From XU Magazine, 
Issue 24

Why listening, collaborating and customer engagement is critical for app development

Since launching in September, XBert’s customer-centric and collaborative mindset has seen the powerful AI audit and risk detection tool grow into an integrated, automated practice management and client engagement solution...
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
You can find the original post here:

Co-founder Troy Brown and I decided to create XBert in response to the experiences we’d had owning and managing businesses. We knew we could build a solution to help others avoid common pitfalls and identify risks early.

What we didn’t realise was how much time-sapping, manual work was involved in auditing the data and completing the necessary bookkeeping checks.

During XBert’s development, we spoke with hundreds of advisors and business owners. Accountants and bookkeepers told us they spend hours checking reports, thousands of transactions and lines of data; fixing any found inconsistencies and errors; then checking everything again and again!

They needed an efficient and reliable way to audit accounting data and financial information and to automate manual checks.

As a technologist, I was spurred on to solve this fundamental problem using AI and machine learning and unlock these advancements for everyone by creating a scalable solution.

That was the beginning of our journey, and wow, what a fantastic ride it’s been.

We knew we were on the right track when, after a very short time in the market, we were named an Emerging App of the Year finalist in 2019’s Xero Awards Australia.

AI designed by busy accountants and bookkeepers

Coming from a business owner standpoint, Troy and I know the risks from outdated and inaccurate reports, fraud, and simple bookkeeping mistakes. We’re also well aware of the implications and poor decisions that can result.

We heard the challenges faced by accountants and bookkeepers around the day-to-day management of ledgers, handling clients and communications, and frustrations with the number of non-billable hours spent on tasks like rework and administration.

Everyone told us what they needed, and we set about building the add-on they wanted.

Our AI and machine learning technology analyse your Xero files and attachments hourly and monitors business information warehouses to alert you to anomalies, patterns, errors, entry behaviours, potential fraud and more. These alerts are also called XBerts, short for expert business alerts.

Originally an end-of-day audit tool to deliver real-time, accurate insights, now our AI process automation makes XBert THE essential start-your-day tool for complete practice and client management.

Working closely with our customers and partners, we developed XBert CONNECT, which is XBert at scale. You’ll save hours with extensive process management, workflow and collaboration features, and Template Tasks that ensure consistency of service.

A truly customer-led solution

We’ve made a huge difference for our customers by creating efficiencies; streamlining workflows; providing full visibility over data, work queues, deadlines and client risk; enabling more advisory and value-added services and helping them grow their practices.

By actively listening to our partners and engaging them throughout the entire development process, together, we’ve built an app that customers use all day, every day to solve the real-world problems faced by sole practitioners and small and mid-tier firms through to enterprise-level operations.

We’ve expanded outside Australia into the US, the UK, Asia, South Africa and New Zealand. We’re developing custom compliance, tax and company registration database alerts for these regions and support for more regions is on the way.  

We want to continue to make XBert the most advanced and amazing Xero add-on, so new alerts and features will keep coming based on the wish list and needs of our partners and customers.

Seamless integration with Xero

It only takes a few minutes to sign up using Xero single sign-on and start loading multiple files at once.

Invite your internal team to your CONNECT account and you can also invite clients and their staff to the relevant linked organisation. Choose whether clients see all XBerts and tasks for that organisation or only the items they need to help resolve and complete. This keeps their dashboard clean, so they focus on the priorities you set.

Load your workpapers and other attachments into your client engagement hub to track and manage enquiries, requests, communications and reporting requirements.

There’s also an innovative browser extension that follows you around and cross-checks XBert while you work in Xero. You’re notified of any issues or XBert tasks associated with the item, you can manage these in Xero and can also create tasks and assign them to team members.  

Data integrity and reduced rework

Any XBerts (alerts) are resolved quickly and easily with a direct link to the corresponding Xero entry.

The hourly AI audits find errors like duplicates and account coding mistakes, unusual activity and inconsistencies early.

We use optical character recognition (OCR) to scan attachments in Xero like bills, receipts, invoices, and attachments from Receipt Bank, Hubdoc and other automated reader apps.

OCR enhances the accuracy of our XBerts and provides added layers of protection by checking entries and imported data against the past behaviour of your clients’ suppliers and customers.

You have more confidence your data is accurate and therefore so are your reports. XBert helps reduce costly rework and the time needed for manual, labour-intensive review.

The complete visibility you always wanted

One of the biggest pain points for every accountant and bookkeeper we spoke with was not having an integrated system to know the risks, the status of all work and what was due by when. They wanted complete, real-time visibility over workflows, team workload, client risk and business health.

To solve this, we’ve put all your clients, process workflows and tasks together.

In XBert CONNECT you track work queues, team workload and deadlines on your AI-powered Process Status and Team View dashboards using the Reporting Period Selector. Create Template Tasks with subtasks and notes, map these to the best of breed, customisable processes, then allocate them to clients.

You can create ad hoc tasks as needed and add workpapers and attachments to tasks. For better management and process monitoring, Template Tasks, ad hoc tasks and XBerts are mapped to a process.

The Client Console gives you quick access to each linked organisation’s XBerts, tasks, health snapshots, insights and activity feed.

Team View for each client lists all process workflows along with the total number of outstanding items and items assigned to each team member. You can monitor and manage workloads, redistributing tasks as needed, and stay on top of deadlines.

Forward emails into XBert to create tasks automatically and track discussion. If you want, you can include smart tags in the email to allocate the task to a client, assign a team member, set a due date and map the task to one of your processes.

Our email integration is another way you use automation to improve productivity and manage and nurture client relationships. Start your day with XBert for complete visibility over your practice and clients.

Smarter analytics, real-time risk analysis and improved advisory

Powerful, visual snapshots and charts trigger meaningful conversations with clients.

Our integration with leading business intelligence platform Power BI delivers interactive Risk Reports for real-time client risk analysis. Use these reports as a starting point for advisory and to educate clients.

With accurate insights you can provide accurate advice and help clients make better business decisions.

Save hours and have the visibility you need to focus on your practice with XBert’s AI-powered audit and process automation, risk alerts, workflow and collaboration features, and trusted analytics.

You can put more time towards income-generating activities, sourcing new clients, providing higher-value services for existing clients, for career development, or doing more of what you love.

The next step

We’re going to continue building our network of customers around the world and develop XBert as the powerful software add-on making a real difference to the working lives of our customers by revolutionising the way they work.

Why leave it there?

To start your free trial, request a demo or ask about our onboarding program

Straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates as they happen
We hate spam too. We NEVER sell our mailing list.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.