When it comes to accounting software, there is really only one product worth having – or at least there was until quite recently. Where once Sage reigned supreme, the undisputed king of software loved by accountants and loathed by pretty much everyone else, cloud accounting is now the order of the day.
The ‘usurper’, Xero is a modern online accounting software package that makes the running of your business accounts easier, faster and more efficient – and who can possibly argue with that? While back in the mists of time, Sage was created as a tool for accountants and assumed a certain technical level of accounting competence, Xero is designed from the ground up to be used by small business owners.
This makes Xero refreshingly easy to use. Doing away with the usual jargon and complexity that can be a real source of frustration for business managers, the aim of Xero online accounting is to simplify the process of financial administration for your business, while putting clear and easy-to-understand business information and management reporting functionality at your fingertips.
Interestingly, accountants love working with Xero too. According to Numeric Accounting, a long-established business accountancy firm based in Wiltshire, it offers: “a new approach to accounting that allows us to work closer with our clients to better understand their needs and advise them on the things that really matter, adding value to their business.”
Here are just 7 of the main business benefits and perks of using Xero.
1. No software installation or maintenance
With Xero, you simply log into your online account; there’s no need to worry about purchasing accounting packages or software maintenance or having enough licences for all your users. All you need is a username and password and you’re ready to roll. Whatever information you input can be viewed by other users, such as your bookkeeper or accountant, direct from their PC.
2. Available anytime, anywhere
Cloud based accounting means that you can access the software from multiple locations, through your web browser or mobile app, and not through a local application on the hard drive in your office. You or your bookkeeper can work wherever and whenever it is convenient, and you can have as many users as you need. Everyone has the same version, with the data updated in real time and without the worry of different file versions being exchanged.
3. Automated daily bank feeds
All you need to do is to set up your bank reconciliation rules in Xero, and it will match the items from your bank feed and also your PayPal account with your Xero account automatically. This feature alone makes the Xero subscription fee worthwhile. The automated process relieves you of the time consuming drudgery of having to input everything by hand – genius!
4. Fast, customised invoicing
How do you currently generate invoices – via Excel spreadsheet and Word document? It’s a clumsy and error prone process that belongs in the past. With Xero, you can create, send and automate fast, simple, customised and professional looking invoices for your business. With just a few clicks, you can create an online invoice, and email your customer a link to a live invoice that shows the payment status, payment history and has a Pay Now button for online payments. Best of all, there’s a little green tick that shows you that the customer has opened the invoice, so no more excuses!
5. Real time business information
While traditional accounting software such as Sage focused on providing a historic, backward looking view of your numbers, Xero is different. Your bank feed links directly to your business accounts, giving you real time information at the click of a button, while invoices can be sent and processed online straightaway. Even cash reports, or profit and loss statements, can be pulled off at a moment’s notice.
6. Clear Dashboard overview
The Xero dashboard is the first thing you’ll see – it provides a clear financial overview of all your key number all in one place – bank balances (including PayPal and credit card accounts), recent sales and upcoming bills. Giving you a completely current view of your financial situation, it’s the central hub of your business accounts. There are graphs to show incoming and outgoing finances, with the ability to monitor specific accounts.
7. Automatic daily back-ups and security
With your data safely stored on encrypted servers in the cloud, there’s no need for manually backing up your data locally. If your computer crashes or gets stolen, all your important business data remain unaffected. What’s more, logging into Xero online means you’re always using the latest software version, with any changes to tax rates or compliance legislation carried out automatically. There’s no need for you to update anything.