Looking Back: Building an Enterprise-Level System with Xero
October 4, 2023
We’ve come to the end of our epic webinar series, Building an Enterprise-Level System with Xero.
Over the past three weeks, we have embarked on an incredible journey together to explore the power and potential of Xero plus its ecosystem. For Xero-using finance leaders who feel they've outgrown Xero, our expert panel of in-house finance leaders, cloud champions, and ecosystem app partners advised how businesses can move successfully into their growth phase with Xero plus its ecosystem - avoiding the "horrible and hectic" move to a costly ERP system.
The series in numbers:
📅 14 webinars
🕧 540 minutes of content
As we bring this series to a close, let's take a moment to reflect on the knowledge gained and next steps: the launch of CFO Techstack. We're creating a community for tech-savvy CFOs, FDs and finance teams to share information and insights around how to scale with Xero and build the best-in-class techstack for your finance team. Find out more and sign up below.
Key takeaways from the series
There were four key findings which came up time and again across our expert panels...
1. Transaction limits
What are transaction limits? Transaction limits in Xero can be broken down into the following limits:
- Invoicing - 1,000 per month
- Bills - 1,000 per month
- Bank transactions - 2,000 per month
- Inventory items - 4,000 tracked inventory items
- Contacts - 10,000 in total
- Fixed assets - 500 fixed assets
- Tracking categories - 100 for each category (max of 2 active categories)
The experts advise thinking laterally about transaction limits. Their advice is to ask yourself - is there a way I can revise my process and or you know work with an ecosystem partner that means that I circumvent those limits because I am making an aggregated posting in this particular regard?
2. Chart of accounts
We always asked our panel for a ‘top tip’ when it comes to scaling with Xero. Many of the experts said that when managing your chart of accounts, it's essential not to take shortcuts. Our panellists suggest to avoid mixing external transactions with internal intercompany ones, keeing these transactions separate in your chart of accounts for clarity. A key takeaway from the series is that maintaining a well-organised chart of accounts is crucial for effective financial management.
3. Complexity rather than size
Figuring out what system is best for your business has more to do with complexity than size. Our experts say defining what constitutes a "larger organisation" in the context of using Xero can be challenging. It's not solely based on revenue or transaction volumes. Instead, it depends on various factors, including complexities within the organisation.
4. Testing software
You can test new software within Xero using real data or create dummy data in the Xero demo company for a trial
We hosted 14 webinars across the series.
To start: Launch Webinar
Topic 1: Scale your Spending Process
Topic 3: Level Up your Management Reporting
Topic 4: Proactively Manage Currency Risk
Topic 9: Plan Effectively for Every Scenario
Topic 13: Automating Multi-entity Month End
Scroll down to the appendices below for the summaries and key learnings from each webinar.
Thank you for getting involved
The reception to our webinar series has been absolutely outstanding.
“Thank you all - brilliant info!”
“Great advice - too many growing businesses move to an ERP too early”
“Thanks for making this series. Fascinating”
“I'm loving the content”
“Amazing work team. Pleasure to be involved. A very accessible and useful library for years to come.”
“The series has been excellent”
It's clear that there is so much demand for insights about how to scale effectively with Xero. We’re delighted that our panellists have offered those valuable insights into what’s possible for scaling businesses when they maximise Xero plus its ecosystem.
We are so grateful to all of our panellists and supporters for making this series a resounding success. Your enthusiasm and dedication have been the driving force behind this series.
What’s next – CFO Techstack
The reception of this webinar series has blown us away. We can see that there’s a real demand among CFOs and other in-house finance leaders for information and insights from peers around how to scale with Xero.
We’re launching a new newsletter under a new brand, CFO Techstack, where we will continue to share these insights and promote future webinars and events.
To start: Launch Webinar with Joe Newbold at Control Room Finance, Kat Wellum-Kent at Fractional Finance and Alex von Shirmeister at Xero
Our series launch webinar explored successes that businesses have had scaling with Xero into their growth phase. Our panellists emphasised that a single pain point doesn’t mean that finance teams necessarily need to seek out an ERP system, but rather they should look to Xero’s ecosystem.
