At first glance, the accounting software industry may not be on your dream job radar. But just as Xero is transforming this industry with beautiful accounting software in the cloud, we are also creating a beautiful place to work behind the scenes to drive this revolution.
New offices in six cities this year
As Xero continues to win over small businesses and their advisors around the world, we need to keep adding talent behind the scenes so that we can continue to build amazing software and offer our customers world class support. We have opened offices in six new cities this year as we continue to expand our global footprint and house the 600+ Xeros around the world.
So how do we convince top talent to give up the day job and take on their dream job with Xero?
Well, we might tempt you with food or social gatherings:
Or send our team into the field to inspire you.
We’re all about being human and nothing beats meeting in person at the start of any relationship. So for those beginning their careers, we may turn up at a University near you, invite you to one of our annual Graduate Days, or speak to you at Summer of Tech.
Last month I was humbled to receive the 2013 NZICA Leadership Award for Westpac Outstanding New Member of the Year. This has got me thinking about the huge value Xero places on having accounting professionals and experience within its ranks, whether in sales, customer support or software development, and the importance of being connected to the accounting sector in multiple ways.
Industry disruption is accelerating and for most accounting firms it’s a big change to get their head around and to understand it from an accounting viewpoint. It’s not just the cloud, it’s the march of technology in general and the regulatory and administrative changes that go alongside. Developing an online strategy is critical to help transition your firm and help your clients as the technology impact on every industry accelerates. Like many evolutions that have come before, it’s those most responsive to change who come out on top.
The new financial reporting framework is one example of the big changes facing the accounting sector and we’ll have a blog post in more detail about it soon. For us it’s about communicating what our platform means in terms of how we can help our partners and clients.
Xero builds a true partnership with accountants
There is also industry consolidation and globalization and the changing expectations on the accounting professional. The recent merger of Curtis McLean into Deloitte is an interesting case study recognizing the value each firm brings to the other and how Xero has played a role in this.
I am proud of the true partnership that Xero builds with accountants to help firms proactively respond to the changing industry. I really enjoy working with our accounting partners, from managing our key partner advisory board, to helping firms make an informed decision on what’s the best solution for their practice in the new world.
Read more about Accountants
At Xero we’re always challenging the status quo and thinking about the best way of doing small business accounting from a design perspective. This can occasionally leave those of us who have used other accounting software packages trying to do things “the way we’ve always done it”. Case in point – sub-accounts.
If you’re used to carefully setting up your accounts in a way which clusters similar activities together by account code, or are used to relying on sub-accounts to sort your data for reporting, the simplicity of Xero’s chart of accounts may appear daunting
Xero’s philosophy of being “beautiful” really shines here. Instead of having a bloated and clunky chart full of sub-accounts, Xero has two functions available to all users – report grouping, and tracking.
The video we’ve created takes you through just how simple it really is to get comprehensive reports without sub-accounts.
As of today, we’re also announcing feeds for two additional Australian banking partners: Greater Building Society and Investec. More details are in our Help Centre. These feeds are available from today for all Greater Building Society and Investec customers, for Australian bank accounts.
A busy year with banking partners
We’ve had a busy year with direct banking integration. In the past 12 months we’ve added:
Automatic setup of feeds via internet banking for ASB Fastnet Business and TSB customers.
Bank accounts and credit cards for Bankwest
Bank accounts and credit cards for St George Group, including Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, and St George.
Bank accounts for City National Bank, our first direct US banking partner.
This week’s launch of Enspiral Dev Academy is great news for Wellington businesses looking to hire developers and might just work.
A recent comment on our Community site illustrates why and put a smile on my face (which, on this particular thread was something). I had mentioned that Xero have resource constraints like most companies. A contributor replied,
Not an unreasonable reaction (by the way, we did deliver Purchase Orders in November. Phew!) but it assumes money is the primary constraint to hiring people rather than the availability of the appropriate talent. I don’t know anyone in Wellington (or anywhere for that matter) saying, “well, if only I had the money, I’d be able to hire just the right person”. The right people are incredibly hard to find and hiring the wrong people is expensive.
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1:35 am GMT (2:35 pm NZT) We are experiencing slow performance on Xero applications including accounting and payroll.
The Xero operations team are working on the root cause of the problem and we will rectify as soon as possible. We will provide another update at 2am GMT.
