With the advent of contract work and freelancing; raising invoices, collecting payments and managing expenses have given rise to many invoicing and bookkeeping software.
However, what happens when you start getting more than a few clients every month and need a bigger team? Suddenly, you need to manage payroll, track project budgets, claim expenses, integrate a payment system and start monthly reporting.
Xero is a cloud accounting software (amongst many) that makes bookkeeping and accounting easy. Features such as budgeting, project accounting, auto bank feeds, multi-currencies are some of the capabilities that are available in Xero. Let’s take a look at some of its features.
Xero Cloud Accounting Software – Features
Quotes and Invoices
One of the best features of Xero cloud accounting software is the sales function. Here you can start with creating a quote for your client that you can later turn into an invoice once it’s accepted. Both Quotes and invoices can be viewed online and emailed to the customer at the time of sending. If you are on the Premium plan then you also have access to multi-currency accounts; a feature missing from other bookkeeping software. You can define your own Themes within Xero which basically means that you can provide unique information for different client sets or currencies. This is extremely handy when you’re dealing with local and international customers and have different terms and payment options for each. If you integrate it with an online payment system, then customers can easily pay the invoice, and the transaction gets recorded into Xero.
Expenses, Purchases and Inventory
Let’s face it, we all have bills to pay and expense claims to approve, hold or deny. Xero makes all of it a breeze. If you have multiple expenses claims to approve, then you can bundle them together and pay in one go. Similarly, with purchases you add recurring bills or a record purchase. Here, the mobile apps help since you can just upload receipts and record expenses and purchases on the go. Inventory management is fairly decent however if you’re running an online store then the add on marketplace extends basic Xero inventory management functions.
Reporting, Budgeting and Project Management
Reporting is where Xero actually excels. You are allowed up to two tracking categories each of which can hold 100 options. Here you can mention information you will use to run reports. For instance departments and projects/products against which you want to run a sales or P&L report without creating entries into your company’s chart of accounts. Within reporting itself, amounts are linked to transaction details making it easy to quickly look up what was sold or purchased. The reporting feature on its own is one of the best I have ever seen.
Bank Feeds, Online Payments and Add-Ons
Xero connects directly with your bank accounts in the UK, US, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. It connects to many more banks via a secure 3rd party feed provided by Yodlee. It also connects to your PayPal account and gets the feeds (multi-currency if your PayPal account has them and your Xero plan supports it) from there. All this makes reconciliation and recording transactions in Xero a breeze and saves valuable time.
Xero allows Payment integration with the likes of PayPal, Stripe, eWay and Payoneer (via custom payment link) to name a few. This means that you can have multiple payment options catering to specific countries, clients and amounts.
Xero also boasts of over 500 Add Ons (paid and free) that give you the option to connect this accounting software to many specialised services. For instance; you can enable time tracking via TimeCamp (the best in my opinion), your documents through Google Docs, Evernote or MS Office and connect your e-commerce store (BigCommerce, eBay, Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.) to manage sales and inventory levels accurately.
Xero gives three plans: Starter, Standard and Premium. The Starter plan limits quotes/invoices and bills to 5 each and allows 20 bank transactions in a month. At $9/mo (US price) it is ideal if you are just starting out. The Standard plan costs $30/mo and includes Payroll for upto 5 people. Invoices, bills, quotes, bank transactions are unlimited on Standard plan. The Premium plan costs $70/mo and gives access to multi-currency accounting. It also includes Payroll for 10 people which you can extend to 20 and 100 people for additional fee. There are a number of regional discounts running at Xero at the moment, for details, look at the sidebar.
Having used the likes of Freshbooks and Quickbooks online, reporting and multi-currency features won me over to Xero. It has been two years, and I’ve saved a lot of time and money in accounting fees. In all this time I have used them, I haven’t found their software or service wanting. They have a great software and features roadmap, and they continue to improve without compromising on quality.
When you use a service for a long time, there comes the point when you eventually run into problems with billing (expired card), need help with their support staff (choosing the right plan) or need to use their help section (bank reconciliation). Well, surprise, they won’t shut down or block access to your account if a payment fails (they notify you and tell you when they will attempt next), their support staff knows their product inside out, and their help section is not just written well but structured properly as well.
If your business is growing and you want hassle free bookkeeping and yes you love a beautiful accounting software that’s not just good looking but works well too, then look no further than Xero – the best online accounting software available right now.
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