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Post Info TOPIC: Xero Software Comments on use please


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Xero Software Comments on use please


Hi again all.

I have been advised that we may be changing from desktop Sage 50 v 23.1 to Xero Accounting - cloud.

I have no experience of this software - other than our accountants recommendation that we switch!. I am a little mistrustful of Cloud based accounts for obvious reasons, but Sage has version 50C  - is this better than Xero?   I am not interested in the Payroll element of Xero - we have a bureau to do that for us.

If any one has any experience of Xero  accounting - I would be grateful for any comments. 

Apart from what I presume is the standard creditor - debtor reports activity etc Are you able to produce the P&L reports, and variance analysis reports that I can do in Sage 50.  

Cheers

Marina



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Master Book-keeper

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Hi Marina
I call it zero! Drives me mad. Anyway no direct experience, but there are a couple of people on here who have trialled it recently (namely Johnny and Vince) and Ive not heard a good work. Ive used the equivalent sage product, SageOne. Have to say thats no good for a business that has more than a handful of items due to (lack of ) speedy input options and shortcuts. Never mind if you have slow internet. Never mind any safe harbour data protection issues. There are a few posts on here that cover it all off (including all things cloudy) so a good idea to do a search (but do it through say google and look up 'bookkeepers network cloud software' etc . The etc being change cloud software for zero. Also worth adding a name and doing another search using another name. So use the two above, Shaun/Shamus, Leger/John and you will get a fair few hits.

To be honest - if you have any clout whatsoever, I would also add - why the hell have they paid for sage v23 and then not just run it until it almost grinds to a halt. That could be 10+ years on the perpetual licence, that you have already paid for. You dont need support - there is enough support elsewhere for free. Plus dont listen to sage when they tell you you have to upgrade each year, you absolutely dont. I have clients using 2006 and 2008 versions and anything upwards. That verses paying ongoing monthly costs to zero! Ignore the Accountants or better still ask them why they are recommending it and what they are getting out of it!

Do you control stock via sage? If so - dont move as you need add on apps with zero smeero

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Joanne  McCormick

Fallows  Hall  Ltd

Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2015

 
Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2016

Thoughts are my own and not to be regarded as official advice, which should be sought from a suitably qualified Accountant.



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Hey. If you no longer have access to Sage desktop then the next best, accurate, flexible and speedy way forward is a pen and ledger. I'm not joking - dig your feet in, stick with real software.

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Johnny  - Owner of an overly-active keyboard. 

A man who can read, yet doesn't, is in no way wiser than a man who can't.

 



Master Book-keeper

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Good point Johnny. Marina - tell them to sod orf (if you want to of course) - its you that has to use it and if it does what you need and the business owners get the reports they need then why change for changes sake and putting extra pressure on you to learn something new (and paying you for being unproductive whilst you do so!)

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Joanne  McCormick

Fallows  Hall  Ltd

Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2015

 
Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2016

Thoughts are my own and not to be regarded as official advice, which should be sought from a suitably qualified Accountant.



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Hi Marina,

If you're a fairly small business then once you get used to the way of inputting it will probably work well for you. Yes it is possible to run P&L reports and I believe there are options on there to compare historical figures, it does have most of the same reports as Sage.

Compared to desktop software it is also a useful way to share "live" data with your accountant, which is handy if you phone up with a query because they can log in and see exactly what you're talking about and help to edit it there and then with you.

There are other good features such as being able to attach copies of invoices to transactions, the bank reconciliation screen is fairly good, and bulk editing is very handy compared to the 1 by 1 editing in Sage.

HOWEVER, I personally really don't like Xero. Firstly I don't like how it's advertised everywhere as this massively time saving and miraculous system which hooks in people who know nothing about bookkeeping and makes them assume that they'll be able to produce their own perfect financial records with no experience, and that Xero will automatically fix errors for them. The messes I've seen....

The reason I noted that you will find it useful if you are a fairly small business is that the inputting is very time consuming unless you're ok learning how to import things (which, granted, is not too hard, but why can't it just be this easy to do IN the software).

Navigating around it also takes some getting used to, it uses American terms like Aged Debtors it calls Aged Receivables. Again this isn't really a huge problem, just something I personally don't like.

