Of all the popular cloud accounting software programs available, Xero is the most expensive. However, it stands out as having the most features and the most integration with third-party apps.
Who is Xero targeted to? Xero's real value shines in its Standard and Premium packages, where it offers unlimited transactions and a full suite of features for a reasonable price. Xero does offer a package geared to businesses with very few transactions (and almost full functionality), but consultants will find better value with Wave or Freshbooks.
Most reviewers of Xero comment on its ease of use, but what will that mean to you? Set up is relatively easy and you can import banking and credit card information directly into the program with only a quick review to make sure the transactions are coded properly. The interface is fairly intuitive, so you won't need to be a bookkeeper or sit through hours of tutorials to start using the program. For more complex transactions and settings, Xero has an extensive tutorial library and a comments section with answers from other users and from Xero's help desk.
What will this cost me? Xero offers a free 30-day trial, after which you will need to sign up for the paid version. There are multiple levels of monthly payment plans and the amount you pay depends on the number of transactions you have per month and whether you need to account for multiple currencies. Prices range from $20-$40 USD per month.
What sets Xero apart from its competition? First, Xero offers almost all of the same features in each package. In order to pick the right package you only need to consider the number of transactions you'll have every month and whether you need to track multiple currencies. There's no need to look back and forth over several different plans to make sure you get all the features you need. Second, Xero allows you to assign a variety of roles, from read-only to Administrator, and each role comes with a pre-set level of access. This is good if you have several people who need to access some part of your accounting records, but you need more control than "on or off".
What else? Two key features I look for in cloud accounting software are the ability to email invoices and an option for customers to pay by credit card right in the invoice. Xero has these features, but if you're looking for automatic follow up on late invoices, you'll need to use one of its paid third-party apps.
Other great features:
- Provides simple inventory tracking
- Track data across multiple locations
- Internal budgeting module
- Integrates with 350+ apps, including mainstream apps like Mailchimp, Stripe, Paypal and Shopify
- Upload receipts and other documents
- Offers a robust suite of financial reports
- Trial version only lasts 30 days with no free version available
- Limited to 5 invoices a month in "Starter"
- Timesheets only available through paid third-party apps
- No industry-specific templates
- Risk of duplication if you import the same data in two different file types
- Lack of automated notices and reminders
Xero is a beautiful cloud accounting software and is worth looking at if you need an easy-to-use software with varied levels of user access and a high degree of integration with third-party apps.
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