App Ecosystem

01 April 2020

Henry McClintock, Audit & Assurance Partner |

Cloud accounting is one of the biggest enablers of connectivity and productivity. Previously, due to the complex structures inherent in Not for Profit organisations, accounting systems like Xero may not have suited the needs of the organisation. However, there are now many apps in the cloud which integrate with Xero to give even the smallest Not for Profit organisation a chance to access features that previously only large enterprises could afford with an ERP system.

The easiest way to embrace the cloud to its fullest extent is by utilising a cloud ecosystem. In a cloud ecosystem, apps connect and interact with a platform such as Xero to provide a seamless accounting experience. By creating a cloud ecosystem you pick and choose the apps that benefit your organisation and utilise the very best elements of the cloud.

These benefits include freeing up time to focus on the activities that truly matter to you, while increasing efficiency & productivity, enhancing your access to data and facilitating first-class collaboration opportunities.

One of the principal features of the cloud is its ability to scale; you can simply pay for more licenses as you go. This is perfect for organisations that want to gradually scale up their IT systems to align with growth or for directing payments to essential cloud services.

Here at BDO, we use a suite of cloud-based apps. We have narrowed down five cloud-based apps that can all be used simultaneously to create a collaborative and effective cloud app ecosystem for you and your organisation.


The purpose of Xero is to create “beautiful accounting software”. To some who have used other archaic accounting systems, this may seem like an oxymoron. Once you experience for yourself how easy Xero is to use you may wonder why you didn’t make the move years ago. By using Xero you can transfer all of your accounting information on to the cloud, where it can be accessed at all times and customised to your liking. Furthermore, A key staple of Xero is live bank feeds giving you access to real-time data.

Think of Xero as the mothership of the cloud accounting app universe, all of the following apps integrate effectively with Xero and in some instances are designed specifically for Xero.


Receiptbank wants you to work smarter, faster and go further. This system revolutionises your accounts payable process. By using this app, your process will be completed more efficiently and without the need for hours of manual entry. Receiptbank scans and reads the invoices submitted, it plucks out information such as the tax amount and other key information. It then integrates with Xero by pushing the information to the platform. Say goodbye to not only the many tedious hours spent printing and manually entering a plethora of invoices, but also the need to store those invoices in the back-office filing cabinet.


For organisations which require enhanced delegations of authority or a more robust approval process than the one available in Xero, ApprovalMax is for you.

ApprovalMax is a fantastic app that will dramatically improve and transform your approval process. ApprovalMax does this by offering; multi-step and multi-level approvals, conditional approvals, sequential and parallel approvals and amount-based authorisation levels. This cloud-based system says no to manual approvals, as everything can be completed on the easy to use mobile app. Furthermore, a robust audit trail is formed which stores all invoices in the cloud, and there is a fraud detection system to keep your money going to the right people.

A great example of the synergies produced from a cloud-based app ecosystem is how the three previous apps can work together. Imagine a perfect cloud world where an invoice is submitted to Receiptbank for scanning, which will subsequently be posted to Xero and then ApprovalMax. Once the invoice is approved, it will be passed back to Xero where it will await payment. Previously this would have involved various hands and numerous tasks, now it can be completed online, with no double handling in a streamlined manner.


iPayroll is a next generation cloud-based payroll solution. There is no longer a need for antiquated desktop payroll providers. All payroll information is stored in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere at any time. Via the Payroll Kiosk staff can apply and manage leave with ease, along with access to their own pay data. Furthermore, iPayroll can manage your legal IRD obligations each month, just another example of the cloud removing the hassle and boredom from your organisation. As you may have guessed, iPayroll links with accounting systems such as Xero, meaning no double entries and potential mistakes that come with transferring payroll data.

Spotlight Reporting

Spotlight Reporting is the final piece to the puzzle when it comes to creating your unique cloud-based app ecosystem. This app brings together all of the data produced in your cloud accounting system to create powerful reports that will help monitor your organisation’s goals. Use the reporting function to construct visually engaging reports that provide insights for your organisation. Meanwhile, Spotlight Forecasting allows you to build customisable forecasts, which uses data and budgets directly extracted from your accounting system. Managing your cashflow has never been easier and with the scenario function, you can see what will happen if you decide to invest in new equipment or hire new staff.

To learn more about the cloud, cloud apps and how these can be integrated into your organisation please contact your local BDO adviser.