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Xero Migration Migraines

I’ve been knee-deep in Xero migrations for the past month, gearing up to wrap up the sixth one in just three weeks. Every migration is a unique beast—no two are alike in scope or complexity. Each demands meticulous planning and execution, with a myriad of stakeholders to consider. The challenge is immense: striking the right balance to ensure everyone sees this change as an upgrade rather than a setback. How do you tackle that? How do you make sure no one feels shortchanged by the switch to Xero?

In the changing world of cloud accounting, businesses often face the need to transition between platforms to leverage better features, integrations, and user interfaces. One such switch that’s gaining traction is migrating from Kashflow to Xero, a move that many businesses are considering due to Xero’s robust capabilities and extensive ecosystem. Movemybooks provides an efficient pathway for this migration, but it’s crucial to approach this transition methodically to ensure a smooth shift. Here’s an in-depth look at the process, its benefits, limitations, and key strategies for success during a migration from Kashflow to Xero using Movemybooks.

The Migration Process

It’s tempting to jump right into migrations, especially when you’ve been through the process multiple times. However, it’s crucial not to fall into complacency. While the general steps of each migration might be similar, the specific ways a company uses their current system, the skills of the individuals involved, and the expectations for the outcome can differ significantly from one project to the next. Thus, the planning stage becomes the most critical part of any migration. It may not be the most glamorous aspect of the job, but failing to adequately listen to or understand the full scope of the project before starting any work can lead to disappointment and, ultimately, the project’s failure.

1. Pre-Migration Preparation

Audit Existing Data: Review your current data in Kashflow thoroughly. Ensure that all financial data is accurate and complete. This step is crucial as it determines the quality of data being transferred. This part is almost always harder than one would expect. There is always a reason the books and records might not be up to date. A lack of time, skills, or an abundance of queries. These won’t just resolve themselves overnight.

Communicate with the client about potential problems that could arise and how pre-emptive tidying of the records before migration can mitigate these issues. The fewer historical items that need to be migrated, the better.

It’s common for small businesses to not reconcile the bank within their cloud accounting systems. They might handle it on paper but not perform the actual reconciliation in the software. If you’re transferring a substantial amount of data, say from the last seven years, this could mean thousands of items needing manual reconciliation in Xero. With 200 items per page, this can turn into a lengthy, tedious process that not only bores the team but also delays the moment when the end user can finally start using the software efficiently.

Audit Existing Process, Procedures and Systems:

Auditing existing processes, procedures, and systems as part of the pre-migration process is crucial for several reasons, especially when transitioning from Kashflow to Xero with the help of tools like Movemybooks. This audit is not just about ensuring data integrity; it’s about aligning the new system with the operational, strategic, and compliance objectives of the organisation. There must be a reason for making the move. What benefits are they looking to achieve?

Here’s a detailed breakdown of why this audit is essential:

Identification of Customisations and Integrations

Customisation Needs: Each business will likely have customised its previous system to suit specific needs. During an audit, you identify these customisations to determine if they are necessary and how they can be replicated or improved in Xero.

Existing Integrations: Businesses often integrate their accounting software with other systems like CRM, e-commerce, or inventory management systems. An audit helps map out these integrations to ensure they are compatible with Xero or if alternative solutions are required.

Streamlining and Optimisation

Process Improvements: An audit provides a clear picture of the current workflows and processes, highlighting inefficiencies that can be eliminated. Xero might offer more efficient ways to handle processes that were cumbersome in Kashflow, enabling process re-engineering to improve overall operational efficiency.

Data Cleanup: Migrations are an opportunity to clean up data. This includes removing obsolete or redundant data, which can improve performance and usability in the new system.

Compliance and Reporting Needs

Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that all financial controls and reporting standards that were in place meet the industry’s regulatory requirements and will continue to do so in the new system. Xero may offer different or enhanced compliance features that need to be set up.

Reporting Requirements: Different systems often handle reporting differently. An audit can help understand how current reporting is conducted in Kashflow and how it will need to be adapted for Xero. This ensures that all critical financial reporting needs are met post-migration.

Training and Change Management

Identifying Training Needs: By auditing current processes, you can identify which areas will require significant changes in the way your team operates. This allows you to tailor training programs that are focused on these changes, making the transition smoother.

Change Management: Understanding the current state helps in managing the change to a new system. It prepares users for the transition, addressing resistance by showing how new processes improve upon the old ones.

Budget and Resource Allocation

Cost Implications: The audit can reveal the scope of the migration project, helping to forecast the budget more accurately. Understanding the complexity of existing systems can guide resource allocation, whether it’s for additional tools, external consultants, or training programs.

