All in all, I enjoyed the roadshow as there are a lot of new great features coming to the software that will ultimately help many within our profession.
The document packs demonstration was a particular highlight as I feel this new feature, along with Xero Tax and direct lodgement to the ATO (within Xero another great release and highlight) may potentially help bookkeepers and accountants reduce practice management subscriptions.
Having an all in one system is a strong and clear direction shown through Xero’s business strategies. Top of this, is its acquisition and roll out of Hubdoc, which will be included in all business plans from the 18th of March. Hubdoc login will soon become a seamless integration with the ability to access Hubdoc directly within Xero, add clients to Hubdoc from within Xero and link clients directly within Xero. All of these highlight Xero’s potential and desire to keep its users within its software and to enable seamless integrations with its partner software providers.
Interestingly, this year Xero highlighted a number of its preferred add-on providers, distinguished by category. As Xero has hundreds of add-on providers, it made me wonder what criteria was set to distinguish these chosen providers as the leaders in each category. Was it popularity, ease of use, price point, potential or direct API access within Xero, feedback or rating scores etc.? The cynic in me does wonder if the chosen providers were the highest paying sponsors on Xero’s list. However, this is just a question I pondered as it was not made clear at the event as to why these preferred vendors were highlighted on the day.
On the negative side, I did leave the roadshow feeling confused as to the release dates and implementation dates of the many new features either demoed or shown. We were certainly exposed to and shown a great deal of wonderful new releases on the horizon, however much of it was in Beta and there was no clear definition of when each item was to be fully released/implemented. So, a great deal of temptation was put forward without much clarity on when we would finally get these new features.
When looking at forums, I also noted many thought the breaks were too long. I tend to agree. The day could have been made much shorter with briefer breaks allowing everyone to get back to work sooner. A day finishing at 3pm is pretty much a write off from a practice point of view.
In forums, many also found the initial sessions on Xero’s HR a little unnecessary. Sure it is interesting to see what Xero does with it’s staff to hire and retain, but was this worth the time devoted at the beginning of the day and how relevant was it to all of the audience? There were some nice nuggets in there, but essentially the day could have done without it. To me it did seem like a nice filler, especially where Xero may feel it has a lack of content or features to deliver to its partners. Once again, this is the cynic in me speaking and of course is only my opinion. Perhaps a survey from Xero to its partners about what we want to hear about could resolve these common feelings (often expressed post the event in social media feeds).
These were minor downsides though as the new feature list was really worth looking at (full list below). Along with a number of Beta releases that partners can subscribe to and specials offers worthy of review.
The STP surveys Xero engaged in were also of interest as this is an area where we still have not captured a large number of SME’s from a compliance point of view. The industries most at risk were also interesting but not surprising. These areas do present a great opportunity to our industry to promote our services and to help clients along the path to compliance.
At the end of the day I did leave feeling excited about all of the new improvements and features to come. When and how this will happen is yet to be determined…
– Melissa Foote, ICB Director