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Practice Manager release coming soon

Mid-June will see the first release of Practice Manager, a Xero-branded re-imagination of WorkflowMax Practice Manager.

Practice Manager is a core part of Xero Practice Studio, our suite of solutions for accountants, bookkeepers and financial advisors that also includes Workpapers, Reporting and Tax.

Over the past 12 months we have applied significant resources into reimagining and rebuilding WorkflowMax, taking another step on our journey towards ensuring Xero Practice Studio is the leading integrated solution to manage your practice and work with your clients.  This first release of Practice Manager is a culmination of months worth of analysis, design, engineering and investment and is a major milestone on the journey towards our Practice Studio vision.

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Check out the Xero village at Accountex 2014

We’ve got our biggest ever stand at this year’s Accountex – the UK’s largest accounting conference which takes place at ExCeL London on 15th and 16th May. There’s lots happening at the Xero Village and we’re pretty damn excited about what we have in store for you, as you can probably tell!

You can sign up now for free tickets in advance, so why not come down and see us. Here are a few great reasons to come along and say hello…

  • Xero Village with demo screens, add-on pods and breakout space to chat – meet the Xero team and get your burning questions answered.

  • 14 Xero add-on partners on hand to answer your questions – it’s a perfect chance to find out how Xero can be adapted for your practice (you can read more about our amazing add-on partners in the mini-interviews below).

  • Xero theatre with full demos of the Xero platform – we’ll show you how to get the most from our cloud-based business platform.

  • When you watch any of our Accountex seminars, you’ll get free accredited CPD points.

  • Plus you get a chance to win a MacBook Air in our prize draw… oh and we’re handing out ice cream too. It’s almost too good to miss.

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Direct feeds for Community Mutual (Australian customers)

Community Mutual Group logo

Direct feeds for Community Mutual are now available to our Australian customers. Community Mutual provides banking services to the New South Wales region.

More details are in our Help Centre.

More feeds coming soon

Community Mutual is our first new direct feed for 2014. We added support for Investec and Greater Building Society in December last year. We’re actively speaking to a number of financial institutions in Australia about direct feeds and have nearly half a dozen committed to delivering direct feeds over the next few months – we’ll bring you more details when we can.  A list of all our Australian direct feeds is available in our Help Centre.

 

UK cloud accounting at a tipping point

As our UK managing director, Gary Turner, pointed out in a recent blog on accountingWEB, cloud accounting is now at a tipping point in the UK with a recent surge in adoption among UK accounting and bookkeeping firms.

Grant Smith of Armstrong Watson talking at Xerocon 2013

Grant Smith of Armstrong Watson at Xerocon

In the survey we commissioned last September, 55% of practices we spoke to had either already adopted the technology or intended to do so in the near future. And of the 28% which have already made the switch, 42% reported that it’s helped them boost their service standards and increase client satisfaction.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re a new startup practice or one of the old school. Armstrong Watson, one of the north of England’s longest established accounting firms, is a great example at one end of the spectrum. The firm has an 145-year history of providing accounting services and now has 15 offices spread across the UK. And they’ve just taken that next step into cloud accounting by graduating to the highest Platinum status of Xero partner.

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Xero updates: Working on the little things

Hi, I’m Penny and I’m a Product Owner for the Sniper team at Xero. While the rest of the Xero product team tackles the larger pieces of work, we’re responsible for smaller features and enhancements that are just as important. In this post I want to let you know what updates made today’s release and give you a taste of what we’re going to be working on next.

Sniper developer team at Xero accounting software

We get a lot of feedback from our users – in fact, the last three posts covering Sniper updates generated over 100  comments! My job is to listen to this feedback and also monitor comments on our Community forums and work closely with our support team. We then come up with a plan and every three weeks, release as many updates as we can.

Today we’ve made these changes:

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Managing your Xero subscription

Following a recent dispute between a small business owner and his accountant in Australia, we thought it would be timely to provide a reminder about the way that subscriptions work under Xero’s Terms of Use.

