly for filing GSTR-1.

In order to resolve this issue, we are removing the separate quarter periods. Now Octa GST supports only monthly period for business data management. If you need to prepare a return for a quarter, Octa GST will automatically pick up the data from three months in that quarter.

Once you upgrade to Octa GST 7.0, your existing data entered in a quarter period will be automatically moved to month ending that quarter. If your sales data exist in both month and quarter, a separate GSTIN will be automatically created so that you can continue to access that data. You may move or delete it as per your preference.

The Path Ahead

Octa GST 7.0 gives us a platform on which we can build new features spanning across GSTINs and periods. For example various reports belonging to a financial year, graphical dashboards and annual return etc. The future is exciting and we are already working on it.

Nilam JangidComment
Comparison of Octa GST with GSTN Offline Tools

There are many solutions available in market to help in GST compliance. Official GST Portal also offers a set of offline tools to assist in GST return filing. But Octa GST has some distinct set of features which deliver a great value to its users.

Feature GSTN Offline Tools Octa GST
Data Privacy Yes Yes
Accessibility Works without internet Works without internet
Ease of Use Multiple Tools for different returns Single tool for everything
Data Management History not maintained Efficient data management as per taxpayer GSTIN & PAN
Import Process Yes but difficult to analyse the issue if import fails Yes! Friendly, flexible and robust import assistant
Importing Excel Files in GSTN Format Yes but some sheets are not imported Yes
Importing Raw Business Documents No! Only processed data in GSTN format is imported Yes! Auto generates the return using business documents
Data Storage Simple JSON File Storage Robust power-fail safe structured storage engine
Reconciliation Not Supported Automatic matching and reconciliation, Detailed mismatch report
ITC Claim One by one for every GST rate Flexible and bulk ITC claim
Large Data Handling Limited to 1 JSON file and 19000 records Unlimited records, auto-split of data in multiple JSON files
Large Data Performance Performance degrades significantly Fast response even with thousands of invoices
GSTR-2A Support View Only View & Export to Excel

If you are dealing with only a few invoices then using the GSTN Offline Tools may be feasible. But if you need to manage any non-trivial amount of data, then using the right tool can increase your productivity many times and also reduce the chances of errors in return data.

Choose wisely!

Nilam Jangid
User Experience Design of Octa GST

When a user starts using a new software, invariably there are few things to learn. Some software are quick to get started, some has a steep learning curve. This post explain our approach to designing the user expereince of Octa GST.

Make it instantly familiar

No one likes to read long user manuals.

When we started out with Octa, one of the design goal for our user experience team was to maximise the use of existing & established user interface patterns. Today almost every person is using a smart phone. Many are using tablets. We designed a user interface which is instantly familiar to all smart phone users.

For example, in mobile apps, there are no complex menus & toolbars. No need to click “File > Save”. No requirement of creating and maintaining a database. Similarly in Octa GST, you simply work on the app and all your work is automatically saved. You may close the app anytime without losing any part of your data. Even if power of your computer goes down, all your work till the last moment is preserved.

Octa GST presents a simple user interface with a clear visual hierarchy. This ensure that a user is never lost between different screens. Octa GST also uses subtle animations to guide the users while navigating between different screens.

Don’t burden the user with GST jargon

There are certain basic aspects of indirect taxation which every business owner should be familiar with. This is necessary in order to remain compliant with GST act. For example, knowing the rate of GST for a specific item, when to charge a specific type of GST etc.

User is not expected to learn the tables of GST return.

Apart from that, Octa GST does not expect the user to understand the intricacies of GST returns. For example, it does not expect that user will know the difference between B2C and B2CL, where credit/debit notes will be reported, how exempt or nil rated supplies should be reported, what goes in HSN summary table and how to group various supplies etc.

User never becomes uncomfortable while using the software because Octa GST never presents a question which user cannot answer.

With Octa GST, we have tried to make a software which makes you productive in minutes, not days.

Nilam Jangid Comment
About the Pricing of Octa GST

Update: Octa GST pricing has been announced. Read more about Octa GST Pricing

Why Octa GST is free?

There are lot of uncertainties because of GST introduction. We don’t want to take commercial advantage of current situation. We don't want to sell anything unless we are 100% sure that our software meets the requirements of our customers. The reality is that no-one is actually 100% ready. Even GSTN is rapidly changing. Government is issuing new notifications & clarifications almost every day.

GST is a big change in the way business is done in India. Everyone is learning as they move forward. Unless you are satisfied with the software, it would be unfair for us to ask for money. This is the reason we have decided to offer our software for free.

How long will it remain free?

We have decided that we will not charge anything for using Octa GST during this financial year (till March 2018). This gives our customer an ample opportunity to get accustomed with GST processes and also evaluate different software packages.

GST is a fast changing arena. Depending upon the situation, we may continue to offer it free even after that. We will continue to do that till we are satisfied that we are offering a software that provides the value our customers look for.

How much it will cost after that?

Whenever we start charging for Octa GST, we will make sure that it is very competitive and well within the reach of every small business in India.

Nilam Jangid Comments
Introducing Octa GST

Today we are announcing the first public release of Octa GST app. Using this app, anyone can generate GST returns quickly and accurately.

A great effort is being put into developing the GST ecosystem and many service providers are offering different ways to file GST returns. When we started with the concept of Octa GST, we decided to approach the solution keeping two goals in mind:

Smooth Business Integration

Enable the GST return filing with minimal changes in existing business processes.

In order to achieve this goal, we designed the application such that data of all business transactions can be entered by the user in a natural manner. Octa GST asks for those inputs only which are readily available & known to the user. In addition to that, app work-flows are user centric and not driven by rules of GST returns. For example, when a sales invoice is entered, user does not have to decide whether the invoice belongs to B2B or B2CL or B2C (Others) section of GSTR-1. Octa GST app does it for the user.

Data Privacy & Security

Ensure the security and privacy of business/financial data.

In early stage of application development, we contact many customers. Almost all the customers expressed serious concerns about the security of their financial data. Many customers preferred that their financial data never leaves their business premises.

We solved the issue of ensuring security & privacy of business data, by eliminating the problem itself. We decided to deliver a desktop app with robust local storage engine. In Octa GST, user’s data stays where user chooses to store it. The user remains assured that his data is protected. It is a win-win situation.

We hope that Octa GST has achieved both above goals and provides a simple interface which is a pleasure to use.

We are very excited to offer this app & hope you will like it. Please send us your feedbacks or comments. We will be glad to hear from you.