Supercharge your processes

Our advice on making the most of Xavier Focus

By Helen Lloyd • May 29, 2020

It's time to Focus

Xavier Focus was launched in November 2019, a whole new part of Xavier to allow you to generate bespoke workflow templates, using the Xavier tools and checks you know and love.

Each flow can then be assigned to a client, team member, and reviewer. It’s simple, easy to use and will supercharge your team’s Xavier experience.

Since we launched Focus in November 2019, we’ve added a host of new features to make it even more useful and easy to use including reviewers, comments, notes and bulk Flow creation. It doesn’t stop there; we have more improvements are on the horizon, including bulk Flow creation per tag (a good time to get those tags in order!) and eventually, scheduling. As always, if there's something you would love Xavier to do for you, let us know.

Focus basics

If you haven’t used Xavier Focus before, here’s the basics.

Focus is basically a workflow builder inside Xavier. You can use Xavier’s data quality checks to build into Flows. When you build a Flow, you select the checks you want to use, or use a template, and then choose a date range and parameters for the Checks. You can then assign a member of your team, and also a reviewer, to complete the Flow.

When you start a Flow, Xavier takes you to a new screen (called Focus Mode) where you can see all of the checks in Xavier’s card format with their traffic light alert system, and click to open each card for further information. The person completing the Flow can either tick them off, mark them N/A, or flag them as an alert. Users can also leave comments on each check (in case something needs some explanation). To provide additional assurance, you can set up to two reviewers from your team to check over a Flow before it’s marked as complete or hand it back as necessary.

Then you can export the Flow to PDF and share it with your client - this includes the famous Xavier Health Score, to help your clients appreciate all your hard work!

Xavier’s Checks

For reference, an up to date list of Xavier’s Focus checks available (39 at the time of publishing) can be found Here.

Common Custom Checks

While Flows are designed to make Xavier’s checks flexible and easy to use, we also provide the option to create ‘Custom Checks’ which can be used in a Flow to point to activities you want to do outside of Xavier as part of your processes. You can even embed links in these custom checks, to make it extra simple.

Here’s 5 common custom checks we’ve heard from our users:

  • Clear down ReceiptBank/AutoEntry/Hubdoc
  • Check Directors Loan Accounts
  • Update Working papers
  • Approve Expense Claims
  • A description of how to best use a Xavier Check, to be placed in the Flow before the Flow card. This is a more creative one! For example; "Use the Aged Payables check below to check for invoices that are older than 3 months old"

Building the perfect Flow

The great thing about Focus is it’s flexibility, so you can choose the checks that suit you and your clients best. To give you some inspiration for your next Focus creation, our team of experts have selected their 5 best checks to use for 5 different Flow templates:

Health Check - Checking Data Entry
  • Xero Activity
  • Draft Invoices
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Duplicate Contacts
  • Multi-Coded Contacts
Health Check - Reviewing Balance Sheet
  • Fixed Asset Reconcilliation
  • PAYE
  • VAT Control Account
  • Duplicate Transactions
  • Aged Receivables/Aged Payables
Analytical Review
  • Sales Analysis
  • Sales Reliance
  • Revenue Movement
  • Regular Suppliers
  • Supplier Reliance
VAT Returns
  • Scheme Threshold
  • VAT Control Account
  • Balance Sheet Review
  • Tax Review by Code
  • Transaction without Attachments
Pre-Year End
  • Historical Changes
  • Entertainment Accounts
  • Aged Payables / Aged Receivables
  • Overpayments
  • Corporation Tax

In Practice

Jonathan Gaunt from FD Works has shared with us his favourite new Flow: Pre-Flight Checks

Jon uses the SIPOC tool when building his ideal processes. Originating from Lean Six Sigma, SIPOC is a great tool for identifying the key components in a process; it stands for Supplier, Input, Process, Output, Customer. All too often we dive straight into the Process without thinking about the Inputs and the Supplier.

If we take Report and Accounts where the client has been doing their own bookkeeping, there are a number of inputs that need to be sorted before we begin the process of ‘Preparing the Report + Accounts’. For these, Jon has built his ‘Pre-Flight Checks’ Flow template in Xavier:

Historic Data
Historical Changes - Before we start, we want to know that the closing balance from the previous year hasn’t changed. (This shows you the date was filed in Companies House)

Getting Data into Xero
Xero Activity - Use this tool to ensure invoices and bills have been entered to Xero in the period in question
Bank Rec - There are a handful of checks that we need to do on the bank: 1. Is the balance in Xero correct (i.e. Cross-refencing to the bank statement)? 2. Have the accounts been fully reconciled (Including Outstanding Payments and Receipts)?

Fixed Assets - It’s easy to forget that the core Xero and the Fixed Asset module are separate. To ensure that they align, here are some simple checks to complete:
Fixed Assets
Fixed Asset Drafts
Fixed asset account rec
Fixed asset depreciation run date
Fixed asset depreciation reconciliation
Custom check - Have any fixed assets been disposed of and not recorded properly

Aged Balances - Ensuring that aged payables and receivables are in order is crucial for checking if the balance sheet is right, so we can have confidence in the profit and loss.
The key questions here: Has everything been invoiced? Can we spot any issues? And do we need to make any provisions for bad debts?
Draft Invoices
Duplicate contacts
Duplicate transactions
Aged Recievables
Aged Payables

Provisions & Control Accounts - We can expect control accounts to behave in a specific way, if we see the right behaviours we can have confidence that things are working.
PAYE status
VAT Scheme Threshold
HMRC Status
VAT control account
Corporation tax

Dividends - These checks are for understanding what dividends have been declared in the period and what headroom we have for declaring more.
Net Assets
Dividends Status

Other Checks
Entertainment Accounts - A quick check on high risk accounts to make sure the right tax is being claimed
Lock Dates Status - Ensure the lock dates are set so no filed data is changed

Monitoring your team's progress

Once Focus is up and running in your team, be sure to use our Focus Dashboard - this is designed to provide Focus data in the same format as our Practice Analysis tools, so you can sort, filter and pivot your way through your team's progress. Use this view to see what Flows are outstanding, how far along any in-progress Flows are, and flows by assigned team member.

~ Helen

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