Expertise at your fingertips: from payroll to payments – there’s an app for that | There’s an app for that

November 1, 2021

Data capture and expense management
Spreadsheets are the bete noire of many an SME: the endless hours spent typing decimals into a keyboard; the potential for business-ruining mistakes (according to one survey, 88% of spreadsheets contain errors); and the familiar Excel fatigue. Luckily, the Xero App Store has a host of apps that can take some of the pain away.

The ease of letting apps do your gruntwork is highlighted by Datamolino and Hubdoc, which – when connected with Xero – capture and automate accounts payable data from invoices and receipts. Meanwhile Dext Prepare cannily captures all the important info from your paper receipts, invoices and bank statements. It then analyses and organises this data for you – plus stores it safely on its cloud servers for 10 years. Finally, there’s Soldo. For any business leader worried their sales manager is trying to claim for his/her new oak-panelled shoffice (shed office) for home working, Soldo gives bosses the opportunity to instantly approve (or reject) online spending requests from their team.

As any CFO who has presented financial statements to apathetic board members will attest, it’s hard to make these numbers come alive on the page. Yet, by connecting a Xero account to Syft Analytics these drab decimals suddenly morph into sparkling graphs and visuals. As such, it translates numbers into “stories”, which become immediately useful when presenting to stakeholders and clients.

This simple aesthetic polish (it takes seconds on Syft Analytics) gives businesses the chance to forecast future cashflow, compare performance against peers and estimate tax.

Next up, Float. This magics data into real-time pdf or csv reports: handy for budgeting, scenario comparison and providing cashflow forecasts so accurate your clients will think you’ve been hiring Nostradamus as a consultant.

Clarity completes our triumvirate of stellar reporting apps. Using tech so cutting-edge the app should really arrive with a box of plasters, Clarity uses companies’ profit-and-loss or balance sheet data to calculate the seven key numbers of its business, from revenue growth to business return. These figures then help give firms the clarity (see how the app got its name?) to unlock any profit potential.

Apps that help track inventory have been vital for e-commerce businesses and other retailers throughout the pandemic. Photograph: Chaay_Tee/Shutterstock

The grand epoch of e-commerce means that today anyone can set up a website and start flogging stuff from it. However, getting paid by customers has traditionally proven more challenging: many digital traders complain about having to strike deals with banks and credit card companies, stratospherically high transaction fees and waiting “five working days” for money to be transferred.

Enter Stripe, an amazing app set up by two Irish brothers that was recently valued at £70bn. The wonder of Stripe is that it gives businesses a chance to easily set up an online payment system so they can start accepting payments straight away (use it in Xero and you’ll get paid twice as fast).

Another big player in the payment apps world is Square, created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. It allows traders to receive digital payments from customers’ smartphones, meaning they can capture sales and manage their accounts on the go.

Payments – digital or otherwise – can still go awry when invoices are overdue and customers are late transferring money across. GoCardless attempts to eliminate that debt-chasing. By syncing the app with Xero, the payment process starts the second the business sends an invoice to its client. Because the customer has already entered their bank details into GoCardless’s online payment form, the company will be paid on whichever date it has specified. It’s perfect for subscriptions and other recurring payments.

Payroll and HR
Working in payroll and HR hasn’t been easy during the pandemic, with staff having to balance the transition to people working remotely, processing furlough payments and the challenge of onboarding recruits via a computer screen. The cloud-based payroll system KeyPay can come to the rescue. The all-in-one software revolutionises payroll by giving HR departments the chance to automatically (and quickly) onboard new staff, calculate payments and post payroll journals to Xero when completing pay runs.

Apps such as Deputy allow HR teams to quickly find cover by sending out mobile alerts to other qualified colleagues. Photograph: Rowan Jordan/Getty Images

Meanwhile, its built-in HMRC reporting and pension scheme auto-enrolment provide further peace of mind. BrightPay is another one-stop shop for all things payroll. HR staff can finalise payslips, process pensions through BrightPay’s integration with Nest and Aviva, and manage annual leave – and there’s even a portal for employees too.

As businesses increasingly migrate towards hybrid working patterns, downloading Deputy should be a big help. If a staffer calls in sick, Deputy allows HR teams to quickly find cover by sending out mobile alerts to other qualified colleagues. Employees can clock in and out of work using their mobiles, and can also help combat Zoom fatigue by scheduling breaks. It’s made Deputy staggeringly popular: today, it’s used by more than 250,000 workplaces worldwide.

E-commerce and retail
While the past 18 months has been a gruelling time for many bricks-and-mortar retailers, being forced to transition to e-commerce has proved to be a silver lining for some companies, which have discovered new revenue streams and customers in the process.

If your business has undertaken such a transition, there’s a brace of apps that can help you navigate this brave new world and build an e-commerce empire. Take Veeqo. The secret behind this Swansea-based software is integration. By pairing with Xero, sales channels (Amazon, eBay et al), shipping carriers (Royal Mail, UPS et al) and their warehouses, businesses can sync and track their inventories. This means they can see when products are running low or underselling, before making data-driven decisions on what to do next.

Integration is also a selling point of A2X. If a company uses Amazon, Etsy, eBay or Shopify to sell its products, A2X will post sales and fees from these outlets to Xero, giving reassurance that everything has been accounted for correctly. Usually such tasks take hours; with A2X it takes seconds. Companies that sell on Amazon and eBay may also want to investigate Link My Books which will enable them to reconcile their books and accurately account for sales, taxes, and fees straight into Xero. Easy.

Find, choose and buy the right apps to run your business in the Xero App Store. Visit

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Life is like a running cycle right! I am a news editor at TIMES. Collecting News is my passion. Because my visitors have the right to know the truth and perfectly.

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