Case study

Emmerman, Boyle and Associates

How a practice management solution made a large firm more efficient.

Emmerman, Boyle and Associates offer their clients everything from consulting work and bookkeeping, payroll and tax, to virtual CFOs.

David Emmerman is a self-proclaimed workaholic who loves working as an accountant "because it doesn't feel like work". He and his childhood friend, Kevin Boyle, bought the accounting practice from David's father in 2004 and have been driving the company towards technologically-focused solutions ever since.

So, when it came to finding a practice management solution they needed something that would keep up with their larger, online-based firm.

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What is Xero Practice Manager?

Xero Practice Manager works seamlessly with Xero accounting software to help accountants and bookkeepers manage their clients more efficiently. 

With features like real-time job tracking and report building you can spend less time on admin and more time running your business. 

Find out how Xero Practice Manager can work for your business

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We're doing the same work that we were always doing, but we're doing it better and we're doing it faster.

– David Emmerman


The problem

Duplication and isolation causing inefficiencies

The Emmerman Boyle firm was experiencing difficulties across their multiple offices. Firm principals David Emmerman and Kevin Boyle thought the problems were arising because of difficulties with their practice management software.

However, with a lack of reporting data it was difficult for them to tell for sure where the problem lay, and everything from people management to pricing suffered.

“The reporting data was not very powerful,” says David. “I didn't have the metrics that I really wanted to build out.

"When you can't trust the data it becomes very difficult to make sure that you're pricing appropriately.”

The solution

Xero Practice Manager ticked all the right boxes.

David and Kevin needed a resilient practice management solution that would scale with the business and give them the power to run the firm the way they wanted. Xero Practice Manager (XPM) was the answer.

They started by capturing the current state of their firm, documenting every process that took place across each of their six offices.

This helped them identify roadblocks and understand how they could serve clients better. Once these processes were defined, they began implementing them in XPM.

Ensuring staff were on board was essential. By introducing a support structure and coaching, they were able to get it right first time.

The result

XPM made this large accounting firm more efficient

The result

A 30% to 40% overall efficiency gain for the firm

With the whole team on board, and being able to track their time, Emmerman Boyle finally had visibility over what they’d been missing.

More profitable compliance work

XPM has made tax return and compliance work far more efficient, which has resulted in a huge improvement in profitability. With a robust platofrm and solid processes, the firm has been able to reduce labour input costs by an average of 30% to 50%.

“We're doing the same work that we were always doing, but we're doing it better and faster,” says David.

Emmerman Boyle can now clearly identify the amount of time spent per client, and see when the time spent is higher than expected. When this is the case, having high-quality data means the staff can have a productive conversation with the client about what the firm's worth.

Seeing the real cost per client has given Emmerman Boyle the ability to benchmark new clients againist other clients in similar industries, and price accordingly – avoiding a surprise bill scenario.

“We can say to a new client: 'based on our experience with other clients in our similar industries, this is what the number should be,” says David.

Better oversight

XPM’s report builder gave David and Kevin insight into the overall performance of the firm, as well as the flexibility to dig deeper into the data when required. These insights helped them share what mattered most with the team to build engagement, and fix any process gaps that had been revealed.

“The key to success with XPM was being able to create specific reports that I could filter in the way I wanted to,” says David. “I was able to customise them to what I wanted and I could deliver those out to team members, so that they could see some of their own data.” 

graph: Average revenue growth over the last year

Average revenue growth over the last year. See US Benchmarking Report

Expanded service offerings

Since implementing Xero and XPM, the firm’s monthly engagement has quadrupled in value, while profitability on cloud clients has soared.

“We're building a much more value-added service offering," says David. "And we're leveraging the technology to drop our costs in order to be able to deliver a higher-end product.” 

Happier people

XPM has also given David and Kevin the ability to identify where team members are falling short and where they excel. Teams can then be structured according to their strengths: compliance-oriented team members can spend more time doing tax work, whereas those who enjoy face-to-face contact with clients can do more advisory work.

Greater visibility of employee performance across the practice enables the leadership to effectively manage internal teams and put in place proactive coaching for employees who may be falling behind.

“It’s not always about having to release team members,” says David. “It’s about coaching and putting them in a spot to be successful.”

The conclusion

A chance to review your practice

David says that changing practice software is also a chance to review your practice management. A lot of firm principals spend their time putting out fires – implementing Xero Practice Manager is an opportunity to treat yourselves like a client.

“It’s a great opportunity to really step outside of the business and look at it,” says David. “The first thing I would do for anyone implementing XPM is challenge them to truly know what their metrics and numbers are. How are they finding out that information? And how difficult is it for them to find that out?

"Most accountants are probably looking at the balance in the checkbook and saying, ‘Ok, we’ve done well this year’, which is exactly what we tell our clients not to do.

"XPM is an opportunity to develop good KPIs to drive the business on. To take some of our own medicine and put it into practice."

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What is Xero Practice Manager?

Xero Practice Manager helps accountants and bookkeepers manage their business.

Working seamlessly with Xero accounting software, Xero Practice Manager helps you manage your clients more efficiently. With real-time job tracking, accurate time recording, and report building, you can reduce admin and spend more time running your business.

Learn more about XPM
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