As the number of UK accounting and bookkeeping practice grows, so too does the number of supporting staff members here at Xero. As part of our commitment to provide our Xero Partners in the UK with the smoothest and quickest transition from their current client accounting software packages such as Sage, Quickbooks (or quite often Microsoft Excel) – we now have the UK Partner Enablement team consisting of (left to right) Sarah Tetlow (me!), Chloe Jackson, Helen Gibbons and Michael Graves.
While we’re somewhat famous for hosting hundreds of people every day around the world on any one of a number of online training sessions and webinars, we also like to get out and about, too.
So, today the team embarks on a mammoth twenty-five venue tour of the UK all the way from Plymouth in the south, Belfast to the west to Edinburgh in the north, and pretty much everywhere else in between. We’ll deliver face to face training and updates to more than 1,000 delegates over the next two weeks.
Targeted specifically at accountants and bookkeepers (old and new), this year’s winter series of morning updates will cover:
- What’s new in Xero, including recent updates such as Files & Purchase orders
- Practice Studio – WorkflowMax Practice Manager & Workpapers for Xero
- Product roadmap update
- Gold Partner Q&A session
On Wednesday we announced new and refreshed subscription plans. We made these changes to align value globally for new features such as Payroll in the US, varying storage limits for our Files storage feature and in preparation for new services we have planned.
We don’t change pricing often, and around 90 per cent of our customers will have a price decrease or only a $1 or £1 increase. For some of our Australian customers there is a more substantial rise, where we’ve changed our approach of charging by number of payroll employees to be more granular. We’ve therefore raised prices where there are higher volumes of Payroll employees, inclusive of automated super payments, along with higher storage limits.
Where we can help, and are taking immediate action, is with a question that many Australian partners and customers have had about the incoming “Standard” plan only having 1 payroll employee. We know we’ve slipped up and I won’t bore you with the convoluted history of discussion that led to us putting that out there.
So we’re confirming that for the new Standard plan, we’ll make the number of payroll employees on that plan 5 not 1.
We are very grateful for the comments that have led us to reconsider this, and appreciate that for many small businesses with a very low number of employees that have been using Xero with Payroll in Australia it makes sense to keep the transition simple and provide this option.
[UPDATE: 9 Dec 2013 - the new subscriptions plans will take effect Monday morning, local time]
Today we’re announcing new and refreshed subscription plans globally to replace our Small, Medium and Large plans. We need to make these changes as we add other products, such as payroll in the US, and increase the storage limits for our game-changing Files storage feature.
[Updated] We’re also giving clearer guidance as to the size of business Xero is designed for. The 1000 invoices and 1000 bank reconciliation lines we’re listing are soft limits that have always been in place (was previously worded as “hundreds”) and we’d only get in touch for example if your use is using too many resources and affecting our service to other customers.
[Updated] We’ve listened to comments made below and directly and made an adjustment to the Australian plans, detailed in a new post.
The new plans are Starter, Standard and Premium. Small is now Starter and pricing is reduced in NZ, UK, Australia and the USA. Medium is now Standard. Large becomes Premium and in Australia and the US there are variations of the Premium plans with allowances for different numbers of payroll employees and storage. You will be automatically moved to the equivalent plan or most cost effective according to your feature use.
As always our prices are what you see is what you pay – no hidden fees per pay slip, no pay-per-use for certain features. Our core principles remain – unlimited users, free mobile app and bundled support.
We’re being very careful to align price to value, and believe Xero is highly competitive. Around 90% of our customers will pay less or $1 more. Any discounts, for example for non-profits, remain the same. The new plans and pricing come into effect with our release due December 9. All subscribers are being sent a notification within the next 24 hours.
The Xero product has evolved dramatically and with each release we try to deliver more value. This is the first time we’ve significantly tuned our plans since Xero began in 2006. In that time we’ve added many features – see the timeline. Our new Files service lets you attach source documents to your financial data, saving our customers costs on 3rd party storage as well as the hard to quantify costs of managing paper documents.
Subscriptions include any bank feed charges or direct deposit fees that we incur in the United States and automatic superannuation fees in Australia. Our 24/7 support continues to be free to all subscribers and we continue to invest heavily in our support teams, recently opening our newest center in Denver.
