Xero’s extensive app marketplace for small businesses now has a mirror – a curated selection of back-office apps to run accounting firms.
The back-office apps connect to Xero HQ, an interface used by accountants and bookkeepers to manage their Xero client files. Xero HQ was announced at Xerocon 2016 to replace “Green Xero”, an older interface that was based on a simple client list.
The launch at Xerocon this week added the ability for apps to sync data with Xero HQ such as the client list, and client name and email address details from Xero files. The apps will also send notifications to an activity feed in Xero HQ. Individual accountants can customise their feed to show alerts from certain apps as required.
When a user clicks on an alert it will open the relevant app and client file.
Xero describes Xero HQ as “a multi-vendor platform for accountants and bookkeepers to run their entire back office”. The modular approach directly challenges the existing server-based practice management suites used by most conventional accounting firms.
The first nine app partners launched on Xero HQ include, by category:
- Practice Ignition to assist with client onboarding
- Fathom to efficiently create forecasting reports
- FUTRLI, to provide future insights for a business
- Spotlight Reporting, shows how clients are performing in a single view
- Now Infinity to make corporate and trust compliance woes a thing of the past
- Suite Files to bring all client data and files into one place
- Boma for self-drive marketing
Xero will add more apps to Xero HQ over time. However, Xero will take a much more active role in “picking winners” by tightly vetting all new apps and limiting the number in each category.
The most interesting part of the Xero HQ apps marketplace is the power of notifications. Xero already was already sending notifications to the activity feed for tasks in Xero files such as making payroll or filing a BAS report.
The expanded list of notifications turns Xero HQ into a control board for upcoming activities or important events. The quality of the notifications varies by app; some look genuinely useful while others could be more noise than signal.
The app notifications can be customised by user or switched off entirely to avoid a deluge of alerts.
Here’s an overview of the notifications by app, according to each software company.
Futrli already has a sophisticated notifications engine for customisable events in a Xero user’s chart of accounts. An accountant can select minimum and maximum thresholds for KPIs in Futrli. For example, if the percentage of Gross Profit has dropped or is forecast to drop below a certain amount it will trigger an alert.
Futrli will also send alerts based on three-way scenarios. Futrli could generate an alert in a best-case scenario if the Bank Accounts total is forecast to drop below $10,000 in the next quarter.
These alerts, which are usually sent by email to the whole team or individuals, can be sent to Xero HQ.
Here’s a help guide on how to create predictive alerts in Futrli.
Fathom sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When an advisor shares a report with a client. Anyone in the advisory team can click on the alert to view the report in Fathom.
- When Fathom automatically creates a scheduled report from a template. Anyone in the advisory team can click on the alert to view the report in Fathom.
- When a client comments on a report in Fathom. The advisor can click on the alert to view the comment in Fathom and respond.
Fathom has made a 1-minute video showing how the alerts work.
Spotlight Reporting sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When an advisor hasn’t imported data for a scheduled report.
- To remind an advisor to work on an overdue report.
- To remind an advisor to finish preparing a previously started report.
- When Spotlight Reporting releases a new industry-specific report template.
Practice Ignition sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When a proposal has been accepted. Click on the alert to view the proposal.
- When a client adds a comment to a proposal. Click on the alert to view the proposal.
- When a payment collection fails. Click on the alert to re-schedule the payment.
- When a credit card is due to expire. Click on the alert to update the client’s credit card details.
Practice Ignition has written a blog post showing how the alerts work.
SuiteFiles sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When a document in SuiteFiles is shared with a colleague for approval. Click on the alert to view the document in SuiteFiles.
- When a document is approved. Xero HQ sends the alert to the document’s originator.
- When a client signs a document.
- If a document has not been signed after seven days.
SuiteFiles has a deep integration with Xero HQ which allows it to perform several useful actions.
- When a user creates a new client in Xero HQ it will automatically create a new client folder in SuiteFiles from a template (with subfolders, if desired).
- A user can click on a link in a SuiteFiles client folder to open that client’s details in Xero HQ.
- A user can set up templates in SuiteFiles with “merge” fields that pull data from Xero HQ to pre-populate Microsoft Office and email templates.
Receipt Bank has notifications for users of its standard app and more notifications for its Practice Platform interface.
The standard Receipt Bank app sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When a specific item submitted to Receipt Bank is older than a predefined time period (e.g. a three-month-old invoice or if it is older than the Xero lock date). The user can click on the alert to view the respective item. The “client delay” alert is sent to all Receipt Bank users.
- When the number of items waiting in a specific client’s inbox hits 100 items. The user can click on the notification to view the client’s “ready to export” inbox. The “inbox milestone reached” alert is sent to all users.
The Practice Platform interface in Receipt Bank sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When a client’s account has not been worked on for a set period of time (e.g. three months).
- When a client responds to a message about an item. Clicking the link shows the messages tab in Receipt Bank for that item.
- To show the number of items which have matches with unreconciled bank statements. Clicking the link takes the user to the client’s inbox.
- When the outstanding workload reaches a specific threshold (e.g. 10 hours). The alert repeats daily.
HubDoc sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When a document has been processed (i.e. the data has been extracted) and it is ready to be published or archived.
- When HubDoc has failed to process a document.
- When a processed document has been waiting for a set period of time (eg. two weeks). This is customisable for individual clients or for all clients.
NowInfinity sends an alert to Xero HQ:
- When a user adds a new entity to Xero HQ and needs to be added under the ASIC record.
- When a user adds a new entity to the ASIC record and it needs to be added to Xero HQ.
- When the address for an entity is different in Xero HQ and NowInfinity.
- When the name of an entity is different in Xero HQ and NowInfinity but has matching ACN or ABN.
- When data is missing from the ASIC register such as a date of birth.
- When an individual has a different name in Xero HQ and NowInfinity.
- When a lodgement deadline is approaching.
- When a document has been signed.
- When a payment deadline is approaching (for annual statements).
- When an Annual Statement has been received and needs to be sent to the client.
The BOMA Marketing has only recently hit the market and it hasn’t built any activity feed alerts for Xero HQ yet. It plans to do so in the next month or so.