The Brixx Insider Article #1 – The Xero integration overview

Brixx Insider #1 Xero integration header image

Welcome to the first Brixx Insider article! This is a new, regular series giving you a peek at what’s in store for the future of our software.

The Brixx Insider series goals:

  • Showcase what we are working on
  • Give you some insight into our thought processes
  • Give updates on development progress and release timings
  • Provide earlier opportunities to give feedback

We’ll use this space to keep you up to date on the current major projects in production. In addition, it’ll be a space to talk about some of our more bluesky ideas and other projects planned for later in our roadmap.

We’ve got a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline and we’d like to hear what you think about them!

This week, introducing our current major project – Xero integration

Xero is the first of several accounting packages we’re planning on integrating with. It’s quite simply the most requested feature we’ve had for quite some time now. It’s about time we delivered!

We’re looking at serving two broad requirements:

  1. Creating a brand new forecast from existing accounting data
  2. Comparing your forecast against actual data as it comes in

We have a working prototype of the first requirement and we are currently improving both the functionality and user experience right now. We’ll have a new plan creation process that allows you to connect to Xero, map your charts of accounts to Brixx and use your past data as a starting point for your new forecast. It’s pretty neat!

Here are the setup steps we are working on now. Keep in mind it’s all work in progress (WIP) at this point at may change before full release:

In the screen below you can see the matching exercise involved in lining up your Xero Profit & Loss accounts to the Brixx Profit & Loss headings. We’ll automatically detect the Xero account types and put them in the most likely Brixx equivalent. This means you’ll mostly just need to quickly double-check everything is where you would expect it to be before moving on.

Xero + Brixx Profit & Loss Setup WIP

The second integration requirement is an automation of the actuals vs forecast system we released recently. It will use similar variance reports for comparing actual against forecast each month, quarter or year. Instead of filling out the information manually, the Xero connection will allow us to pull in fresh data to keep it up to date. I’ll give you a more detailed update on this in a future Brixx Insider article.

For now, our intent is to release a beta version to you once all the basic functionality is in place. In fact, Xero enforces a beta period before we can become an approved application on their app store.

We’ll need your participation to help us with final approval!

Our approach to integration

Our integration with Xero has its own unique challenges related to the way we take on forecasting.

If you’re familiar with Brixx you’ll know you don’t directly interact with a chart of accounts. You enter your forecast into ‘components’ designed to haul around numbers through a chart of accounts for you. It makes the forecasting process more approachable to everyone in the team no matter their background.

Accounting in Xero very much exposes you to the raw chart of accounts. It works well when your goal is precisely documenting historical data. Xero accounts are doing their job of sweeping up all the numbers into the correct boxes for historical reporting.

The problem we are tackling is that Xero accounts don’t match Brixx components like for like.

Brixx components model business activities rather than any one particular account. One component may interact with multiple accounts across different reports, and all behind the scenes.

It’s how we save people a lot of time by batching related accounts together and completing the double-entry process for you.

Now, I apologise for this slight detour if this is stating the obvious. Not everyone is familiar with what is going on behind the scenes of a Brixx plan!

We’ve got to the crux of the issue now though. A Brixx plan is not a chart of accounts, it’s a powerful interface in front of a chart of accounts that helps you quickly manipulate it from a distance.

So, in order to translate Xero chart of accounts and associated data into a Brixx plan we need to:

  1. Match the Xero chart of accounts with the underlying Brixx chart of accounts (fairly easy)
  2. Pull out the business activities from the Xero chart of accounts to build the plan (somewhat more difficult)
  3. Explain what on earth is going on

Other forecasting tools we’ve seen don’t try to tackle this problem. They simply take your existing accounts and extend them into the future. They then give you the ability to fill out your forecast at the chart of account level, similar to the way you’d go about recording and organising historical data.

Our view is that forecasting is not accounting and needs a different set of tools. The way you enter data in a forecast is different to the way you want to record data in historical reports.

The good news is that you don’t really need to understand anything you have just read! The integration we are building will do 90% of the work for you.

The benefit to you is that you won’t have to build your Brixx forecast to match your Xero setup. If you want to expand parts of your Brixx forecast in more detail than your Xero accounts, this will be easily possible.

You can continue to exploit the flexibility and quick experimentation that Brixx provides. If you are happy with your Xero chart of account setup you won’t need to make changes to accommodate a more detailed Brixx forecast.

We’re really excited to launch Xero later this year but please be patient with us as we work through these challenges to provide the best experience possible.

If you’d like to give feedback, let us know what you think or send in your own ideas please use the contact form on our Contact page. We’d love to hear from you!

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