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.
It’s been almost a year since I left Intuit and put on my Xero T-shirt and oh how great that year has been – beautiful online accounting software, wonderful people, incredible growth and, most importantly, amazing customers. The days of desktop accounting software are behind me (more like a sunset), and online accounting has been the dawn of bigger and brighter things.
But there are times that I am brought back to my past – a past where I spent over eight years driving a desktop vision. Fortunately this does not bleed into what I do at Xero, but I notice the differences when I talk to those that are looking to switch.
One of the things I talk about is that as a business you only use one version of Xero and you access it from anywhere. This has been particularly relevant over the past few weeks, with Intuit contacting users who are on a 3-year-old or older version of Quickbooks and telling them that online services associated with their software are being discontinued.
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We’re thrilled to support the third WDCNZ conference, which is to be held on 25th July.
We love supporting such a great conference, and it gives us the opportunity to send the whole of our New Zealand development team to learn from the best in the business.
For those who don’t know: WDCNZ – “Tech talks for web devs” – is a full day conference with multiple streams covering the bleeding edge of web development. This year’s line-up of speakers looks stellar.
The confirmed speaker line-up includes luminaries of the web developer community such as Julia Grace, Garann Means, Rob Conery and Zach Holman. You can head over to wdcnz.com to see the whole programme as of today. As well as Xero, sponsors include Heyday, GitHub, Campaign Monitor and Lil Regie.
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2013 is now well underway and we’ve been busy on lots of fronts. This API 2.23 release gives you some improvements to existing endpoints that we hope will make life easier for developers and end users.
Apply credit notes as payment
You can now allocate part or full amounts of credit notes to outstanding invoices via the Xero API. We have full details in our 2.23 release notes.
Hanging out for the ability to create credit note refunds? This is next on our list.
Showing credit note allocations
In order to support credit note payments and future improvements to that endpoint, you can now see details of all allocations to invoices when retrieving credit notes. As usual, there’s more info in the release notes.
A shortcode for identifying an organisation is now shown along with its address details. Full details on this in our 2.22 release notes and a little bit extra in our community forum on possible shortcode uses.
With this morning’s release, some Add-on & API users have encountered an issue that has prevented some new connections being created and some existing connections from continuing to work.
The API team have been working on a resolution to this issue. In this particular case, simply going back to our previous release will not be sufficient as it would mean a large number of users would need to re-authenticate API connections. In order to correct this issue for everyone with minimal inconvenience, the Xero team are working on a resolution just as quickly as we can.
We will update this post as we have new information.
UPDATE (Monday 25th March, 12.49am GMT)
We have deployed a fix that will allow users to manually re-connect to the API to reinstate service. Work is ongoing to implement some additional fixes and root cause analysis is also ongoing, but this should allow users of Add-ons that need to get up and running right now, the ability to do so.
UPDATE (Monday 25th March, 03.26am GMT)
An additional fix has been released which should restore existing connections. We will be communicating with our Add-on partners on how to restore connectivity if it does not take place automatically. We will consider this issue as unresolved until we can confirm with our partners.
UPDATE (Monday 25th March, 04.17am GMT)
We have received reports from a number of developers that our work this afternoon has resolved the issue for them. While we are marking this issue as resolved, we will continue to assist Add-on partners and end users that need any assistance – please email email@example.com if you have any issues or questions.
We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our customers and partners – we especially want to thank all our Add-on partners who have assisted in communicating with affected customers. Investigations into root cause continue and we will update the developer community when we have more to share on this.
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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.
In delivering cloud-based applications like ours, there are two main ways to reach your customers – the web, and app stores. Digital app stores are a relatively new phenomenon that have only really achieved scale with mobile. For iOS and Android handsets, we’re heading in a native direction where we’re planning to create apps for app store distribution that compete with anything else in the store.
However, we still believe in the web as the application delivery channel that matters in the long term, which is why we’re evolving Xero to perform better on touchscreen devices of all dimensions and sizes. The core Xero application is a web application. Provided you’re using something fairly modern, it shouldn’t be too fussy about the device or browser through which you view it.
In the early days of web development – sites were optimised for a 640 pixel page width. In the late 1990s, this crept up to 800 pixels, and later still to 1024 pixels. Site width crept up – and now with a huge proliferation of smart devices of all sorts and dimensions, a lot of designers are finding it a challenge to slim back down.
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 sometimes get a bit of stick for a perceived bias toward iOS on smartphones. Are we ignoring the largest smartphone market? There’s so many more Android devices out there, right?
If we focussed on sales figures – it’d be a no-brainer. Android is clearly the platform of choice for buyers of smartphones. Only Android, iOS and Windows Phone really have any maturity as smartphone platforms. iOS sells a handful of models and Windows Phone hasn’t yet captured much of the market. All the diversity and variety in hardware is on the Android platform. If it weren’t for Android, all those telco handset stores would only have half a dozen models on display.
But the reality is that our data tells us our users, the people that buy and are considering buying subscriptions to our software, are predominantly using iOS devices. Visitors to our marketing site are prospective customers who are researching Xero and also existing users who want to login to and use Xero, and they are the sorts of people to read content, to watch video, to read our blog, and so on. The story this tells is that plenty of people might buy Android phones, but a smaller proportion of those people use those phones to browse our site or use our applications.