Buys practice management cloud software Workflow Max.
The software would bring some of the most requested features to the Xero accounting platform including job, time and invoice management.
While Xero quickly gathered a strong following as a simple to use, well designed program for the small business market, the software had struggled to displace market leader MYOB in accounting firms because it lacked practice management tools.
Over 150 accounting firms in New Zealand were using Xero and Workflow Max as a full replacement for MYOB Accountant’s Office, said Gavin George, co-founder of Workflow Max.
“Here in New Zealand I would be confident to say it’s one for one” when replacing Accountant’s Office with the Xero-Workflow Max solution, said George, who had been appointed New Zealand country manager for Workflow Max at Xero.
“There are some additional features we might have and vice versa. But [Workflow Max and Xero] is a full suite and that’s exactly what we have been doing.”
Workflow Max would continue to be sold as a standalone retail product in the services industry where it is used for billing time and materials. Half Workflow Max’s 1000 customers use the software with Xero. Workflow Max also integrated with popular desktop and cloud accounting programs such as Kashflow, MYOB and QuickBooks.
A version of Workflow Max customised for practice management of accounting firms would only work with Xero, George said. No decisions had been made on pricing for the accounting-firm version, he added.
Workflow Max had directly integrated its platform with New Zealand Inland Revenue, the federal taxation department, so users could upload electronic forms such as company, personal, superannuation and trust tax returns.
Inland Revenue also sent a real-time feed of data to Workflow Max which showed a company’s statement of account data. An accountant could see a client’s live balance with the IRB, including transactions and interest penalties, George said.
Workflow Max had not integrated its platform with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) which was standardising its electronic forms under the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) framework.
Workflow Max would integrate with a third-party program, Lodge IT, to give Australian users the ability to file tax forms directly from Xero and Workflow Max to the ATO, George said.
“It will work in the same fashion,” George said. Workflow Max users would be able to create a tax return from within a job which would open within Lodge IT. Once filed online with the ATO, Lodge IT would update the records in Workflow Max. Lodge IT, still under beta, let Xero users upload some tax returns including company, superannuation and trust forms, however it hadn’t yet added the personal tax return form.
Over 3300 accounting and bookkeeping firms worldwide used Xero, said Xero’s New Zealand country manager Leanne Graham in a press release.
“Adding WorkflowMax to our portfolio of products will mean we can offer a more seamless experience for our accounting partners. Not only does it help us win the entire practice, it places us in a very strong position against incumbent providers,” Graham said.
Xero bought a 15.9 percent stake in Workflow Max in September 2010 to help fund development of a New Zealand tax lodgement system. The New Zealand-based Workflow Max had picked up more than 1000 businesses in 35 countries since its launch in 2008.
Max Solutions founders Gavin George and Chris Spence will become part of the Xero team and will bring with them all other Max Solutions staff.