Today we’re excited to offer Workpapers on open release to Australian and New Zealand accountants. This follows the acquisition of Spotlight Workpapers in July last year, with the product in closed beta since then. During that time we’ve had over 100 accounting firms working with us globally to put the product through its paces.
Workpapers makes core compliance services much more efficient by allowing accountants to seamlessly connect Xero data with online workpapers, for faster preparation and review than traditional products. Improved client query functionality provides clients with the ability to upload any additional information straight into the software. Check out the video for a full overview:
ZenPayroll is a new addition to the US payroll space, enabling businesses to get setup and run payroll in minutes from any web-enabled device. As a full-service payroll provider, all government payroll taxes, reporting, and compliance are taken care of automatically and paper free.
The ZenPayroll team have focused on making the application easy to use, so you don’t need to be an expert to get up and running. Employees can also access their information and ZenPayroll uses bank grade security to keep your data safe.
Who is it for?
ZenPayroll is available for a wide variety of businesses, from flower shops to technology start-ups. With ZenPayroll for Accountants, Xero partners such as CPAs & bookkeepers can manage multiple clients from a centralized dashboard.
Viv Brownrigg is a New Zealand accounting industry leader who spends her time helping accountants work more effectively with their clients. At Xerocon in February, she spoke about there being too many poor performing firms, who are stagnating or have declining revenues.
Conversely though, the accounting firms at the top end of these KPIs are doing extremely well. They’re growing, attracting new clients like you wouldn’t believe and exploding their business advisory revenues to boot. So the opportunity is there to not just overcome poor performance but to turn it into great performance.
Viv specialises in turning firms into great firms and she starts by asking accountants one key question: What would your clients say if you asked them to summarise your job description? Would they say that you do their accounts and keep the IRD away? Or would they say that you’re a key part of their business, advising them of opportunities and warning them of pitfalls on a regular basis? More importantly, what would you rather hear them say?
By making it so more clients give the second answer rather than the first, accountants can really change the way they do business. That’s what Viv and her organisation The Accountants’ RePublic specialise in doing. They help accountants get the most out of available technology and move on to more collaborative relationships with their clients.
Right now they’re putting together RePublic 2013, a series of one-day events where they’ll show accountants how to break free of the misconception that their only purpose is to take client numbers.
Last November at the inaugural Accountex exhibition in London, I was pleased to finally bump into a bit of hero of mine, Paul Dunn.
Paul has been banging the drum for change and innovation in the global accountancy profession for decades and so therefore it’s no surprise that Xero and Paul quickly formed a mutual appreciation society and many of the concepts and ideas that Paul shared in his 2003 book, “The Firm of The Future” are being adopted by forward thinking firms today.
After the amazing reception Paul received from his audience of a couple of hundred accountants at his keynote in November, I got chatting with Paul about the prospect of Xero sponsoring some extra events in the UK.
And so we did.
Later this month (April 23rd, 24th & 25th) Xero is hosting three half-day Paul Dunn keynotes in London, Birmingham and Manchester. I should say that while Xero is sponsoring these free events, aside from a brief intro from us these are not Xero brainwashing events per se.
Here’s what Paul has to say about them.
Microsoft has again called time on Windows XP with a 12 month countdown till support expires. They note the 11-year old operating system is still on almost 14% of computers in New Zealand, or half a million PCs, and to be fair they’ve released a variety of upgraded operating systems since.
I admit to being a hold-out at home with an old laptop that probably can’t handle the new systems – but I have other Apple computers to choose from as well so I’m running that one to the ground.
However, in the business space the support and security of computers is critical and we can sympathise with Microsoft in wanting to be shot of XP – there’s been a lot of technological development in that 11 years, not the least of which has been in the whole app concept and the cloud.
With Xero’s exposure to the small business sector, it’s worth pulling up our stats to see what is happening with XP and other operating systems. We have data sourced from Akamai – a snapshot of the past three months hits to the Xero application, excluding traffic to our mobile application and excluding traffic to our mobile domains from devices such as iPads. We presented earlier data in an October blog post as well so we can compare the two.
