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Paperless bookkeeping with Xero

October 24, 2016

There is a lot of questions to answer before we encourage people to make the move to paperless, now, with the release of Xero Files, I feel that all questions have been answered.


Options for receiving paperwork




For existing hard copies, the easiest for bookkeepers, is having documents scanned by the business owner and emailed. This isn't always practical as the business may only have a flat bed scanner which does one page at a time, or, it may simply be a chore the business owner doesn't have time for. In this case, it may be best to get paperwork couriered or posted.


On behalf of clients, request that suppliers email invoices and statements to reduce waste and postage costs. These can be sent directly to the bookkeeper, the businesses accounts email address, into your online document storage, like Box, or directly to Xero Files.


Emailing is most secure as this creates an extra backup of the invoice as it is emailed, it also makes it faster to deal with as you can upload the document straight into Xero Files, and into online storage like Box.


For clients with smart phones, you can even snap a photo of receipts and email to us, or direct to Xero Files - ask us how.


Box, Dropbox, Drive etc


If you are using online document storage like Dropbox etc, access can be granted, so you can copy files from there over to Xero Files.


Post and Couriers


Our preferred method of receiving paper documents is to a secure PO Box.

For documents being couriered, if you do not keep regular office hours, any documents marked to leave without signature are at the business owners risk, so is not ideal unless you have a secure place to for the courier to leave them.


One thing to watch out for when considering post or couriers is rain... Carefully pulling apart and drying a months worth of wet receipts is not my idea of fun.


A note about Printing


We strongly recommend you get either a very large single wide screen, or dual square screens. The reduces waste and increases efficiency by around 40%.

If you use a single screen, get the largest wide screen you can, if using two screens, try to get square screens, or orient rectangle screens in portrait. Most invoices are in portrait form, so viewing on a landscape screen can shrink it down too much. Also, two landscape wide screens, take a lot of desk space and is hard work physically viewing such a wide plane, so is not ergonomic.


Scanning and uploading




Scan documents quickly using a scanner like our Ricoh scanner. A decent scanner can email documents directly to your secure online document storage or to Xero Files.

Buy the best scanner you can reasonably afford, as it will save time and enable you to take advantage of paperless bookkeeping.


Environmental Considerations


Buying a scanner which is environmentally sound, normally has a low cost of ownership, buy the best unit you can.




In Xero, you can attach scanned documents to bills etc. Any other files, like bank statements, are saved in Xero Files under the file tree you can set up.


Securing documents online


Xero have bank level security and is backed up in multiple places
From Xero:


Our software has never been breached and we have never lost any customer data. We invest heavily to protect your sensitive financial information against unauthorised access and system failures, ensuring your data is guarded to the highest level.


Xero Website: Security in Xero


Staff access on private computers - working remotely from the business


Using secure online document software like Box, you can restrict staff from keeping Box synced folders on their desktops - which may be remote from the business, and possibly in un-secure homes or offices. There is the ability to download singular documents, but not to sync and hold all folders. Business owners and remote team members, need to discuss what is desirable and best for the business, security and balance this with accessibility and ease of use.


Document retrieval


For clients and their advisers


Who you invite to Xero is unlimited, you can grant access to your accountant, staff, business advisors, your bookkeepers, or anyone else you would like to invite.


With Xero, you determine who has the right to alter bank account details for suppliers - which may be uploaded as a batch when paying you bills, who can view bank balance information and who can be read only. There are other limited other options also.


Being paperless means users will have access to Xero Files. Your accountant will be able to access lease documents for example, right out of Xero. You no longer need to transfer or email files, or send in a box at year end.  Uploading document to Xero Files increases accessibility while increasing security.


Malicious deletion


Xero users are able to delete documents from Xero Files. Not so good if you want to go 100% paperless.


If you keep copies on your own document storage site or via the email address when forwarding to Xero Files, this will counter any possible issues for now. Make sure you keep your users up to date in Xero and quickly remove anyone who shouldn't have access. When is the last time you reviewed who had access? Go to Setting, General Settings, User.


Recycling paper documents


Reduce, reuse, recycle


An important step in being paperless, after ensuring documents are all accounted for online, is shredding. You can reduce the need for recycling by sending the shredded paper to your local preschool for reuse for arts and crafts, growing plants and whatever other crazy use they think up.


Maybe one of your team or clients keep rabbits or chickens? Aim for 100% reuse of shredded paper, if we can avoid putting it into the recycling system, that is a great outcome. Even better, if we can reduce the need for the documents in the first place by asking for paperwork to be emailed direct from from supplier to Xero Files.


Privacy of recycled documents


Our shredder is a cross cut shredder, that shreds into very small pieces, so confidentiality is maintained during re-use, recycling and destruction. Make sure you buy the best shredder you can reasonably afford, look at auto feeding, cut size and direction of cut. Then, look also at how much the bucket can hold before needing to be emptied.


Time to shred


It may seem a little simple, but getting a decent shredder saves time - with an auto-feeder, you don't have to stand around feeding it. For example, our shredder is a 100 sheet auto-feeder, you simply load it up and walk away.


This means you can better use your time working those online, paperless documents, into useful business information.

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