FYI favourites

Posted on 19 September 2023

Top platform features by leading FYI clients 

At our recent Showcase series of free webinars, we brought together four key clients to discuss their real-life experience with FYI in their businesses.

Having implemented the platform for between 12 months and three and a half years, the panel discussed the features they can’t live without, their ample app stacks, plus, simple tips for new practices looking to get started. 

And you won’t believe how many automations one firm has set up. 

Key efficiency features 

Just one question into our panel discussion, and we’re quickly reminded of old ways of working. Like forwarding and responding to emails. 

Powerful comments and tasks   

At Evolve Accounting in Auckland, Director Anthony McIlroy and his team deliver ‘the next evolution in business advice’ to their clients, and use progressive practices themselves. Including replacing email functionality with FYI’s comments and tasks features, to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. 

“Two features we use every day, every hour, are comments and tasks,” he explains. “Comments are tags you can add to any document or job happening within FYI. Let’s say a Xero support query comes through to me as director. Instead of forwarding that onto someone else within the practice, I’d tag in the client manager or our Xero support specialist and say ‘please respond’. They’re going to get alerted that they’ve got an email to reply to, and the client gets a seamless response.” 

It’s proven far more efficient than the forward button. 

“We don’t forward emails – we just tag each other. The comments function is pretty powerful and we use it as a quick workflow transfer, or to keep people informed of things that are going on.” 

As for tasks, Anthony uses them to set reminders for things that need actioning down the track.  

“It’s really easy to add a task within an email, set it for a future date and assign that to someone in the practice. Then at that future date – which might be months into the future – it’s going to pop up and say, ‘Hey, reminder’. You can have your own text in there about what the task was about, who it was delegated to, what needs to happen.”  

There are just so many other features within FYI that are powerful for productivity
Anthony McIlroy 

Abby Acutt agrees. “My must-have is also the comments and the tasks. They’re amazing,” she says. 

As Client Services & Marketing Manager at G J Walsh & Co in Queensland, she’s seen the productivity boost that comments and tasks bring to the team.  

“I’ve really embraced the task templates. Love it. We’ve been using that a lot, particularly for onboarding clients or GST registration changes. Just having those comments all ready to go for the team so that they know what they need to do.”

Game-changing automations  

With four office locations, 28 staff and over 5,000 clients, automations are another feature making life easier for Abby’s team. “We’re sitting on 94 automations at the moment,” she says. It’s a figure that’s blown the rest of the panel away.  

“We’re a big team trying to keep our templates and everything standardised,” she explains. “(With FYI), people don’t have to think too much about it. We’ve got the automation to create those workflows and templates, as well as the communication between staff.” 

If you think she’d be hard pressed to find a favourite amongst the 94, Abby names two. 

“When we get new corporate entities in, we have a 362 task that’s assigned to our corporate compliance manager. That one’s been a game changer for us – having new clients added into the system that she may not have been notified about appropriately. She’s across it straight away without having to speak to anyone.” 

As a practice devoted to ‘the pursuit of new ideas’ for over 30 years, the team knows how to pivot to sustain productivity. 

“The big one for us is that we had a staff member move to Central Queensland and we didn’t want to lose her, or her knowledge in our invoicing process, so we completely digitised it. It was very paper-based, she saw the directors a lot – whereas now she doesn’t see the directors ever. That billing process has been completely moved to an automated process within FYI.”

It's just saved a mountain of paper and a mountain of time
Abby Acutt

Easy electronic signatures  

Rebecca Stilton, Director at Spencer Lawrence Accounting in Auckland, has also seen the shift from traditional accounting. With around 300 clients, efficiency gains are key. 

One of the things I’ve really embraced has been electronic signatures,” Rebecca says. “Going back in time, you’d finish off the tax returns from the financial statements for a client. You’d print those off, the client might come in and see you, have a meeting and they’d sign them. Then somebody would have to scan those documents into our online server.” 

But as a paperless office, the firm is able to meet its sustainability objectives with FYI.

