Xero is growing quickly in the UK. After operating as a start-up with people working from home and carrying out a whole range of activities to grow the business, we’re now an SME in our own right and part of a global organisation with astronomic aspiration and potential.
In common with many new, fast-growing companies there are some big challenges that we face in the HR team. How best to hire the right people? How can we retain our core talent? What are the best HR systems and processes to deliver on our business strategy?
Of the many potential issues and opportunities, keeping our employees engaged is one of the most important.
In the first of an ongoing series exploring these HR challenges, we’re going to look at the problem of keeping the natural energy, engagement and positive culture of a start-up alive as the business grows and takes on new people.
Going on the HR journey together
First off, an admission. I’m new too – I’ve not yet been in the role three months, so this is a journey that the business and I are going on together. I’ve joined Xero UK at an incredibly exciting time in its development. We’re growing fast and, as the UK’s HR Manager, I’m going to be involved in hiring a lot of new ‘Xero Heroes’ over the next few months. It’s a brilliant opportunity, both for me and anyone else who’s recently joined or who is about to join the team.
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Over the years we’ve built up a great collection of videos – how-to videos, videos covering Xero essentials, and case studies. But the videos were sometimes hard to find, as they were spread all over our website, blog and other places. So we created Xero TV to bring it all together.
Xero TV is (xero.com/tv) a one stop shop for all video content on Xero.com. We now have all our videos in one convenient place that gives you a powerful learning tool at your fingertips, offering engaging video-based learning journeys and exciting updates.
We want it to be the fastest and easiest way for you to access our range of video content.
But we think Xero TV speaks for itself. Check it out and let us know what you think!
I’ve been on many road trips in my life, but never one as big as this. The Xero Roadshow for Australia covers 20 cities – from Bendigo, all the way up to Darwin. It has an audience of over 5,000 accountants and bookkeepers in attendance, so it’s no wonder the nerves have kicked in a little!
With more and more businesses heading to the cloud, it’s an exciting time to be getting up in front of so many people to chat about cloud technology, market updates and other exciting news from Xero.
Of course, I won’t be the only one speaking. You’ll also get to hear from Xero product, Tax and partner specialists – plus we’ll have 38 exhibitors (across the 20 events), giving you ample opportunity to explore the App ecosystem that is continually evolving. And we encourage you, as always, to ask questions, network and start a dialogue.
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We are excited to announce that our “Developer Lunch Box” series, aimed at giving prospective employees a taste of what it’s like to work for Xero, will be up and running again soon at Xero in Auckland and Wellington.
We ran our last session in October last year and had lots of interest – more than we had space for! In the end, 15 attendees were selected to come and have lunch on us where they got to meet and speak with CEO Rod Drury, and heard from early Xero employee Kirk Jackson who provided great insight into the development of the Xero platform.
Here’s some of the feedback from last year’s session:
“I loved the expression of interest gathering! It was a wonderful way to get insights into what makes Xero a great company to work for. To an outsider, it provided a meaningful perspective by having key people involved with its success share their stories.” – Dirk
“Firstly, thank you for having me yesterday. It was great to get some insights into Xero. I, along with two other attendees got a bit of a guided tour around the office and I found this extremely helpful. “ – Jie
We have since hired Jie and Dirk!
Production Performance issues: 27th Jan GMT – current
Xero’s performance monitoring has indicated slowdowns within the Xero App. This will result in occasional but widespread slowness loading pages within Xero. The performance degradation appears to be related to load, with performance returning to normal after peak load times (9pm-5am GMT).
The Operations and Development teams are investigating this as our highest priority. We will continue to update this blog with more developments until performance is returned to normal. The next update will be at 8:30pm Weds 29th Jan GMT.
Our apologies for the delay in posting this notification. We have been actively working on a fix for the issue since noticing it yesterday and hoped to have it resolved this morning. This afternoon it became apparent that our initial fix had not worked and the issue may be on-going.
We acknowledge the frustration this may be causing for users, and thank you for your support while we pull out all the stops to get this fixed.
Performance Issues Update: 8:30pm Weds 29th Jan GMT
The team has been working overnight on the performance problem. We’re following several leads about what could be causing slowdowns in web page load times and we’re working closely with our technology partners for diagnostics.
At this point we do not have an ETA for a fix but will update with more progress by 12am Thurs 30th Jan GMT.
