‘Most important’ app for a firm after accounting software.
Financial reporting software vendor Spotlight Reporting has launched a year-end compliance program which tied into cloud accounting upstart Xero. Spotlight Workpapers would replace Excel-based workpaper packs used by MYOB accountants, CEO Richard Francis said.
“The actual workpapers and client communications are the most important application at an accounting firm other than the accounting software,” Francis said.
The Workpapers program used iconography and dashboards to display important data and was heavily connected to Xero and practice management software Workflow Max. Accountants could approve journals in Workpapers which would push them into Xero and update the accounting program.
“You can refresh Spotlight Workpapers and it will update the numbers on workpapers the accountant is using to verify the year-end balance so it’s in alignment with Xero,” Francis said. “That’s completely new.”
Another top-billed feature was client interaction. An accountant preparing workpapers and reconciling bank and asset data could raise queries with a client by sending a secure URL address. The client could respond online and upload documents by attaching them to the relevant Spotlight Workpaper.
Interacting online would replace the boilerplate checklist often sent by accountants to all their clients. “The checklist is the same as everyone else’s, half the questions are irrelevant and the other half you don’t understand because they use accounting terms,” Francis said.
“We’re saying chuck away the paper and do it all online; the workpaper pack, the client communications, the journals back to Xero, the year-end management letter and the advice letter,” Francis said.
Workpapers launched its first version in New Zealand two months ago and had 70 firms trialling the product. The vendor was developing an Australian version which it planned to release in June. Francis said he hoped to have 100 to 200 of the best Australian and New Zealand firms signed up in the next six months. Xero co-founder Hamish Edwards joined as a director of Spotlight Workpapers nine months ago.
Spotlight Workpapers was Francis’ fourth application. He also sold Spotlight Reporting, Spotlight Dashboard, Spotlight Forecasting, all of which only connected to Xero. A fifth program – an extension for Spotlight Reporting to cover master franchises – was due in late May.