The best thing about using cloud accounting tools is how great they sync-up and automate a lot of what previously would have required manual data entry. We are, by no means, ‘there’ yet, in terms of commodified compliance…but that is where we’re heading. On the road to ‘there’, however, we must solve the problems in front of us. So, with that being said, there is an issue that some members of the Facebook Xero for Accountant and Bookkeepers User Group and I are pining for.

But before I get there, it just dawned on me. I’m saving so much time using cloud accounting that I’m able spend my ‘free time’ doing what I love, publicly advocating for better features in one of my favorite accounting systems. I’m not sitting on a beach drinking Mango daiquiris or traveling the Amalfi Coast. I’m making a difference, dammit (or so I hope). Anyway, I wonder what my younger self would have thought of this…moving on….

Draft Invoices (as it currently looks)

Before I dive in, assume that both Invoices and Bills need these new columns. I’ll explain.

TTO is a user of the nascent, but thriving digital document storage hub called, Hubdoc. Basically, their digital robots log into our clients’ vendor/supplier logins and pull-out .pdfs of invoices (bills to our clients) and send a copy of those bills to Xero (our main accounting software vendor). Overall, this is great. But this is something that Xero, itself, couldn’t necessarily have foreseen. So, it is up to hubdoc to connect to Xero’s APIs in a way to get the appropriate data into Xero.

The problem with this process is that Hubdoc (and a lot of the other automated bill/receipt processors like Receipt-Bank, Shoeboxed and entryless) don’t always assign the correct ‘account’ or ‘description’ or ‘tracking’ code into Xero. Before we, as accountants and bookkeepers, want a bill ‘approved’ in the accounting system, we want to make sure each field has been assigned correctly. i.e. Verizon bills need to go to either telephone or Internet, mailchimp bills need to go to either SAAS or marketing accounts, etc. 

Currently, the process to approve ‘draft bills’ is to click into each draft bill and check each field against what is on the bill .pdf.  To put it nicely, this is a time suck. To put it bluntly, this sucks.

What we need are columns to see the description (and to give hubdoc a new database field to push to) and the ‘account’ and the ‘tracking’ category.  If these were all visible from the draft invoices/bills screen we could quickly look at each .pdf and then edit (if errors existed) or ‘approve’ if okay. 

One acknowledged caveat, the Xero Facebook group and I recognized that having a bill that required multiple ‘accounts’, ‘descriptions’ and ‘tracking’ might complicate things (vs. the majority of bills that have just 1 account, description, tracking). For this scenario, here are some ideas: 1)pull a page from the Quickbooks playbook and create a ‘-split-‘ for multiple items and then either add a dropdown…or for multiple items create multiple rows…or 2) worst case scenario, for multiple accounts only, would have to click in (like we currently have to do)  but single account bills would be editable from the draft bills/invoices screens.

For the record, I’ve submitted the ticket here…but…and this may be the subject of another blog post, I don’t have much confidence that the Xero ticketing system can adeptly identify and then develop solutions to evolving issues like this, at least in the US, in a timely way (shout out to ‘accounts merge’!). I would love to be proven wrong, though, Xero. So, I won’t hold my breath but, of course, I would love to see #xerospeed handle this. 

Draft Invoices (as it should look)