ProductVision provides innovative software that automates processes, thereby improving accuracy and reducing time spent on essential tasks. The same could be said of Xero accounting software. Could the two prove to be a match made in the cloud?
ProductVision is the UK division of a US-based software company and one of a small number of specialists in its field. The system it has developed – also named ProductVision – is used to calculate the precise values of ingredients used in the formulations of certain types of products. It is used by companies who manufacture products such as paint and personal care products as well as food and drinks companies.
RfM Chartered Accountants in Preston has acted for the business since it launched in the UK in 2000. The director of ProductVision at the time chose RfM for its location as much as its accounting expertise. He used Microsoft Excel software to record business transactions and would duly provide printed copies of documents and original receipts to RfM each quarter.
Staff located across the UK
The business grew steadily but rather than operating from one base in the North West, ProductVision’s employees were located across the UK. The process of submitting receipts for expenses became onerous as staff had to ensure they were delivered to Preston in good time to meet deadlines for tax and VAT returns.
Two years ago, Jonathan Martin took over as director of the business. With the role came the responsibility for managing the company’s financial record-keeping and accounts. Little had changed since 2000: the business still used Excel, their accountant was still RfM… but Jonathan was not located in the North West. He and his wife, who would be carrying out the bookkeeping, lived over 3 hours away from Preston, in Northamptonshire.
“We were doing everything manually,” explains Jonathan. “Our team, who work remotely, were still sending us paper copies of their receipts by post. Inputting transactions was slow, laborious and time-consuming. The fact that we trade in multiple currencies – dollars, euros and sterling – was giving us even more headaches. The irony was that our own software automates processes to make life easier for businesses but we were using a system that made life harder.”
Jonathan was also having to send original copies of documents through the post to his accountant with the risk that they could arrive late or go missing. There had to be a better way.
Complex business accounting needs
In spring 2017, RfM added Xero to the suite of cloud-based apps that they could offer to clients. It was not a moment too soon for Jonathan.
“We are a large business with complex accounting needs. We were keen to move our accounting to a cloud-based system but it needed to be the right system. It was also important to us to still have the support of RfM as they know our business well.”
It’s fair to say, he hasn’t been disappointed with the experience of switching.
“To say it’s been revolutionary might sound excessive but, in truth, every single one of our finance processes has been made easier with Xero. Many of our tasks are repetitive; we generate a lot of repeat invoices. We use the template model in Xero to create repeat invoices now, so what was a 2-hour task only takes about 15 minutes!”
ProductVision uses many – though not all – of the clever, time-saving features available in Xero. Here Jonathan explains the ways in which the software has made the most difference to his business.
“Previously, to send a statement we would have to manually compile one by going through all our invoices. Now, it’s just the click of a button.”
“We used to have to wait until the end of the year to see the management reports. I can see an up-to-the-minute picture of our financial position at any time just by logging on.”
“Staff scan or take photos of receipts now, and upload them directly into Xero themselves.”
EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE
“We can see any reports that have been created as well as VAT returns, bank statements, invoices, bills and expenses, all in one place.”
“My accountant at RfM can see whatever we can see so their advice is always informed and relevant.”
Jonathan’s main point of contact at RfM is Graham Pearson who is a Xero Certified advisor and able to provide support on all aspects of the application.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Jonathan and the team at ProductVision to introduce Xero and put the new financial systems and procedures in place,” said Graham. “Using Xero has made a huge difference to the way the business finances are managed but the area where it has had the most impact is probably staff expenses. Now, every member of staff can log in to the system from wherever they are working to upload their receipts – which saves a lot of hassle, time and stamps!”
“Graham has supported us at every step of the process of moving to Xero,” says Jonathan. “The system is really intuitive so now it’s up and running we find it very easy to use. We usually only have to call Graham for advice on some of the more complex functions, but he’s always able to help.”
And all that paper?
“There is no paper. Everything is stored securely within the system. We could print out the records or reports if needed, but we haven’t had to yet.”