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Introducing Xero’s Business Finance Pack: Moving quickly to help ease cash flow worries

August 19, 2020

At Xero, our purpose is to make life better for people in small business. So when COVID-19 brought with it never-before-seen challenges for small business, innovating to solve our customers’ problems in simple and beautiful ways became more important than ever. With huge pressure on cash flow for many operators, a passionate group of Xeros came together to see how they could help.
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As a result of these efforts, today we’re proud to launch Xero Business Finance Pack. It’s a free app, available to our New Zealand customers on the Xero app marketplace. With only a few clicks, Xero Business Finance Pack allows you to create nine financial reports using the most up-to-date data you have in Xero — including those commonly requested reports needed when applying for a business loan. This saves small businesses valuable time, by automatically collating key financial information to share with lenders.

How the idea was born

Xero Business Finance Pack was created as a result of Xero’s internal ‘ShipIt’ challenge, which rather than being about creating big, complex solutions, was about small and clever innovations with a meaningful impact for small business customers facing COVID-19.

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The team behind the Xero business finance pack

With limited cash coming in, but bills to pay, many small businesses in New Zealand began looking into finance options to survive. Government backed loan schemes and other borrowing options were available, but businesses were struggling to create the right documentation, slowing the process when time is of the essence. Putting this information together can be time consuming — for both the business and lender — and can come with additional cost to businesses, especially if they need to reapply.

Working with banks and lenders, via our NZ Banking and FinTech Partner Manager Chris Barton, we recognised that a lot of the necessary and up-to-date information to apply for finance is stored in Xero. People from across Xero came together to build a solution making this financial information fast and easy to access, helping to ease the burden on small businesses and their lenders.

The power of the API

According to Xero’s GM of Product Data, Sagi Adiv, who led the product, a dynamic situation demanded a dynamic response.

“Once we understood the problem, we chose an approach that allowed us to move quickly and build a meaningful solution in a timely manner for our customers. Leveraging the power of the Xero public API to create a standalone app gave us speed to market and an independent focus, allowing our people to move rapidly,” Sagi commented.

And move they did. In little over eight weeks the team went from ideation to production. They used an agile process, with internal stakeholders guiding decision making, constant engagement with banks and lenders to hone the final product and beta testing with partners and customers to let us get the user experience right.

“We had to show value to our customers on a weekly basis. The secret sauce was a highly engaged team who had the autonomy to choose what technology and methodology to use, very early engagement with business stakeholders and customers, and shared ownership across the whole team,” Sagi added.

Ensuring quality

The unique thing about this project is it’s the first time an internal team has built an app entirely on Xero’s public API, running the project as if they were an external team. Many of the team members on this project hadn’t worked on the ecosystem side of the business before, so they had to get up to speed with how we work with developers, new apps, and how our API functions.

Every app available on our app marketplace goes through a robust certification process to ensure they’re of a high standard — and this is the same process we took Xero Business Finance Pack through.

One of our Developer Evangelists, Grace Benedek Rooney, certified and on-boarded the app in the same way an external team would experience.

“Our customers expect a certain level of quality when using an app with Xero. We’ve developed a high set of standards that every app needs to meet to become certified. The same goes for an app built internally — our customers need to experience the same level of quality. So we put the Business Finance Pack through the same rigor, and at the same time I learnt about other parts of the business, while I was able to teach others about ours,” Grace said.

This cross-team effort resulted in an app that uses the Xero API to ensure a seamless experience for users and allows businesses to:

  • Connect easily using their Xero login — thanks to leveraging ‘Sign In With Xero
  • Quickly get business finance information from their Xero organisation
  • Help with applying for business finance options

Coming together to help solve for our customers is something we pride ourselves on at Xero. Being able to do this for small businesses when they are in need is what we’re here for. Our people joined forces and used our best-in-class tools to build something that can genuinely make a difference for small businesses. And now that New Zealand is facing the threat of further lockdowns, making this app freely available to our small business customers is more timely than ever.

Now available on the Xero App Marketplace, the Xero Business Finance Pack is free to all NZ customers.

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