"Google Docs is a great way for us to easily collaborate with clients and instantly saves us hours of back and forth."
Michael Doan CPA, Basis 365 Accounting
How did you get started in the accounting business? What do you like about it?
Straight out of college, I joined a traditional CPA firm and worked my way up to become the audit manager. Eventually, I became a partner at a local firm here in Orange County. I have always chosen the financial statement-auditing route. I enjoy it mainly because I get to peek behind the curtain of a lot of different companies. I get to go out to client sites and learn all the intricacies involved with running different businesses. I find it to be fascinating.
How did you find Xero and what convinced you that it was the right solution for your firm?
One reason why I left my old firm was because I didn’t feel like — as an auditor — we were helping our clients. We were more of a necessary evil. When I started my own firm, I was looking to collaborate with clients and show them a better way to do accounting. I wanted to show that we’re on their side. We’re not just picking at their numbers or doing compliance work.
Xero really lends itself to that collaboration aspect compared to the alternatives we saw out there. When we started our firm, we looked at a lot of different packages. It just seemed that Xero was the best choice for the way we wanted to work with our clients.
As you know, Xero now integrates with Google Docs. Can you tell us about how you work with your clients through the Google Docs export feature?
Google Docs is a great way for us to export reports that allows us to easily collaborate with clients and instantly saving us hours of back and forth. I have a particular client — named Luke — who runs a non-profit called STOP SAM that provides peanut butter packets to kids with severe malnutrition. He is going to do a cross-country bike ride this summer where he’ll be making stops to speak and raise money. We created a budget for him in Xero so he can track all his expenses on the trip. As his ride is taking place, we’ll be reforecasting his budget and publishing reports to Google Docs so he can better manage his spending.
Since the primary purpose of Luke’s cycling trip is to raise awareness and cash contributions, he’ll need to absolutely know how he's doing at collecting donations. Fortunately, he’ll be able to login to Xero and see exactly how he is doing. Since we reconcile on a daily basis for our clients, he'll get an accurate, up-to-the minute understanding of his financial position from the road, whenever he accesses his Xero account.
That’s a great story. How did you collaborate with clients on budget creation before you discovered the Xero and Google Docs integration?
In the past, we would have created something in Excel, emailed it to the client and they would make edits and send it back. This requires a lot of back and forth and the different file versions can complicate things. Or they would have the spreadsheet open on their end and we would have it open on our end and we would talk about it over the phone. I would be making edits to the actual Excel document on my end but they wouldn’t be able to see the changes. There is a lot that gets lost in translation working this way. The client is trusting us to make all the changes that we agreed upon but the reality is that things don’t always get captured correctly.
I think collaborating with Luke while he's traveling before the Xero and Google Docs integration would have been possible, but challenging. Emailing Excel files back and forth with updated budgets and forecasts is not ideal. There's the potential of version control issues as well as the logistics involved with downloading a large file on a mobile device.
How has cloud technology impacted your business?
Cloud technology enables us to reach customers we couldn't otherwise reach through traditional boots-on-the-ground bookkeeping and accounting. In fact, we are working on a proposal for a potential customer from Maryland. We have some customers that we've never met face to face but we help every day with their books.
From a cost standpoint, using Xero means that we don't have to worry about purchasing software licenses for each computer, and installing and maintaining updates. This keeps IT costs down and rollout of new technology simple. By using Google Docs, we save about 88% on office suite software. We also save about $3,600 annually on outsourced IT costs since we don’t need to hire a professional to install and maintain desktop software. Overall, the benefit of having everyone on our team and the customer's team on the same platform without any IT effort is immeasurable.