We think of industry awards as a bit of fun showbiz recognition for the team, and it’s always a good coping strategy to not take them too seriously because you’ll only get depressed when you don’t win.
So, in that level headed spirit we’re super-crazy chuffed that Xero won the Best Client Software category in the British Accountancy Awards at the Tower of London last night, the biggest awards in the UK accounting industry’s calendar.
It was particularly gratifying to read the comment from the judging panel that “Xero is a poster child for the new breed of online accounting systems.”
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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.
Copper project management software 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: The session with Mark Mader went really well. He gave some history of the company, the early years before it started its triple digit growth, then he did a product demo of some of the key features that differentiate Smartsheet from spreadsheets like Excel and Google's, like hierarchal rows, emailing of sections, and cell histories.
Mark emphasized the need for SaaS companies to focus on keeping the product easy to learn and delivering value. There's also the integration with other online software including Google Apps and the importance of working with the tools that your customers use. He doesn't shy from using Excel himself, although it getting less over time. All in all it was a well spent evening hearing Mark's experiences and chatting over a drink and nibbles with him and everyone else who came along.]
Smartsheet is a popular collaborative project and work management tool and has been a very welcome addition to the suite of tools we use here at Xero. There are many teams across our business using it everyday to track and collaborate on a variety of work projects and processes.
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It is great to see not just one, but two Xero Add-on partners in the news today.
Unleashed closes funding round
Not to be outdone, inventory management Add-on partner Unleashed Software today announced they have secured NZ $4m in new funding to continue their expansion into Australian and US markets. More on this at NZHerald.co.nz.
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.
Handy features like scenario planning for potential issues and seasonality means you can get rid of the spreadsheets and rely on an app that makes forecasting easy enough so that anyone can use it. It syncs with Xero so your forecast is always up to date.
Who is it for?
Float has been designed so anyone that runs a small business can use it to plan their future cash flow. There are plans that cover everyone from sole traders right through to larger finance teams.
And just like Xero, you can invite your accountant in to help out too.
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:
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According to new research commissioned by PayPal Australia, technology comprehension can have a big impact on the growth of Australian SMEs. Three in five SMEs claim that they could run their business more efficiently if they knew more about the digital tools and technology innovation available.
Last week, AU Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull and I tackled this issue at PayPal’s annual Driving Business Online event. This is a national education program to help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) take advantage of the digital economy.
It was a great opportunity for me to restate the importance of small business to the economy, a sector that represents 46% of GDP and 73% of all trading entities.
I spoke about the rapid shift to cloud computing within this sector due to the compelling cost savings and agility that moving to the cloud offers to these business owners. I also spoke of the trend we’re seeing among small businesses moving to mobile, with over 145,000 downloads of our smartphone app, Xero Touch. The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull agreed and said that one aspect of the digital economy that businesses are being forced to address is the increasing use of mobile devices by customers.
Following on from last week’s TV interview with Peter Switzer, I was again in the hot seat at Sky News studio. This time I was speaking with Nigel Freitas, host of Technology Behind Business.
Since the last time I spoke to Nigel on the launch of our listing on the ASX, Xero shares have risen 275%. There was a lot of news to update him on, especially Xero’s recent capital raise, our plans for the funding, and our strategy for taking on some of our bigger competitors.
We talked about the competitive landscape in Australia and the investment needed to fuel future growth. We see this as a big point of difference between Xero and some of our competitors in the Australasian market. We’re excited about the opportunities the funding will bring for Xero as a global leader in accounting software.
Check out the interview below: