Supercharge your processes

Our advice on making the most of Xavier Focus

By Helen Lloyd • November 30, 2020

It's time to Focus

Clean data is at the heart of Xavier. But clean data is nothing without simple, repeatable processes to make sure that your data remains up to date and consistent across all your clients. That’s why we created Xavier Focus.

Focus allows you to generate bespoke workflow templates called ‘Flows’, using the Xavier tools and checks you know and love. Each flow can then be assigned to a client, team member, and reviewer. Flows can also be scheduled to repeat on a regular basis, so you know the work will be done right, on time, every time. It’s simple, easy to use and will supercharge your team’s Xavier experience.

Focus basics

Focus is basically a workflow builder inside Xavier. You can use Xavier’s data quality checks to build into Flows, either for a one-off piece of work such as Onboarding, or for regular jobs such as bookkeeping or VAT Return checks which Xavier can schedule to repeat.

To create a Flow, you just need to use our Flow Creator tool, where you can choose whether you’re building a one-off or a repeating process. 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 the Flow to 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.

The history of the Flow is available at all times, so you can see when things were checked off, and the Healthscore of the client during progress. You can also 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!

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.

Xavier’s Checks

The majority of Xavier’s metrics exist in ‘Check’ cards, which contain a topline metric, e.g. the number of duplicate transactions found in the period, and a traffic-light alert level depending on the state of the data. Each card can be expanded to see the detail of the data we used to create the metric, and a link through to the transaction or contact in Xero.

For reference, an up to date list of Xavier’s Focus checks available (42 at the time of publishing, and growing) 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
  • Update Working papers
  • Approve Expense Claims
  • A prompt to upload a document somewhere - you can even add a link to the uploaded document in a comment on this Check
  • 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"

In Practice

Simon Williams from Xavier shares his method for ensuring a stress-free year end period.

When it comes round to looking at preparing the files for your year-end clients, it can be a lottery to know what you are getting yourselves in for, especially if the bookkeeping is carried out by another provider. Simon recommends using key metrics from Xavier’s practice dashboard at year end to prioritise your clients and understand where the problems are, before they become real problems.

First off, let's head to the practice dashboard to triage your clients. Using these six metrics below, spot year end accounts that are going to need extra work:

  • Health score - The overall health of a given client
  • Historical changes - See if any changes have been made to the last years submitted accounts. Xavier uses a data integration with Companies House to help with this.
  • Bank items older than 12 months - See any lurking bank items that are older than 12 months, as these need to be reconciled before work can start.
  • Aged Payables older than 3/12 months - Understand the state of the payables ledger.
  • Aged Receivables older than 3/12 months - Understand the state of the receivables ledger.
  • Dividends Detected - See if any dividends have been declared in the year.

Once you have this report together, you can triage your clients into:

  • Poor Quality - External Bookkeeping - For any clients that urgently need attention, let them know the poor data quality and either get them to fix it, or offer to clean-up the data yourselves (which can be a chargeable piece of work).
  • Poor Quality - In-house bookkeeping - If some of the internal clients need attention, you can speak to team members responsible to ensure issues are rectified before they become a problem.

You can then put these clients into our suggested year-end checklist template in Xavier Focus, prioritising the difficult ones first. The following template is Simon’s suggestion, but you can feel free to edit the template as you wish to suit your practice and your clients.

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 Reconciliation - There are a handful of checks that we need to do on the bank: 1. Is the balance in Xero correct (i.e. Cross-referencing 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. Use some of our Fixed Asset checks to ensure Fixed Asset Register reconciles.

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 contact
  • Duplicate transaction
  • Aged Receivables
  • Overpayment
  • 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

Go with the 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 3 different Flow templates:

Quick Health Check

  • Xero Activity
  • Draft Invoices
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Duplicate Contacts
  • Multi-Coded Contacts

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

~ Helen & Simon

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