From XU Magazine, 
Issue 38

XU Magazine sits down with Capium Co-Founder Tushir Patel

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.
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XU: Can you tell us about the team at Capium and how they work together to achieve company goals?

TP: We are a diverse team with individuals located in London, up North, Lisbon and Hyderabad. We all have the collective goal of growing the business sustainably, whilst delivering on our promise to our customers to champion their needs and business growth at every opportunity. We all have defined responsibilities and objectives that 100% relate to the company mission. The key is to have one or two goals per team, keeping it simplified and minimising distraction from what is considered success for the specific division. We are like a sports team - everyone knows their roles to prevent everyone from running to the ball. For the team to succeed you must own what you do; then, and only then, will the team work well.

XU: How does Capium ensure that its team members communicate effectively and work efficiently?

TP: We implement clear channels for updates from each team at the stakeholder and team level. This can be through regular team meetings for alignment, feedback, and defining roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion. The plan is clear at the start of the year. Meetings are used to track how aligned each team is in achieving goals. The company also emphasises goal setting and performance tracking to maintain focus and productivity, alongside offering training and development opportunities for continuous skills improvement. Furthermore, Capium fosters a culture of open feedback and supports a flexible work environment, accommodating diverse working styles and promoting a balance that holistically enhances team efficiency and collaboration. Being a company with members all over the world we leverage heavily upon chat and online meeting facilities to have short, sharp updates regularly to avoid any curve balls coming as a surprise.

XU: What are the main steps involved in developing and launching a software product at Capium?

TP: It all starts and ends with our customers. There must be a problem that needs solving. We quickly saw a need for a fully cloud practice suite many years ago, and have been working very hard to continue improving on our initial offering - which we have! Speak to our customers, and they will echo my sentiments. It’s about remaining agile and working with our focus groups on what we have developed. We are never short on our backlog of feedback received from customers, this is a positive because we are helping our customers - they have more fantastic ideas for us to act upon.

Combined with our own R & D, we begin to draw out a list of requirements. This feeds into the UX design team who begin to create the vision for our customer experience. It's only then our developers get to work. They delivered the product in iterative stages, getting a sign-off from our compliance and UAT team. Once we have a working prototype, we can demonstrate key deliverables, and we ask our customers to review and test it. We can then fine-tune the product. Once we have a viable product that satisfies the customer's needs and the initial requirements, we plan for the product launch. This is when almost every team from Capium gets involved, as a new product will uniquely impact them each, from preparing the user support articles/training guides to educating our team about the product and its value to the marketing preparing to launch the product. It’s a process that has to be carefully managed to ensure that all the hard work at each stage can be executed effectively to ensure a successful launch within the marketplace.

XU: How does Capium gather feedback from customers to improve its products and services?

TP: We take customer suggestions very seriously, feedback is received through various channels such as surveys, user forums, direct communication channels like email or phone calls, and analytics on user interactions within our software platforms. Our team actively encourages and welcomes feedback during onboarding and training sessions, webinars, and customer support interactions. By leveraging these diverse channels, we collect valuable insights into customer preferences, pain points, and feature requests, which it analyses to prioritise product enhancements and service improvements in the best possible way. This customer-centric approach enables Capium to continuously evolve its offerings in alignment with our users' needs and expectations, ensuring high levels of satisfaction and engagement.

XU: What kind of technology does Capium use to make its software better?

TP: Our platform is very Microsoft-centric. We partnered with Microsoft from inception with the view to future-proof us from a technology standpoint. Whilst the back end is very MS-focused which includes our cloud servers, we have leveraged software to help communicate and stay in touch with our customers through the application. We have found this very effective in understanding our customers' behaviour better, what they like and dislike only to champion everyone’s voice to be heard through the business.

XU: How does AI help Capium's software, and what does it do?

TP: We are currently investing a lot of research into this area. The crucial point is to ensure we have complete confidence in using it internally before we offer it externally. You can say that we act as guinea pigs ourselves where we seek and gain maximum benefits, which our customers reap the rewards. Another factor that is of utmost importance is to ensure that we have a large enough data set to allow accurate results. We are in a period of machine learning and using it internally with development to spot any areas of automated debugging rather than manual. It helps with a large amount of time-saving in our software development team. We have also released our bots within our support function to help customers with any 'how to queries' immediately, whether it’s 3 pm or 3 am, customers have the ability of being able to get right back on track. We are still in an era of watching where the “ball bounces next” to make the next step on topics such as advice and compliance.

