Allowing business to work smarter and faster has been a key goal of Xero from the very start. An exciting and valuable part of this has been the Xero API launched in 2008, which lets other applications (Add-ons) connect to our platform. This new way of procuring and plugging together software means that integration is done vendor-to-vendor, eliminating integration headaches for the customer. This opens up huge opportunities for efficiencies in how businesses work and how they manage their core business and IT functions.
Last week Chris Ridd, Managing Director of Xero Australia joined Jackson Hewett, Editor of Business Spectator on a webcast where they discussed what apps can work for you and took questions on how to use them effectively.
Find out the top business apps and categories that Chris rated as the most compelling for small business. He also talks about views about how Add-on partners are not just changing the software landscape in Australia, but taking the world stage as Xero’s business goes global.
There are over 300 applications that can be integrated with Xero through Add-ons. There are over 21,000 Add-on installs – with 15% of all Australian orgs using at least one Xero add-on.
Curtis Mclean, who have about 40 staff in Wellington, are a leader in moving to the cloud and helping customers make the transition. Being based in Wellington where our HQ is we’ve had a very close relationship. They are at the forefront of the shift – from compliance and business advisory services to helping clients with technology – and exploiting the huge ecosystem of software that can help them. They surprised us in a very happy way in August with their decision to send their entire team to the next Xerocon!
Now they’ve merged with Deloitte Private, which of course is part of the big global Deloitte brand and which have a very similar approach to Curtis McLean. The Deloitte relationship with Xero really took off back in late 2010/early 2011 when two partners came on board with Xero-active practices.
Thomas Pippos, Deloitte NZ CEO, says Xero played a material part in the decision to merge. “Our common view about Xero, and the benefits to clients from using Xero, and technology and the cloud more generally, meant that Deloitte and Curtis McLean already shared a common language, which played a part in the realization that our clients would be better served if the two firms merged.”
A new expectation is being established by today’s employees that their workplace will enable them to work away from the office, particularly from home. In Australia, 51% of employees now use the Internet to work away from the office, according to Australian Government research. So if your business isn’t equipped for telework, you are already falling behind. But keeping up with your competition is not the only reason to do it.
Research has shown that telework achieves lasting productivity gains when well-matched to the teleworker, their role and their manager. Several key decisions need to be made to achieve this, however the reward is worth the effort. In a recent Stanford study [pdf] on work from home, the productivity of workers who chose to telework increased by 22%. In another more recent study, the Trans-Tasman Telework Survey Report, 71% of employees said teleworking has a favourable influence on their attitude towards the job.
Telework can save employers money
There are costs to be saved as well. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that home-based work that is part-time could save employers over $10,000 per employee per year. This is the result of increased productivity, reduced facility costs, lowered absenteeism, and reduced turnover. Increasingly many businesses are turning to work from home to reduce office costs such as leasing, utilities and parking costs. Meanwhile, employee turnover costs are higher than many organisations realise.
Last year we profiled Zac Zavos of Conversant Media, Using Xero and other cloud products like Skype and Gmail, Zac is able to work with staff in Sydney, writers around the world and his brother and co-founder in Austin, Texas, while Zac works from Newcastle. So worth having a look again at how teleworking and working in the cloud has changed Zac’s life:
Not only are the business rewards great but a business that enables telework is achieving both social and environmental good. When telework is managed well, it can considerably reduce employees’ stress. Employees value flexibility highly because it enables them to balance competing work and life demands and for employees who belong to a disadvantaged group, flexibility is even more important. Employees inspired with this opportunity are often inclined to contribute above and beyond. In addition, many employees appreciate not having to make the daily commute, and while they work from home their cars sit in the garage.
The Australian government is introducing a new SuperStream data and e-commerce standard which is due to begin in stages from July next year. SuperStream is a package of reforms designed to improve the superannuation system.
