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Product Updates 4 min read

Roll: End-to-end business visibility


Dec 9, 2020

Xero’s app marketplace has over 800 apps to help small businesses and their advisors succeed. Each month we celebrate an app partner who stands out for helping small businesses thrive. Find out more about becoming a Xero app partner here.

Our final App Partner of the Month for 2020 is Roll – a simple, easy to use, end-to-end workflow management solution that gives small business owners greater business visibility. By centralising projects, time management, sales and more, Roll reduces the effort spent moving between different software solutions. This means spending less time on admin, and more time on projects. We caught up with CEO Mark Osborne and COO Tristan Marris about how they created Roll, and how having one place to manage workflows gives business owners better visibility across their business.

Making it happen

The genesis for Roll began when Mark and Tristan were running a digital agency in 2013.

“Roll is a concept that started from a spreadsheet that we used on a day-to-day basis to track business financial performance,” Mark says.

As their business quickly grew, the spreadsheet became hard to manage, so the team started exploring other options. Existing market solutions felt incomplete for their unique needs, only helping with specific parts of operating a business. 

“What we wanted was a tool focused on the actual performance of the business, which could answer questions like: How much money are we going to make this month? Are we going to cover our costs? And do we need to add more resources or staff?” Mark explains.

When it became clear there wasn’t a solution that was quite right for them, Mark and Tristan knew they wanted to create one for themselves. As early adopters of Xero, they’d seen its success and had talked about building their own Software as a Service (SaaS) app.

“We actually did a small team hackathon to get started. In 2013, I took two of our developers and a designer to a beach house for three days and we went from a blank sheet of paper, through design, to building something,” Mark recalls. “When we returned to the office we presented a working product to the team.”

They knew they were onto something good, launching Roll officially in 2014.

Seeing everything in one place

Roll works by centralising leads, project management, time tracking and financial information into a single app. This allows small businesses to track their sales pipeline from a new opportunity to the final invoice, with visibility over how a project is performing at any given time.

By having one tool to manage these tasks, staff spend less time on unbillable admin, and more time on billable work meaning greater productivity. Tristan describes it by saying:

“If you’ve got something that’s efficient to use, it means your team is spending less time on using the software and more time on actually delivering project work – and that’s what we’re after [at Roll].”

A key feature of Roll is its ability to track the financial performance of projects via its dashboard, including estimated and actual month-end billings, and the total value of the project pipeline. Small business owners can see this all in one place, enabling them to make informed business decisions and allocate resources accordingly.

Roll’s connection with Xero means data can be synced between the two systems. Invoices can be created and sent to customers from Roll, which then syncs automatically to Xero. Contact details also update between the two systems, eliminating double-entry and ensuring information is up-to-date.

Helping small businesses do better

For the team at copywriting business Words for Breakfast, implementing Roll has improved operations and bolstered revenue.

“In the three years that we’ve been using it, Roll has helped us increase our revenue significantly. The year after we introduced it to the business, our revenue jumped up by 50% from the previous year, and we continue to see year-on-year increases,” says Creative Director, Helen Steemson.

Using Roll also helped tighten up the way they worked as a business.

“It’s not just down to the software that we’ve seen such a jump in revenue. It’s also due to the changes we’ve been able to make to our processes because of using Roll. We now do a better job of following up on leads and keeping the momentum. Our pipeline in Roll makes this follow-up so much easier,” Helen adds.

Moving out to the world

Mark and Tristan are proud of helping many small businesses across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom so far. But they have dreams of growing into new places like the United States.

“The US is a big market that we want to get into a bit more. We’ve built the capability to handle the US tax system which is a massive step. There’s a lot that we don’t know yet, but it’s going to be a really exciting challenge,” Mark says.

The global opportunity beckons, and an extensive product roadmap means new features too. But for Roll, it’s important to remember the basics.

“We want to make sure that everything sits with our ethos of keeping things really simple and streamlined. Whatever we do, we want to do it well,” Tristan concludes.

Simplify your workflow management and get better visibility across your business with Roll. You can check out Roll on the Xero app marketplace here

Please note: Roll is available to NZ, Australian, UK and US customers.

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