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 > Job Settings’ in your XPM.
Job states represent the chronological movement of a job through our practice. Accounting is unique in that our annual accounts (or tax return) jobs are repeated each year. Your job states should reflect the stages a typical annual accounts job moves through prior to being archived. Every practice is unique so your job states may be different to other practices even of a similar size. Below is an example of what those job states might look like for you:
- 1.0 To Be Scheduled
- 1.1 Not In
- 1.2 In Progress
- 1.3 Queries With Client
- 1.4 In Review
- 1.5 Director Sign-off
- 1.6 Filing
- 1.7 Finalisation
- 1.8 Completed
- 1.9 Archived
- 2.0 General Billable
- 2.1 Ready To Invoice
- On Hold
You’ll notice that the above job states are broken into three separate sections and numbered accordingly. This allows them to be sorted so we can quickly see how many jobs we might have in any given state, in order.
The first section has the most highly used job states, which represent the flow of an annual accounts job through our practice.
The second section represents non-annual accounts jobs that might arise throughout the year, eg. ‘Cash-flow Forecast’. These have a shorter duration and can be closed as soon as they are completed.
The final section has our internal and administrative job states. Cancelled jobs are jobs that never went ahead for any reason. Internal is for our two internal jobs, ‘Admin’ and ‘Leave’. By not condemning these two jobs to a life of perpetual ‘In Progress’, we can quickly sort and find these jobs in our jobs list. They are also highly used, as our team’s non-client time goes here.
Whatever variation of the above job states you have for your practice, here are five principles to keep in mind:
- Every job state must have an owner
Someone must always be responsible for progressing a job from one state to the next. We don’t want our jobs to stall in a state where we’re not sure who is responsible for progressing it. Ensure the people who are responsible for each state are aware that they are responsible. For example: it is the scheduler’s job to move a job from ‘To Be Scheduled’ to ‘Not In’; it is the job manager’s job to follow up the client in order to receive the necessary information to start the job, after which they move the job state to ‘In Progress’; it is the team member’s job to move it from ‘In Progress’ to ‘For Review’. The responsibility always sits with one person, which ensures we move a job through our practice as fast as possible.
- It is everyone’s responsibility to update job states
It is not the job of administrators or job managers to perpetually update job states. It is each person's responsibility to update the jobs they are working on from one stage to the next for the stages they are responsible for. This should be an activity that occurs multiple times a day and can be done easily from the ‘Job Manager’ page, by hovering over the ‘Job State’.
- Customise your job states
Reflect your processes in your job states by customising the default job states you may have inherited, eg. ‘Planned’, ‘In Progress’, ‘Completed’. These are not detailed enough to give you a good picture of where your jobs are at, how many you have that are active, how close they are to being completed, and who is responsible for completing them. Using the default job states makes it difficult for your team to see what they need to be focussed on.
- You don’t want more than 10 active job states
One of the reasons your team might not be updating job states is that you have too many. There are much more than 10 steps required to prepare and file a set of annual accounts, however we only want a high-level view on these. Have between five and 10 job states, depending on the number of approval steps you have in your delivery process.
- Ensure there is a step between practical completion and archive
It is a common error for team members, upon completing a job, to mark it as ‘Completed’. In their eyes it is completed, however this skips the essential step of someone ensuring that all time sheets are captured for this job, all disbursements entered, a final invoice has been completed, and any remaining WIP has been washed up.
The best way to mitigate this risk is to rename the ‘Completed’ job state to be ‘Archived’ as this better reflects what occurs at the end of these steps. It also means staff are less likely to put a job into that state without considering the implications.
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