Performance Issues Update: 12am Thurs 30th Jan GMT
We have made changes in the Xero environment and performance has improved compared to the same time yesterday.
Performance is still not as good as we would like so we continue to focus on this issue as our highest priority.
The team is preparing more changes to bring performance back inline with our expectations and we’ll be applying these through the day.
We will update the blog again at 4:30am Thurs 30th GMT
Performance Issues Update: 4:30am Thurs 30th GMT
The changes made today have improved performance. We are still seeing some slowdowns though. The team is continuing to chase them with deep diagnostics and help from our technology partners.
We’ll be working through the evening on improving performance, and will update the blog with more news at 8:30pm Thurs Jan 30 GMT.
Performance Issues Update: 8:30pm Thurs Jan 30 GMT.
The team’s work overnight has resulted in substantial performance improvements. However we are still seeing very occasional slowdowns.
We are continuing to investigate and will make performance improving changes throughout the day.
The blog will be updated again at 2am Fri 31st Jan GMT.
Performance Issues Update: 2am Fri 31st Jan GMT
We have rolled out further changes which have improved Xero performance overall. We’re monitoring these changes to ensure that they have made sufficient improvement. The team is on standby to continue diagnostics if performance drops again.
We will update the blog 9:00pm Sun, Feb 2 GMT at the latest, earlier if performance worsens.
Performance Issues Update: 9:00pm Sun, Feb 2 GMT.
We have implemented changes that have improved application performance across the board. We are continuing to monitor the system but at this stage we believe the performance issue is resolved.
If you are seeing on-going issues, please contact Customer Care with details and we will investigate.
An eagle-eyed tweeter spotted this last week.
Oh, the intrigue! Well, I’m pleased to be able to confirm we’re changing the look of the header in Xero – in fact, this will become the standard for Xero including the Practice Studio suite of MyXero, Workpapers and Practice Manager for accountants.
As well as providing a more consistent look and feel across all of Xero’s applications, this change will also make it easier for us to deliver new shared features. A good example of this is the ability to search for an organisation – see below.
The change will be rolled out next Monday and since a few things have moved around a bit, I thought I’d let you know what to expect ahead of time.
Where’s the logout link?
Access to the logout link and to your user profile can be found by clicking on your name at the top right of the screen.
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Xero has recently opened its second Melbourne office, home to the Melbourne development teams.
The space is next door to the current Melbourne office and it’s been designed to allow us to further expand the development team without having to move in the near future. There’s plenty of room for agile boards, TVs for product reviews, wall space aplenty for our designers to re-imagine solutions and of course the mandatory coffee machine and beer fridge. However, the most important decision has yet to be made – foosball table or mini-golf course?
In November I delivered the keynote for the Clayton Christensen seminar at the Business Influentials day. It also provided a great opportunity to chat for a couple of hours with the “world’s number 1 business thinker”.
Themes from that conversation continue to be reported as Xero was called out on Forbes this week as a leading cloud disruptor.
Clayton writes about how industry disruption has historically followed the same pattern: a new business comes to market with a product, based on a new technology, that simply and elegantly solves a customer’s problem, is easily accessible and affordable. The disruptor not only sneaks up on the competition to become the leader, but grows the market by meeting peoples’ needs who found the incumbent’s product too expensive and complex.
This year I was proud to win the Best Plain English Sentence Transformation award and get an Award of Distinction for the same category at the WriteMark Plain English Awards.
My colleague Ros Black received two Awards of Distinction – one for Best Plain English Sentence Transformation and another for Best Plain English Technical Communicator.
The WriteMark Plain English Awards are an annual event that recognise excellence in clear and transparent communication. It’s always a great night hearing inspirational people speak about the importance of plain English, and mixing with others who are as passionate about plain English as we are.
Gregory Fortuin, WriteMark Plain English Awards Trust Chair, said “Xero was warmly acknowledged as a champion of clear, transparent communication. We all know that plain English is imperative for success in business and for the public good.”
Singapore is currently experiencing some great traction in the Xero ecosystem. A new Add-on payroll partner, SimplePay, is launching their product into Singapore and we are close to launching bank feeds via Yodlee for Singapore banks.
Simplepay makes Payroll easier
SimplePay is a cloud payroll solution company that started out in South Africa and then released its product for neighboring Botswana. It has long recognised the need for country specific payroll solutions. It has a product in development for the UK and has now released its product into Singapore ready for Jan 1 – the start of the Singapore financial year.