A few weeks ago twenty FB staff attended a Xero certification course. We were all looking forward to a day away from the office more than anything but actually found it to be an interesting and worthwhile session!

The group had a range of levels from beginners to experienced users. The beginners really benefited from the broad overview into how Xero works and the advantages of a cloud based platform. For the more experienced Xero users it was intended to be more of a refresher but, with new features being released all the time, even those who use Xero on a daily basis learned something new.

We started by navigating around the system and setting up the different users. Access can be restricted on a user by user basis for different areas of Xero, a popular example of this would be to turn off the payroll section on all users with the exception of the directors or payroll processors so the rest of the staff don’t have access to each-others salary information.

Assisting clients with the setup process was the next key topic. Move my books, a third party which we have used as a firm numerous times before, can convert up to 2 years of client’s data from other software such as Sage. In addition all supplier and customer information is transferred making the process of moving over much easier than you might think.

It is important to get other areas addressed at this stage such as VAT and Payroll, including all HMRC references to avoid future issues.

Entering sales invoices is straightforward, you can setup various invoice templates if desired and great time saving options such as repeat invoices can be setup. On the purchase invoice side ‘apps’ such as Receipt Bank can be used to automate the entry, this takes a scanned image of the invoice and records it in the system.

Reporting is an area that accountants and businesses alike really need to explore on Xero. Reports are being updated constantly and we worked on profit and loss example, adjusting the standard layouts to provide tailored information to clients, including KPIs. There is a real benefit here for clients to monitor their financial performance and an opportunity to get real value, however the output will only be as good as the quality of the input!

Onto bank feeds, one of Xero’s best features. Xero can link to your bank account and pull in all of your transactions either directly or through the third party platform Yodlee. Xero uses AI to find potential matches for the transactions by reviewing the invoices and entries already in Xero. Bank rules can also help deal quickly with recurring transactions such as bank charges. These features make bank reconciliations easy and less time consuming.

Correcting mistakes is an accountants nightmare, however Xero have built a tool into the system to allow advisers to recode transactions in bulk to different nominal codes or change the tax rate. This makes the accountant and bookkeepers lives easier and is peace of mind for the client that if something is wrong it can be corrected without undue time or effort.

Finally, what to do next? As staff using the software regularly we will continue to learn the product by reviewing product updates and completing video tutorials to keep our Xero certified status. As businesses you need to be considering what you dislike about your current system and asking whether there is a better, more efficient and valuable solution.

To find out more about how Forrester Boyd can help your transition to the cloud please contact Paul Tofton p.tofton@forrester-boyd.co.uk