Over the past year, Xero has introduced over 400 updates in their effort for continuous improvement and development. Most of those updates happened seamlessly. While refining the functionality, they were hardly noticed by users.

Xero CEO, Rod Drury, stated that the latest feature release gives Xero functionality that matches that found in desktop accounting software, but with the benefit of a ‘better-designed experience in the cloud’. At mi-fi, a 100% Xero firm, we tend to agree. After reviewing the new quotes and inventory features, we are pleased to say that their introduction will make it even easier for entrepreneurs to run their business using Xero.

To date, both of these features were obvious omissions to otherwise fantastic software. Until now, we had helped our clients fill the gap with workarounds or through the adoption of add-on applications. Whilst both updates cater for most small businesses, those with specific requirements will still require custom processes or more robust add-on applications to get the functionality they need.

We have spent the last couple of weeks getting acquainted with the new features and are pleased to share our thoughts below.

Inventory

Xero has, until recently, had the ability to track items sold. This was, somewhat confusingly, called ‘Inventory Items’ and simply tracked items sold. The new inventory system is true inventory. It allows you to see the quantity and value of stock you are holding based on what you have purchased and what you have sold. Xero refers to this as ‘tracked inventory’.

Xero Inventory

Inventory item screen in Xero

For a detailed overview of how tracked inventory works, check out the Xero blog article.

Many small businesses don’t track inventory, opting to simply do an end of year stocktake to record the stock on hand value on their balance sheet. For those using Xero, the latest feature release is a perfect opportunity to start managing your inventory better. By doing so you will see benefits that improve your cash flow.

At present, Xero’s inventory is for businesses that buy and sell finished goods. Xero has recommended that users look at an inventory add-on if your business:

  • Manufactures goods for sale
  • Regularly operates with negative inventory, that is, you sell goods before you’ve purchased them
  • Requires flexible purchase order receipting
  • Needs to use a different inventory accounting method than average cost, for example, FIFO (first in, first out) or LIFO (last in, first out).

We have identified some workarounds and process hacks that will allow you to achieve some of the functionality of specific inventory add-ons. Contact us to discuss whether these will work for you or if an inventory add-on would be more suitable.

Quotes

So far, Xero has had a quasi-quote feature whereby you could create a draft invoice with a branding theme altered to state ‘Quote’. Whilst effective, it wasn’t until January this year that Xero gave quotes its own workflow within the application.

Xero has now updated the quoting functionality with much of the functionality that invoicing has had. The new quoting features allow you to:

  • Send an online quote (sends the client a link to the quote in a web browser)
  • Attach files to the quote. e.g. Plans, designs, proposals
  • Have the client to accept or decline the quote online
  • Add comments to the quote, i.e. your clients can raise queries against the quote and you can respond
  • Update and revise the quote in real-time, so everyone can see the changes immediately and be alerted by email.
  • See who has and hasn’t viewed the quote, so you can follow up accordingly.

Data shows that streamlining and invoicing process gets you paid faster. Doing the same for your quoting will mean more deals won! Talk to us about how Xero can be used for your quoting in your business.

Side-by-Side Files

Expanding on the Files feature, Xero has released ‘Side-by-Side Files’. While it may appear as a simple user interface redesign, we have found that it significantly speeds up the entry of data into transactions.

After emailing or importing a document to your Xero, the document is presented on the left side of the page, while the entry fields sit next to it on the right. Thus receipts and bills can be viewed on screen while the transaction is being completed, saving time and reducing the chance of data entry mistakes.

The new feature also hints at where Xero is going with automating data entry. Although there are plenty of add-ons that use technology to read your documents and enter them into Xero, we believe that this is fertile ground for Xero to implement its own solution in the future.

At mi-fi, we are excited by features like this as we leverage them to create efficiencies in our services, such as bookkeeping, to deliver better value for our clients. By letting technology do the heavy lifting, we can have trained professionals review and perfect your books.

The new features also highlight how cloud software continually delivers benefits. If a particular application doesn’t have what you need today, it may have it tomorrow. Literally. So when assessing applications for your business, be sure to see what is on the developer’s roadmap before committing to something else.

How we can help

If would like to know more about how the new features can be used in your business, please contact us. We can help you identify any issues as well as help you successfully implement Xero and any add-on applications.

 
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