Now in its 10th year, Sleeter Group’s Accounting Solutions Conference in Las Vegas has become a mainstay in the accounting industry with accountants, bookkeepers, thought leaders, and vendors convening around the world of accounting.
We’ve attended for three years now and have seen the conference evolve from a desktop-centric to a more cloud-centric feel. The proliferation of online apps catering to the needs of accounting professionals was very apparent across the trade show floor. It’s really cool to see this sea change of accounting professionals picking up cloud tools and really starting to understand the power of online accounting solutions.
Below is a photo of one of our happy new Gold Partners, Carol Hower from TeamWorks. She has jumped into the new world of online accounting and is loving it.
Intuit vs. Xero
The playful jabs throughout the conference between Intuit and Xero are a good sign of healthy competition. Accountants and small businesses all over the world are going to benefit. Intuit hasn’t had a credible challenger in the accounting space and it’s time they did. Here’s our CEO Rod Drury with Intuit CEO Brad Smith:
When I first started at Xero just under two years ago I was asked how I thought Intuit would respond to Xero’s entry into the US. It was pretty clear to me that they had two choices. One was to buy us out and the other was to try to emulate our success and compete. Since we were not, and are not for sale, option two is the only way forward.
The Xero platform is one of the keys to Xero’s success. The software is built around a solid global accounting engine designed for the cloud to connect small businesses and their business advisors.
The Xero platform from the early days
We started with a big vision and were fortunate to have the resources for real research and development to build the accounting system we always wanted. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build the foundations without constraint. This is what makes Xero unique, we had no legacy and were able to build it right.
Check out this video with Kirk Jackson, one of the very first developers at Xero. Together we go behind the scenes on the development of the software from the early days and how some great technical decisions are allowing for continuous innovation from Xero in the small business and accounting markets.
It’s these foundations, and the Xero platform, that allow Xero to move much faster than the incumbents.
From today, accountants and bookkeepers can use the Microsoft Office 365 document management solution (SharePoint) and Practice Manager together seamlessly. The integration by The Full Suite gives our Partners commoditized, cloud-based document management on the Microsoft platform they’re used to.
The integration with Office 365 and Sharepoint is achieved using The Full Suite’s SuiteFiles web application. SuiteFiles lets documents created in Office 365 automatically include client information from Xero Practice Manager saving accountants hours per week and ensuring documents are more accurate. Client documents such as contracts, images and spreadsheets relevant to a project or job can be accessed directly from SuiteFiles.
This two-way integration between Office 365 and Practice Manager adds to the existing integrations with Box, Dropbox and Google Drive.
One of our objectives this year was to make some progress on Xero for Farming. Today we’re releasing a Farming Integration guide that provides a blueprint for seamless farming and accounting software. We have a number of providers with solutions in progress.
Farm solutions have traditionally included farm management and accounting. They are also traditionally disconnected from other software. The farmer works away on forecasts, livestock and fertilizer planning on their software while the accountant in town often processes bank transactions from the bank statements – the same work being done twice.
We’re solving this problem by helping farm solution providers use our API to connect the farm management side of their business to accounting in Xero. Here’s our thinking:
Payroll is a hard thing to love! The greatest compliment that we ever receive is the joy our customers feel for something that is now simple, that was once so complex. Our goal here at Xero is to bring you the most beautiful US domestic payroll product that we possibly can. Over the next few blog posts, we’ll share with you our plans for seamless accounting and Payroll, provide some snippets of the product and invite you on our roadshow to see it all in action – live and up close.
Since the idea was first born to bring payroll to the Xero product here in the US, we’ve focussed on making the experience seamless and simple. No longer is it acceptable to separate payroll and the general ledger. This potentially introduces costly mistakes through export and import, or synchronization.
The Accountant’s Technology Showcase Australia (ATSA) conference in Brisbane last week kicked off with the traditional CEO Debate & Forum featuring our very own Chris Ridd (Managing Director in Australia), Tim Reed (CEO of MYOB), Brad Paterson (Intuit) and Alan Osrin (Sage Software Australia).
It was encouraging to learn that in a ‘Leaders & Laggard’ survey by Smithink and MYOB, concerns expressed about the cloud in previous surveys had decreased significantly in 2013. This is a sign that forward-thinking accountants and their clients are beginning to really embrace the benefits of collaborating via the cloud.