The Pacesetters is a not a standard business book. It is part of a marketing initiative jointly authored by Doug LaBahn PhD and Josh Drummond. That is not to say its isn’t worth a read, it is, especially if you are an accountant. While the book focuses on and draws examples from the UK Market exclusively there are lessons within it that are relevant to any region.
LaBahn is the Global VP Product and Partner Marketing at Xero and Drummond is Partner Content Researcher & Writer at Xero. The book is the inspiration of LaBahn, who drove the idea from the benchmarking of accountancy firms that Xero has completed over the last few years.
The book is divided into a foreward, introduction, 10 chapters, a summary and a conclusion. Each chapter is made of different sections that include an introduction to the theme, some quantitative data from the Xero benchmarking and either a case study and/or interviews with pacesetting accountancy firms. Each chapter also has a section entitled take action. The Summary includes a seven step guide for accountancy firms that enables them to map a journey to becoming a cloud centric accounting firm.
This, in a nutshell, is the core purpose of the book. Its intent is to demonstrate that other accountancy firms, who have enjoyed significant growth and success are not using a magic formula to do so but one that can be repeated. There are times throughout the book that the competition is knocked, but while the book focuses on Xero it provides some insights that firms considering other solutions should take note of.
The strongest element of the books are the “Take Action” sections which often give practical advice about the steps accounting leaders should take. The core message for those considering migrating customers to the cloud is that it requires leadership, training and change management.
Whats in it.
The first two chapters could be summarised by saying Xero is great and MTD (Making Tax Digital) is the primary reason all accountants should move to cloud solutions. The next few chapters deal with how the pacesetters implemented Xero across their customer base. The fourth chapter highlights some of the mistakes firms can make. This is one of the most useful chapters in the book. The first error is for companies to dabble rather than commit. The move to the cloud is not merely a change of software, it is actually a transformation. It can be piloted, but it needs commitment from everyone in the firm. The next two chapters deal with implementating the solution and weaning accountants off spreadsheets.
The final four chapters talk about life after implementation. Again it is a bit of an ode to Xero looking at how customers can scale up because of the efficiency gains. The final chapters are around Advisory services. These should have been better, but like the rest of the book fail to go into much detail about the kinds of advisory services that accountants can offer to clients.
The book is fairly short at 177 pages and was easy to read. There are some gems of advice in the book but many of the interviews and case studies contain too many repeated messages. The interviews themselves could have drilled down deeper into more of the detail around what some of the challenges were and more importantly how they were overcome. Each of the interviews is worth a read though because they often contain nuggets of information. For example; Sian Kelly, Inform Accounting talks about how it bought clients from a retiring accountant, one who no doubtdid not want to change processes and learn cloud software.
If this book had been written as a thought leadership book on accountants moving to the cloud without so many overt references to Xero it would have been the must read for all accountants probably around the globe. As it is, for anyone considering a move to Xero (or QuickBooks, Sage or other) it is worth a read. For accountants already dabbling with Xero and unsure of where they are going it has some very useful guidance.
The book will be shortly available on Amazon, we will update the article or add a comment with further details.
Disclaimer: Xero sent a copy of the book for review