Too many accounting apps and not enough time?

With over 700 apps in the Xero marketplace and many great ones at that, it can feel nearly impossible to pick the right solution to recommend to clients or use day-to-day for your business. A bit like choosing something to watch on Netflix. For many this near endless choice is enough to make your head spin. 

How should you approach the decision-making process?

Do you prioritise the familiar solution? Or, do you pick the one that may require some process change but could solve more of your problems?

In seemingly a few short years, Xero has grown from a small unproven accounting platform to a huge, rapidly expanding accounting ecosystem at the forefront of innovation in the industry. And, with a marketplace teeming with innovations to match.

Yes, the success of the Xero marketplace can make it like Netflix when you don’t know what to watch, but while picking something on Netflix is more disposable, picking the right add-on is something you could be using for years to come. Furthermore, the number of apps can quickly stack up. So with so much choice for add-on Xero apps, accountants, businesses and employees can be forgiven for having app fatigue or perhaps even app choice paralysis. 

How do you decide which Xero connected app is right for you?

Competition is fierce, and many offer features that overlap with other apps that you might already use. So much choice can be both a blessing and a curse, and before you know it, you’ve got a jumbled ‘stack’ of apps and services, all of which may require their own training and support for you and your employees.

You need a good understanding the root cause of problems you’re trying to solve, not just more apps to solve more problems.

It sounds simple on the face of it, but without fully understanding the underlying the problem, how can you pick the right solution? This also helps you decide if one or multiple apps are right for you. No one solution will ever be perfect.

Taking a step back and spending a bit of time up front can be the difference between solving the problem or papering over the cracks. In our case, we are laser-focused on company expenses, from spending and receipt capture, through to insights and management.

Our goal is simple, to solve the expenses problem. To do that we have to be flexible to what each unique business needs, not just a grand idea of what a perfect expense management world should look like and expect the world to fall into place.

Do you feel invested in the solutions that you use or recommend?

Many will feel invested in Xero, but perhaps not so much in some of the other apps available. Perhaps they offered some cool swag at a show, but do they really serve your requirements?

Having that strong laser sharp focus on the expenses problem means that it’s our customers and accounting partners who have helped shape our expenses solution.

If you’ve invested in Xero and your entire business depends on it, you naturally want the connected apps to constantly improve and add new features that will benefit you and your clients.

They’ve been instrumental in developing additional features to complement our connected payment cards. It’s that investment from our customers and partners that have driven powerful innovations including our new Expend Flex card for automatically improving business cash flow, managing out-of-pocket expenses and tracking mileage claims.

That said, having to constantly keep an eye on every new update that app partner releases might feel like a job in itself. Our Xero integration has also been fundamental to our growth, and it is something we continue to invest in and are very proud of. In 2018 alone, we released over 30 new features like client rebilling and tracking categories because our customers told us that they needed them. We share the same passion that Xero and it’s users have for a modern world of accounting. A world where real-time insights and automation makes important business decisions easier to make.

In conclusion:

It’s my belief that as the Xero marketplace matures and it’s users become ever more demanding, that there will likely be consolidation in the connected app space. The need to increase automation will give way to the need to streamline and simplify processes. Connected apps like Expend are already becoming platforms in their own right and are ahead of this curve.

By tackling the problem head on, our UK based team has successfully streamlined the expenses process for thousands of people.

Whilst it’s very gratifying to be recognised with awards for our platform and named in the Top 100 Britain’s Fastest Growing Business in 2018 and more recently shortlisted for a Nation Technology Award for Financial Technology. What really keeps driving us forward is the feedback from our customers that we’re saving them time, effort and money. And an endless search through the Xero marketplace!

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The original version of this article can be seen in XU Magazine issue 18 on page 76 and your can also see how Expend compares to other solutions on page 106.

Written by Johnny Vowles - Expend CEO

CEO and Co-founder of Expend.