Online accounting software company Xero likes to give users a glimpse of the features it has planned over the next year. ( If you missed it, here’s a list of Xero’s announcements and official statistics.)
But which features excited the fans the most?
BoxFreeIT asked a handful of Xero accountants and bookkeepers which features would make the biggest difference to their business.
Gayle Buchanan (Online Bookkeepers, NZ)
The new release of Xero Practice will make a huge difference to us “bookies”. There were eight of us at the table and we were glued to the screen.
When it merges we will have one login for Workflow Max and Xero Practice, the integration with Box.net keeps our paperwork tidy, and we can also move to the cloud with our workpapers when Spotlight Workpapers is merged.
In one of the training sessions last year their goal was to have this up and running by 1 April. Everyone thinks this is pie in the sky but you can see they want to have this running by the new financial year (which begins in April in New Zealand).
It would be a fantastic new financial year gift.
The biggest improvement (from Xerocon) is a mental one. Accountants have got to get away from time billing. They had a whole afternoon with Viv Brownrigg, who is ex-Business Fitness and who sold her practice to CCH. She’s encouraging the mindset of value add rather than time billing.
Xerocon helps remove the competitiveness in the industry. The competition is actually yourself. There’s plenty of work out there for all of us if we share it around.
Neil Sinclair (Winstanley Kerridge, NZ)
2013 NZ Partner of the Year
The amount of innovation that we’ve seen in the first couple of hours of using Xero will have a significant benefit to our business and to the services we offer our clients.
I think we’re the biggest users of spotlight workpapers. We transferred all our client base, over 2,000. We have a mixture of ledger clients where the client might be usings another system, right through to a whole lot of clients using cashbook, and then a lot of our clients are using the full Xero.
Any process to change core systems is going to have some ups and downs. So we’ve had an interesting year. But we’re looking forward to 2013 when we’ll really see the benefits of the move kick in.
We will offer a much higher level of service to our clients. That’s all around being able to operate efficiently and having more time to provide value-added services rather than the compliance grind.
If you drove into the features (announced at Xerocon) I think the thing that excited us more would be around version two of reporting and very tight integration in Practice Suite. At the moment we have three distinct systems and there’s not that full integration.
Having integrated document management is a really big one for us. We’re more focused on the accounting side benefits than the online invoice, which will be fantastic for clients.
Box.com is quite sophisticated with what it does but Office 365 will help us manage our documents a lot better and move it to the cloud which takes the away the need for the server.
Guy Pearson (Interactive Accounting, AU)
Biggest difference? Documents against transactions. Let’s say you do a purchase of a motor vehicle with a hire purchase. You might a spreadsheet, the hire purchase contract and multiple sources against the transaction. And from the look of the interface it will be pretty easy to use.
That was pretty cool.
At the moment you’d end up with just the source document only – say the copy of the invoice from the dealer. You wouldn’t be able to add any workpapers on top of that. Today we just store it in the document management system.
If you could store all your evidence of a financial transaction against it then you know where to go look for it. For an accountant that makes a hell of a lot of sense.
The other thing was all the payment engines being linked in. If a small business has an eWay account (set up for merchant banking) you can just plug your ID into Xero and the client can pay your invoice through Xero online.
The whole idea is to make it really easy for the small business person to receive payments.
At the add-on and API day Xero got their investors from Matrix to talk. They had some pretty blunt answers as to when Xero should turn a profit. They said we want Xero to go deeper rather than be profitable.
If they want to make a profit they could, they’d just cut all their new sales team and not build any more code and they would be extremely profitable.
Gillian Roussow (Jill of All Trades, AU)
The biggest difference will be purchase orders. Not so much mine but my clients – they all want them.
Also the portal is changing. It’s almost a Facebook profile where you have your photos in there and some of the stuff was so exciting I was going ga-ga. In Xero you have the links to Google+ and LinkedIn, and you’ll have your emails.
We had a workshop where they showed how we are going to do easier implementations. They’ve given us “wizard” sheets and things that can help us do implementations. The Xero enablement team will assist with bulk conversions but retain our services.
I had someone at the conference ask me if I could handle 200 conversions. So it shows how the needle is moving. Tradesmen are now changing over en masse.
There were about 20 stalls by add-on partners. There were new reporting programs with different levels of reports.
And another cloud-based point-of-sale program called TidyStock $25 a month for someone that just needs a soft stock control system.
Josh Ambler (Finman Services, NZ)
2013 NZ Partner Innovation Award
I literally walked into the room five minutes before I was handed the award. I’ve been so busy setting up Xero. It’s been an absolutely chaotic start to the year because we are implementing so much of this software.
We set up a marketing campaign about this time last year it touched on a range of mediums. Print, radio, online and sponsored business awards in our area and Xero helped fund half of it. We let it run for the year to see what happened and we got a great response.
We are setting up a lot of add-ons as well as xero. We’re doing a lot of Workflow Max in the trades sector and we’re just starting to get some traction with Unleashed. Flexitime is very popular for payroll.
Did you attend Xerocon? What were your highlights? Please add in the comments below.
Image credit: Xero, photo of Xero and Winstanley Kerridge, NZ 2013 Partner of the Year