We discussed the reasons why businesses might start to stretch Xero as they grow – transaction volume, complexities, the number of entities, and specific system needs rather than just growing turnover. It’s important to consider these complexities and find the right apps or suite of apps within the Xero ecosystem to address specific challenges.
“Companies that are purely designed to solve and fix that one pain point will always do it way better than what we could possibly do. Companies have already come up with a solution and plug into our ecosystem, that's exactly what then allows you to extend the life of your utilisation of Xero” - Alex von Shirmeister, UK & EMEA MD at Xero
Topic 1: Scale your Spending Process with Anna Cuthbert at Galop, Luke Streeter at flinder and Paddy O’Neill at Spendesk
Our panel delved into their experiences with larger, more cumbersome systems and contrasted those with the flexibility offered by Xero and its ecosystem. They spoke about how tracking categories in Xero can be manipulated to provide more nuanced subcategories, helping to improve spend management capabilities.
We discussed how seeking out ecosystem apps makes Xero a more flexible system that can adapt to a business’s evolving spend management needs. These apps can help with decentralisation, something that is crucial in spend management, especially for department heads who need control over their spending.
“Xero does the basics very well, so expenses, budgeting, purchase orders… there is some fairly decent basic functionality and if you want to go beyond that that's where you then use the ecosystem which satisfies the needs.” - Luke Streeter, flinder
Book a demo with our Spend Management webinar partner, Spendesk, here.
Topic 2: Report at Group Level across Xero Orgs with Charl Ryan at RocketMine, Tyler Caskey at TheBeanCounters and Harry Symons at Joiin
We discussed the challenges that larger Xero-using organisations face in trying to achieve a unified, single-point view of their financial data. Xero's user-friendly interface allows easy comprehension of accounting and daily transactions but its integration with various apps, like Joiin, streamlines processes and makes it easier to generate reports quickly and efficiently.
Our panel explained how manual consolidation means managing multiple entities on Xero and treating each entity individually, then manually consolidating reports into Excel. Finding a consolidation app that automates these processes makes consolidation a much more streamlined task.
“The number one pain point that we get from customers is getting that ‘single point in time’ view. With Xero, it's really hard to bring all that data together and get that one point in time consolidation and then with the Xero ecosystem, or consolidation tools, that automation allows you to bring all of that data into one place” - Harry Symons, Joiin
Book a demo with our Consolidation webinar partner, Joiin, here.
Topic 3: Level Up your Management Reporting with Stephen Paul at Valued, Stuart Hurst at Accounts and Legal and Darren Glanville at Fathom
This discussion started by looking at how native functionalities in Xero can be used for reporting, but then how there will be a need for additional apps when requirements grow. Our panellists discussed the importance of understanding the business's goals and the role of different team members in the reporting process.
Relying solely on Xero might not suffice for businesses requiring detailed insights, especially when it comes to departmental benchmarking. Understanding the ‘why’ or purpose of the business is crucial before diving into management reporting.
“It's having that feeling that you've got a crystal ball where you can run things through, you can do some projections, you can look at best-case worst-case scenarios. I think that's the thing about management reporting and BI is clarity and confidence and that's the key to it” - Darren Glanville, Fathom
Watch a demo with our Reporting webinar partner, Fathom, here.
Topic 4: Proactively Manage Currency Risk with Sharon Wolverson and Tracey Stream at KTL UK Ltd and Glen Foster at HedgeFlows
Our panel delved into how businesses that trade internationally can manage currency risk in a fluctuating financial market. Pre-booking currency can be a strategic way to mitigate financial risk due to fluctuating exchange rates.
Team education about the intricacies of dealing with multiple currencies is crucial for efficient financial management. The panellists also talked about the opportunities and limitations when integrating multiple apps for business needs.
“The stats that came out of HedgeFlows SME empowerment report are quite worrying because it shows that 70% of businesses aren't expanding globally because of fears over international payments and currency risk. They're not really experiencing the opportunities that the ecosystem can provide.” - Glen Foster, HedgeFlows
Book a demo with our Treasury Management webinar partner, HedgeFlows, here.