I can't put my finger on one major specific thing that bugs me about it, just a lot of little niggles which I don't like all add up to me preferring to use something else. Unfortunately because of my job role I am forced to use it for a couple of client's at least, just to have some experience with it in case other clients phone with queries on their own Xero data.



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Faye


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Hi Marina,

Mark Stewart (MarkS) on here is an avid proponent of Xero. Might be worth seeing if he could offer any insights. I know he's familiar with Sage and would be aware of the differences / similarities.

Regards,

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Ian

Ian Brown FCA
Onion Reporting Software Ltd

www.onionrs.co.uk

Sage accounts in Excel. No set-up necessary. Free trial.



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Hi Marina,

I have experience in using Xero with a few of my customers. They love it, I on the other hand find it slow and frustrating to use. I have a lot of experience using Sage, QuickBooks, Money Manager, Excel and good old fashioned pen and ledger books. But Xero is a different breed.

If your client is prepared to pay for the auto bank feeds, all well and good as this makes reconciling quick. If not, you have to input payments/receipts manually and reconcile each entry which is time consuming. Also, Xero has a tendency to throw you out so you can be logging back on a number of times.

I also find the Supplier and Customer or rather `Sales` and `Purchase` tabs annoying to navigate especially if you need to check on a specific customer. All other accounts software I have used, Sage for example, you click on a particular customer and you can view everything there is to know about that customer, ie, details, defaults, activity etc., With Xero you have to keep setting the custom range to view the activity.

I agree with Faye, if Xero is to be used for a small Company, with few transactions and just a basic P&L and management accounts to produce, then it is fine. If however, you require more complex management accounts/reports, you can still download the information required but you would need to format your own spread sheets to input and show data.

On the up side, if you are willing to put in a few hours of self training you can pick up Companies that are using Xero, who have come unstuck with miss-postings, setting up nominal codes in the wrong chart of accounts sections, un-reconciling transactions and general hash ups. You may be pulling your hair out at some stages, but I now see Xero and other cloud based software just another accounts system to get used to !

Julie





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fin6y: (sorry, don't know your real name - you haven't sigged it)

"it does have most of the same reports as Sage."

Only if you don't do anything more than scratch the surface in Sage, though. If you do, then the reports that are available in Xero are quite limiting, as is the ability to customise them. However, as yet I have only used Xero very briefly, so I haven't explored it fully - and it's worth considering that the same limitation is true of many other packages. Reporting is one of Sage's greatest strengths.

Everything you say in the last half of your post, though, I agree with entirely.

Joanne:

"Ignore the Accountants or better still ask them why they are recommending it and what they are getting out of it!"

I think I can answer that on their behalf!

https://www.xero.com/uk/partner-programs/partners/partner-program/

And more to the point:

https://www.xero.com/uk/about/terms/partner-agreement/ - "Ongoing obligations":

"To maintain status as a Xero Partner, you agree to:

Actively promote Xero to existing and potential clients consistent with your professional and ethical obligations"

 



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Vince M Hudd - Soft Rock Software

(I only came here looking for fellow apiarists...)



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Hi Everyone

Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate your unbiased views. It is hard when you have your Boss hell bent on the latest software recommended by the Accountants, but if I am honest I think that Sage is working fine for me at the moment so I do not see any advantage in changing toXero. If it just does the same - yes then what is the point ! 

I must agree though that I have been unsettled by the fact that we do not have Sage support - which Sage are quoting  £42 per month as opposed to £27/ month for a Xero Licence . If we can  do without support, and it seems we can ,then that is another reason not to switch. 

I think I may go on the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it ' route. Wish  me luck !  And thanks everyone again

Marina 

 



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Guru

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Everyone is different. Some like it, some loathe it. Leaving my loathing cap at the door; I can't see how a larger business could use the cloud, it's awful, only micro businesses should use.

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Johnny  - Owner of an overly-active keyboard. 

A man who can read, yet doesn't, is in no way wiser than a man who can't.

 



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Hi Johnny]

As I've said before, I think it's ok for clients to input themselves, and then for us to do the accounting functions when needed, but for bookkeepers/accountants to use any cloud software for  looks like it's going to be cumbersome. 

