Xero Chief Technology Officer Craig Walker informed the audience at the Xerocon event in Denver on Wednesday that the cloud accounting vendor’s new Business Performance Dashboard would be launched during the coffee break at 11:30 a.m.
The KPI engine is avilable to users as part of their existing subscription. Anyone opening Xero will find a new Business Performance option under the Reporting menu that leads to the pre-configured KPI charts.
The announcement has been previewed at similar events in London and Melbourne in recent months, and is the culmination of a major development initiative. For the past six months, Xero has been running an analytical database alongside its main transaction-handling servers.
To make it possible to analyze data from companies using different charts of accounts, Xero also implemented an internal coding map in the application, so that accountants can tailor charts for individual clients, but the central servers will also get a consolidated view.
The first performance components on the dashboard are based on the most popular requests from Xero accountants, such as debt-to-equity ratios and accounts receivable days. The formula on which each ratio is based is clearly indicated, and during a demo, Walker showed the underlying figures appear as he hovered over each total.
Individual performance indicators can be selected to view in the main client dashboard, and Xero is planning to add alerts warning the advisor when pre-set thresholds are exceeded.
“Ratios are useful, but are nothing without meaning and analytics behind them. That’s what you provide,” Walker told the audience.
The dashboard includes a query button alongside each report, so that clients can raise a query when they see a number they don’t understand and dispatch a message to their accountant along the lines of: “Question about accounts receivables.”
One of the questions that Xero’s application expansion strategy poses is how it will affect its reporting add-on developers. They have known the dashboard was coming and have had time to prepare themselves. Most were confident they could stay a few steps ahead as Xero moved into their territory.
Float’s Colin Hewitt explained that his company’s tool focuses on forecasting needs, and he felt this would remained untouched by the more general-purpose Xero reporting dashboard.
A similar message came from Financial Driver’s Gill Goddard: “Can they track all the dimensions that people want? It’s great for us. We don’t have to do the BI. We can do all the calculations and feed it back in.”
Add-on enthusiast and reviewer Kaydee Petersen agreed that most of the reporting add-on partners would survive the incursion of the Xero Business Performance Dashboard. The third-party tools let accountants work on reports away from the general ledger, “which you don’t want to interfere with", she said. “They also let you plug into other ledgers besides Xero.”
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.