CIO100 2018 #31-100: Trevor Leybourne, MYOB
Our vision for the future of online accounting software is called the “Connected Practice” says Trevor Leybourne, head of delivery at MYOB.
“We’re building a holistic solution for practices that draws together transaction processing, compliance and advisory – into a single platform – then automating the manual processes involved to give advisors more time to focus on value-added services,” he says.
The Connected Practice seeks to leverage the time savings that automation brings to transaction processing and compliance to allow the advisor to focus on adding value to their clients with insights, creativity and knowledge he says. A key part of this vision is online client accounting, otherwise known as the practice online solution, providing the workflows and tools for the key processes that accountants undertake – namely, workpapers, statutory reporting and asset management.
In 2017, Leybourne led MYOB’s technical team who successfully delivered the client accounting solution to the Australian market, and is in the process of rolling this out in New Zealand. This leading technology program provides efficiencies for accounting partners in the workflows they use to provide services to their customers.
He says his core objective of online client accounting is to enable a single cloud-based application to manage, code, document and report on multiple different client ledgers, while supporting the functionality of workpapers against a client ledger to show how figures have been derived.
A key outcome of the project was transforming MYOB’s asset management solution, shifting it from desktop to a cloud-based interface as part of the company’s strategic move to online client accounting. This asset management solution is currently in testing and is already receiving positive feedback from MYOB clients participating in the beta trial.
Leybourne works with his teams to build a creative test and learn environment and to continually drive leading tech innovation. He places emphasis on short incubation cycles and constant testing, feeding the lessons back into the overall development cycle.
“I focus on supporting teams to feel they can try new things without fear of failing. Team members embrace a ‘fail fast’ approach, preferring to ‘give it a go’ and challenge norms, rather than stick to traditional methods.”
Leybourne plays an influential role in the decision-making of several leadership teams at MYOB, including the New Zealand Leadership Team, Engineering and Practice Solutions, and Enterprise Solutions. He drives the strategies behind how MYOB builds technology solutions and maps the individual steps required, while communicating upwards and downwards the various options and the reasons behind choosing a certain path.
He leads a large team of more than 350 people across Australasia, yet he regularly engages with team member one-on-one to seek their ideas on MYOB’s latest technical developments. Trevor records this feedback and represents it in his leadership team meetings, and is a firm believer in enabling others to contribute.
Leybourne seeks out and creates career development opportunities for his team. He recognises there is a skills shortage for software developers across the business, and he’s set out to tackle with mentoring and empowering programmes across his team, while also working to attract new talent to the industry.
He believes his team is his most valuable asset and that technology is at the heart of MYOB.
He’s an active member of multiple senior management teams and each month reports on the development projects his teams are working on, their progress, and how they are tracking against agreed measures.
He recounts a critical episode from earlier in his career.
“I decided that a development group I was leading needed to come together and define who we were, what our values were and what success looked like as a team of 40 people. I had never done a session like this before and I felt out of my depth, but kindly one of our general managers offered to help facilitate the workshop.
“Not long after, I was fortunate to be involved in a leadership mentoring and coaching group. The mentor for the group was the CEO of the company I worked for – a person I highly respect. During one of our coaching sessions I shared my fear of leading a team session, my gratitude for the offer of support from the general manager, but the subsequent feeling of failure I experienced because I didn’t lead the session by myself. The CEO then asked me: ‘Trevor, how do you fail?’
“This was a pivotal moment in my career. I realised as a leader I will not always get things right, but I needed to have the courage, drive and leadership to do what I believe is best, take appropriate risks, and push myself to work outside my comfort zone. The lesson for me was to own my role, be the leader I can be, and not to rely on others to prop me up. This doesn’t mean I don’t look to my mentors and coaches for help, but when I do I take ownership of myself.
“My workshops since have been a huge success,” Leybourne says.