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Data & Insights 3 min read

How accountants and bookkeepers can improve productivity through apps

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Olivia McGann

Jun 11, 2024

What’s your practice doing to keep up with apps and AI? As the business landscape evolves, the accounting industry must adapt to remain competitive and meet the changing needs of clients. 

We recognise that one key area of focus is the integration of app stacks and artificial intelligence (AI) into accounting practices so as to support future productivity and growth. 

Our latest research, Leveraging the app advantage, aims to understand the benefits of app usage for Kiwi accounting and bookkeeping firms, the current usage landscape, and where the opportunities lie.

New Zealand practice use of apps is strong 

The results show that Kiwi firms are well on their way in experimenting with apps. 

For example, around three in four accounting firms are already using Xero integrated apps, and recognise the benefits they offer in streamlining operations and enhancing client services. 

Across payroll, billing, payments and reporting, it’s encouraging to see firms already making use of these tools to reduce manual processes, improve productivity, and deliver for their small business clients across Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Not only is this good for their clients, but it’s good for their bottom line. In fact, 63% of firms using Xero integrated apps experienced revenue and/or profit growth over the past year, with one in five directly attributing revenue growth to an increase in app usage. 

Keeping an eye on AI

As we continue to look towards a future with enhanced digital tools, you’d be hard pressed not to find people talking about the implications of AI on accounting practices. 

And unsurprisingly, many are already embracing these tools, with 61% of firms saying Xero integrated apps already allow them to keep up with emerging technology, including AI. 

Additionally, over a third (39%) of firms anticipate they’ll increase their app usage in order to utilise AI. We expect this group to grow further over the next 12 months as AI becomes more common in the business environment.

The development of our AI-powered tool Just Ask Xero, which allows for automated accounting tasks, is a cornerstone of our work as a company in this space. 

By using apps with embedded automation features, firms can gradually introduce AI into their workflows without requiring extensive technical expertise.

Three steps to start using apps in your practice

So how can you get started? The key is to approach app integration as a continuous process of refining and expanding what you offer to meet the demands of your clients.

1. Identify the key pain points in your practice

Start by taking a holistic view of your firm, and ask yourself questions about where there are gaps in your day-to-day practice. Where can you be more efficient? Where’s all the time and energy going? If you have a team, speak to them about their thoughts on areas of improvement. 

It’s important to understand that not all your problems will be solved by multiple apps; some apps will simply serve to supercharge existing processes. 

2. Explore the apps and information in the Xero App Store 

The Xero App Store is an ever-expanding platform housing third–party apps and tools that integrate with Xero to support and solve a wide variety of business problems. 

If you’re new to the Xero App Store, start by simply having a look at the different categories that are available. You can browse by industry or business function, or discover themed collections of apps.

The Xero App Store is the place to go to find out more about building the right app stack for your practice. 

3. Start trials and speak to the experts

Trial and error is key. Start by shortlisting the apps you’re interested in and giving them a whirl. 

Connect with your Xero account manager or reach out to the software providers directly to get set up for success.

The future is now, and we’re excited to see how digital tools continue to enable the accounting profession to adapt and evolve. 

Embracing app stacks and AI can give you the means to future-proof your operation, enhance your productivity, and deliver higher-value services to your clients.

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