Xero award nominee DNA eyes top spot with FYI

Guernsey-based accountancy firm and Xero Platinum Partner, DNA, has achieved a sought-after shortlist position for the Xero Awards in the Midsize Firm category – with FYI and its cutting-edge app stack at its core.

Formed by the merging of two successful firms run by two ambitious school-friends-turned-colleagues, DNA provides a forward-thinking, proactive service to businesses which harnesses the power of cloud accounting.

A Xero-based practice, the firm delivers a range of services to clients including accounts preparation, bookkeeping, data migration, invoicing, payroll and business advisory. With cloud technology at its centre, DNA relies on its sophisticated app architecture to provide a fully flexible service to clients. Reaching this milestone is the result of significant investment in the firm’s practice management solutions and its in-house skills – something which Director, Diane de Garis takes very seriously.

In the beginning…

Since starting her practice in 2014, Diane de Garis placed Xero at the heart of her firm’s operations, which didn’t change when she merged with Dani Bennett in 2022. Both champions of Xero, Diane and Dani knew they were on the right path – but still sought to enhance their workflows to deliver a more efficient service to clients.

“I was using the resources at events like Xerocon to find out how we could make our practice work better and resolve some of our early issues with some of our most essential software. Each year, I came away with advice to invest significantly in our practice management and address existing manual processes, which we did with external consultants, which was a first for our firm. At this point, I thought that the solution needed to be using a different practice manager, but FYI changed all that”.

DNA was an early adopter of FYI, coming across our solution organically through referrals.

I started hearing about FYI more and more. Now I hear about it almost every day from a colleague in the industry.

Getting to grips with FYI

The team employs FYI to enhance the capabilities of Xero Practice Management (XPM) and unify its document and email management with automated processes. For example, Dani led the build of an automated onboarding process, including the deployment of software out to new clients to automate the collection of Client Due Diligence (CDD). Clients can then use an app to complete all checks, which makes the process seamless and quick. Diane remarked: “Everything just got better from day one.

“Adopting FYI wasn’t a major adjustment because it’s a layer on top of XPM, so – with excellent support from FYI – it was a really easy transition. “Of course, we had some work to do in terms of getting our heads around file structures and tagging, essentially learning how the system works.

“What made the difference with FYI was the support, which was great. The initial onboarding was well planned and since then there have been lots of useful webinars. “Having used the system for a while, we can now get so much out of each session because we know what we need from the system – and advanced training makes a lot more sense when you have used the product for a while and understand how it works.

“We love that they also put on face-to-face training in the run-up to events like Xerocon – we’re looking to the upcoming one in London.”

It all stacks up

Being based in Guernsey, DNA is regulated through GFSC as a prescribed business, requiring it to report on the location of all clients and other potentially sensitive information, which it can do through tailored reporting capabilities enhance by FYI. “Instead of having to replace our existing system, FYI has made it much simpler and effective to use, even on simple things like bulk updates of client information and tying in our document management.

FYI was a full-on solution to all the challenges we were facing, and I think we’re only just starting to scratch the surface.

“It just works brilliantly, particularly with Xero and Ignition, which we love.

“Most game-changing of all though are the automations. “Having an automation helps reduce risk and admin time involved in accountancy work, particularly for onboarding clients and tasks that you do manually and repeatedly. There’s less room for error and it takes some of the time pressure off. “Now, instead of searching for a solution, we can go to Xero events and meet others from the industry to learn more about automations and how we can use them to improve our practice.”

Enhancing staffing

As Diane highlighted, companies in Guernsey face a skills shortage due to low rates of unemployment and a small population – a challenge which FYI has helped her to address. “We’re a team of 14 people and we’ve recently onboarded a full-time colleague in administration to facilitate our growth.

“Honestly, without FYI, we’d likely need another full-time person in our admin team. The automations are really crucial here, particularly with things like onboarding and day to day office management – saving us the time of a team member who we would struggle to recruit.

“FYI hasn’t only made us more efficient; it has provided us with significant cost savings associated with recruitment.

“Instead, we can focus on training our existing team. That’s where I’m looking now.”

Recognition from Xero

Diane and her team’s shared passion for Xero has brought them a coveted position on the Midsize Firm shortlist for the Xero Awards 2024. This recognition is given to firms which use Xero above and beyond its basic functions and work to champion its use across the industry – something which Diane has certainly embraced.

“We don’t just use Xero as a tool, we embrace it and its app ecosystem.

FYI is an integral part of our app stack which, in turn, was an integral part of our award submission, which I think made us a really strong candidate.

“It shows that we have really embraced Xero and how, for us, we’ve used FYI to make that system work better. “We’ve got a really strong team and a really strong app stack, so we’re now pushing towards harnessing the full power of Xero and of FYI.”

Spreading the word

As early adopters of FYI, Diane and her team are now fierce champions of the workflows and efficiency our solution can create. “We try to network a lot with other firms and we’ve heard some great feedback from others about FYI. “I would absolutely recommend FYI to other practices,” said Diane.

“If a firm uses Xero Practice Manager (XPM) already, it’s an absolute no brainer. If you’re using a different job management system, then review your app stack and consider if it’s the best thing for you. “If you’ve got any concerns with how your existing architecture fits your business then XPM plus FYI could be the solution.”

Invite your team to a live platform tour and see why firms like DNA are counting on FYI.