From XU Magazine, 
Issue 36

Is it time to update your app stack?

Speak to any successful accountant or bookkeeper and they will have a personalised app stack that they’ve researched and implemented—and that drives their growth. Sometimes these are known tech stacks, or integrations, or practice platforms.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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If you’re reading this magazine then you’ll be aware of apps, of course. Part of Xero’s appeal is the way it seamlessly forms the heart of an app stack.  

But when is the last time you took a top-to-bottom look at the app stack you rely upon daily? How are you supposed to go about finding new apps, and evaluating them?

An effective app stack is a living entity. You need to constantly evaluate the technology landscape alongside your own processes. The rewards can be massive cost savings, and efficiency boosts.

Client touchpoints

Wherever you have a client touchpoint and any associated processes, there may be an app offering assistance.

Client touchpoint for an average practice might include any of the following:

  • New client acquisition, such as marketing (website, social, and more).
  • Onboarding, in the form of creating quotations, then client proposals, service agreements, and engagement letters.
  • Anti-money-laundering (AML) and Know Your Client (KYC) compliance.
  • Getting data and docs from clients—and sending documents to clients, ensuring they’re always available should the client require them in, say, two years’ time. This might include digital signature technology, so clients can e-sign returns, for example.
  • Ongoing client servicing such as basic compliance and tax work, auditing, and managing the overall timeline of client actioning (that is, practice management).
  • Reporting and forecasting, either on demand (capital purchases, funding applications etc) or as part of regular requirements (e.g. year end, board packs).
  • Receiving client payments, both recurring and ad hoc. This can include chasing up late/defaulting payments, and credit control.
  • Client growth requirements, which could be everything from putting in place RTI payroll processes, to assisting with initial public offerings.
  • Offboarding clients, and potentially tasks such as succession planning for clients who intend to retire.  

The criteria are simple. What processes sap your time and energy? What tasks do you or your staff dread? What always seems to take more time than you anticipate?

Finding the best apps

So, you might’ve identified a need, or problematic area. How do you find an app to match?

Start by asking around. See what others are using. Your governing body, if you have one, may offer local meet-ups, so go along to them and speak to people.

If you’ve any particularly tech-savvy clients then you might speak to them to get pointers, too.

Ask not just what others use, but how they use it. This is vital and provides a shortcut into the most efficient way to get the best out of the software. Ask what need they had beforehand—and how the need was solved. Ask about this from both the perspective of their work, and how it benefitted clients.

If you’re looking for apps for clients to use, a useful trick is to trial them on your own accounting first. This way you not only evaluate their worth but also spend time building knowledge that you can then share.

Proposal onwards

Another path to a good accountant’s app stack is to consider the linear process of dealing with a client. It starts with the proposal and onboarding, then moves on to data processing and reporting, which leads to advisory.

Believe it or not, Sage has been putting a lot of work into this and offers a platform-agnostic app stack covering these bases. That’s right. These apps from Sage are available for, and integrate perfectly within, the Xero ecosystem (as well as Sage’s own Accounting platform, and QuickBooks, too!).

The first step for most accountants is to successfully sign-up clients. You already know that clients are complex and continually need more from you, and legislation around client engagement is onerous.

Sage’s GoProposal app solves all of this by giving you a sophisticated client engagement platform. You can create professional proposals and renewals, and automatically generate sophisticated engagement letters that evolve with regulatory changes.

There’s also an anti-money laundering, or AML, system that provides Know-Your-Client and Risk Assessments that are tailored to your needs, guided by compliance experts and fully integrated with the client onboarding process.

Fast data

Once the client is in the system, you’ll need a way to get their accounting data quickly and easily.

That’s where Sage’s app AutoEntry comes in. It’s the fastest way to capture, categorise and publish financial documents through to accounts software.

You can scan receipts, bills, invoices and things like bank or credit card statements, and AutoEntry will extract the data for you, saving up to 90% of the processing time normally associated with data entry. You can then publish this straight through to accounting software, or output it as an Excel file. You can also create basic expense reports.

With the move towards advisory service offerings, Sage’s app Futrli can be added to the app stack to automate the creation of forecasting and reporting. Picking up on the fast and high quality data provided by AutoEntry to accounting software, it can quickly and easily provide clients with impactful insights for their business’s current, past and future performance, such as sales, expenses, profit, cash flow, tax and growth insights. Operations, staff, profit, trends, bills, sales, tax... It’s all predicted across the P&L, balance sheet and cash flow, with up to 3-year forecasts.


Technology has been answering the needs of accountants for decades. But it doesn’t stand still, and accountants can’t, either. Keeping an eye on rapidly moving tech is the key to growth, competitiveness, and higher incomes.

Why leave it there?

To try AutoEntry for free or get a demo

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