In our One Step research, we found that small business owners who adopt new technologies enjoy on average 106% higher productivity than those who fall behind the tech adoption curve. It’s something that Andy Housley of Square 1 Accounting in the UK can personally attest to.
Here, Andy shares why he’s passionate about staying up to date with the latest tools and gadgets, and how he makes the most of document packs in his practice — a secure solution within Xero HQ that helps you easily collate, send and e-sign documents.
Staying ahead of the tech curve
Andy has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to trying new tools. “I love gadgets, if I’m honest,” he says. “My partner groans whenever another one appears in the house.” After a 20-year stint in IT, Andy moved into accounting, but is still obsessed with discovering new ways of working.
“It’s sort of geeky but it excites me,” he says. “I really enjoy playing with new tools. And when I see something that is faster and more efficient, I’m always thinking about how I can get on board and use it. Technology is here to stay, after all. It’s not going away. We may as well embrace it.”
“I also think it makes things easier for me personally,” Andy says. “Whenever something new pops up in Xero, I’m always intrigued. I always think: what’s this about? How is this going to make me more efficient? How is this going to help my clients? How can I adopt it?”
Andy is conscious that not everyone is as enthusiastic about new tools as he is. “Sometimes clients can be a little unsure when I’ve suggested trying something new. But once they get used to using it, they tend to get on board pretty quickly. Plus, I’m always here to give them a hand if they need it.”
Working securely in the cloud
Once Andy got early access to document packs via the Insiders’ programme, he realised the benefits went beyond staying up to date with the latest technology. “I said to clients, we now have a secure portal where I can share all of our documentation. And you won’t lose it, it’s all in the one place.”
“I’m trying to get everything off my computer and into the cloud,” Andy says. “More for security than anything. I’m mostly working in either Xero or Google, so it means everything is backed up and secure, and I can work from wherever I need to.”
“I really push the importance of security with my clients. Once I explain that the security of my cloud tools far exceeds what I’ve got in my office space, they get it. After all, it means their business is more secure too. Making multi-factor authentication mandatory was such a brilliant move for Xero.”
Making the most of e-signing in Xero
Andy now uses document packs whenever he needs to share a document. “The first thing I ask myself is, can I use Xero to get this signed? For example, I never used to get a signature on VAT returns. But once MTD came in, I thought it was a good idea to get a signature to confirm the client has seen it.”
“I also use it for tax returns and annual accounts. I even get my letter of engagement signed through document packs. It’s such an easy way to get documents out to customers quickly, get it signed and get it returned to me so I can keep moving on with what I’m doing. It’s fantastic.”
“One of the biggest problems I used to face when using the Xero Tax e-signature tool in company accounts and tax, was that clients could only draw their signature with the mouse. Without a smart pen or touch screen, some of the signatures were questionable to say the least!”
“But now the Xero portal integrated with document packs lets clients type, draw with the mouse, upload their signature or use their mobile phone to sign documents — it’s really easy to manage.”
Spending time on things that matter
With his practice now more efficient than ever, Andy plans to spend more time on the things he enjoys. “Since I’ve been using Xero Tax and document packs, I’m actually finding that I’ve got more time,” Andy says.
“I either spend that time doing the sorts of things I like to do, or I concentrate more on a specific client that I know needs more attention. I can really take the time to delve into the details. I’m just more relaxed because the process is so efficient.”
“It’s great for me because come Christmas time, over 95% of my clients are sorted with their Self Assessment Tax Returns and I’m free to deal with the final few without unnecessary panic in January,” he says.
“I’ve even been known to relax in warmer climes during January, knowing everything is sorted. That’s stress-free working at its best.”
Accessing document packs for free
Document packs is now available for all Xero partners in the UK. It integrates with personal and company tax, and is free to use until 14 February 2023, so you can try it out at no cost.
After that, there are a range of bundles you can purchase, depending on how many documents you need to get signed. The bundles will range from 100 to 2,500 transactions and they’ll be valid for 12 months — so you can choose a bundle to suit your needs.