Internal controls are built right into Xero. They’re designed to make sure the accounting system is being operated properly and to assist with identifying errors and anomalies. Now the Xero Assurance Dashboard makes those controls highly visible so you’ll get an alert to transactions or occurrences that need attention.
Continuous assurance becomes a reality
Xero lives up to its mission to provide really useful business tools by using technology to do the heavy lifting with the release of the Xero Assurance Dashboard. Coupled with Xero HQ, it’s set to become the benchmark for the accountancy tools needed to deliver exceptional service to clients.
Most accountants typically review a client’s accounting transactions once or twice a year, which may not be often enough to provide timely assistance to your clients. In this situation, anomalies are difficult to spot and often the effects of errors or tampering don’t show up until it’s too late. If you’re doing the accounts and no more, they may not be found at all.
Now, thanks to real-time data flows, automated bank feeds and the assurance dashboard, you can help clients identify potential internal control issues continuously throughout the year. The assurance dashboard in Xero increases transparency. It brings together the key information needed to monitor the accuracy and integrity of your clients’ financial data, in one place. You can quickly identify and fix errors, or uncover activity which may not be in your client’s interests.
With data feeding into Xero from reliable sources including banks, other financial institutions, bills and invoices and applying coding rules, we can rely more and more on transaction details being accurate. Continuous assurance can focus primarily on process and controls instead.
Exceptions can be reported and controls displayed on the assurance dashboard. Who has accessed files or changed transactions can be highlighted. So it becomes easy to check, assess, and have confidence that the information in the accounts is robust and secure.
How the dashboard works
The Xero Assurance Dashboard allows you to monitor your client’s use of Xero to identify errors or anomalies. It shows details of user activity, bank accounts, contacts, and invoices and bills.
When you select the assurance dashboard from the advisor menu, a heatmap of user activity displays. It includes each user, their Xero permissions, and their last login date. You can check for bank account transactions that have been altered, deleted or manually reconciled. Hover over the heatmap and you can see and drill down into any that need to be fixed or investigated further.
You can also see if any suppliers have duplicate bank account numbers or if those accounts have been edited recently. And any invoices or bills that have been backdated are shown – you can drill into them too if necessary.
The assurance dashboard isn’t designed to replace a traditional audit – far from it. It’s designed to complement it. The advantage of the dashboard is that it surfaces items that need attention in real time, rather than months afterwards. It’s quite possible that use of the dashboard will evolve into a commonly accepted form of continuous internal review – to a lesser standard and for different purposes than a full audit.
Innovative assurance practitioners will soon find ways of transforming the current compliance cost into a value-add service for their client. And having assurance practitioners involved more regularly will lead to stakeholders having more confidence in the entity as a whole.
Great opportunities lie ahead
When small businesses invest in bookkeepers, accountants, and assurance practitioners, it adds business expertise critical to their success. Xero is committed to helping small businesses thrive and we’ll continue to advocate that they value and use advisors. The skilled advice and experience they bring to small businesses cannot be replaced by technology – but the value they add can be enhanced by it.
Changes in technology create opportunities to serve business and new ways to work. Continuous assurance is a way of adding value by using high-integrity accounting systems to enhance reporting and decision-making. With clean up-to-date data and confidence in the numbers, Xero advisors can better advise their clients. Ultimately, having the necessary internal controls in place will help small business create more sustainable, successful businesses.