Wednesday, 18 February 2015 17:10

'Awesome' inventory management arriving soon in Xero

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Xero is preparing to add inventory management capabilities to its cloud accounting software.

Xero finally delivered a simple quoting mechanism last month, something its customers had been anticipating for years.

Now the company is preparing to check off another big item on its to-do list: inventory management.

Inventory management will appear in Xero within 90 days, Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd (pictured) told iTWire at the company's Xero Evolve roadshow in Melbourne today. And he's clearly pretty pleased with the work that's been done: "for 80% of the market, it's an awesome solution."

The other 20% with specific requirements can still turn to the inventory add-ons available from third party developers through the Xero Marketplace.

So how does Xero manage the tension between customers' expectation of a complete and functional accounting system on one hand, and the need to foster a broader ecosystem?

"We've always been transparent about the roadmap," said Ridd. "You've got to be transparent."

So where appropriate, Xero exchanges information with outside developers under non-disclosure agreements.

When Xero added some KPI tools last year, it still left room for the "phenomenal KPI dashboards" offered by its partners, he said.

Similarly, Files (the ability to upload an arbitrary file for storage within Xero and then link it to transactions) was recently added to Xero and while there are tentative plans to improve searchability, Ridd implied that the company has no plans to compete with partners such as Receipt Bank which extract data from documents and process it into Xero data.

In some cases, functionality is added to Xero through acquisition. One example is payroll, where Xero acquired Paycycle in 2011, converted its payroll product from Silverlight to HTML5 and integrated it into Xero. And late last year Xero acquired US-based online payroll provider Monchilla to support its expansion in that market.

While business intelligence tools and online quotes are still on their way, and there's more to be done in automating SuperStream requirements, Ridd said Xero is "coming to the end of horizontal accounting" in the sense that the company is close to equalling the feature set of desktop software.

Further innovation will appear in areas such as the application of big data technology and improved integration with banks, he said.

Reading between the lines, Xero would be well placed to tell its customers how they compare with their peers on various KPIs - with the agreement of all concerned, of course. And wouldn't it be convenient if an electronic copy of a receipt could be downloaded in parallel with the bank feed for the credit card used for the transaction?

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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