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Xero for iPad

Today marks an unusually large release for us. It’s been a stretch, but we hope you’ll agree that this is definitely going to change the Xero landscape:

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That’s right, we’ve released a version of Xero for iOS that provides custom layouts for iPad! The left-hand pane shows overview information and lists (as on a phone), and the right-hand pane shows detail. Each tab remembers the last-selected item. Best of all, it now supports changing orientation! See it in action here:

We’ve been keeping an eye on the proportion of iPad users, and it’s been increasing steadily. The total proportion of active iPad users for us now stands at 29 percent of iOS and 12 percent of mobile use. That’s significant enough that we thought it was time to spend a while properly supporting the iPad. It’s interesting that 13 pecent of iOS customers use both an iPhone and an iPad with Xero. We’ll be watching the numbers pretty closely after the release to see if there’s any change.

Artboard 3

 

The other changes with this release are a few fixes for the difficulty some users have been having using Touch ID to log in. It’s been hard to track down since it struck at random, but we think we’ve nailed it. We’ve also made sure that if you choose not to use Touch ID and prefer a pin, the app remembers your choice and will never ask you again.

Once you’ve finished all your reconciling in the new UI, you might like to have a coffee and read some of our Small Business Guides on iBooks. We’ve just started publishing them through iTunes and these are the first of many!

We welcome your feedback on what we’ve done with the app, good or bad. If you’ve got a minute or two, please consider rating our app in iTunes to let us know what you think! We read all your reviews and, along with feature requests in Xero Community, they help us decide what we should be focusing on next.

 

 

It’s ‘lights, camera, Xero’ for Eponine Films

There isn’t much money Love in Now (Eponine Films)floating around the Australian film industry. So when Eponine Films’ Behren Schulz and Jim Lounsbury raised $2 million for their feature film, Love is Now, they knew they would have to make every cent count.

With 250 staff on payroll and more than 100 transactions every day on average, that didn’t leave much leeway. What’s more is they had to get it done in 23 weeks — a fraction of the time normally associated with feature film production.

“Think of it as multi-million dollar business that starts from zero; with zero staff. In 23 weeks, it has to be set up, staffed, payrolled, money spent, then shut down and wound up,” says Schulz, the producer of Love is Now. “To do that without a dedicated production account (financial controller) is daunting, if not a little scary for many producers.  For us, it wasn’t a problem.”

Doing it their own way

Most films hire an experienced production accountant; people who know how films work. They use specialised systems to keep track of the thousands, or millions of dollars spent each day on sets, costumes, equipment and staff. Continue reading ›

 

Introducing UK Payroll in Xero

At Xerocon London we announced UK Payroll in Xero. Today, we’re pleased to report that you can now set up your payroll ready for processing in the new financial year.

Getting Started with UK Payroll in Xero from Xero.

We’ve built beautiful online accounting and payroll software for small businesses. It’s easy to implement and use from anywhere. Payroll information flows seamlessly into your general ledger, with journals created automatically.

We’ve produced online training in Xero U to help you get started. One series for our Accountant and Bookkeeper partners and one for our business customers.

Powerful UK payroll software

Changing your payroll software isn’t a decision made lightly, but combining two primary business systems saves both time and money. Xero is the platform of choice for small business.

Starting today, you can get ready for 6 April by setting up payroll to suit the needs of your business, including adding employees. We’re enabling payroll processing from 6 April, in time for the 2015/2016 financial year.

UK Payroll in Xero includes support for the following:

Employer Settings

  • Claim £2,000 Employment Allowance
  • Tracking by Employee Groups for cost analysis
  • Standard Public Holidays provided, grouped by country
  • Add custom business holidays and holiday groups as required
  • Record Tax Office details for reporting to HMRC
  • Record bank and pension fund details

Employee Management

  • Personal details including employee photo
  • Employment details including salary or hourly rate and hours per week
  • Monthly, weekly, fortnightly, quarterly, annual & 4-weekly pay
  • Leave balances for annual leave and custom time off types
  • Notes to record comments against each employee
  • P45 Leaver Forms
  • New employee starter declaration

Pay Elements

  • Hourly and salaried pay rates
  • Unlimited custom earning rate types, based on either: base pay rate, rate per unit, or fixed amount
  • Unlimited custom leave types in addition to the statutory leave types
  • Unlimited custom benefit, deduction, and reimbursement rate types
  • Student Loan repayments
  • Record attachments of earnings orders

Tax & NIC

  • Built-in Tax and NIC rates
  • Tax and NIC rate updates automatically each year
  • Week 1 / Month 1 pay basis
  • Directors special NIC calculations

Payments

  • Electronic payment of employee wages via BACS file
  • P32 Tax & NIC amounts to be paid to HMRC

Continue reading ›

 

Introducing New Zealand Payroll in Xero

Last week we announced the imminent arrival of New Zealand Payroll in Xero. Today we’re pleased to announce it’s been released so you can get ready for processing payroll from the 1st April. Now is the time to make the change in time for the new financial year.

