At Xerocon last month it was announced that Xero HQ ― Xero’s latest accounting and bookkeeping practice platform ― will soon be coming to our screens. For Xero Partners, this means access to new and more integrated insights when working within the cloud-based Xero HQ platform.
Since the announcement, we’ve found ourselves fielding a lot of questions at Business Continuum. These are mainly coming from practices who already use Xero Practice Manager or Xero Tax, and want to know more about how they can benefit from Xero HQ. So in the leadup to its release, we’ve put together a list of steps your practice can take to get practice ready and make a seamless transition across to the new platform.
Xero HQ’s key features
There's a lot to take in when exploring Xero HQ, but some of its standout features include:
a live activity feed to automatically show due dates for your clients, and allowing you to prioritise and organise workflow for your firm; a ‘client explorer’, which allows users to view Xero clients by industry, integration partners and connected bank institutions; and a central client list, which consolidates information from Xero Practice Manager, Xero Tax and other Xero organisations to make client information accessible to practice staff.
As an open practice platform, Xero HQ is open to external developers and select partners, who wish to further enhance the software’s capabilities benefit all users of the platform.
Preparing your practice for Xero HQ
1) Clean Up Databases
Clean up your customer database by deleting, merging or archiving any duplicate, unwanted or old records. This will ensure you’re not slowed down by redundant data once you switch to Xero HQ’s client list feature.
We recommend deleting or merging clients if they are duplicates, to ensure future client updates that are imported are not rejected. Where you have jobs (XPM only) or related transactional history for the multiple client records that should be assigned to only one client record, then you should merge the unwanted client into your preferred client record.
Tip: don’t forget that you can quickly bulk archive your clients from the Client Manager module in Xero Practice Manager.
2) Ensure Billing Entity Matches Xero Contact
If you edit any client names in order to stay consistent with the Xero organisations integrated through Xero HQ, do keep an eye out for clients who nominate themselves as the main billing entity for an individual or group. Where this occurs, you will need to make sure any changes are also made in Xero contacts to avoid duplicate client records and maintain consistency. This will also ensure Xero’s debtor reminder settings are not triggered accidentally, due to a duplicate record.
3) Clean Up Custom Fields
If you started using Xero Practice Manager prior to the introduction of Xero Tax, you may have set up custom fields to store basic client details such as client codes, gender, titles, dates of birth or bank accounts. Since the release of Xero Tax, the custom field feature has been replaced by ‘system fields’ to capture this information.
You can get your practice up to speed by deleting any former custom fields (used prior to the introduction of Xero Tax) and adopting the corresponding Xero Practice Manager fields which are currently used to categorise clients.
4) Set up Client Groups
Your former client groups in Xero Practice Manager will now become Xero HQ’s single client list. Any missing client details or tax can also be manually imported into information the Xero HQ client list.
Tip: don’t forget to tick the “Taxable group” option, which will activate the Tax Return tab for the group in Practice Manager.
5) Review Your Client Notes
Client notes currently stored in Practice Manager will be accessible to all staff in your Xero HQ practice platform. If you have any privacy concerns about what notes will be visible, you can create a custom client report, which will separately record all client notes that are currently saved in Xero Practice Manager.
6) Check Your Security
Two factor security authentication has been available in Xero since late 2015 ― and while it doesn’t directly impact the integration of Xero Practice Manager with Xero HQ, it’s a good opportunity to turn the feature on if you haven't already done so. Considering your practice staff have complete access to the Xero ledgers of clients, it’s not only paramount that your logins are secure at a practice level ― but on a personal level for all of your staff as well.
To turn on personal two factor authentication, each user is required to generate a unique security code from their phone and enter in Xero when logging in from a new device. Once authenticated, Xero will remember the device for 30 days before needing to re-authenticate.
Xero HQ is scheduled for release from the 8th of November 2016, so if your practice intends to make the switch there's still time to prepare. While you can start using Xero HQ at any time, you’ll get the best results by taking these steps in advance ―and making the transition as smooth as possible.
If you have more questions about how to get your practice performing better with Xero HQ, or need some help setting up the right software solutions and workflows to make your own practice more efficient, please get in touch with us today.