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How integrated app stacks are helping practices thrive

17th Jun 2024
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Xero is an easy-to-use platform for businesses and advisors.

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It’s hard to believe that cloud-based software for accountants and bookkeepers hasn’t been around forever. Judging by practices’ proficiency, you’d be mistaken for thinking this software was always the norm. 

We're now in an era of customisation. Rather than forcing practices to adapt to technology, cloud-based software is becoming more flexible for both teams and clients. This adaptability is largely due to app stacks.

Our latest research, ‘Leveraging the App Advantage,’ shows that practices using apps with Xero save time, boost productivity, and experience revenue, profit, and client base growth. Here, we share how you can apply this research and start building an app stack that works hard for your practice and clients. 

Benefits are abundant for app stack users

App stacks are collections of tools that integrate to form a complete system. Instead of using standalone tools, you can connect software and apps so data flows seamlessly and processes are automated or simplified.

For instance, Dext Prepare from the Xero app library allows clients to snap a photo of receipts or bills and email it directly to their Xero organisation for matching and coding.

Practices use apps in two different ways: managing the practice and managing client services.

  • Managing the practice involves tasks like scheduling work, handling client comms, and dealing with sales and marketing. We’re seeing practices choose apps that cover invoicing, document management, and maintaining client details. And they’re reporting saving time on manual daily tasks and increasing practice productivity as a result. 
  • Managing client services covers bookkeeping, compliance, and advisory – tasks like bank reconciliation, filing tax returns, and creating forecasts and budgets. The most commonly used apps in these categories are for recordkeeping, billing and payments, and payroll. 

Even small practices see significant benefits from using just a few apps. The smallest practices use an average of three apps, and each app typically delivers around eight benefits. Adding even one app to reduce administrative tasks can make a big difference.

According to our research, clients save time on daily tasks, operate more efficiently, and collaborate better with their advisors. There’s also a clear commercial advantage: practices using apps with Xero see more revenue and profit growth. Among those experiencing growth, 24% attributed it specifically to apps that integrate with Xero. 

App advisory 

Advisory services remain a core value accountants and bookkeepers offer. Thoroughly understanding a client’s business, combined with expertise and timely guidance, will always be essential.

With the growth of digitalisation, clients are curious about leveraging technology. Offering app advisory meets this need and provides a valuable billable service. Practices that offer app advisory add more clients compared to those that don’t.

The ingredients for an effective app stack strategy

Start with your accounting software, which serves as the hub, and every app should integrate smoothly with it. Your hub provides most functionality, so you only need a few curated apps to meet your practice and client needs.

Think about apps in terms of the client journey: onboarding, data capture, document management, invoicing, and payments. Identify a regular process in your practice and consider how an app could improve it.

You can also build your app stack based on practice pain points, client needs, or growth opportunities. For example, replace niggly document management systems or choose analytical tools for deeper client insights.

Consider the impact of industry changes too. For instance, as MTD for ITSA takes effect, digitising document capture could help with compliance, and clients might appreciate faster billing with digital payment options.

Introduce apps one at a time to ensure a curated, effective stack. Test each app with your team and clients before adding more. The quality of integration matters more than the number of apps.

The future of accounting tech

Our research shows that app stacks significantly benefit practices and clients. They save time, increase productivity, and enhance collaboration. Practices using apps see higher revenue and profit and add more clients.

As technology becomes more integrated into accounting, offering app advisory and supporting clients with tech decisions is increasingly valuable. While many practices plan to add more apps, even a single app can provide substantial benefits. Explore Xero’s full report to learn more.

Download Report

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