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A view from inside

Last week I visited the Xero Melbourne HQ to spend a few days with my new Xero team members.

The first thing that struck me when I walked in the office was the ’buzz’; lots of meeting spaces filled with Xeros (Xero employees) collaborating and communicating on the go, account managers speaking with partners, the marketing team brainstorming ideas, and the customer care team working together to solve support tickets. Everyone was getting on with the job at hand, and while you’d expect that to be the case, seeing it happen from the ’inside’ brought it all into perspective.

As I met with my fellow leadership team over two days of strategies and ideas, I got a real sense of why everyone in the office was so focused on their job. I realised it’s because Xero empowers ownership at all levels, within every role. The entire team is passionate about their work and take their roles very seriously – although you could always hear a laugh coming from somewhere in the office. After all, when it comes to Xero, it is all about doing what you do and having a good time while you do it.

James' desk at the Xero Melbourne HQ

My desk and new MacBook Air!

From my hot desk I couldn’t help but be inspired by the workspace I was in. It was a bit of a change working at a 1.6m x 70cm desk but as I noticed Chris Ridd, Trent Innes and other senior managers working at the same open plan desks, it was clear everyone was working towards the same goal. No imposed hierarchy, titles or offices – just one unified team committed to delivering a leading solution to market. Continue reading ›

 

Xero updates: all about the quick processes

It’s all about efficiency

When I first spoke to accountants who adopted Xero as a platform to service their small and medium-sized business, they glowed about how efficient Xero made them. I regularly heard about accountant firms that grew their practice by 20 percent while reducing staff time spent on clients by the same 20 percent. In business, efficiency gains such as these are unheard of.

Efficiently familiar

There are many efficiencies gained from cloud accounting software. But sometimes, older processes — through their familiarity — are efficient. For example, Excel in the hands of an experienced accountant is lightning fast. A check register is a quick way to update the accountant’s view of a bank balance. With the new Xero quick tools, you can experience a workflow that is efficiently familiar.

Continue reading ›

 

Heavy hitters – it’s a new Profit and Loss

We recently released new reports as well as newer versions of reports that did, offering features that previously didn’t exist. We’ve already gotten feedback that these reports are making a difference to people. However it’s the heavy hitters, the core financial reports, which really shine – welcome to the new Profit & Loss.

The Profit & Loss is our next big step towards making the core financial reports in Xero the best in the world. There are lots of great aspects to this release, I’ll go over the headlines and look at some of the hot button topics we know you care about. This video provides a good overview of what our new reports have to offer.

As with all new reports, the Profit & Loss uses convenience dates to quickly select from a number of commonly used date ranges. Under Report Settings there is a selector for cash or accrual basis, as well as the number of columns you want to show on the report. Like all new reports, if you save a template, the next time you run the report it will remember the last settings. The on-screen version of the report and the PDF are better spaced with a huge focus on improving the readability.

Most importantly, behind that innocuous grey Edit link, there is a new layout editor. It does exactly what it says on the tin and lets you lay out the order of groups and accounts on your report in just the way you want. It uses an intuitive drag and drop interface, and allows you to do some things which haven’t been possible in Xero before.

 

Header groups

First, you can now create top level groups/header groups. Previously you had to Continue reading ›

 

New Xero features out today

Last month I was at Xerocon Sydney where we announced some of the new Xero features being launched over the next three months. Well, it’s only a few weeks later and the first of these features are live – it’s how we roll.

Batch deposits

For those of you dealing with customers paying by check/cheque or paying multiple invoices at once, this feature will be a huge time saver. Hopefully it will also put a smile on the faces of those waiting for this feature on Community.

Batch deposit is the accounts receivable equivalent to batch payments. From the Sales dashboard, simply select the invoices to be paid and press the ‘Deposit’ button.

Once you’ve confirmed the batch, payments (or part payments, if you’ve adjusted the amounts) will be created for the selected invoices – no more need to drill into each individual invoice (yes!).

deposit

Deposit slips

If your batch deposit was created from a number of checks/cheques, you can choose to print a simple deposit slip to take to the bank.

Receipts (invoice payments)

Another much requested feature, receipts can be sent to thank your customers for invoice payments. These can be initiated from a batch deposit, where a separate email for each unique customer will be created, or from any single payment record.

Xero will attach a copy of the receipt to each receipt email. Receipt documents can have their layout edited – so you can easily apply your branding. You can also customise the standard text used for the email body from the email settings.