 



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John 

 

 

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Having now started using it properly - yes, it's cumbersome and slow to use.

And uses far too many Overpuddlianisms.

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Vince M Hudd - Soft Rock Software

(I only came here looking for fellow apiarists...)



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It does seem like the clients of mine that use it (all non bookkeeper/accountancy people) think it's absolutely brilliant and can't rate it highly enough.

I suppose if you're not really sure of how to record transactions and take your time with it then the actual system being slow isn't much of a problem because it'll be going the same pace you are... plus reports wouldn't be an issue if you're not interested in that kind of thing...

For me I just end up getting frustrated with it not doing what I want it to do, and in the way I want to do it, faster than a snail's pace!
I agree with Vince above too about the reports being completely uncustomisable, I'd forgotten about that. Another area I forgot to mention is the search button, what an utterly useless function! Can never find anything I need to, even if I KNOW it's in the system.

The forums are also for the most part very unhelpful, all the staff who reply to the queries seem to have a template which is "are you sure you've read our training guides properly? It's so easy to do this thing you need to do!! Just follow these steps *insert ridiculously over complicated list of steps that don't really answer the question*"

-- Edited by fin6y on Monday 22nd of May 2017 04:06:13 PM

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Faye


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Citygal wrote:

Hi Everyone

Thank you all for your comments. I really appreciate your unbiased views. It is hard when you have your Boss hell bent on the latest software recommended by the Accountants, but if I am honest I think that Sage is working fine for me at the moment so I do not see any advantage in changing toXero. If it just does the same - yes then what is the point ! 

I must agree though that I have been unsettled by the fact that we do not have Sage support - which Sage are quoting  £42 per month as opposed to £27/ month for a Xero Licence . If we can  do without support, and it seems we can ,then that is another reason not to switch. 

I think I may go on the 'if it ain't broke don't fix it ' route. Wish  me luck !  And thanks everyone again

Marina 

 


Hi Marina

From what Ive heard it doesnt even do the same.  Think the reports that you are currently using will be non existant for one!

On the Sage support issue - there is a lot of help on here, plus a ton of info you can still access on the Sage site, plus I know a couple of folk who can who have posted on here before (and lurkers rather than regular posters and I say that in the nicest way!) and you can always go back and buy support if you really need it at some point in the future.  

Hope you are able to persuade your boss.



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Joanne  McCormick

Fallows  Hall  Ltd

Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2015

 
Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2016

Thoughts are my own and not to be regarded as official advice, which should be sought from a suitably qualified Accountant.



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Hi Everyone,

I have a client on Xero so can give some feedback on it. I really don't like it, if you want to go on the cloud I would suggest Quickbooks online it is far far better than Xero. The bank feed on Xero is dangerous in the wrong hands and it doesn't allow you to do a normal bank rec as insurance you are doing it right. So a client can happily click away without a bank statement next to them and think they are matching correctly when in reality they are not!

The general way round Xero is not great either, I really don't find it that good to use. I would never recommend it to any of my clients.

I sure some people love it and that is fine, I sure end users love it as they think they are saving a heap of money by doing it themselves. But I very much doubt if unless they are very competent on a PC and also with bookkeeping in general.

I tend to stick with QB's desktop, although I do have clients on Sage desktop. If you are happy with Sage desktop then I would stick with it, Sage is a very powerful piece of kit and is a great tool for the business. (Can't believe I have just said that!)

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Amanda



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Amanda wrote:

I have a client on Xero so can give some feedback on it. I really don't like it, if you want to go on the cloud I would suggest Quickbooks online it is far far better than Xero. 


 Hi Amanda

What's your experience of QB online compared with Sage Desktop?  



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John 

 

 

 Any advice given is for general guidance and professional advice should be sought applicable to your circumstances.



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Also be careful of the bank feed from PayPal as this often goes out of sync. Like Amanda has mention, a client can go mad reconciling thinking all is good.

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We have about 100 clients on Xero and always recommend it as our preferred software option.

