Xero connects with over 1,000 apps that help small businesses and their advisors succeed. Each month we celebrate an app partner who stands out for helping small businesses thrive. Find out more about becoming a Xero app partner here.
This month, we’re excited to celebrate two significant milestones with our app partners. It’s been over 10 years since we certified the first apps to connect to Xero. And over this time we’ve grown, with over 1,000 apps now connecting to Xero, many of which are available in the Xero app marketplace.
For May’s app partner of the month, we’re shining a light on an app that’s been with us from the early days, Spotlight Reporting, a product suite covering reporting, forecasting, and consolidation. We caught up with CEO and Co-founder, Richard Francis, about Spotlight’s journey with Xero, and how it helps make life easier for small businesses, not-for-profit organisations (NFPs), and their advisors.
Plugging into a shared vision
Spotlight Reporting was founded by Richard and his wife Julie (who are both FCAs), in 2010. As accountants, they’d been running their own boutique advisory practice when Xero first hit the market. Xero’s innovative approach to accounting excited them, and they saw an opportunity to use Xero’s ledger data for deeper insights.
“Our company has grown and evolved with Xero from day one. We were one of the first apps to ever connect to Xero, and one of the first handful of app partners to present at the second Xerocon in 2011, which was where we launched Spotlight Reporting,” explains Richard. “It was a no brainer – we have always been on board with Xero’s mission to create ‘Beautiful Accounting Software’, and their vision for the future aligns with ours.”
Four ways to help small businesses
Spotlight Reporting is actually a stack of four business intelligence products named ‘Reporting’, ‘Forecasting’, ‘Dashboard’, and ‘Multi’. Each product helps with specific business functions by plugging into Xero and using its rich accounting ledger data to surface key insights.
Reporting generates in-depth and insightful reports, and Forecasting predicts future cash flow for budget planning. Dashboard then brings information together in one spot, giving an instant, high-level snapshot of business performance. For multiple-entity or franchise businesses, Multi aggregates and compares results across the board easily.
“We’ve made it seamless to integrate with Xero, so accountants and businesses can import actual and budget data with the click of a button,” says Richard. “Spotlight not only saves time, but it generates important insights that inform better business choices.”
Helping the helpers
The team at Spotlight also work closely with NFPs, helping them use Spotlights tools to save time and money. As COVID-19 has swept the world, Richard and his team know this work is more important than ever.
“Key insights are essential, especially during difficult times,” explains Richard. “The events of 2020 have had a major impact on many worthwhile organisations, so we wanted to give back. To those not-for-profits who might be struggling, reach out to us with no obligation. We can chat about your situation and try to help.”
Spotlight’s tools can help NFPs transform how they tackle important jobs like compliance and reporting. One such organisation is early childcare charity, Playcentre Aotearoa. In 2018, Marina Cook joined as the charity’s CFO and inherited a messy financial reporting structure, with each entity’s reporting managed in an ad hoc way and largely by volunteers. She knew something needed to change.
“I discovered that proper consolidated reporting had never been done,” Marina says. “It took 11 months for us to put something together after year-end, and even then, it was disclaimed. The data was just unreliable.”
Across two short years, she moved all 420 entities to Xero, and then integrated Spotlight Reporting across the group. This allowed Marina to consolidate the group’s year-end reporting from the comfort of her kitchen table. Ultimately, it saved the playcentre a staggering NZ$300,000 in auditing costs, and NZ$60,000 in contractor fees across the organisation, and got its first unqualified audit opinion.
“It was so simple to use,” Marina says. “Spotlight’s software results in data integrity, without the complexity.”
These savings didn’t go unnoticed. In 2020, Marina was awarded Emerging Financial Manager of the Year at the New Zealand CFO Awards.
In it for the long-haul
Founding and growing Spotlight Reporting has been hard work, but Richard is grateful for their success so far.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve won Xero App Partner of the Year multiple times, grown into a global company, and expanded our team,” Richard says. “But perhaps the biggest recognition is having multi-year customers, from the big end of town to the small. Their belief and trust in us to provide their business intelligence needs is the greatest affirmation we could ask for.”