Xero’s app marketplace has over 700 apps which help small businesses and their advisors reach their goals. Each month we celebrate an app partner who stands out for helping small businesses thrive – find out more about Xero’s app partner program here.
Introducing Practice Ignition – our May app partner of the month
With accounting and bookkeeping advisory services on the rise, practice apps have never been more important. Practice Ignition has been on Xero’s app marketplace since 2012, helping accountants turn their proposals, terms of service and payment collections into a single smart contract.
We spoke with Practice Ignition founder Guy Pearson about his journey into practice apps from accounting, and why it’s so important accountants use cloud technology so they can focus on the human element of the industry.
Helping advisors help their clients
Over the last decade, Xero has enabled advisors to better serve their clients by moving into the advisory realm. With that comes the need for new workflows such as data automation, reporting and client engagement tools.
Practice apps sit in their own space in the cloud accounting world. Practice Ignition has been a go-to practice app since launching in 2012, earning great reviews on Xero’s app marketplace and rising through the ranks of the Xero ecosystem.
Guy explains how Practice Ignition found its footing in the industry. “Effectively the accounting business model was broken when the cloud took over. I knew I wanted to be in the conversation about what software accountants, bookkeepers and their clients use to bundle a services-package across one smooth journey.”
Starting off as an accountant himself, Guy knew there were issues with things like monthly billing, tax returns and long periods of waiting to get paid.
“That’s a huge business model problem – the payment process becomes a disaster, and when I was an accountant I felt this problem. Fortunately I knew some tech savvy people in the same boat. We saw the opportunity to do something great and jumped.”
Giving advisors a single source of truth
Having been on the accounting side, Guy knew technology could be an enabler of efficiency and simplification when dealing with clients.
“Back then all of the systems of use were disconnected. If you were to walk into a firm and ask ‘How many of your clients have Xero’ or ask anything about services or software, accountants would have a blank face. There was no single source of truth because all of their documents had been word documents, PDFs and contracts, making it hard to segment or analyse data.”
Without client forecasting, Guy saw problems in the industry affecting client relationships.
“This finger in the air approach to the future meant accountants were just assuming their clients would come back. Bad data and disconnected systems meant inefficient and costly ways of running a firm. We knew we could do better than this.”
Another way Practice Ignition makes it easier for accountants is by removing the paper trail from the client onboarding process.
“Sometimes cloud accountants would integrate their clients with Xero and other apps, then a week later send them word documents which have to be printed, signed and mailed back. That’s when the whole cloud experience gets ruined. Ultimately people want a good user experience, and that’s what we provide.”
Running a better business with the cloud
At the heart of everything, Guy believes Practice Ignition exists to help accountants run a better business.
“With the cloud comes a better client experience and the ability to help them more. Feeling the problem of advisory first hand and knowing there were solutions, I wanted to help the world move to cloud accounting.”
Practice Ignition exists in the space where accountants can thrive in the world of the cloud – educating and upskilling advisors, further helping their clients and growing SMBs in the process. It’s for this reason practice apps play a pivotal role in transforming the accounting industry.
“We realised we could help all accountants and, in turn, help more SMBs. Practice Ignition’s whole journey is built around the world moving to cloud accounting, and trying to be the best enabler of that we can be.”
It’s this reason practice apps play a vital role in transforming the accounting industry. With Xero releasing and updating new features to regularly, this requires new and improved ways to engage with clients – a space Practice Ignition has taken to the next level.
Making the move to advisory
Practice Ignition enables accountants to run their practice more efficiently, so they’re freed up to focus on delivering quality compliance and advisory services to their clients.
With the move to advisory being more common than ever, educating accountants and bookkeepers on what’s happening in the ecosystem is a hugely valuable step on the road to advisory.
“If we wind the clock back six years ago, it was a lot harder to explain what practice apps do for accountants. When we did, we were met with confused faces – after all, we were creating a category within an existing vertical. But once you’d finished the demonstration where everything automates and deploys, jaws would hit the floor.”
Practice Ignition’s marketing efforts demonstrate the relationship-first focus of the team.
“We went down the content strategy path. We wanted to provide anything useful for accountants, even if it’s just introducing another app or pricing methodology which could help them. We’re not in the mindset of doing hard sells, we want to build relationships in the accounting world through content. Many of those leads eventually become clients.”
Practice makes perfect
Guy says while Practice Ignition has a firm footing in the industry now, the early days were a different story.
“We thought the accounting market would turn a lot sooner than it has, and with all start ups, for the first few years we were running on the smell of an oily rag.”
While the Practice Ignition team is looking at new markets and expansion, Guy ultimately wants to help accountants solve their day to day problems of running their business.
“Educating people on how they run their business in the cloud means they will end up with
a better relationship with their clients. That makes it easier to get paid, and gives everyone a better life at the office and at home. We see ourselves as a conduit to that.”
Join a Xero and Practice Ignition webinar live on May 30th at 1:00 pm ET to learn about streamlining your engagements and workflow with Practice Ignition and Xero Practice Manager. Find out more here.