We have clients that used to use SAGE move across to Xero and they find it a lot easier to use and more time effiicient if used properly.  Just the other month moved a client from SAGE to Xero and gave them 7 hours training on Xero of how to use; 2 hours sales, 2 hours purchases, 2 hours bank, 1 hour reports.  They love it and are now keeping everything up to date on a weekly basis whereas they used to do it quarterly on SAGE and would take them ages.

I used to teach SAGE 50 classes and was taught in SAGE many years ago when training.  We have a few clients use it who are happy with it and wouldnt force them to move if they dont want.

Benefits as I see it are

1. Set up bank feeds so bank transactions automatically come in.  If not set up then could import via CSV, OFX or QIF files

2. Use autoentry to get purchase invoices in.  Just a case of taking a picture on phone or emailling to a unique account you will get then autoentry will read the transaction details and you can push the invoice at a click of a button into Xero together with a picture of the invoice attached to the transaction.  You can bulk push transactions together.  This is what we now do inhouse where clients give us a bundle of invoices/receipts as their books and records.

3. Sales invoices can be produced in software (same as SAGE) then emailled direct to client.  Can bolt on payment options such as GoCardless and Stripe to get paid by DD or debit/credit card.  Also use Directli so for customers with DD in place when invoice becomes due will go and collect the money then reconcile the transaction in Xero for you.

4. Use cash coding to bulk code transactions without invoices eg bank charges, DDs/SO payments, etc.

5. Use bank rules to automatically code above in point 4 so at the end of month you probably can reconcile 95% of non receipted transactions at the click of a button

6. Can run standard P&L, balance sheet, list of debtors/creditors, nominal ledger, trial balance etc.  There is a lot of new reports added so you can customise say the P&L and group P&L amounts under heading and insert formulas for say GP%, cost of wages as % of sales etc.  Better still link with Spotlight Reporting to get graphical reports that can be easier to see trends and you monitor say the 10 KPIs you are interested in.  Can also pull in non financial info eg google analytics.

7. Xero has over 500 add ons that you can bolt on to make your job easier/provide more value.  If the value outweighs the cost then a no brainer to introduce.

The above is just a summary of what Xero can do.  We find it saves us a ton of time compared to what jobs used to take on say SAGE.  eg we have a job that used to take us 3 weeks full time on SAGE which last year was done on Xero in 3 days.  Saving of 80% time.



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Mark Stewart CA

http://stewartaccounting.co.uk/

Providing accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and tax services to small and medium sized businesses across Central Scotland and beyond.



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MarkS wrote:

Hi Mark, I hasten to add I am approaching this from a bookkeeping point of view as opposed to an accountants

1. Set up bank feeds so bank transactions automatically come in.  If not set up then could import via CSV, OFX or QIF files

Granted this is a benefit but the same can also be done in sage and VT+ using the import function.  Not sure whether sage "remembers" identical transactions, but VT+ does, and I intend using this feature more and more as I myself become more automated.  Incidentally is it true that Xero doesn't reconcile in the normal way? Amanda has pointed out that would be dangerous in the wrong hands. 

2. Use autoentry to get purchase invoices in.  Just a case of taking a picture on phone or emailling to a unique account you will get then autoentry will read the transaction details and you can push the invoice at a click of a button into Xero together with a picture of the invoice attached to the transaction.  You can bulk push transactions together.  This is what we now do inhouse where clients give us a bundle of invoices/receipts as their books and records.

I looked at Autoentry and found it expensive. I can manually enter transactions quicker at a labour rate cheaper than autoentry, although I will shortly be switching to scanning and importing, which will incur a one off cost.

3. Sales invoices can be produced in software (same as SAGE) then emailled direct to client.  Can bolt on payment options such as GoCardless and Stripe to get paid by DD or debit/credit card.  Also use Directli so for customers with DD in place when invoice becomes due will go and collect the money then reconcile the transaction in Xero for you.

And how much does that cost?  I can take a list of invoices in PDF and import them into VT+ in around 10-15 minutes.