Disputes in business happen all the time and in this specific case the issue was not actually related to Xero but more to do with services charged for implementing Xero along with a more complex add-on solution.

With over 280,000 customers we’re pleased that we’ve only seen a handful of these types of issues and generally we are able to work with and encourage the parties to work towards a resolution. Regardless, as small business moves to the cloud we’re keen to raise the discussion so the accounting and bookkeeping profession is best equipped for the technology changes we’re all experiencing.

The Xero accounting platform helps accountants and bookkeepers provide more advanced services to their clients through the ability to easily access and work with the client’s data in real time.

We fundamentally believe that small businesses do better if they have accountants and bookkeepers working alongside them. However, we don’t mandate that relationship and accordingly offer a flexible subscription model.

The small business owner and the advisor can decide how to structure the subscription depending on the needs of the client. The advisor can set up a subscription in Xero and incorporate (often called ‘bundling’) the Xero subscription fees into their service fees that are charged to the small business as their client. In this way the advisor becomes the “Subscriber”. Alternatively, the small business owner can hold their own subscription and pay Xero directly for the subscription fee. In this way the small business owner becomes the “Subscriber”, and can invite their advisor into the subscription as an “Invited User” (a user with certain access rights set by the Subscriber).

All users of Xero accept the same Terms of Use. The Terms of Use state that the “Subscriber” for a Xero subscription controls access to that subscription. The Subscriber also determines the level of access that other “Invited Users” have to the Xero subscription.

When it comes to using Xero, small business owners should consider who they wish to act as “Subscriber” in relation to the Xero subscription. A small business owner can register for Xero themselves and assume the “Subscriber” role, and limit the accountant’s involvement to that of “Invited User”.

A good accountant or bookkeeper will provide terms of engagement and a fee agreement before starting any work for a small business owner. The terms of engagement should clearly state each parties’ rights and responsibilities around the Xero subscription, along with the level of fees, service delivery expectations, and so on.

A good accountant or bookkeeper should also provide a small business owner with regular updates on the fees that have been charged. Small business owners should ask their accountant or bookkeeper for this information if it is not provided regularly. If a client has concerns about the level of fees being charged by their accountant or bookkeeper while the work is being carried out, they should talk to their accountant or bookkeeper first. If they are unable to resolve the situation with their accountant or bookkeeper, the small business owner should contact one of the relevant professional bodies in their country.

We are working on guidelines to help the relationship between small business owners and their accountants or bookkeepers in relation to cloud accounting software. This is an interesting area. We have raised the issue with relevant industry bodies and over the next few months will progress this as a project.

We’ll update you as we make progress.

We’re keen to hear any of your thoughts and concerns as we kick off this piece of work.

Please feel free to discuss below.

 

 

Xero Farming Roadshow – New Zealand

We’re coming to a town near you to showcase our upcoming solution for your farming clients. Join us, in conjunction with Figured, at the Xero Farming Roadshow this May and June to see how we’re going to connect accountants and bookkeepers to farming clients in a real-time set of data.

Joining us for the Xero Farming Roadshow will qualify you for two CPD hours. And by attending the roadshow and completing a Xero for Farming pilot, you’ll become a Xero Farming Specialist.

Register for the roadshow today!

Cows galore? Xero Farming Roadshow – NZ

 

Improving your Xero support experience

With our latest release to Xero, we snuck in a couple of really awesome improvements to our help menu. It’s just the beginning of heaps of cool new features we have planned for finding help and contacting the Xero support team, but for now you’ll still see some immediate improvements.

Searching within this menu now looks across multiple sources, including: the User Guide, FAQ help page, Xero TV and our Business Community. Each search result has a symbol to the left showing where it’s from, and there’s the option to pick and choose which sources you want included in your search. Consolidating these sources brings more information directly to you, saving time compared to searching each one individually.