The most important changes include:
- a requirement for employers to use an online solution when making super payments
- a requirement for super funds to receive contributions via an online solution
- a minimum set of standards for data remitted
- it allows the use of TFN’s as a primary identifier to locate members accounts.
A few of the SuperStream benefits are:
- faster allocation of contributions to members accounts
- a reduced number of contributions being returned to employers due to insufficient member details
- improved efficiency
- a reduced number of lost accounts.
What does SuperStream mean for your business?
As of 1 July 2014, data standards becomes mandatory for all employers making contributions with 20 or more employees. As of 1 July 2015, data standards becomes mandatory for all employers making contributions with up to 20 employees
Like many government programs, while the intention is in the right place, navigating the loan application process can be tricky. That is where SmartBiz loans come in. SmartBiz loans are designed for small business customers looking to add inventory and equipment, or even accounting firms looking to hire additional staff in advance of tax season.
SmartBiz lets you apply online in only 20 minutes and get funded within 2 to 5 business days, avoiding the standard SBA application process that can take up to 90 days.
SmartBiz lets our accounting partners and their small business customers apply easily and quickly online for an SBA-guaranteed working capital loans. SmartBiz loans feature low interest rates, long repayment terms and an easy online application process.
Our US President Jamie Sutherland and Regional Sales Director Ted McRae were guests on San Diego’s 760 KFMB AM radio show “It’s Your Money and Your Life” recently. The discussion was about Xero and its place in the evolution of the accounting industry.
Co-host Richard Muscio is a CPA who understands the struggles posed by desktop accounting software. He pointed out technology is rapidly improving and small business owners are demanding their financial information be easily accessible and available in real time. Richard echoed our sentiment that the CPAs who have made the jump to the cloud are ahead of the curve but the ones who are still behind “are at risk of becoming dinosaurs”, as he put it.
The conversation steered towards another topic that resonated with the hosts: collaboration. As a CPA, Richard is used to getting client financial data when its no longer actionable. It’s a concept that has never made sense to him. He had an excellent take on the idea of collaboration:
Read more about Business
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.
Copper makes project management easy by letting you quickly create project plans, add people and get things started.
It has a comprehensive set of features like time tracking, tasks, files, team, supplier and client management.
The calendar feature is great way to get a personalized view of tasks and work coming up.
Who is Copper for?
Anyone that needs to organise tasks, projects or track time will find Copper worth checking out. Current clients include agencies, marketers, consultants and according to the video below, rocket makers…
[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.
Great to be able to tick off our most requested feature on Community and move a step closer to completing the remaining core accounting functions. Next stop is quotes and we’re making good progress on better inventory control – but today we finally deliver Purchase Orders. Yay!!!
With Purchase Orders you can:
- Create fully customisable purchase order documents
- Email these documents to your suppliers
- Easily generate bills by copying existing purchase orders
- Copy purchase orders to new purchase orders and even to new sales invoices for on-charging
- Follow an approval workflow in the same way you do for invoicing
- Manage and search your purchase orders from their own dashboard
Of course, a (moving) picture is worth a thousand words so we’ve created a video that shows you everything in action.
This was a big release for us as we took the time to clean up a few big things under the hood. We’ve also put a lot of effort into a new touch friendly interface which will be rolled out across Xero in future releases.
Any other surprises in this release?
Yes! We’ve released a brand new GST return for NZ users with an improved workflow, performance and a new user interface. You may have caught our blog post about the changes and here’s a quick video overview.
You’ll also notice the GST reports have a new look and feel. We’re in the process of completely rewriting all reports in Xero with an improved engine and more options – great to have the first of these new reports completed. Look out for more over the next few releases.
There are a few other smaller updates – check out our release notes for more details.
The most likely enhancement to Purchase Orders will be to allow you to select a delivery address from one of your contact’s addresses – we’re hoping to get this out before Xmas, so keep an eye out on the blog.
Please let us know what you think in the comments below.
Read more about Business