Skip to content

Simpler reporting for the smallest businesses

Two weeks ago we, together with some Xero Partners, made some comments about UK’s Department of Business Innovation & Skills paper ‘Simpler reporting for the smallest businesses’ which you can read in more detail here and here, but which in summary called upon the UK Government to re-think its current proposals and, actually, to think much more broadly about what the UK small business community really needs to power the UK away from the edge of the recession it remains precariously close to.

The ICAEW’s Reporting Faculty has now published its draft response which you can read in full here, but here’s an excerpt which seem to chime with our view that better operational reporting is key.

“We believe that the information requirements of management should be the primary driver of business record keeping. In order to effectively run a business, to maximise the return on investment and to ensure that adequate funds become available as required, management need to have an awareness of the amount and timing of outstanding debtors and creditors and of the value of capital tied up in stock.”

 

Read more about Accountants

 

2 comments

Nigel
16 November 2011 #

Better operational reporting is key – but sadly is one of the weakest points of Xero when compared to Quickbooks.

Here’s five quick examples:

- the month by month P&L for the year doesn’t have running totals / balances brought forward and to carry forward at the bottom of each column.

- when reporting on a list of transactions there is no running total column on the right hand side. Not only is the total-to-date often important, but when looking for balancing figures, recharges or nil balances a running total can save loads of time.

- the P&L is available only on an accruals basis, not on a cash basis.

- tracking categories are only available in a minority of reports.

- VAT reporting doesn’t record which transactions have been filed, just balances within time periods.

Gary Turner
16 November 2011 #

@Nigel – what we mean by better operational reporting is the almost realtime view you can only get of your business performance when it’s driven by automatic bank feeds pumping your cash transactions in or having your accountant or bookkeeper working over your shoulder on the same current data in spite of the fact they’re not located in the same office as you or your hard disk. I think that’s a qualitatively different point from the one you’re making about where you think we need to improve functionality, but which is equally valid and which I’m happy to respond to below.

1. the month by month P&L for the year doesn’t have running totals / balances brought forward and to carry forward at the bottom of each column.

Answer: While exporting data to Excel does feel a bit like an admission of defeat of our data in the cloud principle, you could easily export the report to Excel and append a couple of columns to do that in seconds. However, it is actually possible today to generate the report with the Total of the figures included as well as YTD.

2. when reporting on a list of transactions there is no running total column on the right hand side. Not only is the total-to-date often important, but when looking for balancing figures, recharges or nil balances a running total can save loads of time.

Answer: Running totals is a good suggestion, Excel is a fallback here again or you could use your browser’s Find function (CTRL F or CMD F) to quickly find nil balances or specific figures on the report in Xero.

3. the P&L is available only on an accruals basis, not on a cash basis.

Answer : Most of the same information can be obtained in the VAT Audit Report on a cash basis for the entire year or any period you select, again this could be resorted and filtered in Excel.

4. tracking categories are only available in a minority of reports.

Answer : Tracking categories appear in 9 out of Xero’s 31 reports: P&L, Balance Sheet, Depreciation Schedule, Fixed Asset Reconciliation, Account Transactions, Detailed Account Transactions, Journal Report and Tracking Summary – we deemed these reports as being the ones where we think Tracking Categories lend themselves best to. Where else would you like to see Tracking Categories reported?

5. VAT reporting doesn’t record which transactions have been filed, just balances within time periods.

Answer – Next week we’re releasing a reworking of the way Xero deals with VAT Late Claims and I suspect that this new report will actually solve this issue for you, albeit as a by product of improving the way Xero handles VAT reporting elsewhere.

Would love to get any more suggestions about where we need to lift our game – happy to jump on a call.

Add your comment





We welcome all feedback but prefer a real name and email address.