When we decided to move Poole Group to the Xero platform, we set up a long-term structured plan that would take between 18 months and two years to complete.

Why so long? Well, for a couple of reasons:

  • We’d already been burnt once moving from one system to another, and didn’t want it to happen again.
  • We have 60 staff to train and accept the changes we wanted to make.

We used the approach set out in my eBook, How to Fast-Track Your Journey to Cloud Accounting with Xero. And the results we were hoping for are now coming to fruition.

Stage one involved moving our accounting work to the Xero platform. Knowing things would be easier if our clients were on Xero as well, we got as many of them to adopt Xero’s Business or Cashbook editions as we could. And for those who haven’t made the switch (or would prefer not to), we’ve used Xero Ledgers to standardise our systems internally.

We’ve also automated a number of internal processes. For example, we wrote a program that can disburse the Xero fees for our clients in 15 minutes—a far cry from the many days it would take doing it manually.

Stage two will involve rolling out Xero Tax. We’ve already made a start, and expect to complete the rollout by 1 July 2016.

And after that we’ll be moving on to the Contact Relationship Management (CRM) and time management solutions.

Why did we approach it this way?

As you can imagine, this would be a massive project to undertake in one hit. Breaking it up into stages has made it far more manageable.

But doing it this way gave us another advantage: we could get the best bang for our buck right up front. And because we spend most of our time doing accounting, making improvements in these areas would give us some quick wins.

Before moving to Xero, our income growth in the previous four years was pretty average. And our operating profit growth was even worse. We expected to see some improvements in the final six months of last year (the first full period we could quantifiably compare to the same period in the previous year). But the results have far exceeded our expectations.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Income went up 17.2%.
  • Operating Profit (after Directors’ wages) tripled: up 202%.
  • Fixed fees went up 111.5%.
  • Wages, despite rising by 8%, fell as a percentage of income by 2.8%.

Everyone in our team believes these results are largely due to us switching to Xero. For us, the switch has led to:

  • better quality information coming from clients due to bank feeds, resulting in fewer queries and less time waiting for the information we need
  • the use of a single ledger, reducing the time spent uploading and reviewing client information
  • less time spent:
    • reconciling client files to the previous year’s financials to ensure it has been updated
    • less time spent updating client files
    • more income as jobs are turned around more quickly, letting us move on to the next set of files
    • new clients who are moving away from firms that don’t offer cloud-based services.

So what does this mean for our firm?

Along with the obvious financial benefits, Xero has also helped us create capacity and free up time to implement other strategies and ideas such as:

  • a new range of fixed-price packages in the first quarter of 2016 (along with the marketing strategy to launch it)
  • reviewing and implementing a new CRM and Xero Practice Manager (XPM)
  • developing and implementing new services around horizontal add-ons such as CrunchBoards, Receipt Bank and Chaser.

The introduction of Xero, cloud technology and other changes have made accounting an exciting industry to be involved in.

And that’s something I never thought I’d get to say about accounting.