I recently wrote this to the free Xero email support:
Xero is a major accounting advance. One of the best things about Xero is that it gets you thinking about how much more it can and should do. You can then quickly get support for your good new feature requests, so they soon become reality.
I very quickly got this:
Thank you for your kind words and your continued support of Xero. I'll be sure to pass your feedback on to my colleagues.
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I wrote back:
Thank you Dan. Please also thank all your collegues, who keep giving us such good free email support and making us feel our suggestions are so welcome. This approach will make Xero the best type of self-fulfilling prophecy. No wonder the Xero stock price doubled in the last year and it trades near record highs. I feel it would be wrong for me to say this if I owned any Xero stock.
For example, I pleaded with top Intuit executives for automatic accounting in 2004. They said they liked it the idea very much, but did nothing about it until 2009. They then had to pay $170 million for Mint, which was wiping out Quicken Online. Intuit soon killed Quicken Online, without giving its users a promised easy upgrade to Mint. I was a QuickBooks insider, who spent years constantly exchanging emails with two Intuit CEOs and their top assistants. However, if you wonder why I now look to Xero, what Intuit did to Quicken Online users is a big reason. My clients and I did not use it, but we all have obligations to others.
Intuit now has automatic daily bank and credit card uploads in QuickBooks Online, but not QuickBooks. No wonder QBO is growing about 10 times as fast. However, there are many good reasons why Xero is growing far faster than QBO. Some top QuickBooks experts now join me in saying we would rather spend time at the dentist than use QBO.
To the contrary, I recently complained about having to enter extra data to set up Xero. Rod Drury, Xero CEO, quickly wrote that Ian Vacin, former QuickBooks ProAdvisor program head, was already working hard to simplify setup and that it was a top priority. Ian also soon wrote. They also made it possible for Xero to release the first simplification to setup a few days later.
On each of the many times I suggested Xero changes, I soon got enthusiastic responses, like those from Dan, Rod, Ian and others. Not everything can be top priority, but Xero has more than 100 programmers making big improvements monthly. The more you get other users to support Feature Requests, the more likely you will see them soon.
This is why I proposed Public New Feature and Bug Tracking forums to Intuit – QuickBooks in 2003. Brad Smith, now Intuit CEO, enthusuasically contacted me right after joining Intuit. He later said that former CEO Steven Bennett told him to do this before reporting to work. There was soon a two-day top management meeting. Scott Cook, Intuit founder, wanted a system to let Intuit go contact users about good suggestions made years earlier. However, Intuit never fixed the related srewed up website it built for me. Xero had had a far better version when I first saw it and is working on finishing what I wanted long ago, starting with weighted voting.
Some of the best Xero changes now increasingly come from the very fast growing ranks of Xero add-on partners, with the free Xero RESTful interface. They involve things like Crystal Reports, Xero EDI, Alvara sales tax solutions and our very inexpensive and powerful U.S. payroll integration. I pushed Intuit for years before it went from hostile to QuickBooks add-ons to them being a #1 corporate priority. I still have the largest list of QuickBooks Add-ons and the most complete search for the millions of QuickBooks add-ons links. Unfortunately, Intuit screwed this up too. They dropped support for two free known-buggy access methods, in favor of an very incomplete proprietary tollgate.
Xero obviously is a major accounting advance, which should let us quickly and easily copy its automatic classification rules, contacts (including favored ledger accounts) and charts of accounts between clients. Related CPA, regional and international libraries should soon follow. I have been waiting for this for 40 years. I asked Xero email help whether bank rules were accessible to Add-ons developers. They are not, so we need that as a first step to copying these rules.
I cannot do what Rod, Ian and Xero programmers can do about this, so I must ask all Xero users to join me in requesting this new feature.
On the other hand, we need not wait for them. I quickly got my very inexpensive international bookkeepers and CPAs to begin Xero work. I have been using them for 11 years, as shown in this 2007 Accounting Technology magazine Secrets of Outsourcing cover story, but never had the savings or control I now have. Assistants now:
- Speed Xero setups with dummy Yodlee accounts. Yodlee is a big help with Xero balances.
- Setup Xero accounts with dummy data to save time (Cashbook clients do not need most setup data).
- Email and call clients and run guided GoToMyPC setup sessions, so users need only know bank logins (Yodlee and Xero hide passwords). These take around 15 minutes.
- Edit bank names, especially if one Xero company has accounts for different businesses and persons.
- Copy (reconstruct) stanard Xero rules in new clients.
- Copy and organize my blog for Xero book material.
- Set opening balances.
- Import entries back to the beginning of the year.
- Make sure we use a consistent Chart of Accounts.
- Reconcile entries and develop new rules.
- Provide clients with new reports.
That is why I more than doubled my number of Xero clients this month, but am still #2 in U.S. Xero clients (List View). I will be trying hard to keep doubling.