The Xero add-ons Hubdoc and ZenPayroll won the plaudits from a panel of accountants at the Xerocon user and partner event in Denver this morning.
Whether attached to Xero or QuickBooks Online, certain add-ons seem to catch on very quickly to become part of a cloud practice's core tool set. Receipt Bank has proved popular in both cloud marketplaces, but when asked in a panel discussion lead by Xero US general manager Jamie Sutherland which add-on apps had the most impact on their firms, Scott Scharf from Catching Clouds, Double Rule’s Marvin Galang, and Elizabeth Palumbo from Bookkeeping Express all highlighted the document-collection tool Hubdoc and ZenPayroll.
“Hubdoc has had a big impact,” said Scharf, who specializes in supporting clients’ e-commerce systems. “Being able to pull documents into the app was a significant productivity gain. It made our team happier because they didn’t need to track all the data down. It was waiting for them.”
While Hubdoc got the first mention, ZenPayroll drew equally high praise from the accountants on the panel; not just for its functionality, but its customer support.
Palumbo specifically highlighted ZenPayroll’s consistency. “We get good customer support, and so do our clients. Payroll is very important for clients. They want an answer the first time. And with ZenPayroll, they get it,” she said.
Marvin Galang added: “The best thing about ZenPayroll is we get to talk to a person.”
The accountants on the discussion panel are all Xero enthusiasts who shared their insights with an audience of add-on developers at the first, technical day of Xerocon.
They all devote a lot of effort to uncovering new add-ons, with both Catching Clouds and Bookkeeping Express having a dedicated team to manage the task.
According to Palumbo, the search usually starts when a client brings them a problem. She and her team will get to work on Xero’s Add-on Marketplace and elsewhere to find apps, and will then run comparisons on functionality, ease of use, and price to get the best match for their client’s needs.
Scharf also uses his own company’s experiences as a launch point. “I might try to optimize an internal process. What’s tripping up the team and annoying them? Then looking at it, solving that problem - if they’re things like e-commerce, inventory, and resources that are generating money, we will try to draw that [into the Xero environment].”
Catching Clouds, Double Rule, and Bookkeeping Express are all part of a new generation of firms that have changed the way they practice accounting after embracing cloud technology.
“We’re totally virtual, we all work from home,” said Scharf of his Colorado-based practice. “It gives us the ability to provide true work-life balance and drive things forward.”
Xero and its add-ons allow accountants to design their business to focus on specific vertical markets and drive efficiencies in particular areas.
“We try to provide more value to customers with less effort. We want them catching accounting problems,” Scharf said.
Galang added: “We’ve evolved. We don’t treat ourselves as number crunchers, but consultants. We don’t just talk to clients about percentage of net revenues and the like. Most conversations revolve around business process. That’s what [Xero and add-ons] allow us to become.”
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.