Xero is continuously updating their software with new features or tweeks to current features. From from time to time I will be posting an update on the blog so you can keep up to date with any developments.

Some features shown below have recently been added to Xero, other features might just need highlighting so you can utilise them if you have not explored them before. I hope you will find this update useful, in the last section I will also highlight some features in the pipeline that you can expect to be implemented in the coming weeks.

Two Step Authentication

Two step authentication is often used by many internet banking and online services to provide an additional layer of security.
It significantly reduces the risk of someone gaining access to your account if they have managed to obtain your login and password through a phishing attack or malware.
Here’s how it works:
Step one – enter your user email and password on the login screen
Step two – enter a unique 6 digit code from the Google Authenticator app on your phone
Xero is built around protecting your financial data. Stay safe online – use two step authentication for best practice security.

New “+” icon in Xero

Be more efficient with the new + icon in Xero
We’ve added a new plus icon to your Xero Header. It will let you access common actions in Xero from anywhere in the application.
If you’re new to Xero, this makes it easier to find and use the functions you want without having to find them in the app.
And if you’ve used Xero for a while, this feature will make you more efficient by saving you navigation time as you complete your tasks.
Regardless of how familiar you are with Xero, this feature streamlines your actions.
For the initial release, Xero is including the most common actions our customers make: creating a new invoice, bill, purchase order, inventory item, contact or quote.
Simply click the ‘+’ Icon, select the action you want to take, and you’ll be taken directly to that part of Xero.
This feature is only available for businesses who use a Business Edition of Xero. As a result, the options you see are limited to those you have access to in Xero – by virtue of your user permissions and the plan your business is using.
If you’ve used Search, you may have noticed that it’s also possible to create new items from the Search box, too. You can still use Search to quickly complete tasks. This gives you new ways to be more efficient. Some new shortcuts from the search menu are included to the right here. In fact, you can also initiate new transactions from the Files library and from within individual contacts as well. Anywhere you see a + icon!

New contacts integration with Gmail and Office 365

How do you keep on top of your customer and supplier relationships? Look no further than your email. For small businesses, email is a critical communications tool. With the advent of mobile technologies, small businesses in all industries can stay in touch with their business while working on the go. They use email to stay in touch with what’s happening with their customers and suppliers whenever it’s convenient. In fact, according to research, around 75% of a business’ intellectual property is contained within email. What does this mean? Most of your key information including documents, commitments and general updates all end up in email. This includes the context around your customer relationships. Whether it’s a quote, a complaint or a suggestion, it’s likely it’s been sent by email.
As a small business owner, the trick is to not only keep on top of these communications, but to keep track of that information as well.
After our Gmail integration, we’re proud to announce that Xero now integrates with Office 365. This integration allows your email messages to or from a contact to be seamlessly accessed in Xero alongside their financial transactions. Here’s how email integration works in Xero.
Liberating your email with Xero + Office 365
If you use Office 365, you can now connect Xero to your Office 365 account. Next time you look up a contact in Xero, and click on the Email tab, you can see your email communications with that contact. This helps you stay on top of what your customers have been asking from you.
But there’s more to it than just viewing emails. If a contact has emailed you about a quote, you can initiate a new quote right from within Xero. It will even attach the original email as a record.
And if they’ve confirmed an order, you can just as easily kick off an invoice too. Your workflow is simplified, you can respond to your contacts’ needs quickly and easily.
If an email contains an attachment, you can add those to your contact’s record too. It’s easy to store attached documents – such as proposals and contracts – in Xero. This makes them available when you look up that contact’s record. Xero really becomes your system of record. Similarly, if they are commenting or complaining about something you can do something about that too. Add the email message to the contact’s activity record in Xero so that whenever that contact is accessed in the future, there’s a record of that comment available, so you can react accordingly. By integrating email, Xero becomes more than accounting software. It becomes a service that helps bring together everything you need to run your business. Xero makes it easy to stay on top of what’s happening.

New Assurance Dashboard

Internal controls are built right into Xero. They’re designed to make sure the accounting system is being operated properly and to assist with identifying errors and anomalies. Now the Xero Assurance Dashboard makes those controls highly visible so you’ll get an alert to transactions or occurrences that need attention. Xero lives up to its mission to provide really useful business tools by using technology to do the heavy lifting with the release of the Xero Assurance Dashboard. Coupled with Xero HQ, it’s set to become the benchmark for the accountancy tools needed to deliver exceptional service to clients. Most accountants typically review a client’s accounting transactions once or twice a year, which may not be often enough to provide timely assistance to your clients. In this situation, anomalies are difficult to spot and often the effects of errors or tampering don’t show up until it’s too late. If you’re doing the accounts and no more, they may not be found at all. Now, thanks to real-time data flows, automated bank feeds and the assurance dashboard, you can help clients identify potential internal control issues continuously throughout the year. The assurance dashboard in Xero increases transparency. It brings together the key information needed to monitor the accuracy and integrity of your clients’ financial data, in one place. You can quickly identify and fix errors, or uncover activity which may not be in your client’s interests.
With data feeding into Xero from reliable sources including banks, other financial institutions, bills and invoices and applying coding rules, we can rely more and more on transaction details being accurate. Continuous assurance can focus primarily on process and controls instead. Exceptions can be reported and controls displayed on the assurance dashboard. Who has accessed files or changed transactions can be highlighted. So it becomes easy to check, assess, and have confidence that the information in the accounts is robust and secure.

How the dashboard works
The Xero Assurance Dashboard allows you to monitor your client’s use of Xero to identify errors or anomalies. It shows details of user activity, bank accounts, contacts, and invoices and bills.
When you select the assurance dashboard from the advisor menu, a heatmap of user activity displays. It includes each user, their Xero permissions, and their last login date. You can check for bank account transactions that have been altered, deleted or manually reconciled. Hover over the heatmap and you can see and drill down into any that need to be fixed or investigated further.
You can also see if any suppliers have duplicate bank account numbers or if those accounts have been edited recently. And any invoices or bills that have been backdated are shown – you can drill into them too if necessary.
The assurance dashboard isn’t designed to replace a traditional audit – far from it. It’s designed to complement it. The advantage of the dashboard is that it surfaces items that need attention in real time, rather than months afterwards. It’s quite possible that use of the dashboard will evolve into a commonly accepted form of continuous internal review – to a lesser standard and for different purposes than a full audit.

New online invoice preview

Previously invoices could only be viewed in PDF format before sending. Xero has now added a “view online invoice” tab which can be seen to the left of the email button once your invoice has been approved. This allows you to view the exact information that the customer will see when he/she clicks on the online invoice link. So edit and check accordingly before emailing your online invoice.

Report updates

There have been some changes to following reports so check them out when you have a chance:
– Statement of Cash Flows (Under New Reports TAB)
– Fixed Assets Reconciliations (Under New Reports TAB)
Some of these reports might be new to you so contact me if you need any assistance here.

New features and updates coming soon

Although no timeline has officially been released, Xero has advised of the following updates that will appear in the coming weeks so keep checking this blog for news on these:
– Updates to Bank Reconciliation features
– Updates to the IOS App
– New Reports to be integrated into one reports dashboard
– A workflow APP to be introduced
– Over the next few months Xero will be adding more options to the + menu. On the radar now is new spend money, receive money and other banking tasks. Also on deck will be payroll-related tasks such as new Pay Runs and Adviser only tasks such as new Manual