First up we can see that Windows XP is 15.41% of the traffic, headed off by the dominant Windows 7 at 52.93% and Mac OSX on 19.67%. Windows 8 has made an appearance on 3.64%, behind Windows Vista on 5.12%. It’s a drop for XP from 21.77% in October, while Windows 7 is up slightly and Vista is slightly down.
Many accountants will be familiar with Dennis Howlett, the UK IT finance commentator who describes himself as “never knowingly underopinionated.” He recently popped into our Melbourne office to meet some Australian Partners and talk about how they’re using Xero in their practices.
What’s really interesting is how they’re using Xero in such different ways. One partner is offering clients benchmarking services, another is using Xero to let accounting grads spend more time with clients and another still is targeting American clients from Australia. Take a look at the video to see what they had to say:
We’re thrilled to confirm Workpapers for Xero will move to open release on 15 April – the first step in bringing together our Practice Studio vision. Workpapers has been in a closed beta since Xero acquired it back in July 2012. In that time we’ve had the input of over 100 accounting and book-keeping firms to help guide the development of market-driven features and functionality, whilst building up a compelling product roadmap for the future.
Workpapers has come a long way and there’s plenty more in store. Over the next two weeks we’ll be getting the plumbing sorted to connect the sign-up and log-in functionality with all of our back-end systems. Alongside the migration of the application to Xero servers we’ll be updating the Help section and introducing content to the marketing site.
Existing users won’t notice any change on 15 April other than access to the app will be automatically redirected to its new home. We’ll be in touch with all of you individually closer to the time.
Practice Studio will continue to come together over the next 18 months: Tax will be rolled out in Australia over a number of releases (the first step of that due in the next month); Practice Manager gets a complete redesign; Workpapers rolls out for the UK and US; and the lot will be brought together under one umbrella.
It’s no small feat but we’re making good progress and based on previous experiences (like Payroll in Australia and Tax in New Zealand) we’re confident we can deliver something special.
If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper that hasn’t used Workpapers yet – don’t stress. As you’d expect from us, from April 15 there will be a 60 day free trial available so you can get stuck in and have a play.
UPDATE: The migration is in full swing but we have encountered a few issues we want to resolve before going live. The open release for Workpapers has been moved out a week.
If you’re a New Zealand accountant you can start preparing your 2013 tax returns today, because we have again released the new year tax return forms on the first day of the financial year. This past weekend we rolled out all 2013 tax return forms ready for e-file. With close to 300 New Zealand accounting practices using the Practice Manager (WorkflowMax) Tax management solution we are getting an even deeper insight into the efficiencies that Xero and the cloud can bring.
The single ledger has revolutionised the accounting practice, in this specific instance around the completion of the year-end process. Throughout the year accountants can access and adjust client ledger data, resulting in a cleaner, less time consuming, year-end finalisation process.
What do accountants, adrenaline sports, a monk, an Olympic gold medalist, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world have in common?
They were all part of the annual Proactive Accountants Network conference (PAN) held last week in Queenstown, New Zealand. With ‘Revolution’ as the conference theme, it was certainly that and more.
PAN is an industry-leading coaching network that helps Australian & New Zealand accountants and their clients improve organisation and financial performance through coaching content and technology.
When Hindu priest and former monk Dandapani took to the stage, it became obvious this was not your average accounting conference. Years of spiritual learnings were condensed, translated and applied to business practices.
The Xero community has spoken and we’ve listened. We’re pleased to have ticked off 16 of the most requested new features and updates today based on feedback in the threads in Xero Community.
Of those requests, one has a certain … history.
Since I started at Xero over 3 years ago, it’s been the itch in the middle of my back – the one I can’t ignore but is difficult to reach. The issue I’m talking about is the much discussed Unreconcile button on the Account Transactions screen. A seemingly simple problem to solve but one that spawned many a whiteboard session to find a solution we could all agree on.
One of our team caught up with accounting partner Martin Dowse at last month’s Xerocon in Auckland, New Zealand, to discuss Martin’s thoughts on the subject. Martin has been particularly persistent and inventive in trying to get this issue sorted – his latest attempts include vote rigging and smuggling his son into our development team!
I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that amongst the features and updates we’re releasing today we’ve done more than just update Martin’s pet feature request.