4. Use cash coding to bulk code transactions without invoices eg bank charges, DDs/SO payments, etc.  see 1.

5. Use bank rules to automatically code above in point 4 so at the end of month you probably can reconcile 95% of non receipted transactions at the click of a button see 1

6. Can run standard P&L, balance sheet, list of debtors/creditors, nominal ledger, trial balance etc.  There is a lot of new reports added so you can customise say the P&L and group P&L amounts under heading and insert formulas for say GP%, cost of wages as % of sales etc.  Better still link with Spotlight Reporting to get graphical reports that can be easier to see trends and you monitor say the 10 KPIs you are interested in.  Can also pull in non financial info eg google analytics.

Presumably Spotlight reporting is also sold at a premium.

7. Xero has over 500 add ons that you can bolt on to make your job easier/provide more value.  If the value outweighs the cost then a no brainer to introduce.

I'm not convinced it does.  I am loathe to pass on additional costs to my clients and would rather charge a standard rate for my time.  I will, over the coming months, be looking at ways of automating a lot of what I do, and I will benefit by it taking less time, but the majority of the plans will involve no extra cost to my clients, and I will continue using VT+   

The above is just a summary of what Xero can do.  We find it saves us a ton of time compared to what jobs used to take on say SAGE.  eg we have a job that used to take us 3 weeks full time on SAGE which last year was done on Xero in 3 days.  Saving of 80% time.

And I bet the client paid a hefty premium compared to the work done in sage.


 I should also hasten to add I'm not anti-cloud, and when my new website launches in July (should have been April but had too much on) there will be options for clients who want cloud software, but they will be inputting, not me!!  I'm happy to tidy things up where they get it wrong.



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John 

 

 

 Any advice given is for general guidance and professional advice should be sought applicable to your circumstances.



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"Benefits as I see it are

1. Set up bank feeds so bank transactions automatically come in.  If not set up then could import via CSV, OFX or QIF files"

Most decent accounts software sports an import function - so that 'benefit' is diminished somewhat.

Granted, none of the desktop software I've ever used does it the way the bank feed works in Xero, but there is absolutely nothing to stop the developers of any package adding that feature.

Some aspects - teaching it 'rules' to identify certain types of transaction - would be easily achieved by a third party application; something to parse the source file, and produce a correctly formatted CSV file ready for import. Something fairly generic for parsing and processing CSV files - set up to convert the source file so that it matches the import requirements - with the ability to apply rules on individual lines.

(In the dim and distant  - late 1990s? - I wrote a program that sort of did that for a very big client; it wasn't generic, but custom written for the various data sources - mostly spreadsheets covering various things, but it was along the right sort of lines. And I've also seen at least one generic CSV parsing/conversion program, albeit on RISC OS, so it would surprise me if something like that didn't exist.)

"2. Use autoentry to get purchase invoices in."

This is merely an import using CSV data generated by the 'auto-entry' scanning service - so is absolutely not a 'benefit' of Xero over Sage or any other desktop package,

"together with a picture of the invoice attached to the transaction."

Again, if the desktop software developers chose, they could achieve this very easily.

However, when using something like Xero... how do they tier their pricing when it comes to the amount of space any given customer's data will take? A quick look at their pricing and I can't see any obvious mention - but some of my clients (for example) would require a huge amount of storage space, especially when over time the mandated historical data is built up. I really can't see their monthly fees as advertised on their site accommodating the sort of storage space required.

"3. Sales invoices can be produced in software (same as SAGE) then emailled direct to client."

Your "(same as SAGE)" is in the wrong place - it should be at the end of that sentence.

Also, why are you capitalising Sage? It's not an acronym.

"Can bolt on payment options such as GoCardless and Stripe to get paid by DD or debit/credit card."

Top tip for Sage users. Once you've used GoCardless to invite a customer to pay by DD, you can include the link for them to do so in your Sage invoices - and it might be possible to make it a clickable link when Sage emails a PDF invoice, but I'd have to go back and check this. (I'm on the wrong computer).

Don't know what Stripe is, but I suspect the same would apply there.

"Also use Directli so for customers with DD in place when invoice becomes due will go and collect the money then reconcile the transaction in Xero for you."

I don't know what Directli is - other than spelt wrong, deliberately for some kind of 'cool' factor, I expect - but I can surmise it from that description. And once again, desktop software developers could add this if they so choose. Directli must have an API used in Xero (or the bolt-on); it's up to software developers to use it. Or not.