Note that we don’t yet support sending receipts on cash (Receive Money) transactions – this is something we’re considering for a future release. You can add your weight to the Community request for this.

receipt

More new reports

Head on over to the new, and growing, report centre, for all the latest reports. We’ve already talked about the new Aged, Depreciation and Account Transactions reports and today we’ve added a couple of new ones. Continue reading ›

 

We’re banking on doing even more for our SME customers

When I took on the job of Banking Relationship Manager for Australia just under a month ago, I was overwhelmed with the positive response that the introduction of this role to Xero had received. So much hard work has been put into cultivating Xero’s relationships with financial institutions to date and I am thrilled to take this on at such an exciting time.

Having worked directly with Xero customers in the past, I can appreciate the importance of digital banking data to our small business owners – manual processes associated with bank reconciliation have quickly become a thing of the past. Witnessing how the day-to-day practices of small business owners have evolved to embrace technology and how large organisations, who provide services to these businesses, have responded to accommodate this has been impressive. Our customers now expect their financial data to flow seamlessly between their banks and their accounting platform and financial institutions in Australia have started to understand this.

We were delighted to have Macquarie and Bank of Queensland join us as exhibitors at Xerocon in Sydney as it demonstrated the value that the banks place on the influence of Xero’s accounting and bookkeeping partners.

Macquarie and Bank of Queensland exhibited at Xerocon Australia 2014

Continue reading ›

 

Putting education at the heart of your business

If someone asked you to name the most important areas in a business, you’d probably think of functions like sales, customer service, finance and human resources. These are all fundamental parts of any company, but there’s another that’s equally as important – education!

The importance of education

Educating your people, training them and improving their skills and understanding is an absolutely vital part of getting your business’ people strategy right. And, here at Xero, we understand how helpful, flexible education can really make a difference to your end experience of cloud accounting.

 

Mike-Day-Pic-524x600 (1)

So, over the past year we’ve been expanding, fine-tuning and re-working the educational resources that we offer to our customers. We want to make it as easy as possible for small businesses and accounting practices to get the most from Xero. No one approach will work for everyone, so we’ve put together a suite of educational tools that offer a real variety of different solutions.

So, what’s on offer if you’re looking to learn more about Xero? Let’s take a look.

Xero U – your one-stop shop

Xero U is your starting point for all our educational tools. It’s the one-stop shop where we’ve gathered all our different learning channels together. We understand that everyone has their own preferences for how they like to learn – some may like to watch a short how-to video, some may like a series of computer-based teaching, some may like to take part in a webinar. And Xero U is there to bring all these options together. It’s about learning at your own pace, on any device from wherever is convenient to you.

And we know that Xero U works. Getting your staff trained, certified and razor sharp with Xero has a significant impact on the efficiency of your business – whether you’re a small company using Xero directly, or an accountancy practice working with Xero clients.

Continue reading ›

 

NZBN a step closer to reality – have your say

New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is one step closer to reality, with late last week the government releasing a draft of the proposed legislation ready for your feedback.

nbn

 

NZBN is a significant element in simplifying how you work with government. Under the proposed legislation, all businesses, government agencies and not-for-profit entities in New Zealand will be eligible for a unique NZBN. Once the NZBN is fully implemented, you’ll only have to provide government with your core information once. This information will then be automatically shared across agencies using the NZBN to identify you.

As accountants this is your chance to give feedback on something that means you can spend more time doing what you do best, and less time worrying about interacting with government.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is looking for particular feedback on:

  • who should be allocated a NZBN
  • what information should be linked
  • the rules around using the NZBN
  • how to ensure information is protected

NZBN was initially allocated to companies; however around half of New Zealand businesses are not companies so this next stage of public consultation is on the detailed rules of which businesses should have one and how they can go about getting one.

Because Xero is passionate about supporting New Zealand small business, we’ve been working hard for a more streamlined approach to connect businesses and government, and we were pleased to host the launch at our offices back in March. Now we’re really excited that NZBN has made it to the next stage, and we encourage our partners to get involved and have your say before the final Bill is introduced.

To find out more, head to http://www.mbie.govt.nz/about-us/consultation/nzbn-bill-exposure-draft

 

Xerocon Australia Partner Awards winners

This year’s Xerocon conference in Sydney attracted over 1300 attendees from the accounting, bookkeeping and financial advisor industries. The conference closed on a high as we celebrated the contribution of some of Australia’s leading partners at the Xero Partner Awards dinner on Friday evening.

Xero Australia MD Chris Ridd says “These prestigious awards honor the top performing add-on developers, accounting practices and bookkeeping professionals that our partner ecosystem has to offer.”

“We are delighted to see the huge efforts of our many partners in what was hotly contested awards ceremony that celebrated some amazing innovations and best practices. Our partners are absolutely critical to our success and these awards shine a spotlight on their successes.

Congratulations to each winner on this incredible achievement.

Winners of the Xero Partner Awards

Accounting Partner of the Year –
Mulcahy & Co.

