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  • Writer's pictureZoe Bush

Your Q2 FLAC meetup roundup

Dive into the discussion

The CFO Techstack Finance Leader Advisory Council (FLAC) serves as the representative body for larger Xero users. Their mission is to empower through knowledge sharing, focusing on unlocking the scaling potential of Xero and its ecosystem, while enabling Xero and its ecosystem to gain a deeper understanding and better cater to the evolving needs of larger businesses.

Why the FLAC are Advocates for Xero

The FLAC, all finance leaders in scaling businesses with a preference for Xero, initiated a thoughtful discussion on a key question: What makes Xero the ideal choice for scaling businesses? Here's a deep dive into their insightful conversation...

Ease of Use

The FLAC members love Xero’s straightforward design. Many of the FLAC members have experience with larger ERPs like NetSuite, Sage Intacct and SAP, but greatly prefer Xero for its intuitive interface. New team members can start using the software right away and quickly become proficient. The FLAC’s experience with ERPs is that they’d need to hire in specialist skills, reducing the talent pool they can hire from and driving up the cost of their finance teams.

API and Ecosystem

The API connections that come with Xero are extensive and it’s incredibly easy to integrate apps. In contrast, larger ERP environments often require significant expertise and custom coding to achieve similar connectivity. The FLAC believe that Xero's robust ecosystem is an amazing asset, enabling scaling businesses to enhance core functionalities with specialised apps that address specific business challenges.

“It’s not just Xero but the bubble that exists around it that makes it so valuable” – Steve Jarvis, Manufacture 2030

Cost Efficiency and Scalability

During this conversation, we heard that the cost efficiency and scalability of Xero make it stand out over larger, more rigid systems that typically involve higher operational costs and less flexibility. In the FLAC’s experience, this makes Xero a more adaptable and economically viable option for businesses looking to grow without the burden of excessive expenses.

“We see scalability with Xero because there are those apps around it. Plugging in those extra systems with larger ERPs could cost you thousands and thousands of pounds – we’ve saved around £50,000 a year just on software by moving to Xero.” – Paresh Makwana, Outernet London

Superior System Quality

The FLAC feel that groups can effectively scale with Xero and its ecosystem deep into their growth phase, sidestepping the need for a costly and complex ERP system. It's not just about avoiding the shift to an ERP and its associated expenses; the FLAC have found that upgrading to Xero offers a more efficient system with superior automation, enabling them to achieve better outcomes

"Xero and its ecosystem are not only easier to use and more affordable; they can outperform large ERPs. In bigger systems, making even simple corrections can be a headache, often requiring multiple tries and awkward workarounds like issuing dummy credit notes—approaches that just don't make sense. Xero and apps streamline everything, making our processes smoother and way more efficient. My jaw dropped when I saw what Xero plus Mayday were going to enable me to do in managing the intercompany requirements of our 50 entities." – Paresh Makwana, Outernet London

Key Features for Enhanced Scalability

Recognising all of the things that make Xero great, the FLAC then shifted their discussion to identify essential features that would allow them to scale with Xero for longer.

Here are their key needs…

The Headline Act: Enhanced Tracking and Reporting

The FLAC’s main concern is the two tracking category limit in Xero, which can complicate financial reporting. They’d like to be able to slice and dice their P&Ls in several ways, but users have to prioritise a combination of two. For instance, if you wanted to analyse data by site, team, product, or any specific campaign, you’re very limited. The FLAC discussed that you have to decide at a single point in time the two things you’re forever going to track against your transactions, and you’re unable to add any further granularity to that as your business grows and changes.

To compensate, many of the FLAC members have developed workarounds, such as adding extra levels of categorisation outside of Xero, leading them to rely less on built-in reporting features. This workaround includes expanding your chart of accounts significantly, as each team in the business must duplicate the entire chart to accommodate different tracking needs. Consequently, the P&L appears overly complex and cumbersome, not due to the actual financial structure, but because of these imposed limitations.

Ideally, FLAC members would like greater flexibility to allow for more detailed segmentation of financial data, such as by site, team, product, campaign, or customer, without being restricted to just two tracking categories.

Other Important Features

  • Improved Accessibility: Right now, you have to log in and out of each Xero instance separately. The FLAC think it would be great if you could stay logged into all your Xero accounts and have them open in different tabs. They believe this feature would be really useful for both larger organisations and accountants, reflecting a broader market need.

  • Invoice Management: Amending invoices after payment allocation is a feature that would greatly enhance flexibility and efficiency.

  • Multi-Currency Operations: Xero only allows you to do a prepayment in your functioning currency, not foreign currencies. Enhancements in this area would significantly benefit businesses operating across borders.

  • Integration Features: Some of the FLAC have encountered issues with the Stripe integration, resulting in mismatches in invoice referencing. Resolving these integration challenges would streamline payment processes.

Transaction Limits

Xero’s transaction limits were a topic of discussion once again. Amongst the FLAC, this was discussed as a “feared but phantom issue” – while frequently talked about, the FLAC have rarely encountered it.

Businesses that are more likely to experience performance issues due to transaction limits are typically B2C companies with a high volume of transactions. If the system could slightly increase those limits, it would further enhance the efficiency of those businesses.

Signalling to Larger Businesses: How Xero Can Attract and Retain Larger Users

The FLAC noted that inadvertent signalling can easily occur. With Xero's primary focus on accountants and bookkeepers, this emphasis might lead in-house finance teams to mistakenly believe that Xero is not suitable for their needs.

This prompted a rich discussion about how Xero could better indicate to larger users that they are in the right place with Xero. The FLAC brought a range of perspectives to the conversation, with finance leaders having recently moved from NetSuite, Sage Intacct and Sage 50 to Xero. While the FLAC are confident that Xero is capable of supporting scaling businesses, they are aware of the risks of inadvertent signalling that might push businesses towards alternatives like NetSuite prematurely.

As the representative body for larger Xero users, these are things that the FLAC believes could address that risk:

Xero HQ and In-App Signals

The introduction of Xero HQ for groups has been a game-changer for multi-entity Xero users. Currently, the system doesn’t clearly indicate its availability and many of the FLAC only learned about it recently through CFO Techstack’s webinar series, Xero for Groups. It was Annie Hawkins, the Account Manager for Groups and Franchises at Xero, who shared this revelation on the webinar. Increasing awareness of tools like Xero HQ could significantly enhance the Xero experience for larger users.

The FLAC suggested Xero could implement tailored in-app notifications for features specifically targeted at larger businesses and the creation of resources like a CFO app playbook or a multi-entity playbook. They believe this would further improve the user experience for their customer segment, making it more responsive and relevant to their needs.

Recognition and Visibility

Another idea the FLAC had was the introduction of recognitions such as the 'CFO App of the Year' award. This could showcase Xero's capabilities for larger organisations, providing greater recognition and validating their extensive use of the Xero ecosystem. An award in this category would help highlight how Xero supports complex financial operations, encouraging more large-scale users to leverage its full potential.

Event Support

The FLAC are big Xerocon lovers, but shared that much of the content isn't directly relevant to their needs and the pricing seems to be geared more towards accounting firms. To better serve in-house finance leaders, the FLAC suggested offering special pricing for in-house finance professionals at events like Xerocon. They believe supporting events specifically catered to in-house finance leaders would also demonstrate Xero's commitment to this user base.

As the representative body for larger Xero users, the FLAC are confident in Xero's ability to meet their needs. The FLAC’s quarterly meet-ups will continue to bridge the knowledge gap, enabling finance leaders to unlock Xero's scaling potential and helping Xero better understand and serve the evolving needs of larger businesses.


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