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.
The accounting or professional services firm of the future will price its services based on external value provided, not internal efforts generated. One of the most successful methods adopted to implement value pricing is the Fixed Price Agreement (FPA). Essentially, this requires meeting with each of your customers to determine the services they need and want over a given time period.
It is important to keep in mind any FPA drafted between your firm and a customer is the result of a conversation. This is your chance to provide the customer with a customized list of services to meet their specific needs and wants, to offer a fixed price for those services, specify the payment terms, the scope of services to be provided, and any other level of agreement reached.
Let’s continue where we left off in our last blog post on value-based pricing and go in-depth on how to implement value-based pricing as part of the Moving your practice to the Cloud series. As a reminder, I broke the phasing process down into three: Setup, Implementation, and Follow Through.
Phase 1: Setup
Like any initiative, you need a strategy to succeed. The same applies to value-based pricing. You need to determine what you want to do, how to do it, put safeguards in place and begin the change management process. It all starts with a plan:
Step 1: Be strategic and have an initial plan
The first step is always the hardest one. Where to start? What to do? The best first step is to get educated. Read about it – and if you are reading this blog, you are well on your way. Phone a friend, ask your peers, ask the community. Look at what others have done. There is no need to go the path alone and many have gone down it before you. Learn from their experiences – mistakes and successes.
We love it when our partners provide great video. Sydney’s m.a.s accountants “50 years counting, the original accounting office for small business” have this super cool animation video doing the rounds, featuring their new frontman Henry the Clock Maker.
This is real cute, entertaining, and delivers clear messages, emphasising their specialist focus on small business customers. To cap it off the video was created with them by Xero customer Little Marketing.
Henry the Clock Maker needed his accounts straightened out and tax paperwork hodge podge sorted so he could have more time to teach little Jack the family business and make his dream of building the world’s largest cuckoo clock a reality. But why are we telling you this. Watch the video:
It’s been a bit of a delay since my last post, but I took the opportunity to experience Xerocon NZ (and New Zealand) first hand. I talked to many accounting professionals who have navigated much of the 10 Steps to the Cloud I have been writing about. It was a amazing experience that reinforced all the research we already put into this.
I hope you’ll join me at Xerocon US this September 5th in San Francisco, so you can get this experience yourself from talking to other forward thinking accounting professionals. You might even want to stay longer to catch the opening days of the America’s Cup Finals. You can leave your details on our Xerocon US page to be contacted when more information is available.
In my previous post we covered the fourth step (“Establishing clear rules of engagement with clients”) in our series on Moving your practice to the Cloud. The fifth step is the process of phasing-in value-based pricing. This is a pretty important step and I have decided to dedicate two posts to go into the detail many have asked for. We’ll talk about it at a high-level in this post and then dive into the implementation steps in a few days.
Let’s first start off looking at the various types of pricing methods you can deploy in your firm. Here is a list of the common ones:
- Hourly-based billing = Set rate per hour for services
- Cost plus pricing = Cost to perform service + markup
- Fixed pricing = A consistent, set cost for a product or service
- Value billing = Billing on your perceived value of service after completion
- Value pricing = Pricing before service is performed and based on customer perceived value
Value billing and value pricing are not the same as they are done at different times and from different perspectives. Value pricing is done before performing the service and priced based on the customer’s perceived value. While you might provide the same service to two customers, the price paid might be different based on the value it drives.
Last November we profiled the two day workshop ‘Sidekick Unwrapped’ created by Dave Jessep from djca and industry expert Viv Brownrigg from The Accountant’s RePublic. We were thrilled to see two of our strongest community leaders come together to provide such huge value for Xero partners.
If you’ve been growing your Xero client base to the point where you’re a Silver Partner then you are ready to pick up on the free Practice Manager tools that Xero has to offer. You may be flipping your entire client base to Xero, or perhaps you still need to work with other software on the client side.
Never fear, Xero has a dedicated team and implementation partners (depending where you are in the world) that provide project management, full implementation and data conversion services, and onsite or remote training. To name a few, we are very capable of converting data from systems such as MYOB AO, MYOB AE/Viztopia, APS, Iris, Sage and CCH IFirm. Bespoke conversions are also available as needed.
Practice Manager is available globally and is the core part of the new Practice Studio we announced at Xerocon in February. This will ultimately include Tax, Workpapers, and Reporting in all regions. Tax is available in New Zealand and is in the beginning stages of development for Australia. Workpapers is scheduled for public release in New Zealand and Australia in April and is in closed beta for UK and US. Reporting is available in New Zealand and Australia, with UK next cab off the rank followed by the US.
As we roll out Practice Studio you benefit more and more by avoiding the double dipping and monetizing of the accountant side that the desktop software industry has undertaken for years. Xero is revolutionizing the accounting sector and empowering accountants in the process, lowering costs and freeing up time and energy from an over-emphasis on compliance so you can become closer business advisors to your clients.
We’re proud to announce that CPA Practice Advisor, one of the USA’s most prominent accounting publications, has given Xero a glowing 5 star review. The only other online accounting application to receive 5 stars was Quickbooks Online. Xero has been going for 7 years and on the ground in the US for just over a year, while Quickbooks Online launched back in 1999.
CPA Practice Advisor notes “The investments Xero are making are causing the entire online accounting small business segment to be much more competitive than in prior years.”
Whether you choose Xero or another solution, moving to the cloud is making small businesses at large more efficient, and that’s good for everyone. In the US, more than 95% of businesses are classified as small businesses. Together they contribute to over half of annual GDP.
The 2013 Australian roadshow has come to an end on wet and windy Gold Coast, but it certainly did not dampen the mood of the attendees. As I reflect on the past four weeks on the road, I’m very proud of my team for the huge effort they’ve put into the 15 events across the country, and blown away by the reactions I’ve seen from bookkeepers and accountants that have attended.
Our first roadshow in Australia this year was also the biggest globally so far, with a final count of 3700 registered attendees. Compared to my first roadshow with Xero in May 2011, when we had 260 attendees in small venues around Australia, it really demonstrates the tremendous growth we are seeing in Australia as more business advisors see the value in a pure cloud model and move to Xero.