This is a quote from one of our customers. It inspired us to discount usage of Xavier to enable more data-driven decisions in this difficult time:
Customer Email: “In general business confidence and the economy is plummeting and we are seeing clients pull back activity... We are going to have clients under pressure cash flow wise so we need to be able to be more efficient and effective when dealing with their data.
Throughout the next 12 weeks we'll be sending out our Turn the Tide newsletter with resources and information, including new features we'll be adding to Xavier specifically to tackle the current crisis for SME's. Read the posts below for the latest:
12 Weeks of Turn the Tide Resources
Week #1: Cashflow
In a crisis, cash is king. Learn how to triage your clients and create accurate cash flow forecasts.
Triage Clients for Credit Control in the Practice Dashboard
The Practice Dashboard has a column for debtor days, which can be used to quickly identify any clients that could be great candidates for credit-control to shore up their cash reserves. Using the Aged Balances tool in Xavier, you can then review any high value outstanding invoices, and see the direct financial impact on reducing the clients' debtor days.
Get your Data Reporting-Ready
You can't forecast cash flow without accurate data, so make sure for anyone you're forecasting for that you've got a clear picture of their expenditure and everything is fully reconciled. This is especially important at this time when many emergency funding opportunities require a clear and accurate understanding of the business' cash position. Once you've got everything cleaned up, you can use the new Cost Review by Supplier Report in the Xavier sandbox to assess your spending by supplier month by month over the last quarter to identify where key savings can be made, or use the outgoings in your forecasting model of choice.
Calculate Cash Flow
If you need a kick-start to your cash flow calculations, Xavier Co-Founder Jon Gaunt from FD Works has also developed a quick and easy cashflow spreadsheet you can find here with a quick video on how to use it.
Keep An Eye On Key Customers
Finally, take a look at the new Xavier Sales insight for your clients - for many businesses, only a fraction of customers provide the largest proportion of revenue. Help your clients to focus their efforts in understanding, managing and retaining their top 25% sources of income for this difficult period, and for the future.
Week #2: Performance
What's going on with your clients? Short-term trends to inform your practice
Getting real information out of the uncertainty
It can be difficult to keep track of how your clients are doing during normal times but with things changing day by day we need up to date data to understand our client’s needs. We have created three reports for you in Xavier (driven by customer feedback) to help with this.
Three Month Turnover report - Understand how your client’s revenue is changing over the last few months and spot those struggling who may need your help using this custom report from your practice Activity Stats.
Cost by Supplier - It’s important to understand your customers costs; as we mentioned last week, you can then use the Cost by Supplier client sandbox report to dive into individual customers data, to understand where they are spending their money and therefore where they can cut back.
Understand the workload on your team
As clients’ businesses change, accounting practices need to adapt to support their customers too. One aspect of this is the bookkeeping and VAT returns services that many accountants and bookkeepers offer to their clients.
Using the Activity Stats Dashboard in Xavier, you can understand the transaction volumes of all your clients and compare them over time, allowing you to plan what needs to be done by your team and when. We recommend using the 3 Month Turnover report as a template and customising this with the columns for the metrics you require.
Watch the New Features Webinar
Xavier has released a host of new features! Simon Williams covers the above reports starting at 18:35 in the New Features webinar recording.
Week #3: Oversight
How to use technology to have confident oversight of your team’s work
Maintain your Focus
Jonathan Gaunt from FD Works shared how he and the team keep a handle on the big picture for their clients. Like many teams, FD Works have gone fully remote. They use a combination of Slack, Zoom and emails for communication, and use Monday to keep up with task scheduling.
In Xavier, Jon and his team use Focus for their ‘Jobs to be Done’. Jon recommends that if you’re using Focus a lot, the new Focus Dashboard is the best place to go to understand how those jobs are progressing. For everyday work, Jon filters out the ‘completed’ Flows, and sorts by Due Date and Client Name. This lists all Flows both in progress and not yet started for a very quick overview of the current work.
Jon also advises using the Flow Started and Work Completed date columns to identify certain Flows that are taking longer to complete, and see what can be done to help the client or the team member. On the flip side, for Flows that are done really quickly, those team members might be doing something that the rest of the team could also benefit from.
A bit of friendly competition
Motivating remote teams takes a slightly different approach to the traditional office workplace, but using technology we can create some fun new opportunities. For example, some of our accounting partners love to use the Xavier health score to create a bit of low-stakes friendly competition in the team.
There’s a few ways to set this up, but the simplest way is to use the Practice Dashboard; group by Team Member to see everyone’s clients and health scores, and award the user with the highest average health score.
However, we know not everyone’s work-from-home situations are created equal, and you don’t want to create undue pressure on individuals who might be overloaded. Why group your team members and assign clients to them using Tags? When the time comes for a drumroll, filter the Practice Dashboard using the Tags column (you can use ‘contains: ’ if you’ve got multiple tags) and award the group with the highest health scores!
