Great for small biz & simple reporting needs
March 10, 2020

Great for small biz & simple reporting needs

Jennifer Hess | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Xero

We switched from QuickBooks Online to Xero at the beginning of 2019, so we've been using it as our primary bookkeeping system for just over a year. I was attracted to it for its pricing, interface and integrations — specifically with my time tracking solution (Everhour) and credit card processor (Stripe). With QBO, it felt like all their new product development was just bolted on to an existing structure, but not well thought-out or easily navigable. Every year it seemed they were increasing the cost of my plan for services that were more difficult to use and poorly executed. With Xero, I was able to set up not only credit card options for my clients (which QBO also offers), but autopay solutions, PayPal (much easier to use & reconcile than in QBO) and ACH transfer options. While those take a fee, it helps to reduce the amount of time spent hunting down client payments.

We also began using Earth Class Mail (virtual mailbox) a few years ago, which automatically deposits any received checks to our bank, and has a Xero integration so I can record the deposit directly from the ECM interface (it has limitations, but that's an ECM issue not a Xero issue, though Xero may benefit from improving / expanding their API).
  • Simpler, more streamlined interface
  • Easy integration with payment services like Stripe, PayPal & GoCardless
  • Customizable email templates with merge tag support, including reminder emails and recurring invoice email templates
  • Recurring invoices are easier to setup, manage & modify (as compared to QBO)
  • Integration with time tracking solution (Everhour) is easy to manage, and doesn't create any invoice numbering issues due to the generation of invoices from two platforms (e.g., recurring Xero invoices and Everhour time tracking invoices). The system just uses the next sequential Xero invoice number regardless of which platform the invoice comes from. This was a problem on QBO + Harvest.
  • Vendors and clients are all lumped into a giant 'Contacts' pile, which makes it easier to manage contacts who fall into both categories (QBO gets confused about that), as I have clients who are also sometimes vendors.
  • The reporting options are VERY limited, especially as compared to QBO. Minimal support for filters, and it can be tricky to refine some reports by client.
  • Vendors and clients are all lumped into a giant 'Contacts' list, which can make management & organization there difficult. Especially considering the limited reporting options. You can group them, and it has some 'smart grouping' options, but if you don't create an official 'bill' for every expense, or generate an invoice for every past client on your books, the system won't auto-identify 'suppliers' or 'customers'. So, basically, the groups have to be set up manually.
  • All of the digital payment solutions are paid platforms. There is no free bank-to-bank option like with QBO. Likely due to the use of 3rd party vendors for its payment services.
  • There's a 'classic' and 'new' interface, and users can switch between them. But they don't offer the same features, so I find myself using the 'classic' (less pretty) more often. Though I periodically check the 'new' interface, which seems to be improving.
  • Limited support by accounting professionals (in the US at least). My CPA hates it. But I do most of the day-to-day management myself anyway.
  • You can assign billable expenses to a customer, however, sometimes you want to assign it to a customer without actually billing it on their invoice (e.g., it's included in a flat project rate). The system doesn't allow for that. You either have to assign & bill it to the client, or just list it as a regular expense (I add a manual note as to which client it was used for).
  • Streamlined billing processes so I spend less time preparing invoices every month (especially with regard to time tracking)
  • Automated email reminders, recurring invoices & autopay reduce the amount of time spent tracking down client payments
  • Overall cost of the platform is less than what I was paying on our previous platform (QBO)
  • Fewer reporting options mean less visibility for the data I might want to track for business analysis (or requires more time to manually review it)
  • All digital payment methods charge a fee, which we don't pass through to customers, so we make a little less on those transactions
Used FreshBooks when the business was first starting out because they had a free plan. Quickly needed more features, and switched to QBO.

QBO worked well for many years, but they continually increased their fees and the interface got more and more difficult to use. Also, it had limited support for Mac and their app was always crashing. QBO had great reporting & complex features, but didn't integrate well with time tracking solutions.

We evaluated Zoho Books when searching for a QBO replacement. It also had built-in time tracking & project management, with support for other Zoho-based integrations. But its user management was very cumbersome (new users had to be manually added to every single project on the account if you wanted them to track their time). And there was some overlap between Zoho integrations, which seemed difficult to use.

Ultimately ended up with Xero on a recommendation from a colleague in a similar business. She liked the simplicity and automated solutions, which I also make use of. I liked the automated invoicing & billing solutions, and the integration with my existing time tracking system. The reporting limitations are still a concern, but so far, I have been able to get all the info I need.

Xero is great for small businesses who don't need a lot of complex features, or who will be managing accounting internally. It has robust integration capability that can grow with you (more so than, say FreshBooks), but won't break the bank.

It's not as well suited for larger organizations or those with more complex reporting needs. For example, I acquired another business several years ago, and needed to pull quarterly reports of income from specific clients in order to calculate my pay-out for that quarter. I did that in QBO fairly easily, and had a saved template that I could use to generate it. Luckily I made the switch to Xero after the final pay-out because it would be very difficult to generate such a report now, since there aren't any report filters where you can select only specific customers from your contact list. Xero does support customized report templates that can be saved, the filtering options are just very limited. Essentially, you have to export all of the data to a CSV and then manipulate the spreadsheet locally.

Xero Feature Ratings

Accounts payable
8
Accounts receivable
9
Cash management
5
Bank reconciliation
9
Expense management
6
Fixed asset management
6
Multi-currency support
Not Rated
Multi-division support
Not Rated
Regulations compliance
Not Rated
Electronic tax filing
Not Rated
Self-service portal
8
Global Financial Support
Not Rated
Primary and Secondary Ledgers
Not Rated
Intercompany Accounting
Not Rated
Localizations
Not Rated
Journals and Reconciliations
Not Rated
Enterprise Accounting
Not Rated
Configurable Accounting
6
Centralized Rules Framework
Not Rated
Standardized Processes
8
Inventory tracking
Not Rated
Automatic reordering
Not Rated
Location management
Not Rated
Manufacturing module
Not Rated
Pricing
6
Order entry
Not Rated
Credit card processing
9
Cost of goods sold
Not Rated
Order Orchestration
Not Rated
End-to-end order visibility
Not Rated
Order exception Resolution
Not Rated
Dashboards
6
Standard reports
4
Custom reports
4
API for custom integration
6
Plug-ins
8
Role-based user permissions
8
Single sign-on capability
Not Rated