Topic 5: Manage Complexity when Scaling Payroll with Beth Staff at Sylvera, Dave Sellick at Sidgrove and Sabrina Castiglione at Pento
Our panel highlighted the challenges of scaling payroll systems, and how using dedicated payroll systems like Pento can simplify the process by offering customisation features.
Using Excel spreadsheets for payroll management can be inefficient and prone to errors, especially when changes need to be made last minute. Xero’s API allows finance teams to link into various apps to enhance their payroll capabilities.
"As a company scales, that can create lots of frictions and complexities for the finance team. I've been on more of that ‘outsource to in-house’ journey. And then, as part of that thinking around what is the best in-house solution, to be able to smoothly and confidently handle payroll” - Beth Staff, Sylvera
Book a demo with our Payroll webinar partner, Pento, here.
Topic 6: Manage Complex Manufacturing and Inventory Processes with Keri Baker-Biggs at BookCheck X, Matt Flanagan at BlueHub and Amber Chaffe at Unleashed Software
Our panel discussed the importance of understanding system limitations, focusing on capacity planning, and using dedicated inventory management systems.
In particular, businesses scaling from 10,000 to 70,000 transactions a month need robust solutions, not just for managing inventory but for handling complex transactions. As your business grows to multi-level with different warehouses and diverse parts, it requires features like batch tracking, serial tracking, and multi-warehouse support.
"We're talking about bigger customers so things like batch tracking, serial tracking, multi-warehouses. So when we're talking about these bigger businesses we're talking about people that are operating across multi-levels and have loads of different moving parts rather than it just being buy and sell and ultimately that that can get quite complex." - Amber Chaffe, Unleashed Software
Book a demo with our Supply Chain and Inventory Management webinar partner, Unleashed Software, here.
Topic 7: Optimise FX Rates and Automate Reconciliation with Airwallex, featuring Chris Carter at Eventwise, John Toon at Beever and Struthers and James Scobie at Airwallex
Our panel discussed how, as a business scales, they should consider taking control of their FX by forward contracting to manage risks better.
Thinking more sophisticatedly about FX provides a level of certainty that can be beneficial for budgeting. Often, costs associated with FX are neglected because they do not directly affect gross profits or direct costs. However, these are significant costs of doing international business and should not be overlooked.
“As you do scale up, you tend to want to take a little bit more control of your FX in terms of considering things like forward contracting – managing that risk a little bit more so that you've got some more certainty" - John Toon, Beever and Struthers
Get started with our Foreign Currency Transactions webinar partner, Airwallex, here.
Topic 8: Automate and Enhance your Accounts Receivable Processes with Vicky Ellis at Not Just Numbers, David Rowland at Energize, Jo Wood at Jo Wood Virtual FD and Krissie Chapleo at Chaser
Our panel discussed how the ease of invoicing plays a crucial role in accounts receivable efficacy, often overlooked as people tend to focus from the point the invoice has been issued onwards. Entrepreneurs and business owners should continually seek out incremental improvements, especially as the business grows and the volume of invoices increases.
Open lines of communication with clients or their managers can provide valuable insights into payment delays. Change management is a significant factor when implementing any new tool or system, as it often involves overcoming resistance arising from fear and lack of control.
“It's all about finding ways to work more effectively, be more productive, by saving time where possible on tasks that can be automated… to make sure that you can spend your time more effectively on the real value-add tasks like actually putting in the phone calls to customers.” - Krissie Chapleo, Chaser
Book a demo with our Accounts Receivable webinar partner, Chaser, here.
Topic 9: Plan Effectively for Every Scenario with Sophie Conaghan at RORA, Jonathan Gaunt at FD Works and Taimur Abdaal at Causal
Our panel discussion explored how financial planning is crucial when looking at significant decisions a company has to make, including determining the runway, hiring capacity, and pathways to profitability. Different dimensions exist within financial planning, such as long-term budgeting, short-term cash flow forecasting, and financial business partnering for specific projects.
The standard chart of accounts that comes with accounting software like Xero is not set in stone. Businesses have the flexibility to relabel those to fit their unique needs.
