With over 1,000 apps available on the Xero App Store alone, it can be difficult to know which apps are best suited to your business.
Whilst every business is unique and will have different requirements, I believe there are two key app types that should always be part of your app selection, or “app stack”. Connecting these apps to your cloud accounting software will reduce the time spent worrying about the past and enable you to start looking forward.
App Type #1 – The Receipt Scanner
The first type of app I want to suggest will help reduce the burden of keeping receipts & ensuring they are recorded accurately. These apps are built around one core function – scanning in your receipts to save you from losing important records.
Using OCR (optical character recognition) technology, these apps can read the data on your receipt or invoice and enter all the useful information into your accounting software for you. No more sitting there until midnight typing in countless fuel and subsistence receipts!
Once the receipt has been scanned and saved you can dispose of the paper copy, HMRC are now known to be happy with that digital copies of receipts are acceptable for their purposes.
So that’s data entry reduced and space saved, what else can receipt scanning apps do? Most also have a function to capture invoices directly from customer portals, examples include EE, Vodafone and Opus. Instead of uploading these invoices to the app, the app can automatically fetch these invoices from your supplier as they become available. What’s more, give any of your suppliers your unique email associated with the app and they can email PDF invoices straight into the app!
A few examples of apps that fall under this category are:
Dext & AutoEntry can be integrated with Xero, QuickBooks Online, FreeAgent and Sage One, whilst Hubdoc is only able to integrate with Xero and QuickBooks Online.
App Type #2 – The Forecaster
So you’ve got an app to enter data into your software with ease, the accounting software helps make sense of everything that has happened but what about what could happen? Let’s use another app type to make all that data work for us and predict the future based on past events.
This second category of apps utilise the data within your accounting software to predict where the business is heading. They are able to draw on the wealth of data and patterns held within your software to draw up a base prediction which you can then fine tune to allow for any known oddities that may be occurring in the near future.
You can generate a cashflow prediction in seconds and get a good idea of where you’ll need more money in the near future or perhaps where there will be opportunities to invest. You’ve spent all that time making sure your accounting data is perfectly up to date, now it’s time to make it work for you and show you where the business may be headed.
Some examples of apps in this category are:
All three of the above link with Xero, QuickBooks Online, FreeAgent and Sage One.
Making Your Accounts Work For You
My base app stack recommendation for any business using cloud accounting software is structured as shown below, I believe this is the minimum needed to ensure you’re taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by cloud accounting.
If you would like to know more about app stacks, the apps discussed or just apps in general, please feel free to get in touch!
Disclaimer - All information in this post was correct at time of writing.