Automating client payments in Xero

, posted: 17-Dec-2012 07:00

After a handful of requests to outline what else we've done with Xero, this is a follow on post from my original post about their API.

Cash-flow is king in any small business.  If you aren't invoicing regularly, it becomes easy to miss things.  If you wait too long before chasing up payment on late payers, it becomes harder and harder to get payment as time goes on.

We have a fair few web hosting customers, and two years ago we found that our accounts guy was spending far too much time chasing up late payers.  It was at this time that for the smaller accounts, we would register a credit card against their account to debit any future invoices against.

Xero doesn't support any functionality like this at the moment, so we had to roll our own system.

It starts off that we can enter a credit card, which is saved with our payment processor who gives us back a unique token ID (we don't want to host the raw credit card numbers ourselves) - in our system, we associated this token ID with the appropriate Xero contact, which then lists on the screen below:

screen1-1

With this association it makes it very easy to pay invoices.  The next screen shows all current outstanding invoices, with only the contacts that we have credit card details saved for.

We found that just going through and paying all the outstanding invoices listed wasn't a good idea - it's for this reason we added a checkbox next to each invoice.  The user doing the billing run can select which invoices to include/exclude.

screen2-2

Behind the scenes, the system bills the right card with the right amount - in Xero it also loads a payment against each invoice, making bank reconciliation quick and easy (it also reduces the risk of allocating the payment to the wrong invoice).  At the same time as all this, we email our customer with a summary of which invoices have been paid, for their records.

We use the BNZ Bank as our merchant processor as they are the only NZ bank who support multi-currency natively.

Though we don't have the need for it, it would be relatively simple to extend this process to support direct debits (such as BACS in the UK).  You would store the bank account in Xero against each contact, and instead of debiting credit cards, it would instead produce a text file suitable for uploading to your processing bank.

Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.



Take the day off - go play some games

, posted: 15-Dec-2012 10:00

Back in July, Alienware flew me and lucky Geekzoner Stuart over to Melbourne for their FIFA Euro 2012 game off.  The best part of the day (for me) was visiting GameMasters, the exhibition about all the games and consoles from yesteryear.  At the time, I recommended flying to Melbourne just to see the exhibition (read my original blog post here).

I have amazing news - the exhibition has jumped the ditch and opens today at Te Papa.

20121207_144818

I highly recommend skipping work for the day and spending all day in the exhibition.  Even if you aren't a gamer, you will thoroughly enjoy seeing how far gaming has come, and actually being able to play on some of the older consoles.  A full list of the available games is here.

GameMasters closes the end of April 2013.



ASB Mobile app now with TradeMe goodness

, posted: 14-Dec-2012 13:22

701568120A couple weeks back, I was invited (along with a few others) to a super secret preview of the new ASB mobile app.  We were under NDA until today.

I was involved in giving feedback on the very first ASB app a few years back - at that time it was just a wrapper around a mobile site, and we received it via Dropbox.  It was a good first attempt at a mobile app, this latest release however is streets ahead of where ASB started.

The biggest killer feature in this app is the TradeMe integration - it makes paying a seller for a successful auction super easy. See the video below for more info:

(video here about collecting a payment if you are the seller)

Other nice changes are:

  • Multi-tasking ability - if you swapped to another app, such as Gmail, to check an amount or bank account details, and went back to the ASB Mobile app, you'd need to login again.  They've now fixed this so you can return to the ASB Mobile app (within a 2 minute timeout) and continue on where you left off (this was my biggest pet peeve).
  • Branch locator gone - this has been removed from the initial login page.  I had issues with this while in Europe, with it swapping between Cape Reinga and Invercargill as my nearest branches, based on what country I was in at the time.
  • Quick balance updates - you can now specific up to three accounts to view the balances off, rather than just one.

Great work ASB! 

 

I'm only an ASB customer, I'm keen to hear how this compares to the mobile apps of the other competitors - please leave your thoughts in the comments below.



My Little Geek

, posted: 28-Nov-2012 12:42

The best way to summarise this book is from their website:

My Little Geek is an ABC book all about geekdom

I came across this book a few months back off a suggestion on Twitter (it's written by a Kiwi), but had to wait to blog about it until we've given it to friends who have just had their first child.  With it's big colourful illustrations, and geeky theme, it's the perfect gift to get for new parents, to help their little one, on their way to becoming an uber-geek.

Available from the clever folk at Mighty Ape.



Review: Blackbox C20 noise cancelling earphones

, posted: 25-Oct-2012 07:00

I spent all of last week in New York for meetings - before flying out I attended the Sony launch, and after hearing about "must have" noise cancelling headphones for long haul flights, I decided to pickup some of my very own.

C20-Product-ImageWhile Sony's offerings were nice, they were far more than I was prepared to spend ($600 range).  Doing some quick research online, I found Phitek's Blackbox C20s, and at only $157 from JB Hi-Fi they were just what I was looking for.

The Blackbox earphones aren't new to the market - Rod Drury (Xero) reviewed them back in 2007, and Mauricio Freitas (Geekzone) later that same year.

The flight to the east coast of the USA isn't a short one - 13 hours to LAX, then 6 hours across the continent.  I chose earphones as I knew I'd be spending much of my cattle-class flight asleep, and headphones aren't comfortable to sleep in (a trip earlier this year to Europe with my Bose AE2s taught me this the hard way).

The C20s are really comfortable to wear, and I kept mine in for most of the flight there and back (approximately 40 hours of flying in total).  They come with a hard carry case to keep everything together (a blessing especially when trying to find them in your carry-on in the dark) and they come complete with an airline adapter (dual pins), extra ear-buds, cable clip and a AAA battery (if the battery goes flat, the earphones still work, just without the noise cancelling).

If you own an Apple device, it has a small remote on one of the cables to answer/end calls, plus play/pause/next/previous music track control.  Included is an adapter to allow the earphones to work with all non-Apple devices.

After turning on the noise-cancelling (there's a small slide switch on the battery pack), the difference is phenomenal: the aircraft cabin turns to near silence.  It doesn't block out all sounds, but the continuous, monotonous drone of the aircraft's engines disappears.  Even when I wasn't listening to music, I kept them in my ears to block out most of the background noise.

The sound quality through these earphones is superb.  While the devices I was using aren't known for their high fidelity audio output (my laptop and Android tablet), the earphones allowed me to fully appreciate the sound they do put out.  I'm by no stretch an audiophile, but to my amateur ears these sound amazing.

I highly recommend these earphones - they look good, sound great, are a fantastic price, and, even better, are developed by a company here in NZ.



nate's profile

 


I'm Nate Dunn, and I work for 3Bit, own Tuihana Cafe, and am a moderator here at Geekzone.

Use Autotask and Xero? Sync data between them with My Accounting Toolbox.

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Disclaimer
The views and opinions represented on this blog are personal and belong solely to the blogger and do not represent in anyway those of 3Bit Solutions Limited or any other company.


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