"4. Use cash coding to bulk code transactions without invoices eg bank charges, DDs/SO payments, etc.

5. Use bank rules to automatically code above in point 4 so at the end of month you probably can reconcile 95% of non receipted transactions at the click of a button"

As John pointed out - see 1 for both of these. To me, this looks like you're just separating out a subset of transactions from the bank feed to list as a separate point and make your list of benefits seem longer - except it just gives me more ammo to shrink the list.

"6. Can run standard P&L, balance sheet, list of debtors/creditors, nominal ledger, trial balance etc."

When you started the list with "Benefits as I see it are" I inferred that to mean the benefits of Xero over desktop solutions such as Sage - so pointing out that it can do something that the desktop alternatives can do is a little... odd. So I can only conclude this is more list padding.

"There is a lot of new reports added so you can customise say the P&L and group P&L amounts under heading and insert formulas for say GP%, cost of wages as % of sales etc."

Different packages - desktop and cloud - have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to reporting - and any of that is easily possible with Sage, which has the most comprehensive reporting facilities this side of the police and security services' network of informants.

"Better still link with Spotlight Reporting to get graphical reports that can be easier to see trends and you monitor say the 10 KPIs you are interested in. Can also pull in non financial info eg google analytics."

And again, clever use of exported data and a spreadsheet (or directly linked data), or third party software designed for the purpose could all achieve the same, if the need is there.

"7. Xero has over 500 add ons that you can bolt on to make your job easier/provide more value.  If the value outweighs the cost then a no brainer to introduce."

For me personally, it's would be a no-brainer to write something to process data pulled from accounts software - desktop or cloud - in order to make my job easier or provide more value. And when I do so, because it's not a 'bolt on' written by a third party, it's written with my/my client's needs in mind, and can be updated as necessary. And doesn't come with a monthly fee.

(In fact, I did just that in a number of ways for one client who was using a Cloudy package that didn't offer some reports that I would easily be able to create in Sage. And also, see what I said at #1. So... meh.)



-- Edited by VinceH on Wednesday 24th of May 2017 10:09:15 PM

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Vince M Hudd - Soft Rock Software

(I only came here looking for fellow apiarists...)



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HI John,

I love QB's online, it is far better than Xero. I was taught extensively on it by someone who was brilliant on it. Compare it to Xero, there is no comparison, QB's online beats Xero easily.

I also use QB's desktop and also Sage line 50. I have 2 clients on Sage and it is their copies of it not mine, for their business (they are large), Sage is the best product to use, they are certainly in no hurry to change and to be honest don't need to change either.

HTH

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Amanda



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Thanks Amanda.



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John 

 

 

 Any advice given is for general guidance and professional advice should be sought applicable to your circumstances.



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I am with MarkS on this - Xero and cloud based accounting really is the future of the profession. There are pros and cons of both types but I have seen huge growth in users that are more comfortable with KashFlow and Xero than they ever were in Sage. The systems are so much more user friendly.

The problem I think sometimes starts with the bookeeping trainers. There is such a tie in with Sage that people get too comfortable with it and are reluctant to change. Certainly with some of the bookkeepers I mentor they feel they should use Sage as that is what they are trained in.

Sage for me are very expensive and try to squeeze every penny out of you.


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HendyPhilhendy wrote:

I am with MarkS on this - Xero and cloud based accounting really is the future of the profession. 


Does that not depend on which end of the client base you look after?   £1m+ businesses/business with tens of thousands of entries, complex foreign needs , a need to properly manage stock,  group company scenarios then the cloud products just dont do it.   Surely a mix (and therefore being able to work on a mix of software) is better for a bookkeeper/Accountancy practice. 

You can currently buy sage for a one off couple of hundred for a perpetual licence (cloud availabilty - yes full functionality, but not sage one) and run it for 5-6 years easily, or pay that same amount for about 11months cover on the rivals set up. 



-- Edited by Cheshire on Friday 30th of June 2017 04:56:44 PM

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Joanne  McCormick

Fallows  Hall  Ltd

Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2015

 
Winner of Bookkeeper of the Year 2016

Thoughts are my own and not to be regarded as official advice, which should be sought from a suitably qualified Accountant.

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