You’ve heard the saying ‘A bad workman blames his tools’, right? Well, the same goes for online programs. State-of-the-art software that operates independently of the computer owner is yet to be invented, so while we wait for that, it’s up to you, the accountant, to make the magic happen.

Xero, and other Cloud applications, are simply tools to be used to better yours and your client’s business. The difference is, this tool connects you to clients in a far superior way than ever before.

The key to leveraging Xero is to use it to help you to change your own business processes, and to slowly adapt and evolve. Unless you yourself act upon the real-time data stored within Xero files and other Cloud applications, it will become just as stale as an excel spreadsheet or desktop software.

In essence, Xero is a real-time creator of client conversations. It becomes a communication tool, and an enabler for you to connect more frequently with clients, for reasons that are beneficial to your client. And over time, you’ll find that it can also be used to help you solve problems for your clients as they happen, often before your clients even know it’s a problem.

To make the most of Xero, you need to allocate resources, at no direct charge to your client, to review, interrogate and interpret the data in your clients’ files before presenting your findings to your clients.

But there are no shortcuts to success.

Xero is not something that you can throw investment or resources at, and hope to be able to ignore. The key is forcing yourself to rethink your service model, and that includes its focus and its desired outcomes.

What is it that you want to achieve?

Is it about providing more value-add services which are more profitable to your firm? Or about building new divisions? Or simply creating additional revenue streams?

And for your clients, are you looking to help them make better decisions within their business, which in turn helps them grow and be more profitable? Or is it about them streamlining their business so that they have a great platform for scale and growth?

Whatever the aim, once you articulate your end goals, you can then address what changes are required, both in yourself and your firm, to support these desired outcomes.

Let technology do the heavy lifting for you, so that you can focus on the type of client experience that you want to deliver. If their experience of moving to Xero, and working more closely with you as their accountant is a positive one, you can be sure they will refer potential clients to you who want the same.

Nothing good in business ever comes easy, and harnessing Xero is not an overnight process, but with time, if you stick to your guns, not only will your clients benefit, but so will you.