Getting Started with New Zealand Payroll in Xero from Xero.

We’ve built beautiful, online New Zealand payroll for small businesses that’s easy to implement and easy to use from anywhere. Information from payroll flows seamlessly to the general ledger with journals automatically created.

New Zealand Payroll

We know that changing payroll systems is not easy. Having your two primary business systems combined into one experience saves time and money and improves accuracy.

From today you can get ready for 1st April by setting up payroll to suit the needs of your business including adding employees. We’ll be enabling the ability to process payroll from 1st April.

New Zealand Payroll includes:

Employer Settings

  • Support for small & large employers for Inland Revenue reporting & filing obligations
  • Tracking by Employee Groups for cost analysis
  • Weekly, fortnightly, half-monthly, four-weekly, and monthly Pay Calendars
  • Standard Public Holidays provided, grouped by region
  • Add custom holidays as required by each business

Manage Employees

  • Recording personal details including employee photo
  • Managing employment details including salary/hourly rate, standard days per week & hours per day
  • Enter IRD Number, Tax Code, ESCT Rate, (Tax Rate, Special Student Loan Rate)
  • Manage KiwiSaver including eligible employees, Employee & Employer Contribution Rates, Opting Out and Contributions Holidays
  • Employee’s joining KiwiSaver or Opting Out advised via monthly filing to Inland Revenue
  • Salary Sacrifice for KiwiSaver
  • Leave balances for Annual leave, Holiday Pay, Sick Leave, Alternative Holidays and custom leave types
  • Enter employee notes to record comments against each employee
  • Enter employees past 12 months gross earnings easily
  • New employees advised to Inland Revenue via monthly filing
  • Create a pay template for each of your employees to make your pay runs quick and easy

Employee App

  • Available online at launch and coming soon to iOS and Android
  • Employees can access pay history, download payslips and view personal details
  • Request leave and manage current leave requests
  • Optional ‘Manager’ role can be given to employees to approve leave requests without accessing the business or payroll financials

Pay Elements

  • Record current future hourly and annual salary pay rates
  • Unlimited custom earning rate types, based on the either: base pay rate, rate per unit, or fixed amount
  • Unlimited custom leave types in addition to the statutory leave types
  • Manage statutory leave types including Holiday Pay (8%) and unpaid parental leave types
  • Unlimited custom deduction rate types including Payroll Giving deductions
  • Unlimited custom reimbursement rate types
  • Student Loan Repayments, including Additional & Voluntary Student loan repayments
  • Support for Statutory Deductions for Child Support, Court Fines, MSD Repayments and Inland Revenue Arrears
  • KiwiSaver deductions and contributions
  • Unlimited custom superannuation rate types in addition to KiwiSaver (for complying and Other funds)

Continue reading ›

 

Six tips to strengthen client relationships (part 2/2)

Last Tuesday I shared some tips for improving client relationships. Today I’ve got the final three for you. This advice is great for any accountant, bookkeeper or business owner who wants to nurture client relationships.

4. Developing social intelligence

Humans unconsciously imitate the emotions of others. Moods often transfer between individuals – from the aggressive to the passive party. Actors use this principle of mimicking emotion onstage. It helps them get an emotional reaction from the audience.

Socially intelligent people can control the signals we send that mark our moods. Accountants who have mastered social intelligence can send signals to alter their client’s moods. An appropriate use of mirroring and displays of empathy (discussed in the next section) will often do the trick. These techniques will help bring about coordination of moods, which is the essence of rapport. Increased rapport, motivation and encouragement all assist in strengthening client relationships.

Emotional rapport in a meeting is mirrored by how close the physical movements follow as the participants talk. Nodding while another person talks and leaning toward them as they make a point indicates engagement. Studies of school classrooms show a strong connection between this synchronicity of movement and levels of engagement by the students.

5. Three ways to display empathy

Empathy is identifying and understanding the feelings of others. It is one of the principal conduits for managing emotions in others. This skill helps people to provide social support and make positive interpersonal relationships.

Active listening is one of the key ways of displaying empathy. Be present, not thinking about anything else. Look the other person in the eye. Show that you understand the content of the discussion by repeating it back in your own words. Acknowledge your emotion and share that.

Another key way to show empathy is to share something of yourself. Building empathy goes both ways.

Try to understand the viewpoints of other people without making any assumptions about them. Do not judge or make hasty classifications. This way you will gain a deeper understanding of the person. Remember that your impression of the other may not be the true person. They might just be having a bad day, received bad news, or just be having an off day.

