Life Before the Cloud
Prior to making the move to SuiteFiles and Xero, we found that we had an increasing number of manual and clunky processes, things didn’t work like they should, and our systems didn’t speak to each other. Our user data and files weren’t sharing and updating correctly. Making the decisions to cloud in late-2012 was a big call and although we had built our trust in Xero and Xero Practice Manager, we still had to look at several apps to integrate and improve our practice. Moving to Xero solved many of our problems, but we still found that we had a number of manual processes and nothing integrated with Xero Practice Manager the way we wanted it to. We used another document management system for a while, but the XPM integration wasn’t functioning effectively, and our ability to search for documents across our system was virtually impossible.
Starting the change
As mentioned, our first big step was to move to a cloud-based accounting system. For us, this meant switching to Xero, as it was built to be cloud-based from the start. Once we were comfortable with Xero, we started looking at several apps in the Xero Ecosystem. We started looking in 2013, but didn’t finalise our other apps until 2017. All of the ecosystem apps are constantly making improvements, and so when we reassessed many of them in 2017 they had improved significantly and we were ready to make the switch. We sat down and went through our wish list with SuiteFiles and other apps during Xerocon 2017, and there were so many definite benefits for our practice we started to implement.
By 2017 our document management issues had really come to a head. The biggest selling point for SuiteFiles was that it integrates seamlessly with Xero Practice Manager. We now have a single source of truth for client information and documents. We can access all our documents from within Xero Practice Manager and it’s meant that information is far more accessible (as cloud based means it is accessible from anywhere) and easier to maintain versioning and consistency.
Templates are also a significant benefit of SuiteFiles. You can template your key documents and then auto populate them using data from Xero Practice Manager. Being able to template our annual work papers and then create these documents on the fly into client folders has been a huge time saver for us. We also have templates of our folder structures, so that we can keep folder conventions consistent across all of our clients, saving us significant time.
We also use the Drive app to map SuiteFiles into our File Explorer, which made the transition to the cloud even simpler. By being able to save straight to the cloud by dragging and dropping into the file explorer like we’re used to, it makes it easy to slowly get used to the cloud, and helps to ensure no documents are left sitting on a local drive. Everyone in office uses SuiteFiles differently, and it adapts to this so we all benefit from it!
Not once have we regretted the move across to SuiteFiles. We love the support provided by the team and the benefits to our practice have been undeniable.
The time saved using SuiteFiles in our practice is 20-25hrs each week. We’ve utilized our time savings wisely and our bottom line reflects this.
How to choose your ‘app stack’
The app stack will be different for every practice depending on your requirements. For RAQ, it was important to have technology that spoke to each other, so that we were able to maintain consistency and we werenít adding manual processes to the business. If your tech doesn’t work together, you end up having to manually link your apps, and that can be time-consuming.
Do your research; Xerocon is a great place to get to know the apps and to set yourself with the information you need and any demonstrations you’re after. Go in with a plan (we now pick one main app to assess, with the rest being a bonus). Do some research beforehand about the problems you want to solve, and any apps that have been recommended to you or that your Xero Account Manager has suggested. Make a list and check off apps as you go. Make sure you sign up for a demonstration or a trial of the ones youíre keen to implement after having an initial chat.
Also ensure you trial any apps prior to implementing them into your practice, so you’re comfortable with how they work and that they’ll solve the problems you’re experiencing in your practice. We also suggest revisiting your apps from time-to-time, as mentioned, they’re constantly adding new features, so it’s always a good idea to see what’s new, or if an app you’ve previously ruled out now has a better solution for you!