At Xerocon London, a raft of new features were announced by Xero to much fanfare. Paula Byers takes an early look at one of them, Xero Projects, to see how it stacks up against the existing project management Apps in the Marketplace…
Ok, so in the interests of full disclosure, we’ve been excited about the potential for Xero Projects for some time and pleased to say that we now get to share it with you.
What is it?
Projects is a project management module released to Xero Partners this autumn and, if requested, can be enabled for Xero Users by their advisor. It allows businesses to track time and expenses on jobs, or projects . . . hence the name!
It works across a variety of industries, initially aimed at small services industries such as consultants, creatives or tradespeople. As more functionality is developed, this broadens to include professional services like accountants, bookkeepers, solicitors, architects and more.
How does it work?
This isn’t an in-depth product ‘how to’ article, more an overview of the functions available at the time of writing.
First create a project; entering details such as contact, project name, deadline and estimate. Once created tasks can be added, along with expenses, time entries are added to tasks on the project, or create a task specifically for work outside of the original estimate – useful to keep track of additional hours which is so often where profits are lost on a project.
Expenses added direct in Projects can be chargeable or non-chargeable for sales invoicing, although these don’t link back to purchases currently. Expenses can also be assigned to a project from the new bill screen whilst entering purchases, which will ensure they appear in the accounts too.
Invoicing remains simple. From taking deposits at the start of the project, to billing as you go, Projects keeps track of invoicing progress in relation to the estimate. Figure 1 shows invoicing on completion of a task, adding outstanding expenses and allocating the deposit previously recorded. This enables tracking of invoicing in relation to the overall project value although it does not link to Quotes created in Xero at the moment.
Reporting right now is limited to two reports; Project Details and Project Summary. Both are new style reports in Xero, which means information can be shown, hidden or filtered under the report settings and saved as a custom report preference.
So, it does have limitations?
Well, yes. (Show us someone who says their software is perfect and we would pity them as a poor deluded fool!). Its early days, so there are still quite a few things missing, such as part allocating deposits, better integration with the rest of the Xero software, more detailed reporting and . . . we could go on. By Xero’s own admission, they are still building functionality for the module, but it is this potential that makes it an exciting opportunity. That’s the beauty of cloud tech, it is ever evolving.
Some of the functionality reported to be coming includes:
- Project user permissions
- Improved reporting
- Project templates
- Integration with Xero Quotes, Expenses & Payroll
- Mobile apps
Xero have made Projects available free of charge for the rest of this year, but will start charging from 2018 per active user (although it will remain free for advisors). It is