Xerocon London: New tools for small businesses

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Xero has invested heavily in the past year to expand its small business products beyond their core accounting services to help small businesses manage staff, operate and scale up. At its Xerocon London conference, which wrapped up Thursday, the biggest announcements were around improvements to Xero’s accounting software aimed at common small business pain points, like mileage tracking and data synthesization.

Business Snapshot is a new tool scheduled to go into pilot testing early next year, giving small business owners a high-level view of their critical business metrics and important trends using data visualization to help them make decisions on immediate issues.

Business Snapshot will be pilot tested initially by accountants and advisors early next year. It is part of a broader effort from Xero to combine smarter insights with simple tools to make it easier for small businesses to make complex decisions. In September, Xero announced a pilot of a short-term cash flow tool to give small businesses a 30-day view of their business health in the platform and make decisions on payments and bills based on potential impacts to cash flow. Business Snapshot is the next stage, aimed at providing the context to understanding the relationship between cash flow and profit.

Xero has made its Quotes module available within Xero Projects. Accountants and their clients can estimate, quote and track jobs directly within Xero Projects, so all new work is costed.

Now, small businesses can create estimates in Projects based on the likely hours required to complete work and any expected expenses. Once complete, small businesses can send estimates as professional quotes online to customers and, once approved, they can track time and expenses directly to what they quoted.

Users can create detailed quotes directly within Xero Projects; and all quotes, expenses and financial information are directly linked to the Xero accounting ledger. This follows an update earlier this year on auto time tracking for Projects mobile, which suggests time entries against a project based on the time spent at a particular location, to avoid manual tracking of how long owners and their employees have spent on a job.

Xero has also improved automation features in Xero expenses, such as mileage and fuel, the most commonly claimed expense types for businesses using Xero. The software will calculate fuel and mileage expenses and reimburse staff. Employees just need to input their distance traveled on the Xero Expenses app or the web, and the claim value will be calculated based on the rate per mile or kilometre offered by the employer. No receipts are needed.

“We have been working hard over the past year to develop new ways to give small businesses smarter, simple and seamless workflows that help them better understand their business and make crucial decisions about the future of their operations,” said Anna Curzon, chief product officer, in a statement. “With these new features, small businesses and their advisors can have deeper discussions about what’s working, what isn’t, and focus on how they can continue to grow and thrive.”

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