See related coverage:
- Xero HQ, Xero’s Strategy to Replace Practice Management Suites
- Xero HQ – What is it, what will it do and when will it arrive?
At Xerocon South in Brisbane this past week, Xero unveiled Xero HQ, an improved partner portal for accountants and bookkeepers using Xero’s suite of applications.
Xero HQ replaces the My Xero Partner Edition, also known as “Xero Green” for the green menu bar at the top. It features a unified client list, a new activity feed and a unique “Explorer” tool.
The activity feed is given the most prominence. It takes the place of the Xero organisation list on the portal’s home screen. The idea behind the feed is to provide actionable alerts, not just notifications. Additionally, the client list now shows all of the firm’s clients, not just those on Xero.
Now that you can track all of your clients inside the practice dashboard, the Explorer tab allows you to easily segment and analyse your client list. For instance, you can easily find out the answer to questions such as, “How many of my clients are using Vend?” without having to reference a separate CRM or spreadsheet.
Xero describes Xero HQ as an “Open Practice Platform,” and intends to eventually open up the API for Xero HQ to App Marketplace partners such as Receipt Bank and Fathom and other industry-specific add-ons.
Here are the details.
The activity feed takes the place of the client list on the Home tab of the new My Xero.
Now the Home screen is a list of alerts relating to all your clients based on deliverables across all the Xero products: reconciliations, tax, payroll, workpapers, etc. Alerts can be filtered by type, due date and status. For example, you can click on “Payroll” in the left-hand column to filter just for action cards related to payroll tasks, such as upcoming pay dates and tax filings.
Clicking on an alert, also known as an “action card”, will open a new tab in your browser with the screen in Xero where you can do the work relating to the alert. If you click on a bank reconciliation action card, for instance, you’ll be taken directly to the Bank Accounts page in the proper Xero organisation.
Xero will also intelligently create action cards based on task dependencies. For example, to file an Activity Statement, the bank transactions all need to be reconciled. So if there are unreconciled transactions in the period of an Activity Statement that is due, Xero creates an action card letting you and your staff know to reconcile those transactions.
To reduce information overload, alerts can be customised on a per client basis. Turn off alerts for clients that do their own activity statements, for example.
You can also set notification thresholds for reconciliation alerts based on the number of transactions to code or the number of days since the account was last reconciled.
Single client list
The new client list has been tidied up and now displays the client name, email address, and phone number. As in the past, the client list can be narrowed down via filters in the left hand column. You can also manage subscription and staff access for each client directly from the client list.
This client list includes all clients from Xero Tax/Practice Manager and is not limited to a list of Xero orgs. Xero will also match Tax and Xero Practice Manager clients to their Xero orgs in this list. If changes are made to the client cards in Xero HQ they automatically sync back to the client list in Practice Manager, Tax and Workpapers.
What’s new is that the client list now shows all your clients, not just ones with Xero organisations. Clicking on a particular client will show you all the alerts for that client. You can also see client notes from Xero Practice Manager and add new notes from Xero HQ.
Xero describes the Explorer as the “pivot table for your practice”. The aim is to provide Xero accounting and bookkeeping partners with insights into their client base with information that previously had to be tracked in a separate spreadsheet or CRM system.
You can analyse your client list in Explorer by the marketplace apps they are using with Xero, such as Receipt Bank, Vend, Deputy, etc.
You can also filter by who your clients are banking with and by industry. If a client is missing an industry tag, you can easily add one directly on the list.
Xero HQ as a platform
Although it won’t be available initially, Xero’s stated objective is to open up the Xero HQ activity feed via the API so that other applications can push notifications into the activity feed.
The first applications invited to Xero HQ will be reporting tools. For instance, Fathom could push an alert into the activity feed if a particular KPI goes from positive to negative.
Online payroll solutions from markets where Xero does not offer payroll itself such as Malaysia or Singapore would be another example of integration. As is the client/contact list synchronisation between Xero and Australian corporate document supplier and registration service NowInfinity.
The first of the third party integrations are expected to be released in early 2017.
Features launching in November
Xero HQ is currently in beta and will be available to Xero partners globally in November with the following features:
- Client list
- Activity feed
- Managing clients and staff
- Client Explorer
- Advisor listing
- Client notes
Xero partners will have the opportunity to opt-in, meaning you won’t have to switch right away if you don’t want to.
Features coming in early 2017
These features will be added to the other HQ practice products in coming months on top of developments to Xero HQ.
- Xero Tax and E-Sign alerts in activity feed (AU only)
- Reporting apps in activity feed