Mulcahy & Co

Bookkeeping Partner of the Year –
CFM Bookkeeping

CFM Bookkeeping Continue reading ›

 

It’s a Workpapers world

We’re making changes on a few fronts in Xero Workpapers today: we’ve made a number of enhancements for our existing users and we’re pleased to announce Workpapers is now available globally.

Global availability

Today we’re launching a global edition of Xero Workpapers. Our accounting and bookkeeping partners anywhere in the world can now manage their workpapers, letters and client queries. Compiling management and year-end accounts has never been easier – head on over to the new global help centre to see what we have in store for you, then set up a free trial.

New and improved workpapers

The Home Office workpaper has had a major update – we’ve added a new tabbed design for those times when there’s a change of address or there are multiple claims to be made. It also uses the smarts behind our Permanent workpaper to remember key details from period to period.

Laurie's Hairdos Co – Home Office

We’ve also built a brand new workpaper for operating leases: this helps you keep track of your clients’ lease documentation and calculate their future commitment. To save you even more time, this is also remembered across periods.

Laurie's Hairdos Co – Operating Lease Commitments

Workflow improvements

When you send bulk queries, Xero Workpapers has some new smarts to decide how the packs are assigned, based on your most recent staff allocations. This makes it much easier to ensure your staff know what they should be working on.

Going green!

The Xero Workpapers and Practice Manager teams are working together closely to combine our powers. It’s going to take a while but work is already under way to bring two major parts of Practice Studio closer together and take advantage of each other’s strengths.
In the coming months, Xero Workpapers will have a new look and will be much more tightly integrated with Xero Practice Manager. This is pretty exciting for all of us – more news as this work progresses.

 

Introducing Australia’s new Head of Accounting – James Solomons

Many exciting announcements were made at Xerocon 2014. The one that had the most impact for me came on day two when Chris Ridd welcomed me to the main stage with the news that I had been appointed to the role of Head of Accounting of Xero Australia.

It’s a unique role that has been strategically designed to enable me to keep a foot in both camps, so to speak. So while I will be the Head of Accounting for Xero Australia, I’ll be performing this role alongside my position as director of EFS Strategic. This means I will continue to be hands on with my practice and clients. You could say I am on both sides of the ledger now!

The response from Xero Partners and the Xero Team has been amazing and proves that the industry is ready to embrace change. Thank you to everyone for their words of support.


One thing I would like to make clear is that while I have strong opinions and beliefs on how a financial services firm can operate successfully, I’m very aware that businesses do things a little differently. We each have our own unique selling points and personalities. That’s why our clients choose one firm over another to build a relationship with as part of their own business advisory support network.

So, this role is not about coaching or training the Xero Partners. It’s about listening to you and collating your feedback and finding out what is frustrating you and holding you back from operating your own best practice firm. I will offer support and guidance and share my experiences with you, however my overriding goal is to be a sounding board for all things relating to our industry.

There is no doubt that there are a number of practitioners in the industry worried about what the future may hold. The key to prospering from this disruption is to embrace change and to start building your practice so that it can adapt to the ever-changing digital world. The compliance-only model will not survive as our industry becomes more automated and the government continues with its mandate to reduce red tape. If I am starting to sound like a broken record on this point then I make no apologies.

I said that I am committed to ensuring that Xero delivers market leading solutions to partners to help them run a modern practice. Taking the partner’s wants and desires direct to the product and development teams will ensure that your voices are heard at the table.

It is obvious that the missing piece to the puzzle remains a full tax suite for accounting practitioners. The Activity Statement and Company Forms now in Xero Practice Manager have worked well, but there is no doubt practitioners need to see the entire suite and they need to see it soon. That was the key piece of feedback I received as I walked the floor during the event. And this was not just feedback from partners, it came from the Xero Team themselves who all spoke with me about their goals to deliver what the partners want!

The other important aspect of my role is to be the voice of Xero and its partners direct into the accounting industry. What Xero has been doing has captured the attention of the ATO and Government (as highlighted by Chris Ridd) and Xero now not only sits at the round table when it comes to industry focus groups but leads the discussion. My task is to leverage this hard work and elevate it to the next level in all parts of the industry. I’ll ensure our voice is heard by the ATO, our professional bodies, the media and most importantly by businesses across Australia and the world.

And I got off to a good start judging by this tweet…

As for my vision… Well, I want to work towards seeing an industry filled with professionals who get technology; who challenge the status quo and who equip themselves and their clients with the market-leading accounting solution to ensure that maximum value is added to their business and their clients’ businesses at every single opportunity.

I encourage you to contact me whenever you feel the need; I’m here to listen and help you any way I can. Drop me an email james.solomons@xero.com or jamessolomons.com.

Don’t forget to check out the short video we put together while I was at Xerocon: