At Xero we want to make life better for people in small business, their advisors and communities around the world, because running a small business should be about doing what you love. As Chief Product Officer, I often get asked how we prioritise what features or updates we build first. I know it’s frustrating if you’ve put in a request and haven’t seen it built yet.
I wanted to share some of the key factors my team considers when deciding how to create an innovative and beautiful Xero experience for you, and shed some light on how we prioritise improvements and feature requests.
Readying our platform for growth and scale
We are constantly evaluating Xero’s capabilities and altering the experience based on the changing needs of our customers. We want to build products that will stand the test of time but also support our future growth. So we’re constantly balancing solving problems for today with building products and features that will allow our broad customer base to benefit well into the future. Sometimes, these don’t appear to be the most exciting innovations, and are often behind the scenes work. However, they are essential to future-proofing a strong product experience for everyone.
In our deeply connected world every interaction produces data and data-driven innovation will only accelerate in the years to come, and that’s why we are acutely focusing our product efforts in this area. Through our global platform, we can create deep connections with millions of small businesses and their advisors. We can leverage the collective power of these connections to open up opportunities to small businesses, which have in the past only been available to large businesses. By putting this data to work we can deliver tangible benefits to small businesses. We’re building secure, fast and accurate data solutions so things like capturing bills and receipts will become a thing of the past.
Providing deeper insights
We are focusing our product innovation on providing fast and accurate data, streamlined workflows and deeper insights to help our customers not only understand their current data but move into a new era where we can predict what will happen in the future. Xero’s first innovation curve was providing real-time data. Now, I truly believe we are moving into a new innovation curve where we are beginning to look into the future. Our recent acquisition of Hubdoc allows us to add data capture capability to Xero, removing manual tasks and creating more accurate data for deeper insights. Another example of our focus on insights is the cash-flow forecasting pilot we launched, which will predict cash-flow 30-days in advance.
We want to help small businesses make better business decisions with these stronger insights, and for their advisors to focus their efforts on making sense of a small business’ financial data – not collecting it.
Conversations with you
We are committed to delivering a positive customer experience every step of the way; meaning we’re putting our customers at the heart of what we do every day.
One of the key initiatives that we run are co-design workshops with our customers. These workshops are designed to partner with you to include our customer’s perspectives in idea generation and product developments.
We also have partner advisory councils (XPAC) in regions throughout the world. They provide critical insights and feedback to Xero on behalf of the partner community and small businesses they serve that influences our product development.
Xero believes that our customers are the experts of their own experiences, therefore, it’s essential we bring you in early to help us create a beautiful product for you.
Community feature requests
We love how active our community is and that our customers value Xero to be an important part of running their business.
We get thousands of requests and changes to fit the needs of many different business types, sizes and industries who use Xero. Community feedback is important to the Xero team, and those requests are read carefully by our product teams and do play an important role in our strategies.
For example, a portion of our Payroll team solely focus on addressing some of the top customer feedback items across all of our regions, in addition to those building major features. Recently thanks to customer input, our Australian, New Zealand and UK Payroll teams have made improvements to the way our product handles errors in the filing workflow. It is now simpler to input the right data — giving you greater context when things go awry and so that the resolution is closer than ever before.
However, requests can’t be the only factor considered. We have the important task of not only looking at the immediate but anticipating what hasn’t yet been asked for that will be crucial to innovate in the future. Though we can’t promise that a countdown to development begins when a request is added – we can promise your requests are heard and we want to continue to partner with you to co-create new innovative features.
Legislation changes regularly — especially when we now have regionalised products for many countries around the world. Governments are implementing a vast range of changes to digital regulation. From e-invoicing in Singapore, Single Touch Payroll in Australia, Payday Filing in New Zealand, Making Tax Digital in the United Kingdom, and open banking trends globally. The small business landscape is transforming rapidly. As governments introduce new digital compliance requirements, we often don’t have control over delivery deadlines. Therefore we must prioritise and redeploy resources to meet the legislative changes to ensure your business is compliant.
We know that these changes are accelerating the digitisation of small businesses around the world helping them to be more efficient and successful , and we want to work hand-in-hand with governments to make these experiences seamless for our customers.
What can we realistically do
Xero is a big company (and growing fast). Scaling our business at a rapid pace requires us to continuously re-imagine solutions to our customers’ problems and challenge the status quo. We are actively trying to recruit more product and technology talent so we can build more quickly. However, with a talent shortage in the tech industry and the scale at which we are growing, we often must work at the pace our current teams can maintain with the hours we have in the day.
We need to take all of the above into consideration, think about how much work is required, and what can be achieved.
We wake up every morning incredibly grateful for our customers and partners, and don’t take anything for granted. I hope this helps paint a clearer picture of the product prioritisation process that takes place here at Xero. We love hearing your feedback and look forward to working together with you to help small business do beautiful business. Keep an eye on our Xero Blog for all future product updates.
So, when will we be able to add attachments to Purchase Orders sent to our Suppliers? An ongoing question…
Thank you for your update and amazing service you are providing.
Thanks for the fluff piece.
So … when will you actually be rolling out the ability to have multiple contacts under the one organisation (i.e, as would happen with departments)? That request was submitted and acknowledged around 5 years ago!?
Are you still claiming a “shortage” of talent in the tech industry?
Thanks for reaching out on this. I am aware that we have a number of feature requests in Contacts and I can confirm we have a team evaluating these. I want to thank you for your patience and provide you an update on its development. Contacts require underlying work the team has started. That must be completed before being able to start work on multiple contacts under the one organisation. The first thing the team will be looking at is supporting different delivery addresses on invoices, and multiple addresses within a contact record. This is related to, and solves part of the problem related to multiple contacts under one organisation – but we recognise there is more to it. As you can imagine, during the current climate, my product team are first and foremost prioritising updates that directly help our customers and partners during COVID-19. That has meant pivoting and changing some work the teams have underway. With that in mind, sometimes delivery deadlines do change and may continue to move. Regardless, though we want you to know we understand why this feature is important and have a team exploring how to create it. Thanks, Anna
Agree with Marcus. A fluff text that does not answer the question about how – from a user experience perspective – Xero has hardly improved in five years. Would be great with a post about what user experiences improvements have been launched last 12 months or so.
Hi Fredrik – thanks so much for your comment. We’re always improving Xero and release a number of new features every month – you can see a breakdown of those here and more details in our monthly latest product news blogs here.
All I read in this blog is non specific marketing statements.
If all that is said is true, then essentially reporting around PO’s meets all of the criteria around which development projects are assessed,
Providing Greater Insight – The request for PO reports to understand the business and future liabilities is way up there, we are only asking for reports on what is in the system so that it can used to understand and manage the business, predict cashflow etc.
Don’t focus on growth and scalability when this is a current need for all businesses who raise PO’s.
Lets get this done !
Hi Peter, thanks for your comment and taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I have passed your feedback on to my Product team.
Ridiculous that someone who has a “Invoice & Purchases” User Profile has no access to the “Product & Services” menu. It makes this profile absolutely pointless and if you want the employee to have access to the “Products & Services” menu (which is part of their job!) you have to give them full access to view your company’s financials… because that makes sense right?
There’s “common sense” and then there’s Xero’s “common sense” which isn’t so common apparently. Frustrated with this platform and the Customer Service offered when it comes to obvious feature requests. You get a generic copy+pasted “we will add it to the feature log to be voted up/down”.
We appreciate all the feedback you’ve provided on user roles and want you to know that it’s not gone unheard. User roles are a foundational part of Xero and underpin all of our products.
We’ve recently shared a blog about how we are making changes to Xero and upgrading our technology. We’ve really ramped up our investment in this because changes like user permissions are reliant on us removing some of the technical barriers that slow us down. It will take some time to complete the upgrades of technology across all areas of Xero. Due to those limitations, it’s too early for us to create a roadmap and begin work on user permissions. Additionally, as I’m sure you can appreciate there are sensitivities of data access and security. Creating upgrades to user permissions will need very careful consideration. Every request is read carefully by our product teams and plays an important role in our strategies. I have passed your feedback on to our product team.
When making a payment to my supplier for multiple invoices, the reference (I use the company name) does not show up on the account transaction line, it just states “Batch Payment”.
This is a BUG. Yet Xero is ignoring this. The reason why you’re not getting many complaints is because people are fed up of not having bugs sorted or silly ‘features’ such as changing the way the software looks so that it reduces usability – why? I am sure you employ good staff capable of understanding UX, yet simple things like this are going by the wayside.
What am I doing wrong? I need the reference to show up on this account transactions page so that when I do my end of month checks on who was paid, I don’t have to keep a separate excel spreadsheet to record payments. It is also too convoluted to go to bills and sort by payment, because its difficult to figure out which invoices were paid as a ‘batch’.
No one makes a multiple payment to multiple recipients from the bank – it’s not possible – so why can’t we at least record the company name that we are paying?
Basically – how can I ensure the reference I put on the batch payment screen shows up on the account transactions screen under bank reconciliation?
Hi Yazz, thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear that you’re having some trouble here. Can you please raise a ticket with our support team so that we can take a closer look at what may be happening here and give you a hand? Thanks so much.
Interesting piece. I’m curious as to why Xero is currently making a backward step, i.e. restricting an existing report feature – P&L with columns for each tracking option in a tracking category – to only up to 100 options in the new version of the report. This is a conscious decision to make an existing feature worse – a feature which I (and others looking at comments elsewhere) rely on for monthly reports – and to put resource and effort into this new restriction. Could you please remove this new, unnecessary, and problematic restriction ? I too have limited resources – as a team of one in a small charity – and will have to put time and effort into working around this restriction, or finding another solution, before May – it would presumably be the work of a moment for you to remove this new barrier.
This is all totally lame.
The simple bleedingly obvious feature that expenses billed to clients need the attached invoice is still after so many years of the “new” and clunky unsearchable expenses …
Really we are being taken for a ride while you are milking us for profit.