“With FYI, we’ll email the client a copy before the meeting, and share everything on screen when they come in. Once they’re happy with everything through FYI, we group the tax returns and financial statements together and send them off to Annature, an electronic signing facility. The client can sign electronically, then those signed returns and financial statements are included in FYI. At no point do we have to scan them, upload them – it’s all signed, ready to go. And it just works within our core value of being sustainable for the future.”

By the time you print everything, bind everything, get the client to sign everything and scan everything, that’s at least 30 minutes per job we're saving
Rebecca Stilton

The beauty of bulk update 

At Illumin8 on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the 20+ strong team promises clients ‘accounting for your tomorrow’. And the way they work internally is no exception. 

Head of Process Technology Shane Scott is a self-described automation addict who loves FYI’s bulk update feature. He offers an example.  

“Within FYI, if you’ve got a hundred documents, clients, tasks or whatever you need to make one change to, you can select all of those and bulk change their filing from one job to another. My favourite use of this has been for bulk updates of partners and managers and XPM. Through FYI, you can just filter to the clients you need, select all, make the change. And FYI will update XPM through the API – that’s just been an absolute time saver.”

Bulk update is probably one of my favourite things in the world
Shane Scott

Clear visibility 

Another feature Shane loves is the visibility he gets with FYI’s database-based structure. 

“What FYI does really well is that we can have one job category within FYI, and we can save all the documents to that. But then we also get the ability to see them on a client-by-client level or group-by group-level, regardless of whether it’s filed to the job or not. It’s been a massive win for us in the visibility of our documents.”  

The other panellists agree. 

Rebecca adds, “Filing everything by the job is going to make a lot of people’s lives much easier. You find all the documents you need for that particular job without hunting through anything else.” 

“When we got that opportunity to file under the job specifically, it was just a game changer”
Abby Acutt

Stacks of integrations 

It doesn’t matter how many apps you have in your stack, FYI integrates seamlessly. 

Automation queen Abby says “We’ve got a lot”. While Anthony tries to “keep things as simple as possible”.  

Between them, our panel lists XPM, Xero Workpapers, Annature, FuseSign, Ignition, Futrli, Fathom, Calendly, NowInfinity, AccountKit, DocuSign, Adobe Connect, Zapier, 2Shakes, Cognito Forms, and CAS amongst their apps. Now that’s quite a stack.  

Says Shane, “FYI, it has been great for us for various reasons, but having the ecosystem of apps attached to that has been one of the big parts of why we chose FYI. We’ve got the ability to have all of these external providers that we’re already using, and have that information just flow back into FYI without our input.” 

And the future sees even more integration for Shane. 

“We’re even talking to further integrations like Cimplico Workpapers – yet another opportunity where we’re not copying information back and forth between systems,” he says. “And overnight, Cloudoffis was added as yet another integration. That’s been a massive win for us because we’ve been using products for a while and then we’d find out, ‘Oh, this is now integrated with FYI’, and it’s yet another manual process we can remove as a result.”

Always learning with FYI 

Self-proclaimed geek Anthony loves the new releases. “I like to see what latest enhancements were released. That was one of the reasons for coming across to FYI – every week there are improvements coming out.”  

While Rebecca keeps a keen eye on FYI’s showcases. “Every episode I’ve watched, I’ve gone, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t know that existed’.”  

It's amazing how every time you hop in, there's new things that you learn
Rebecca Stilton

The team can also keep up to date with the platform as part of FYI’s Facebook community, and via monthly newsletters to FYI champions. With an ever evolving platform, it’s champions and firms like these who keep learning, and succeeding. 

Small steps to success 

As for advice to firms starting their journey with FYI, Anthony shares this tip. 

“Just do it in small bites. Don’t try to get to the end now. Take time. Refine your exclusion list so that you’re not getting a whole of junk appearing that’s wanting to be filed. Then get used to the different layout (from client group, down to the client and then into the job). That becomes really powerful once you get your head around it.” 

The power is yours. Get started with FYI in your practice today.