It’s been amazing to see so many accounting apps pitching in with support in this time of need. Below is a (by no means exhaustive) list of resources the Xavier team has spotted from our app ecosystem:
Chaser are providing invoice chasing assistance for UK businesses for free, plus third party resources on cashflow support.
Capitalise has articles and advice on lending, plus a schedule of live briefing sessions, webinars from industry professionals.
Iwoca has a full page of resources to provide advice and help small businesses with access to finance.
Fluidly have webinars, ‘how to’ videos, calculators and content.
Float host weekly training webinars, helpful articles, downloadable resources and latest government advice.
Futrli Founder Hannah Dawson has written a blog (with video) filled with tips for how to navigate a client through a cashflow crisis.
App Advisory Plus have compiled a list of the various offers and free trials available from accounting tools.
Week #4: Data
How to keep good data at the heart of your client relationships
As part of our Turn the Tide series, Xavier co-founder Helen spoke to a panel of cloud accounting experts experts about how they are using data to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond with their clients.
Our panelists represent a range of practices, and a wide range of experience within the Industry, so we hope they have something to share for everyone. Here are Helen's 7 key takeaways, summarised below.
7 Key Takeaways:
Be sensitive and keep the information relevant when engaging with clients; while two businesses may look the same from the outside, they may be going through very different journeys. Make sure to listen to them.
While changes in communication styles and technologies have been thrust upon us, there are efficiencies to be had with video calling and screen sharing
It's important to prioritise who needs your help first; triage your clients and be proactive in contacting those who are struggling
Keep your data accurate and up to date - timing matters in a crisis
Take time to focus on your team. We're all going through our own version of this; speak with them as people
Consider offering additional services in the short term for nominal fees e.g loan applications, and build loyalty for later
The best process or practices to take away: Make the most of digital communication tools, and build a 'process bible' for your practice
Week #5: Clients
Xavier speaks to Emma Fox from Fresh Financials about how her bookkeeping practice is using Xavier to help clients through the Coronavirus crisis.
Emma Fox, Founder and Managing Director of Fresh Financials, has always had a passion for bookkeeping. Emma's award-winning team of 7 offer an outsourced finance solution that revolves around daily bookkeeping. We asked Emma about her revolutionary approach, how she and her team are managing during the current COVID-19 crisis, and how they are helping their clients to survive.
We would recommend reading the whole interview, but Emma's key advice was to keep up regular, good quality communication with your clients, particularly now when they need it the most. She adds that "the relationships we have built with our clients means some of them are now clients for life, they have valued the support so much", so this will also be worthwhile in the long run.
Finally, we loved Emma's focus on the real value that finance professionals provide for small businesses: "...with all of the automation and technology we use, the real benefit is freeing up the team to have real conversations with our clients".
Week #6: Preparing for the New Normal
This week, Xavier Co-Founder and FD Works MD Jonathan Gaunt spoke to Xero for their Webinar “Preparing for the new normal: building a financial plan for your business”.
Jon was joined by fellow accounting expert Lauren Harvey from Full Stop Accounts, as they shared advice for you and your clients on how to build an effective financial plan for the future.
Both Jon and Lauren had noticed a lot of small businesses keen to be proactive in understanding their numbers. In this period where change is inevitable, Lauren encouraged businesses to not only revise their business goals financially, but personally as well. Look at what it is possible to do; prioritise deeper relationships and quality over growth at all costs, as this is the real value that an SME can provide over big business. A good financial plan can mitigate the risks of this kind of change, by focusing on what you can control.
Lauren encouraged use of tech as a great springboard to have those discussions, using tools like Float. As a Xavier co-founder, Jon was of course keen to emphasise that cashflow breakdowns and forecasting are only as good as the data they are based on; if your data is poorly coded or out of date, you won't get the full picture.
"You wouldn't go on a long drive without knowing how much petrol was in your car... Understand the basics to get the full picture, and then take the action" - Jonathan Gaunt
The webinar also included some encouraging poll results; 73% of attendees were reconciling their transactions in Xero at least weekly during the crisis, with over half of those reconciling daily. Lauren believes that when it comes to reconciling those transactions, little and often is best; and it's a less daunting (and boring!) task.
Both Lauren and Jon were hoping that this period might encourage business owners to get into better habits with their financials, with Lauren urging listeners "don't just do your accounts for the VAT man, do it for yourself, so you can use that financial information". Jon hopes that better understanding will lead to greater confidence, and better business decisions as a result.
You can read Andy Miur's write up and watch the recorded webinar on the Xero blog.
Finally - we love to hear how Xavier is making a difference to our accounting partners and clients. We offered our Turn the Tide discount in the hope that we might be able to share some of this burden for you, so this email from Andy Sullivan of Complete HQ made our day:
Just a quick thank you email from us for two reasons.
The 50% discount has helped us onboard more clients into Xavier, which is amazing and is showing an improvement in our overall data quality (still more clients to hook up but we're working through them!). Also helping us with some education pieces for clients, as we are able to show them the impact that their data quality has on their scoring. With then impact on the point below!
