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Xero to retire WorkflowMax, Karbon integration announced

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Project management tool WorkflowMax will be taken offline by parent company Xero in 2024 as the Kiwi cloud company’s efficiency drive continues. The news was swiftly followed by an announcement that practice management specialist Karbon has become a Xero Certified App.

27th Mar 2023
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Currently used by more than 10,000 businesses, the WorkflowMax product will no longer be available from 26 June 2024, and from 22 March 2023 no new trials will be available and it will not be possible to build new WorkflowMax integrations.

WorkflowMax was acquired by Xero in 2012 and offered the ability for Xero firms to add leads, invoice clients and track time in an era where cloud project management tools were not yet the norm. 

However, it seems the tool’s days were numbered following the launch of Xero’s own Practice Manager solution a few years later. 

In a blog post accompanying the news, Xero’s chief customer officer Rachael Powell said the company was left with two products – WorkflowMax and Xero Practice Manager – both of which needed their own investments and focus.

According to Powell, the WorkflowMax product experience “needs significant investment to meet the evolving expectations of our customers”, echoing the view of one Xero insider, who told AccountingWEB the tool operated on an old code basis and had limited prospects for growth.

“This isn’t a decision that has been made lightly,” said Powell, “nor does it have any reflection on how much the product has been used over the years.”

A statement from a Xero spokesperson added: "Xero’s decision to retire WorkflowMax has no impact on Xero Practice Manager. Xero is committed to developing Xero Practice Manager and other practice products in line with the needs of our partner community and remains a core part of our strategy. You can read more about Xero’s plans to create a more integrated practice experience in XPM here."

While the product hadn’t moved on a great deal in recent years, the news still seems to have caught many accountants by surprise. A comment on the Xero blog from a user called Rich is typical of the reaction: “We’ve built our business systems around WorkflowMax, leverage its API, integrated it with other systems (in many cases manually with our own development work). Along the way we even had to rebuild significant parts of the API because Xero changed the authorisation system etc. Hmm, probably wouldn’t have invested that time if we’d known the product may have been retired.”

Australian Xero expert Heather Smith has put together a list of potential options for WorkflowMax customers looking for alternatives, which you can find on her blog: Workflow Max by Xero is being retired. What are your options?

Karbon becomes a Xero-certified app

In news separate to the WorkflowMax retirement, accounting practice management software Karbon announced that it has become a Xero Certified App. This comes ahead of an integration between Karbon and Xero Practice Manager (XPM), which will be released in April 2023 for customers in the US, Australia and New Zealand. A spokesperson for Karbon told AccountingWEB that the integration will not be available in the UK.

The XPM-Karbon integration will automatically synchronise contact data between both systems, with joint Xero-Karbon customers able to maintain accuracy across new and existing client and contact records without having to manually update either or both systems. 

WorkflowMax is dead, long live WorkflowMax

While the WorkflowMax product is being ushered to the great recycle bin the in sky, the name will live on. BlueRock, a tech-led business advisory firm, will take on the brand and has begun to build a product offering similar functionality to the previous incarnation. 

According to the Xero blog post, this will be available to customers in early 2024 as an alternate job management solution, and while existing WorkflowMax will not be force-migrated, BlueRock intends to develop a conversion tool to help support the transition of existing WorkflowMax subscribers.

Xero will have an ongoing revenue share arrangement with BlueRock in connection with the product, and once released it will be available in the Xero App Store.

Focus on the bookkeeping product

The news comes as Xero, under the new leadership of Silicon Valley veteran Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, embarks on a cost-cutting exercise designed to make the business more profitable.

Two weeks ago the company announced it was cutting 15% of its global workforce, with potentially more redundancies to follow, and also laid out plans to exit cloud-based lending platform Waddle, which it acquired in 2020 for $31m.

Over the past few years, Xero users have called on the cloud accounting platform to focus on evolving its core bookkeeping product, with accountant partners looking for faster product development. The Waddle and WorkflowMax news are perhaps the first part of a shift in this direction, and users will be hoping that with increased bandwidth and focus, the product can continue to set the standard for cloud accounting.

3 April 2023: This article was amended following clarification from Xero and Karbon that the Xero-Karbon integration will not be available to UK users

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