Timeline Estimation: Knowing the depth and breadth of the existing systems and processes helps in creating a realistic timeline for the migration. It ensures that sufficient time is allocated for each phase, preventing rushed implementations.

Conducting a thorough audit of existing processes, procedures, and systems is not merely a preparatory step; it’s a strategic necessity that sets the stage for a successful migration to Xero. This approach not only ensures that the technical transition is smooth but also that the new system is optimally aligned with the business’s operational goals and enhances overall efficiency and compliance post-migration.

Understand the Scope of Migration: Movemybooks typically covers financial transactions for up to two previous years. Determine if this meets your requirements or if additional records need manual entry. You can pay for additional years to be migrated, but this will add to the timescales required to migrate and the amount of post-conversion tasks. You need to consider what system you are migrating from and whether access will be available post migration. Clients will unlikely want to be paying for two systems. You will also need to consider if there are attachments in the existing system that need migrating and potentially departmental data. These come at an extra cost.

Prepare Your Team and Client: Communicate the upcoming changes to all stakeholders, highlighting the timeline and expected disruptions, if any. Consider that the communication will need to be pitched differently depending on the level of the end user. Fear of the unknown is a common human reaction so try and highlight the benefits each end user will receive. Accept that there is always a trade-off. Someone will undoubtedly end up with a change or addition to their workload, but the aim is the company overall wins. Don’t shy away from this. Remember to converse with as many stakeholders as possible. The Directors of the business are unlikely to have an accurate reflection of how the finance team are working with the current system on a day-to-day basis. Make it your job to be their eyes and ears.

2. During Migration

Initiating the Move: Use Movemybooks to start the migration. This involves setting up an account with Movemybooks, connecting it to both Kashflow and Xero, and then initiating the transfer.

When completing a migration from Kashflow you need to know the password to the user account connected to the API. There are several steps required to follow to initiate the migration process where you need to add Movemybooks as a user and then amend the API settings so they can initiate the migration process. This is all documented in the workflow within the software.

Beware of initiating the migration process over a weekend as you could hit a brick wall if things don’t go to plan. This is how I would normally approach things as I want to limit the downtime for the client, but it invariably means I work long hours starting on a Friday evening to hand back a system ready result Monday morning. It doesn’t always go to plan if there is a problem with the migration as has happened a couple of times recently leading to dissatisfaction on both sides.

Monitoring: Keep an eye on the migration dashboard provided by Movemybooks to track progress and address any alerts or errors promptly.

For most part you will not see any issues and depending on the volume of transactions and number of years a migration will typically take between 2-8 hours. My longest effort was 19 hours. You cannot monitor the process for that length of time but there are points at which the transfer might stop pending changes so if it is taking longer than expected check it.

One such example is if you have duplicate account codes in your Kashflow chart of accounts. Yes, that can happen, and it will stop the process. You need to edit the chart of accounts in Kashflow and restart the migration.

3. Post-Migration

Data Verification: Once the data is transferred, verify its integrity by checking balances, transaction histories, and report accuracies. You will receive an email from Movemybooks when the migration has finished. This email contains a link to a checklist of post-conversion tasks that need completing such as reconciling the VAT and reconciling bank transactions.

You will also want to check that the reports match especially the aged receivables, aged payables, balance sheet and profit and loss for example. You will want to lock the conversion balances and set the lock dates. I have created my own checklist for this process which has been created over many years and migrations as there is always something.

Set Up Remaining Integrations: Not all integrations or custom setups in Kashflow will automatically transfer to Xero. Manually set up these elements in Xero. Once such task will be setting up Hubdoc for data capture which you cannot do until after Xero is live as it will pull in the chart of accounts and tax rates. That is another thing you will have to set in the chart of accounts post migration.

Training and Support: Provide training sessions for your team and client to get accustomed to Xero’s environment. Offer support during the initial adjustment period.

Typically, I run various sessions before migration to get everyone use to the Xero environment, the look and feel of what life will be like post migration.

Post migration training in then split depending on the role of the user and what they need to know. This is where all the pre-migration hard work comes to fruition. You can tailor the training to the individuals and workflows of the business rather than generic guidance on features they will not access. It is imperative that training centres around those processes that will change due to the move to Xero.

Whilst you have a Demo company that users can practice on nothing makes more sense to the end user than working on their customers, their suppliers, and the type of transactions they are familiar with. Whilst dangerous I advocate for live training on the client data as it makes sense to the end user. It also means you can tweak anything you got wrong in the preparation.

Provide post migration support for a period after the go live date. You will never cover every eventuality during your training sessions, and it is much better that people ask questions and get comfortable early on.