XU: How does Capium ensure that the AI integrated into its software remains accurate and up-to-date?

TP: The critical integrations we have made so far are all based on data that we feed in. A case in point would be our chatbot. This data feeds from all of our learning journals published on the platform and syncs every day. Any changes in legislation or even “how-to guides” are instantly updated by our team and fed into our bot’s library to continue to remain up to date.

XU: Can you provide specific examples of how AI has improved the user experience or functionality of Capium's software products?

TP: Certainly, Capium's software products have leveraged AI to enhance user experience and functionality in several ways: For instance, AI-driven data analysis capabilities help streamline accounting processes by automating tasks such as data entry, categorisation, and reconciliation, reducing the time and effort required from users. Additionally, AI-powered predictive analytics features enable users to make informed decisions by providing insights into financial trends, potential risks, and opportunities for optimisation. These AI-driven enhancements contribute to a smoother, more intuitive user experience and empower users to manage their accounting tasks with greater accuracy and efficiency. We have also recently launched a new website that now features a chatbot to help guide our site visitors and help our customers get the right help that they need.  

XU: Can you talk about any important partnerships Capium has with other companies?

TP: Our partnership decisions have been heavily influenced by our customers. Whilst we’re essentially seven or eight softwares combined into one suite we still understand the importance of strategic partnerships with other vendors that our customers use. It’s for this reason we’ve integrated with other industry leaders for specific modules to allow the benefits to be appreciated, we embrace flexibility when it comes to integrations. A key example would be our embedded payments partner, which enables our accountants’ clients to pay in real-time. This is an example of building a strategic relationship with a partner which has blossomed ever since.  

XU: How does Capium benefit from attending industry events and working with other organisations?

TP: At Capium, we thrive on staying updated on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the fintech industry. These engagements provide valuable networking opportunities, allowing the company to forge the partnerships we discussed, exchange ideas, and gain insights from industry peers and experts. Working with other organisations fosters innovation and enables Capium to leverage complementary strengths and resources to develop new products, enhance services, and expand its market reach. Above all this, it’s a huge opportunity to meet our clients year after year and discuss how they have grown and what we can do next for them. Overall, these interactions contribute to Capium's growth, competitiveness, and ability to deliver high-quality solutions to its clients.

XU: How does Capium keep up with changes in rules and laws that affect its software?

TP: This is an evolving and exciting area for the business, which keeps us on our toes. Capium has a dedicated compliance team that works with HMRC and Companies House committees to stay abreast of all compliance changes and their impacts on the platform. I would say that although there has been much change in this area, in the end, we want our customers to benefit from our compliance team through our software. It is an important area for us.  

XU: Can you share any recent accomplishments or goals that Capium has reached?

TP: We have recently launched our cloud charity accounts & bookkeeping module and our time and fees module! It's a great achievement for us. Of which we are proud of. These two new modules are just further weapons for our firms to arm themselves with to maximise productivity, as accountants can analyse how well the firm is progressing on its ROI.

XU: What are Capium's plans for the future?

TP: Our plan is clear. Continue to remain focussed on helping the accountants succeed, especially during this difficult time. With HMRC moving MTD to the next stages of its project with the introduction of self-assessment, it’s crucial to ensure firms do not hit a bottleneck in capacity due to the increased burden of reporting and justifying. We are creating and building our pilot on this to ensure that we're right at the front with our new MTDITSA releases, helping firms gather data quickly and provide real-time updates to their customers. It's a phased approach; the initial release is due in April aimed towards serving their clients. The suite allows access to Accountants’ clients too, providing the ecosystem to further empower firms with value-added services they remain in control of.

XU: How does Capium encourage its employees to come up with new ideas?

TP: We at Capium encourage employees to exercise new ideas by fostering an open and inclusive culture where creativity and innovation are highly valued and rewarded! The company implements suggestion schemes and regular brainstorming sessions amongst its various teams, where all members are encouraged to share their thoughts and proposals. Capium also provides a supportive environment that includes access to resources and training for skill development, along with recognising and rewarding innovative contributions to motivate employees further. This approach ensures that everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute new ideas that can drive the company forward.

Why leave it there?

To find out more about Capium

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