Since cloud applications are updated relatively frequently, new or improved features often don’t get as much publicity or attention as they would with the traditional big-bang upgrades of conventional software.
Here are five of the most important changes to hit the Xero cloud accounting system during 2016.
1. Business intelligence integration
Announced in February and delivered in July, Xero's content pack for Microsoft Power BI (pictured above) works with the free or paid tiers of Power BI and makes it possible to add key business metrics such as debtor days and return on investment to the Xero dashboard.
2. Improved PayPal integration
In August, Xero announced improved PayPal integration, including access to PayPal Express Checkout (which keeps the payment process on the merchant's site without redirecting the customer to PayPal's site). And in September Xero began showing PayPal fees as a separate line item that could be automatically reconciled according to a rule.
3. Improved reporting
Xero made changes in July to make it easier to customise report templates to meet your precise requirements. Accountants and bookkeepers also benefit because Xero implemented this upgrade so they can create a set of templates that can be applied to all of their clients, and then tweaking them if necessary to meet the needs of an individual client.
4. Time-tracking integration
Accounting software can save time and effort when it comes to payroll, but entering data from timesheets is still a tedious and time-consuming task. So in the middle of the year Xero revealed an integration with the TSheets cloud-based time tracking and employee scheduling app. Pretty much all you have to do is approve each employee's time sheet, and the data flows through to payroll and where necessary billing.
5. Intelligent assistant
Unveiled at Xerocon South 2016, the Hey Xero chatbot will initially be available within Facebook Messenger (Slack and Apple Messages support is planned) to quickly answer business owners' questions about their Xero accounts (such as account balances and which customers currently owe money), find apps and extensions in the Xero marketplace to solve a particular business problem, or find accountants listed in Xero's HQ directory. Hey Xero is expected "in the near future."