Gusto & Xero: Building a Massive Integration Across Two Companies

Julianna Seiki Roen
Feb 3 · 8 min read
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This article is based on my presentation “Gusto & Xero: 4 Offices, 2 Countries, 1 Massive Payroll Integration” given at Kiwi Ruby on November 1, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand.
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Payroll with Gusto from xero.com

Who is Gusto?

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Gusto’s payroll dashboard

Who is Xero?

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Xero’s main dashboard

How did the partnership with Gusto and Xero begin?

No significant business collaboration forms overnight and that was certainly the case with Gusto and Xero. We had previously collaborated with them on a smaller scale accounting integration where we got to know each other’s teams and found success in this venture. What made us drawn to wanting to work with them again? Aside from being in similar tech space, Gusto and Xero share key core values such as being customer service driven. We both take pride in making beautiful, high quality software that makes a problem space that has traditionally been intimidating easier to approach.

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Testimonial from gusto.com

What exactly did we build?

There were two main focuses outlined in our contract that we needed to finish by the end of 2018:

  1. Provisioning: Allow US customers of Xero to set up Gusto payroll and have a seamless experience between the platforms.
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The main Xero projects that Gusto EPD worked on

Building the API

Prior to Xero, we had never had to migrate customers in bulk on a very tight timeline into Gusto’s main app before. These requirements prompted the migration API project.

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A sample migration record

Testing the API

We tested the API in several stages starting with our pre-production environment. Xero would POST mock companies to us that mimicked a realistic set up and we would fix any bugs that came up.

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Example migration request
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Xero and Gusto teams celebrating at a happy hour

How did we set ourselves up for success?

It’s definitely not every day that you have to collaborate closely with an external organization. Plus we had the added challenge of working across four offices (two in San Francisco, one in Denver, and one in Wellington, NZ). We deliberately did not want to burn the midnight oil by the end of the project, so we put practices into place that helped us synthesize as one team with clear goals and expectations.

In the beginning, the team was provided A LOT of context

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Mike, our project PM, giving us the deets on Gusto and Xero

We scheduled regular in-person meet ups

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Gusto and Xero working from the same office

Our aligned values carried us through

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Gusto and Xero—a balanced partnership

Since Xero is a global company, they are larger than Gusto and serve more customers than us. But just because they are bigger, doesn’t mean that we were the “smaller fish” in this project. Each team had equal say in the development process and was able to drive the project forward. Partnerships can come in many shapes and sizes and are capable of maintaining long-term healthy dynamics. When we prioritize the happiness of our customers and an equitable outcome for all parties involved, there is so much that we can accomplish in tech that will drive forward innovation and solve the problems of today and tomorrow.


Gusto Engineering

Reengineering Payroll, Benefits, and HR for modern…

Julianna Seiki Roen

Written by

She / her • Software engineer @ Gusto, explaining technical concepts in visual and approachable ways • juliannaroen.com

Gusto Engineering

Reengineering Payroll, Benefits, and HR for modern business. Hiring empathetic engineers in San Francisco, Denver and NYC! https://gusto.com/about/careers

Julianna Seiki Roen

Written by

She / her • Software engineer @ Gusto, explaining technical concepts in visual and approachable ways • juliannaroen.com

Gusto Engineering

Reengineering Payroll, Benefits, and HR for modern business. Hiring empathetic engineers in San Francisco, Denver and NYC! https://gusto.com/about/careers

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