Xavier's now giving us much more 'power' when pricing our clients for annual work and takeover/tidy up work from previous accountants, as we're plugging into their Xero's to get a health score and building that into our pricing.
So, thanks for being awesome 🤘
Remember, you can just get in touch with us at any time if you have something to share about how Xavier is helping you and your clients through this difficult period. There’s nothing quite like sharing the love; Why not make some time over the next week to thank someone who has made a difference to you over this period, either in your business or personally, and make their day too?
Week #7: Introducing Xavier Resilience
Resilience is a new section of Xavier is dedicated to ensuring that you have all the insights you need to understand where your clients strengths lie, or where they might be at risk.
Our first Resilience tool, Business Performance provides a series of KPIs carefully selected to give you a snapshot of how the business is performing in a given period. Each of the checks will give you a summary of the key figures, which can be interrogated further by expanding the cards to see graphs and more granular data. The purpose of this is to enable you to understand key risks and trends for this business and identify them early, so they can be mitigated before it is too late. The performance checks are available for use in Focus mode as well, so you can use them as part of your standardised processes.
Revenue Movement: This check keeps track of revenue over time, and compares performance with the previous period.
Net Assets: Keep track of net assets over time, and compare current status with previous periods.
Customer Reliance: With this check, Xavier detects the top customer by percentage of total revenue during the period; a high percentage of revenue, and so a high reliance on a single customer is a considerable risk to the business.
For more insight into your clients' revenue sources, you can check out our Sales Analysis insight.
Supplier Reliance: Like Customer Reliance above, Xavier detects top suppliers by spend for the company as a percentage of total costs during the period.
For more insight into your clients' various suppliers, you can check out our Regular Suppliers insight.
Week #8: Creating effective, lasting change
From discussions with our practice partners, we've heard from many who are looking to use the current environment as a catalyst for change - rebuilding into something different, and something better.
Things are looking a little bit brighter across the world this week, and we’ve seen the changes already in many of the small businesses in Bristol. While there is still far to go, and change has to be made safely, we’re starting to think about how accountants, bookkeepers and their small business clients might be able to come out the other side, and how we can do this in a way that is new, improved, and better for business.
However, we shouldn’t have to be forced into change by a global pandemic. Change is a natural and essential part of remaining relevant and competitive, regardless of industry.
The Xavier team spoke to experts including Matt Flanagan from Appacus and Bluehub, and Dr Rhiannon Lloyd from Auckland Business School, to create our top 5 tips on how to create effective, lasting changes in your Team...
Week #9: Using Focus Effectively
This week, we just wanted to share some tips on how to use Focus in Xavier effectively. If you're taking this time to make some improvements to your processes, Focus is the best way to create and integrate those processes into Xavier.
Read the blog for:
A refresher on Xavier Focus
The best Checks to use in Focus for 5 different processes
Our favourite uses for Custom Checks
Jon's favourite 'Pre-Flight Checks' Flow
Week #10: Cost Analysis and Painless P11D's
Regular Suppliers has had a glow up this week with a host of new functionality, for all your cost analysis needs...
You might have used Xavier's Regular Suppliers insight before, but now it's had a significant upgrade - we have renamed this insight Cost Analysis, to reflect that it now covers much more than just suppliers.
The Xavier team are really excited about Cost Analysis and how it can provide insight to you and your clients, particularly at this time when everyone is needs to keep a closer than usual eye on their expenditure.
The main updates are:
Cost Analysis by Account Code - Previously Regular Suppliers allowed you to view anomalies or fluctuations in the expenditure by the supplier. We have now expanded this so you can review costs by account code.
Regularity - We have introduced an indicator to how regularly you pay a supplier or use an account code; this can be really useful in ensuring you have all the invoices you need - but also forecasting for the future.
You can use these new cost analysis tools in a number in ways, including:
Anomaly detection - Xavier's anomaly detection will spot where there are fluctuations outside of ‘normal’ expenditure, for example you might be missing invoices from a supplier, or in a whole account code. Additionally, this can be used in conjunction with our Duplicate Transactions check to spot multiple payments or invoices.
Spotting Prepayments or Accruals - Using the anomaly detection and regularity feature you can look through your costs and identify where the client has, say, prepaid 12 months worth of insurance that should be spread out over 12 months.
Looking forward - Using the regularity of transactions on account codes and suppliers to understand what a client's future costs or burn rate might look like.
Don't forget, you can check out our other latest releases in our release notes, we've got a great update for bulk Flow creation by Tag this week with more improvements to this functionality due very shortly!
As we move towards the P11D deadline, it can be time consuming to scour through Xero accounts to identify ‘benefits in kind’ given to employees over the last tax year.
Using the Sandbox in Xavier, you can speed up this process and jump between clients easily, with exporting to excel if needed. Check-out this quick video to learn how to set up a P11D Report in the sandbox.