This article is an extract from the book 'Everything you need to know about Xero Practice Manager'
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There are some settings in XPM you need to get right. In this section we’ll be reviewing the essential settings to ensure your practice is set up to succeed.
To get started, go to ‘Business > Settings > Tasks’ in your XPM.
Getting your task list correct at the beginning can save you a lot of heartache when the hard questions come later. This section will allow you to make the right decisions for your practice and avoid some of the common mistakes.
As we touched on in Chapter 3: Revenue Streams, tasks are the services you offer in your practice. Tasks are what your staff see every day when they complete their time sheets. It is what you report on when you ask, ‘How good are we at something? It is also how we break up the different processes, decision points and resource allocation in our practice. Choosing good tasks creates good quotes, processes, invoices and reports. Choosing inappropriate tasks leads to unreliability, confusion and cost.
Sub-tasks in XPM
Some activities like ‘Annual Accounts’ might have multiple stages as part of completing them. It is tempting to create each of these stages as a task. This adds complexity to our task list and reduces our ability to report on task profitability and performance. Fortunately we can achieve the same result by using sub-tasks, which are called ‘Labels’ in XPM. Labels are set up inside the job or the job template, not in the tasks list. We’ll be covering how and where to set these up along with some examples when we cover job templates. For now, just know that we shouldn’t have any sub-tasks in our tasks list.
For example, for annual accounts we might have two specific activities performed by two different people, say ‘Annual Accounts – Preparation’ and ‘Annual Accounts – Review’. Rather than setting these up as two tasks in your task list, you can just create ‘Annual Accounts’ and when creating your job templates, you add this task twice and differentiate it using the labels 'Preparation’ and ‘Review’.
Let’s look at an example:
David wants a lot of detailed reporting, so he sets up the following tasks in his Annual Accounts template:
- Annual Accounts – Preparation
- Annual Accounts – Queries with Client
- Annual Accounts – Meetings
- Annual Accounts – Checking
- Annual Accounts – Finalisation
- Annual Accounts – Work Papers
- Annual Accounts – Pre-review
- Annual Accounts – Review
- Annual Accounts – Filing.
This makes it impossible to allocate tasks, estimate task times and report on task performance. It also makes scheduling a nightmare, and it makes time sheeting slow and confusing. Complexity kills productivity. Don’t be like David. Keep it simple and review time sheet notes if you want more information.
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