Would you like help today – Xero support

If you can’t find what you need, you can always contact us in Support. This is the blue Contact Xero Support button at the bottom of the search results. By raising a ticket from within Xero we receive more information (rather than emailing) – like your organization’s name, product edition, your role, system, and browser version – all of which helps us find and get an answer to you faster.

Lastly, if you have a feature request you’ll now be directed to the Feature Request section of Community. This is where you can search for the feature you’d like and add your vote. If you can’t find an existing request, create your own that you and other users can vote on.

We’re just starting with new and better ways to make this an even better experience, and we think you’ll find this a quicker and easier way of raising any questions you have with us.  To validate that we’re already getting some great feedback from customers like Ryan Ashton using the new Xero support features and we look forward to rolling out more!

Ryan Ashton loves Xero support

 

 

Zendesk customer service software partners with WorkflowMax, Xero

With more than 40,000+ customers in all corners of the world, Zendesk is leading the future of customer service software with its cloud-based solutions. At WorkflowMax, our lovely support team use Zendesk to manage queries. Many of our customers wrote queries requesting integration with Zendesk, so… we created one!

Customer service software that integrates with job management and accounting

The solution is super-simple and very clever. While you’re solving a customer issue within Zendesk, you can record your time directly against the job in WorkflowMax. You can connect your customer service management, time billing and the Xero accounting platform in one end-to-end solution – using WorkflowMax as the conduit.

Take a look inside the new, improved Zendesk app in the video below:

With the Zendesk + WorkflowMax integration, you can connect your customer service software seamlessly with your workflow and accounting solution. Beautiful!

Watch the video to learn more about this awesome integration, and let us know what you think!

 

 

Next generation banking a reality

Over the past year or so we’ve been working on our vision for next generation banking. We’ve spoken about this a number of times before – but now, thanks to our friends at ASB and TSB Bank, it’s a reality.

Accounting software and internet banking should be complementary. Think about it – at its heart, Xero accounting software is about financial awareness, insight, and decision-making. Internet banking is about taking financial action and managing your money. It makes sense that the two go hand-in-hand.

With customer consent, data could flow between the two worlds – making each product that much more useful. Transactional data comes into Xero from the bank, where it’s processed and reconciled. If a customer wishes, financial data could be passed back to the bank for a variety of services: for payments; for a loan application; or for sign-up to additional services.

The video shows some of the outcomes of our next generation banking work, illustrated through our integration with ASB. Data can be sent to Xero quickly and easily and payment instructions can be pushed back to the bank for authorisation. In the old world you would manually download data and upload into Xero, or at best, complete a paper application form and send to us for processing. With this approach, your feeds are set up instantly and securely. Similarly, there’s no batch payment files to be downloaded and uploaded into internet banking – they’re sent through frictionlessly.

Watch Steve Jurkovich from ASB talking at Xerocon Auckland 2014 about how the cloud is changing banking and how ASB is embracing new opportunities through its work with Xero.

Banks are conservative organisations, and so they should be – after all, they’re handling your money. But a great deal of innovation for banks comes through collaboration. It would be very difficult for any bank to meet all the needs of its diverse population of customers with the vast plurality of products that would be required. They can’t possibly replicate all the Mints, the Billguards, the SigFigs, the Bill.coms, the Expensifys, the Dwollas, and the hundreds of other services out there that have blossomed throughout the fintech ecosystem  that people have come to rely on. Safe and secure collaboration with established partners like Xero acts as a multiplier or an accelerator to a bank’s desirability to its customers.

Watch out for more banks introducing support for next generation banking soon. Or maybe consider switching to one that already does. The future is bright for those that have.

UPDATE:  If you’re a FastNet Business customer who’s already set up feeds by sending in a paper form, you can still activate direct payment link.  Find the Accounting Setup section in FastNet Business under Administration > Client, and select ‘Automatically Import Payments’ against the accounts you want to make payments from. Follow the process to connect up the feeds, and the next time you create a batch payment file, it will automatically be sent to FastNet Business. Easy.

What people are saying about next generation banking

And it works. Here’s what people are saying about this new generation of banking: