Last week we had a look at the benefits of using Cloud Accounting software and the options that are available to users. Over the next 3 posts, we’ll be looking at the packages individually so that users can decide between which pros and cons they can live with, and which pros and cons they can’t…

All things Xero

Xero describes itself as “Beautiful accounting software” – and we agree.

Xero has focused on the users experience – making your way around the software, and using it is something that anybody can do. It wasn’t just designed for accountants or bookkeepers.

Some stats (which we will use to compare all packages)

ITEM AMOUNT
Number of subscribers worldwide
(this is not users, but actual businesses making use of the software)
Over 1.8 million
Number of apps that connect to Xero Over 800 add on solutions (this would be payroll, manufacturing, point of sale etc)

The above numbers give you an idea of the size of the company and volume of users and transactions that are going through the software. The idea is that the more users there are and the more transactions there are, the faster bugs can be found and resolved, the faster the software can grow and improve.

However, the number of users, or volumes of transactions aren’t necessarily what I base my decisions on in most cases. 

As humans, we often stick with what we know and don’t explore alternatives. By not exploring, we could miss out on better opportunities or options that are available.

So, in the online accounting software market, I look for what the software providers offer as basic features for a start, and then what the top end packages offer. Pricing obviously also comes into play.

Xero’s packages (note that pricing excludes current offers and discounts)

STARTER STANDARD PREMIUM
Price (USD/month) $20 $30 $40
Invoicing Send 5 invoices Unlimited invoices Unlimited invoices 
Quotes Generate 5 quotes Generate unlimited quotes Generate unlimited quotes
Bills Enter 5 bills Unlimited bills Unlimited bills
Purchase orders Generate 5 purchase orders Generate unlimited purchase orders Generate unlimited purchase orders
Bank reconciliations Reconcile 20 bank transactions Reconcile unlimited transactions Reconcile unlimited transactions
Currency ZAR ZAR ZAR and multiple foreign currencies
Users Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Reports Yes Yes Yes
Basic inventory management Yes Yes Yes
Tracking of income and expenses Yes Yes Yes
Tracking by area Yes Yes Yes
App Yes Yes Yes

Other things that Xero offers (at a cost of course) (in the South African market)

XERO PROJECTS XERO EXPENSES
Price (USD/user/month) $7 for 1 user, $5 for each additional user $4 per user
What does this extra offer? Projects is ideal when trying to keep track of all costs related to a project, so that an overall profit can be determined. Costs can be allocated from bills, journals or from the bank recon. Projects also tracks time Expenses is ideal for staff who spend their own money on business related costs, and then claim them back. It has its own app, and can be used on the go. All transactions can have a picture or document attached so that it makes it easy for the reviewer to approve.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

Xero covers most of the basics on a high level, but how about on a deeper level? Let’s dig into the details and find out. 

Notes on what you get, and what you don’t get

ITEM WHAT’S THE STORY
Dashboard (summary of everything) Yes – Bank balances, sales invoice summary, supplier bills summary, business performance summary (ratios), cash in versus cash out, expense claims
Bank Feeds Yes
Reports Yes
Fixed Asset Register Yes
Invoice reminders to customers Yes
File storage (not relevant to a specific transaction) Yes
Direct link to other Xero users Yes
Tracking options Yes
Shortcuts Yes
Basic Inventory Yes (buy and sell)
Attach documents to transactions Yes
Ability to edit postings Yes (audit trail kept)
Statements with ageing Yes/No (only splits between due and overdue, but does not breakdown the overdue portion)
Customisable report Yes
Customisable templates Yes (Quote, Invoice, Credit note, Statement, Purchase Order)
Notifications Yes
Help Yes
Budgets Yes
Time tracking No 
Product release training/webinars Yes
Advisor certification Yes

Does Xero shape up?

Xero has all the basics and more. Xero continues to improve and update its offerings and it’s little tweak are all meant to improve the user experience and overall feel of the software. Xero has quarterly product release webinars and all users are encouraged to participate to ensure that the user keeps up to date with the best way to do things. 

Customer statement and ageing

One thing that is lacking for the South African market is the split out of the ageing on customer statements. Users can split the balance between due and overdue, but that’s as far as it goes. 

Time recording

Xero doesn’t have the ability to record employee time. This is not a deal breaker for us as Xero has not promoted itself as a payroll software (at least not in South Africa) and most companies use onsite biometrics (which integrates with payroll software) to record their employee hours. 

Xero does have a payroll function, but we don’t believe it is suitable for the South African market and we are not convinced it takes all our tax laws into account. 

Report and templates

Xero’s reports and templates are fully customisable, and it has something that none of the other software providers have – a fixed asset register. This is a game changer and ensures that your assets are recorded, and that depreciation is in line with your policies.

 

Training and certification

Xero’s training platform is first class and covers every angle of the software. Xero Certified Advisors need to pass a test every year to prove that they keep up to date with the software and are giving their clients the best available support.

OUR RATING:  

(5 stars being excellent, 1 star not so much)

Conclusion

If you enjoy being at the forefront of technology, whilst also enjoying a friendly user experience, and using bells and whistles that will actually assist you when recording, reviewing and analysing your account, you won’t go wrong with Xero!

Next step

If you’d like to learn more about Xero, or find out what our advice would be regarding using the software.