We apologize for the impact this issue is having on our users.
UPDATE 2:01 am GMT (3:01 pm NZT): Performance has returned to normal however there is a small risk that we will experience further performance issues. We will continue to monitor the system and further updates will be posted as soon as we have any new information.
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Today we’ve released a WIP ledger in Practice Manager. This will make it much easier for accounting firms that prepare timesheets to keep track of their jobs and billable hours.
The challenge with releasing a WIP ledger was to do it without reducing the invoicing flexibility that Practice Manager users currently enjoy. So you’ll be delighted to know you can keep track of the exact amount of unbilled time and costs on each job no matter what types or combinations of invoices you use – even quote-based invoices and invoices prepared in Xero.
The introduction of the WIP ledger makes it much easier for all practices to calculate the true profitability of these services, even those that send regular fixed-fee invoices. You can also see the exact amount written on or off as each invoice is approved.
Direct feeds from our partner institutions such as ASB are some of the most beloved features of Xero. Data comes in daily, you can finish your reconciliation in a few minutes, and your financial reports are all up-to-date. It’s a beautiful thing.
If there’s been a drawback to direct feeds, it’s been the requirement to complete a paper application form to get a direct feed in place. Whether you used a competitor product or Xero – this has been part of the process of getting things up and running.
Not any more. Recently ASB and other financial institutions have worked with Xero to create a new process for setting up bank accounts to deliver data to Xero.
Now, once you have set up your bank accounts in Xero, you can log into ASB’s FastNet Business online banking service, and under ‘Administration/Client/Accounting Set up’ go through a quick process where you’ll select your accounts and then be redirected to Xero to connect your chosen bank account feeds. No waiting – no fuss. Your first feeds will arrive the next morning. And if you have historical data you want to bring through, you can do that too. More information is available on ASB’s blog.
As a Product Training Manager at Xero, and an accountant/lawyer/manager type with no previous personal entrepreneurial experience, I decided to push myself by attending the Xero sponsored Auckland Startup Weekend event last weekend.
Startup Weekend is all about learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It has been undertaken in over 200 cities around the world. The weekend starts with any attendee welcome to pitch their startup idea. Teams then form organically around the most popular ideas. What follows is a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.
The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders, with another opportunity for critical feedback. I found it to be a fantastic experience and if you have even just an inkling of entrepreneurial spirit in you, then read on.
Our idea and team
Not having an idea prior to the event didn’t deter me from giving an initial pitch, as one popped into my head very soon after soaking up the entrepreneurial buzz on arrival. I didn’t expect my ‘throwaway’ idea to get traction, but for whatever reason it became one of the 12 ideas (from 35 pitched) which people clustered around to form teams. And then the fun and madness started…
Luckily for me, our team was a diverse bunch, including a developer, as well as business and design minded people. So when the team’s enthusiasm (including my own) for my initial idea quickly faltered, we were able and willing to shift to something new. Our idea changed massively and frequently. So, it wasn’t until Saturday evening that we drew a line under what we all agreed was something we could take forward, which turned out to look nothing like the original idea:
“A self installation wireless sensor-based system for elderly/vulnerable people living alone, which monitored and interpreted unusual activity and then relayed suspected medical trends/emergencies back to a mobile application (held by friends, family, other relevant/concerned parties etc).”
Being an unproven entrepreneur, as with most/all of the attendees I suspect, I had a lot to learn going into the weekend. While some things like identifying your target market/s and size, creating a business model etc came more naturally for me – other things felt far more foreign.
What did I learn?
I learnt that while it is easy to obsess over how great a solution/idea looks/feels (i.e. the sexy part), the real grunt work and focus first needs to be on identifying whether there is even a real underlying problem. No existing problem – then your solution would be lost on people, regardless of how many bells and whistles you wrapped around it.
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I have the privilege of talking with loads of people around New Zealand and overseas around what makes a great accountant. Quite simply when you find one they’ll revolutionize the performance of your business and give you a massive leg up against your competition.
Back when I was CFO of Nike Australia I remember my CEO saying something that fundamentally shifted my perception of what the accountant is there to do. “Greg your job is not just about managing the numbers, it’s about helping me manage the entire performance of the company.” Game shifter!
So given I get asked the question about the great accountant constantly, here’s my cheat sheet of what to look for:
Read more about Accountants