6. Systemised learning and development

Recent studies show that emotional intelligence (EQ) is dropping among younger people. At the same time, IQs are generally rising. This trend will have long term implications for industries that have high EQ requirements. Accounting is one of these. Decreasing levels of EQ across the industry could lead to widespread dissatisfaction. This will create an environment ripe for disruption.

Accountants and their firms can combat the trend of declining EQ with education programs. These programs can help staff learn how to display warmth and build empathy. This education should cover all firm members, from associate level through to director. Remember, changes in the emotional intelligence of an individual tend to happen slowly. People need time to practice the new skills and habits that they develop. To accommodate this, the education process should start early.

Education programs should:

  • identify the particular skills needed
  • develop education content
  • deliver content
  • evaluate outcomes.

The skill levels of participants should be measured first so that the education can target the area of greatest need. Review skill levels immediately after the delivery of the education program. This will ensure that the education is meeting the desired requirements. Develop exercises to allow individuals to practice their skills. This will help you meet the standard you’re aiming for.

Strong client relationships benefit everyone

It’s wise to recognise the significant gains to make from deepening client relationships.

  • The average lifetime of a client extends and the value that the client contributes increases.
  • Employees benefit from higher EQ as they have more fulfilling business and personal relationships.
  • Clients gain a more open exchange of ideas and opinions, which gives greater depth to the advice they receive.

Specific skills, techniques and behaviours can enhance the characteristics of warmth (lovability). Many accountants seem to have these as natural talents, but all accountants can learn them. The challenge is to develop ways of training individuals. It may be profitable to be more loved than feared, but it may be more difficult to achieve.

 

 

New release: Cheques in Canada and Quotes improvements

Today’s release delivers a collection of improvements to Xero. For the first time we’re delivering a feature for a country other than the US, UK, Australia or New Zealand: support for Cheques in Canada.

Here’s a quick update on what’s new in Xero this release.

Support for Cheques in Canada

We’ve provided support for US Checks for a long time, but with this release we move north. We’re delighted that small businesses in Canada can now account for cheque payments in Xero.

Cheques can be made on any outgoings from a business – everything from paying bills to refunding credit notes. After recording the payment you can style and print the cheque – even use your own chequebook or cheque printing software.

Improvements to Quotes

Following our release of Quotes, we’ve made a few more updates to improve how quotes are embedded in Xero. These include:

  • Quickly create a quote or purchase order from within a contact’s record. A small but useful improvement, making it more efficient to keep your business moving. You can now quickly create a quote or purchase order while you’re in a contact’s record. Look up a contact, click ‘New’, and you can now create a new quote or PO just as you can for other items.
  • Set a default expiry date for your quotes. If you usually send out quotes with the same expiry period, you can now set up a default quote expiry date which will automatically populate when you create a quote. You can override this if you need to when you create a quote.

Continue reading ›

 

Panel discussion: mobilising the small business economy

During Xerocon London 2015, we pulled together a panel of business and technology experts to talk about the importance of tech. Specifically, how it will mobilise the small business economy in the UK. 

Our panel included:

  • Founder and CEO of Mumsnet and Gransnet, Justine Roberts
  • Xero small business customers and co-founders of the Cereal Killer Cafe, Gary and Alan Keery
  • Xerocon guest speaker and Editor of Wired David Rowan
  • Our own UK managing director Gary Turner.

Our experts discussed some important business advice and a call to government to provide a more accessible broadband service to small business. They also talked about how SMEs must run with the rapid progression of new technology and the need to keep pace with consumer behaviour change and evolving business models.

In a world moving fast towards ubiquitous connectivity, every business will become digital. Small teams of highly motivated entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to evolve and adapt with new technology and position themselves ahead of large, slow-moving incumbent businesses.

 

Reflections on Xerocon, desktop data amnesty

Apparently the true measure of any conference that claims to be worth its salt these days can be quickly discerned by weighing both the quantity and colour of the social media chatter the following day. Indeed, judging from the large number of “Post Xerocon Blues” tweets that peppered my timeline twenty-four hours after Xerocon London 2015 had closed its doors, our UK conference seemed to have very much hit the spot for a good many of our 800 attendees this year.

In barely more than two years, Xerocon London has grown to become what I believe is now the UK’s largest gathering of its kind, eclipsing the mainstream accounting industry bodies’ annual conference circuits, nevermind those of the accounting software industry.

Alongside some great guest speakers, forty-odd exhibitors and sneak previews of coming product updates to Xero, the bigger news items that featured this Xerocon were the UK launch of our new Payroll in Xero, the accelerating pace with which the UK banking community is now attaching itself to our platform with news of our new technical partnership with Metrobank, our desire to support our UK Partner community in telling the cloud story and the growing incidence of Sage and Quickbooks customers choosing to migrate to the cloud with Xero.

