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The future of accounting – part 4

hamish-1627080911This week I’d like to look at choosing who you want to see what.

With an online accounting system where information can be transparent and readily available, you need different levels of access for the various users. Most desktop accounting software packages have single user access as standard. Principally because they were designed for just the one PC.

Unlimited users are a key benefit of an online software platform. It means that small businesses can collaborate with their accountants, employees, business partners or spouses with the one set of data and at the same time. This calls for a robust model that gives the right level of access to the right users.

With Xero the subscription holder determines who they invite to have access and what role the invited users have. This subsequently restricts certain usage so that there are different levels of control and access. For example the business owner may want to provide access to an employee, but may not want the employee to see how much profit is being made. We call this the Employee Role. The Employee role allows invoices to be added, saved  as drafts and submitted for approval. It doesn’t allow the importing of invoices, or for these to be approved or sent via email.  Expense claims can also be added under this role and there’s access to contacts.

You can specify whether or not each user is allowed to change their role themselves or you can invite other users to have access to the organisation. There is also a Read Only role that’s especially for external directors or bank managers to review your numbers – but they can’t make changes.Standard users have full access to everything in Xero except the ability to publish reports, access management reports or alter any data that has been locked. The Financial Adviser role is for the Accountant and provides full access to everything that is available in Xero – including the ability to use the full reporting functionality.

Some clients want you to do it all – including outsourcing the bookkeeping and accounting. Xero gives you the option to own the subscription and then invite your client to have access under any user role. For our Accounting Partners using Accountants Edition we have two special user roles: Managed Client where the user can write notes against bank statement transaction lines, and Cashbook Client where the user can code and reconcile the bank transactions.

Every transaction or entry in Xero has a history and notes section, so you know exactly who has done what and when. It also allows you to identify tasks that are educational and assist with training. This history is essentially a built-in audit trail for every transaction and you can drill right down to the double entry journal.

Unlimited user access is one of the great benefits of online accounting. But having different user levels also gives you peace of mind that the right people have the right access.

Hamish Edwards is a Chartered Accountant and the co-founder of Xero. You can view the introduction to this series here. More information on what Xero offers accountants can be found here.


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