It all started with two phone calls in the same week. Prospective clients called us to discuss becoming clients, and they were already using cloud-based accounting packages. One of them was using Xero. As the discussions unfolded, I was instantly out of my depth in relation to cloud accounting.
These were wake up calls. Literally.
These two calls highlighted how little we knew about this change in our industry. We were behind the curve. We decided we needed to play catch-up, and fast. We also decided it would make sense to adopt for our business the same cloud accounting platform that many of our clients were moving to.
At the time there were two technology-related conferences coming up. This was our chance to school up on the latest in cloud accounting and cloud computing in general. Our research came to the conclusion there were only two serious cloud accounting packages available at that time. Interestingly, the better-known accounting software incumbents were yet to embrace the move to cloud accounting.
The turning point for us was attending Xerocon in Melbourne. The light bulbs went on. We saw the Xero vision not just for cloud accounting, but for a cloud-based, highly efficient technology platform for small business.
We were sold on Xero as our preferred cloud package, and our journey began.
We first used Xero for our personal accounts, and were immediately impressed by its simplicity, ease of use and functionality. We decided to introduce Xero to our clients, and dedicated some resources to prepare and roll out a strategy.
We tested the product and our approach to implementing it with a few clients, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. This gave us the confidence to market this new product to the rest of our client base and to the general market.
Playing catch up, we decided to make some big moves.
Our central strategy was to conduct a Cloudbiz conference in our region to help launch our new offerings and to show how the cloud could help small businesses become more efficient, competitive and profitable.
Just as Xero had done with us, we were selling the vision to the small business community. And it worked.
In February 2013 we officially launched our new Xero-based cloud accounting services, and were surprised at how quickly clients adopted the Xero platform.
Those who made the transition gave us great feedback on the benefits, including:
- the amount of time saved
- the automatic upgrades and releases
- easier transaction recording
- better feedback, with daily bank feeds providing up to date information
- clients and accountants both being able to log in and look at the same Information.
It soon became clear the transition to Xero was about more than just changing accounting packages. It was helping clients re-engineer how their business operated.
This is what excites us so much about the Xero platform.
The Xero accounting ecosystem of add-on partners (additional apps you can ‘plug in’ to extend functionality) means clients could develop a whole new business platform by choosing the best components for each aspect of their business. Small and medium business owners no longer had to accept mediocre IT and systems anymore. Best of breed software programs in each area of a business’ operations now worked together easily, providing a customised business technology solution at a fraction of the cost of systems based on traditional IT approaches.
We could see that, using cloud computing, we could help small and medium businesses develop world-class systems that previously only large businesses could justify the expense to have developed.
Great business technology and systems had entered a new era with a ‘plug and play’ level of ease. This leveled the playing field for small business. We could see that businesses that adopted this technology would have an edge on their competitors, regardless of their size.
We quickly based our business on advising our clients how to improve their business performance using the Xero platform. By June of that year we were included in the Top 10 Xero advisors in the country. And in August 2013 we were named the Australian Xero Partner of the Year, an honour we were proud (but very humbled and surprised) to receive.
Six months earlier we were newbies. We now had momentum.
Adopting the Xero platform has given us a whole raft of new services and opportunities, and has made a huge difference to our practice.
And, more importantly, to our clients.