When Ally Wadwell from The Money Edge went to Xerocon last year, she arrived there with a plan. “Our practice was using Xero Practice Manager but we weren’t using it to the best of our ability. Some jobs were still taking a long time, and I was getting increasingly frustrated that we weren’t as efficient as we could be. I said to someone at Xero, ‘We’re doing things the wrong way. We need help.’”
After reaching out to their Xero account manager about what they were trying to achieve, The Money Edge had a consulting session with Xero partner consultant, Naomi McDonald, to redesign their administrative processes to be more efficient. Ally’s goal was to free up the team’s administrators from any mundane tasks which could be streamlined or automated, meaning they’d be free to offer more value-adding activities, such as developing and providing management reports for the business owners. Once they realised these best-practice efficiencies, they could advise their clients to do the same.
Here are some of the key changes they worked on together.
1. Jobs and profitability
Xero’s focus: Restructure jobs to allow better monitoring of time budgets versus actual time spent, a better view of the recoverability and profitability of jobs, as well as better automation of invoicing. We also revamped how The Money Edge builds jobs, to make this process more efficient and automated.
Ally’s experience: “As a direct result of this work, we can instantly make much better decisions because we can easily see how long jobs are taking and adjust our work to suit. We can see all our incomings and outgoings for each project; the data is at our fingertips. Before, we might have had some of that information, but not the whole story.”
2. Invoicing and billing
Xero’s focus: Streamline the invoicing process by automating all invoices for clients on annual service agreements, and refine the automation of the service descriptions used on all other invoices.
Ally: “Many of the changes we implemented focused around billing and quoting, and making sure those tasks were much more efficient, and automated wherever possible. Since Naomi had been in practice herself, she knew what we were talking about, and helped us make changes fast.”
Xero’s focus: Fix the quoting process so The Money Edge could send and track quotes from Xero Practice Manager without any editing in Microsoft Word.
Ally: “Before working with Naomi, members of our administration team found they were spending up to 30 minutes on a quote. It was too long. After working with Naomi it’s – no joke – a two-minute job. The time efficiencies have been absolutely incredible, and they came into fruition in such a short period of time.”
4. KPIs and reports
Xero’s focus: Review reporting of internal KPIs and build new reports for many parameters so they can more accurately monitor some key performance indicators in their own business, such as staff productivity, job profitability, recoverability of staff time, and financial KPIs.
Ally: “When we first moved to Xero Practice Manager, we built all our reports ourselves. But a report is only ever as good as the way you set it up and the information you connect together. Naomi talked us through what comes from where, and helped us select the key criteria to build into our reports. Now we know we’re getting meaningful information – and it’s all in one or two reports, instead of spread across six or seven.”
5. Client database bulk update
Xero’s focus: Review the client database and provide advice on how to bulk update it to allow better reporting on different segments of the database.
Ally: “We exported our list, fixed up certain fields such as client partner and client manager, and imported it. We could then rely on the reports which tell us how much each partner and manager have billed, quoted on, and on so.
“After going through that process, we’re now more diligent to update client information every time we’re on a call. We really want XPM to become our main client brain – with everything in there and everything correct. Not just client information but also our WIP, quotes, and making sure that the blue (Xero organisation) and green (Xero Practice Manager) match each other in terms of debtor balances. That was something that was never done in the past.
“Another huge time saver Naomi helped us to implement came with using Xero Ledger; specifically, how to bring the movement for the year into our ledger files for clients in order to prepare financial statements. I brought in the movement for a quarter of our clients using MYOB in five minutes flat using manual journal import. I sent Naomi an email in capital letters telling her how I’d danced around the office!”
The overall result
Xero’s focus: Help The Money Edge to streamline their internal processes and to be much more efficient using the cloud and taking advantage of automation.
Ally: “All up, this consulting process took a few days out of our week, but the time savings we get back are tenfold. What was once wasted time becomes productive. Now we hit a button and, because we are so confident our processes have been set up right, we know a task has been done properly.
“If there are any other firms out there wondering whether to take some time out to refine their processes to be more automated and take advantage of the efficiencies of the cloud, I’d say, do it. Don’t even think about it. My only regret is that we didn’t take this proactive approach sooner.
“When we help our own clients take on these same efficiencies, I always advise businesses to make sure they bring their key decision makers along for journey too. Our principal, Leanne, was open to change. She knew the old way wasn’t as efficient as it could be, so she led from the front to learn and embrace something new.