Continue reading ›

 

The American Dream is alive in small businesses

After completing a survey of small business entrepreneurs in the US, it seems the American Dream is alive and well. Almost three-quarters of US small business owners are optimistic about growth in 2015. What’s more, two-thirds of entrepreneurs are prioritizing customer growth and one third plan to invest in technology. This indicates that 2015 will be a year of continued economic recovery.

What do US small businesses value?

While hacking scandals and ethics controversies rock big businesses, small business owners are prioritizing honesty and respect as guiding business values. It’s no surprise then, that close to 20 percent of respondents aspire to be more like Ben & Jerry’s than tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft or Google. Only 1.6 percent named Uber as their role model – the least aspirational of all companies named.

Millennial’ small business owners quicker to adopt new trends

Leading the charge toward the optimistic and ethically conscious small business are the tech-savvy millennials. An overwhelming 90 percent of are optimistic about growth in the coming year, compared to 74 percent of total respondents.

Millennials also feel more comfortable with the cloud. Over half report at least 25 percent of their business runs in the cloud – compared to just 23.5 percent of all respondents. And the majority of millennials (80 percent) use Facebook for their business, with only 40.4 percent of total respondents claiming to lean on the social media giant.

When looking at all this data it’s quite clear where businesses see themselves in the very near future. Social media and the cloud are becoming the norm with younger business owners, and doing business fairly wins out over growth at the expense of ethics. Continue reading ›

 

Why my small business switched to Xero

Today’s guest author is small business and finance expert, and co-host of Sunrise, David Koch.

David Koch on online accounting for small businessI’m not a huge fan of the Super Bowl, but I love seeing the ads. They’re always the highlight of the whole event for a lot of people. This year there was a great ad by BMW that showed a clip of two TODAY show hosts from 1994 who were reading an email address out loud. It was obviously the first time they’d done so. They didn’t know how to pronounce an ‘@’. This led to the perplexed duo questioning “what is internet anyway?”

Today’s rapid outpouring of technology and innovation often leaves business owners wondering “what is this?” and “do I really need it?” In a lot of cases, perhaps not. Small businesses have enough on their plate without trying to educate themselves on every single new ‘life-changing’ product or service. But when it comes to online accounting, it truly is a revelation. And in the world of online accounting, Xero is at the leading edge.

Making the switch to online accounting

I’ve been a small business owner for over 25 years now and have employed teams from five people right up to 70. Bookkeeping used to mean shelves and shelves of folders and actual books. There were days on end spent reconciling accounts, and using a ruler to scroll down pages of transactions (yes, I’m old). At the time, it was just something we had to do. But now, with the beauty of hindsight, it was a nightmare.

After a lot of research into the market, my family business, Pinstripe Media, made the switch to Xero last year. This was because we’d heard so much hype from other business owners, and our accountants, about how easy and how enjoyable it was. I was sceptical at first. How on earth could anyone make small business accounting and bookkeeping enjoyable? Fortunately, I was convinced to give it a go.

Never looked back

Nine months later, and I can tell you without any embarrassment that I love logging on and checking the accounts. I’m a control freak, and Xero’s platform really is impressive. Everything is simple, intuitive, and easy to navigate. In just a few clicks, I can see how much money is owed to us compared to what we owe. I can get a P&L for any specified time period – and even just for individual jobs – to compare against other jobs. I can see  bank and credit card balances, and reconcile it all straight away. Our bank feeds come straight into the dashboard. I love the dashboard.

The best part about it is that I can do it all while sitting on the balcony at home. Because these days I’m trying to spend as little time in the office as possible. (That’s why you have kids, to take over the family business isn’t it?). With the footy season coming up and, a lot of trips to Adelaide and Melbourne, I can keep checking up on things from the road whenever I like. And that’s the real beauty of Xero – it gives me not just peace of mind, but the freedom to have peace of mind from anywhere at any time.

So if you’re still wondering what all the fuss is about, then give it a go and see for yourself how much it changes your life as a business owner. Because in a few years it won’t be “what is internet” jokes playing on Super Bowl ads, it’ll be “what is online accounting?” And when that day comes, you can sit back and be proud that you knew all about it. And you may even have your Xero dashboard open next to you.

As a side note, in case the sceptics are wondering, I did pay for my Xero accounting package. We made our decision to switch without contacting them.

David Koch is the owner of Pinstripe Media. He also hosts Kochie’s Business Builders, co-hosts Sunrise, and chairs the Port Adelaide Football Club. Connect with him on Twitter @kochie_online.