Founder of Accounting For Good, Morri Young, has always been a gadget guy, alert to the next new technology. But not just in an acquisitive way, in a very inquisitive and intelligent way. I first met Morri when he was establishing this company in 1997 (then Matrix on Board) and over the subsequent 20+ years I’ve learnt that he is incurably curious and an assiduous researcher. Also that he is generally right in his predictions.
When Morri spotted that accounting technology was on the move and the future was online, we went there (in 2009). At the time Xero was pretty new full stop but even newer in Australia. Undeterred - or more accurately - confident that we were onto a good thing, Hasan became our first Xero bookkeeper and our first Xero client was based in Alice Springs.
It wasn’t easy shifting our team of MYOB experts to a new system where they didn’t feel expert and certainly weren’t as fast (to start with) but by the time we took the decision to go Xero-only in 2014, the team were more than keen to get remaining clients onto Xero, having come to love the ability to collaborate with our clients on real-time data.
So what does the AFG team like about Xero?
In short - live bank feeds, opportunities for automation of routine tasks, reporting against budget (including on projects) at the press of a button, customisable report packs that really answer our clients’ questions, ability to collaborate with our clients and transparency of information.
I especially love that we can publish report packs in Xero. Our client’s management team can jump in to view their reports and drill down into transaction detail - right to the point of being able to see the supporting invoice. No need to ask “what’s that?” of the bookkeeper, they can self-serve information immediately and when it suits them. And if that results in an instruction to recode between projects, for example, then that becomes a short exchange rather than a backwards-and-forwards process. The opportunity to share financial information in such a clear and transparent way really adds to an organisation’s understanding of its financial performance and position. And I think it is a great professional development opportunity for managers to have greater knowledge of the budgets they control.
Our NFP clients like Xero too, for a variety of reasons. Anna loved to be able to plod about in Xero (as a Read Only user) without fear of breaking anything. Maz says Xero and Receipt Bank are an enormous time saver for their corporate credit card receipts and Larry is loving the lack of paper on his desk.
We get fairly regular requests to help charities and associations to optimize their Xero file - especially in relation to having the chart of accounts and cost centre (tracking) structure set up to suit them - and thereby improve their reporting, along with requests for Xero implementation projects. Many of us have so much technology available at our fingertips these days and I’m finding more non-profit CEOs are thinking “surely the finances should be easier than this” when they struggle with getting financial information on time or at all when working with desktop accounting software.
Anyone can have a free 30 day trial of Xero and AFG is always happy to do a demo and have a chat about whether it might be a good tool for your non-profit - we’ve learnt a lot over the past 10+ years and are happy to share our experience.