“Planning is something that everyone is doing, whether you're doing it very explicitly or very consciously or not, you are doing planning in some sense. So it's probably a good idea to be more intentional about it. It encompasses pretty much all the big decisions you're making as a business.” – Taimur Abdaal, Causal
Book a demo with our Financial Planning and Analysis webinar partner, Causal, here.
Topic 10: Speed Up Bill Processing and Make Bulk Payments with Josh Elster at YardLink, Emily Deakin at Moore Growth Accountants and Joe Lines at Nook
Our panel explored how businesses that haven't adopted tools face scalability challenges, especially when their number of monthly bills goes into the thousands. The panel discussed optimising bill processing workflows and making bulk payments more efficient using automation.
It’s important to seek tools with two-factor authentication and confirmation of payee as these are essential security measures to look for in solutions that help with bulk payments.
“Most banks don't support bulk payments so you've got business owners, CFOs, CEOs spending evenings and weekends having to copy and paste amounts into their bank just to make payments. The topic today is about how you speed up that process in a secure way and how you can actually use tools out there to make bulk payments” - Joe Lines, Nook
Book a demo with our Accounts Payable webinar partner, Nook, here.
Topic 11: Scale your Approvals Process as a Bigger Team with Gabriel Kierzemblat at The Lost Explorer, Hilary Dyson at Bridge Financials and Alex Keselman at ApprovalMax
Our panel discussed how fully integrated systems are crucial for ensuring payments to suppliers are not delayed, particularly for not-for-profits that have strict guidelines for payment timelines. Multi-step approval processes, depending on the value and nature of the purchase, are important for organisations, especially those with multiple budget holders.
When we’re talking about approvals, we mean having secure financial controls. Having robust controls in place is not just for auditors but also to ensure there's no management override.
"That control environment is really important, and that includes being able to prove to your auditors that you've got all of these controls in place and that they're being complied with." - Hilary Dyson, Bridge Financials
Book a demo with our Approvals webinar partner, ApprovalMax, here.
Topic 12: Unlock Features for Scaling Businesses in Xero with Steve Jarvis at Manufacture 2030, Heidi Seal at Business Sense and Alastair Gardner at Xero
For this webinar with and about Xero itself, our panel discussed how businesses can customise the core Xero product, but also how they may outgrow Xero's built-in functionalities as they scale, making it essential to explore the app marketplace.
We discussed Xero’s transaction limits and how companies can consider smarter and more efficient ways to use Xero,thinking laterally around those transaction volume limits and implementing workarounds to decrease transaction numbers. We also heard that attending trade shows and other events can provide valuable insights into upcoming features and solutions within Xero and its ecosystem.
“If you're going to scale, just have a think – is there a smarter and more efficient way of doing it still within Xero – which might reduce your transaction volume limit. You don't have to continue doing everything the same way you've been used to,” - Alastair Gardner, Xero
Topic 13: Automating Multi-entity Month End with Harriet Hope at Arbolus, Lauren Harvey at Full Stop, and Mayday Co-Founders James Griffin and David Tuck
Our panel discussed how month-end processes for groups are crucial for keeping profit and loss accounts and balance sheets in sync across different entities and how automation can bring about significant time efficiencies and improved accuracy.
There are second-order benefits that come from automation and making these processes simpler that are really valuable. For example, one Mayday customer, OG Global, were able to reduce their spend by centralising costs and achieving greater volume discounts. Those second-order benefits are really worth bearing in mind when you're thinking about implementing automation – it's not just the time saving of the accuracy that you gain, it's all of the other great things that you can do for your business because all of these processes are simpler.
“Really what we're talking about here is how can we get in-house finance leaders as close as possible to Usain Bolt speeds when it comes to time to value and delivering management information at the end of the month-end process.” - David Tuck
Book a demo with the series hosts and Intercompany Automation partner, Mayday.
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Looking Back: Building an Enterprise-Level System with Xero
We’ve come to the end of our epic webinar series, Building an Enterprise-Level System with Xero. Over the past three weeks, we have embarked on an incredible journey together to explore the power and potential of Xero plus its ecosystem. As we bring this series to a close, let's take a moment to reflect on the knowledge gained and what might lie ahead.
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