Benefits of Using Movemybooks for Migration

Migrating data is not the only way to get clients onboard with Xero. Sometimes you might want to start with a clean slate and just bring across opening balances and live customer and supplier accounts. A change in financial systems is a great chance to start again with a clean slate. Clean up the old data, amend the chart of accounts etc but the problem for most is usually what they do with the historical data and financial records. After all you need to maintain the current financial year plus 6 prior years for HMRC compliance so most will go down the route of migrating data rather than opening balances.

Seamless Transfer: Movemybooks automates the transfer of up to two years of historical data, reducing manual data entry errors and saving time.

Cost-Effective: The service can be more cost-effective than a manual migration, with Movemybooks often offering free or discounted migrations under certain conditions.

Speed: Movemybooks can complete most migrations within a few hours, depending on the volume of data.

Limitations to Consider

Data Limitations: Movemybooks does not transfer certain types of data, such as user accounts and non-financial data. These must be manually handled:

  • User accounts
  • Customer and supplier defaults such as nominal account code
  • Only the primary contact will be migrated so any additional contacts will need to be manually added
  • Tax rates need to be applied to the chart of accounts as they will all be No VAT
  • Customer invoice reference field replicates the invoice number and not the customer PO number or similar
  • Supplier Bills invoice reference is the Kashflow internally generated number and not the Supplier Reference which means you do not have the supplier invoice number present
  • Quotes and Purchase Orders cannot be transferred
  • Foreign currencies can be sketchy at best
  • Payroll data will need to be dealt with separately
  • Repeating transactions

For a full list visit the Movemybooks limitations of Xero migration.

Whilst there are limitations some of these can be overcome if the endpoints are available via an API. It is possible to rectify some of these limitations but not all. You are not going to get a direct like for like migration and if anyone promises you this, they are talking rubbish.

Historical Data: Only two years of historical financial data are typically covered. If more historical data is needed, additional arrangements are necessary for an extra fee. This needs to be weighed up against what arrangements will be made for older data i.e. will you have to continue paying a fee to access that data elsewhere.

Key Contributors to a Successful Migration

Absolutely, understanding the nuances of each contributor can significantly enhance the success of migrating from Kashflow to Xero using Movemybooks. Here’s a deeper dive into why these elements are crucial and specific actions that can be taken to optimise each phase.

Expertise in Both Platforms

Importance:

Expertise in both the originating and target platforms ensures a smooth transition. Understanding both Kashflow’s limitations and Xero’s capabilities allows for better decision-making and utilisation of the new system’s features.

Actions for Success:

Training and Certification: Engage in formal training sessions for Xero and, if needed, a refresher on Kashflow. Certifications from Xero can also lend credibility and depth to your expertise.

Consultation with Experts: Sometimes, it’s beneficial to consult with or hire experts who specialise in migration between these specific platforms. Their insights can prevent common pitfalls.

Utilise Support Resources: Both platforms offer extensive documentation and support forums. These should be utilised to understand specific features and troubleshooting methods.

Technical Support

Importance:

Having ready access to technical support is crucial for resolving unexpected technical challenges that can arise during and after the migration. Quick problem resolution maintains the project’s momentum and reduces downtime.

Actions for Success:

Liaise with Support Teams: Establish direct contact lines with both Movemybooks and Xero’s support teams. Knowing whom to contact when issues arise can expedite solutions.

Pre-arranged Support: Arrange for enhanced support during the initial weeks post-migration. This may involve higher-level support from Xero or additional temporary support personnel.

Comprehensive Testing: Conduct comprehensive testing of the new system to identify and resolve issues before going fully live. This involves real-world scenarios to ensure all system functionalities perform as expected under typical business operations.

Focusing on these key contributors and executing associated actions can significantly bolster the success of a migration from Kashflow to Xero. By ensuring detailed planning, leveraging platform expertise, maintaining clear communication, and securing strong technical support, you position the migration project not just to succeed, but to truly enhance the business’s operational capabilities. This proactive approach not only mitigates risks but also maximises the return on investment in the new platform.

Conclusion

Migrating from Kashflow to Xero using Movemybooks, when done correctly, offers a streamlined way to enhance a business’s accounting capabilities. By following a structured approach before, during, and after migration, and acknowledging the limitations and planning for them, professionals can ensure a successful transition for their clients. This shift not only brings about operational improvements but also positions the business better for future scalability and integration with other systems.

Yes, anyone can switch from Kashflow to Xero using Movemybooks for free, but remember, you often get what you pay for. For most, this migration is a one-time event, and the results simply won’t compare to those delivered by someone who has managed this process repeatedly. When you pay for a migration service, you’re not just paying for the data transfer; that’s only a small part of what you’re signing up for. Consider the extensive pre- and post-migration tasks that are involved. There’s little point in making the change if you don’t fully leverage the benefits that come with it.