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Choosing the right apps for your business
Software technology has evolved massively in the past decade, with cloud-based apps now fundamental to many of the internal and external processes in your business. To ensure you’re getting the best from the available tech, it’s important to choose the right apps and to create the ideal ‘app stack’ for a business in your specific sector
But how do you know if the latest ‘must-have app’ is really going to be an asset or just an additional software cost? The Xero app store is a good place to start so that your apps integrate with your accounting system.
Building the perfect app stack
Before you dive headfirst into the Xero app store, it’s important to do your homework and give yourself some firm foundations on which to base your app purchase decisions.
- Decide on the main aims of your software systems – Look at the specific aims of the business and tie each app into the various operations within your business model. A construction company, for example, will need a site management tool, staffing solutions, health & safety tools and an inventory app, to mention just a few.
- Make sure your apps integrate with Xero – Xero’s open API (application programming interface) allows all the apps in the app store to connect directly with Xero. This means that data and financial information can flow seamlessly between your apps and Xero, helping you keep all your management information up to date.
- Look for opportunities to automate manual processes – if there’s a low-level manual process in your business, try to find a way for your apps to automate this. For example, a credit control app, like Chaser, will send out automatic payment reminders to your customers if their invoice becomes overdue. And a bookkeeping app, like Receipt Bank, will snap photos of your receipts and automatically digitise and code the contents.
- Research the app market in depth – Look at online reviews, talk to your industry network and find out which apps your peers trust and would recommend. Where possible, try out free trials and demos, so you have had some hands-on experience of the apps in your shortlist. The more user time you have, the easier your purchasing decisions will be.
- Look for an excellent user interface (UI) – if you and your team are going to be using an app every day, it needs to be easy to use, with a small learning curve. Choose apps that have a great UI and offer a quality user experience. The sooner you can get up and running with your solution, the more value this app will add for the business.
- Partner with apps who offer excellent customer support – the functionality and ease-of-use of your app are obviously important considerations when you’re looking to buy. But don’t underestimate the importance of solid, helpful and personalised customer support. Look for apps with phone support, good customer service ratings and a happy and satisfied user base – check app forums to get the lowdown on this.
Talk to us about your app requirements
Our job as your accountant isn’t just to deal with your numbers. We can also help you review your operations, formulate the most efficient systems and choose the apps that can deliver the most effective and productive business performance.
If you’re looking to create your perfect app stack, We’ll help you navigate the Xero app store and create a perfectly connected and integrated Xero system.
Is your business ready for hybrid working?
The Covid pandemic has changed the way we work and ushered in a new era of hybrid working – but is your business ready and able to offer this mix of on-site, off-site and remote working?
When businesses were forced to close down their physical offices and workspaces, this brought technology to the fore. We’ve seen an increased use of remote working, video technologies and cloud-based business solutions – and people have got used to this ‘working from home’ ethic.
Hybrid working aims to take the best elements of remote working, and to mix these up with the undeniable advantages of working together as an in-person team. If your business is going to embrace this approach then it’s likely that employees will be spending some time in the office, some time at home and some time out and about, or at client’s worksite – but to do this, your company is going to need to provide the right environment for a hybrid approach.
The key question, then, is whether your business is ready to embrace hybrid working…
Setting the foundations for hybrid working
Any change in work patterns requires a certain amount of innovation from your business, plus the basic requirements of being able to deliver both remote and in-person working.
To get your business ready for hybrid working, it’s crucial to set the right foundations, and this means planning ahead, and keeping an open mind to the benefits of this new approach.
To prepare for a hybrid approach, your business must:
- Have the necessary cloud infrastructure – if your employees are going to work from home, or while out on the road, you need your key systems to be in the cloud. Old-school applications on an office-based server are just not going to cut it for hybrid working. Cloud-based accounting, project management, CRM and workflow tools give you the flexibility to work from any location, with one ‘point of truth’ in the cloud for all your customer information and business data.
- Have clear systems and processes – when people are working in different locations, at different times, it’s important to have some consistency around how the work is done. To achieve this you need well-defined operational systems, where each task has a pre-agreed process – so the whole team knows when, how and where to carry out their day-to-day work, record notes or raise expenses and bills etc.
- Trust your employees to self-manage – when employees are no longer based in the office five days per week, it becomes more difficult to have management oversight. With some people home-working and some out at other locations, you need to place more trust in their ability to self-manage and work to a high standard. Increasing trust and reducing micro-management is key to making a hybrid approach work for the team.
- Have performance reporting in place – trusting people to work hard is a given, but you do also need to know if the business is remaining productive. Having some form of performance reporting in place is a good idea, so you can review areas like productivity, staff attendance, sales targets and revenues generated etc.
- Empower people to get their jobs done – when you can’t all be in the office for the traditional ‘stand up team meeting’ it can be hard to build team spirit and keep your employees motivated. Try having regular Zoom/Microsoft Teams huddles, where teams come together to talk through the work for the week, and can raise any issues. And also think about distance or in-person social events too, so people can let their hair down and enjoy being part of your business family.
Preparing for hybrid working
The companies that fully grasp the hybrid working opportunity will be more flexible, more scalable and ready to react to new challenges and changing environments. So, there’s real value in forging ahead with this new approach.