Xero is a powerful accounting tool, with a host of money management features, including 800+ integrations, ample reports, and unlimited users. Xero is also a powerful cloud-based software.
In this Xero review, we’re going to be looking at Xero, the cloud-based accounting software from New Zealand, popular among business owners and freelancers.
There are more than 2,000,000 users accessing Xero these days, making it the number one accounting solution for more than 16,000 firms. The brand is regularly adding more features, like tools for project management, which was one of the most significant drawbacks in the past.
Some of the most recent improvements from Xero come at a steep cost, and customer complaints do emerge from time to time. For instance, Xero has changed its pricing structure over the years to make it less accessible to small business owners.
So, who is Xero right for? In this review, we’ll find the answer to that question, and tell you everything you need to know about accounting with Xero.
What is Xero?
As mentioned above, Xero is a cloud-based accounting software, making it a good choice for a lot of business owners and freelancers. You can access the service from virtually any browser, provided you have access to the internet.
Xero is more likely to be your product of choice if you’re a mid-sized business. The software offers a lot of accounting and reporting features to suit your needs. There’s also the bonus of unlimited users for every plan, which is very rare to find in the software world for finance products. You can also set multiple control levels for different accounts.
While smaller businesses could definitely look into this service, you might find that it’s a little too expensive when you don’t need things like multi-currency and project management support. With the initial plan limiting your invoices so much, it’s difficult to see how many companies could use it.
Xero Pros and Cons
- Excellent for all kinds of businesses
- Unlimited user support
- Lots of advanced features
- Double-entry accounting
- Reports and analytics
- Budgeting support
- Contact management
- Expense tracking
- Numerous great integrations
- Learning curve is quite high
- No phone support
Xero used to have far more scalable pricing than it offers today, but there still is a number of plans to choose from, and you can try the service for free. Xero’s new plans are missing some of the older features, such as access to payroll. However, you’ll still have access to live bank feeds, unlimited users, and other tools to make accounting simpler.
Today’s pricing structure includes a set of three plans:
$11 per month
The “Early” pricing plan is the cheapest from Xero, and it comes with access to around 20 invoices and quotes, as well as support for reconciling bank transactions and more. Other features include:
- Enter up to 5 bills
- Inventory management
- Live bank feeds
- Purchase orders
- Document storage
Even the cheapest plan on Xero still comes with the unlimited users option, which is a nice touch.
$32 per month
The Growing option costs around $32 per month, with everything in the Early plan, including the Unlimited Users option. You’ll also get features for:
- Bulk reconciling for transactions
- Unlimited quotes
- Unlimited invoices
- Bill management and receipt management
According to Xero, the Growing plan is the most popular.
$62 per month
The Established plan is for larger, more active companies. This product comes with all the features you got in the Growing plan, as well as features like:
- Claiming expenses
- Project management
- Support for multiple currencies
You can also add “Payroll with Gusto” to each plan for $39 per month, which is really the only way you’re going to get Payroll within your Xero experience. This might seem expensive, but it may be more effective than buying a product for payroll separately. Keep in mind that as well as the $39 per month, you’ll also spend $6 per month, per person.
Xero Ease of Use
Xero is a modern and attractive accounting tool, with a simple user interface intended to appeal to a wide range of people. You should find the interface quite straightforward to navigate, but there are some learning curves to be aware of. Most people find Xero easier to use than something like QuickBooks, but there are some challenges.
You’ll need to take your time exploring all the features on offer and learning how to use different functionalities. However, once you get accustomed to everything, Xero is quite straightforward. There are some handy articles to help you out on the help centre too.
One of the things that makes Xero so user friendly is the fact that you really can access it from anywhere. The cloud-based accounting software comes with over 700 integrations, unlimited users, and ample reporting features to keep you on top of your business. There’s even an app for your Apple watch if you really need it.
How Powerful are Xero's Features?
Xero has a positive reputation in the digital accounting environment for it’s wide selection of features. This feature set begins with the customizable dashboard, where you can track your cash flow, add various bank accounts, and so much more.
Dashboard, Invoicing and Quotes
Xero’s dashboard is a dream for a bookkeeper or business owner, with everything well-organized into its own space. There’s a navigation menu where you can jump between business information, accounting, and contacts. You’ll also get a sales overview page with charts and graphs to break down your estimates and invoices.
Xero only has a single template for invoicing, where you can create custom templates and customize them according to your needs. While the invoice template is decent enough, it would be nice to have more options to choose from. For payment management, Xero offers plenty of extra features like automatic reminders, recurring invoices, and Xero to Xero, so you can send and receive money from other Xero users.
With Xero, it’s easy to send customer statements quickly and conveniently from the invoicing screen, and customers can receive estimates as PDF attachments. There’s also the option to quickly and easily create quotes which you then convert into bills, purchase orders, invoices, and more. There’s even the option to duplicate past quotes and add internal notes.
If you want to give your customers the option to view, print, and pay invoices online directly, Xero also has it’s own client portal. Customers can easily view, accept, comment on quotes, or even decline payment requests here.
Contacts and Expense Tracking
Xero has some fantastic contact management features. You can add basic information about contacts, alongside discounts and sales tax rates. The company also takes this functionality a step further through smart lists and contact groups. Smart lists are marketing tools which allow you to create a list for loyal customers. You can also use these lists to invoice an entire group in one go.
From an expensive tracking perspective, Xero allows you to connect your credit card and bank account directly into the application. You can also manually import bank statements, and easily categorize your expenses to split transactions. The smart categorization feature remembers the previous transaction categories you’ve used to save you some extra time. Xero also partners with Yodlee, which may violate some Terms and Conditions for certain banks.
From an expense claims perspective, every Xero plan comes with the tracking features outlined above. Established plan users can get access to additional expense features like automatic receipt scanning, extra analytics for expenses, and the Xero expenses application. Existing users with the expense claim feature will still have access to expense claims on any plan.
You can also reconcile your bank accounts and run reconciliation reports directly within the Xero ecosystem.
Accounts, Inventory and Assets
There are tons of account and asset management features built into Xero, starting with your chart of accounts. The system automatically creates a default chart of accounts for your company based on your industry and organization type. You can customize the default options or import your own charts if you prefer.
For asset management, you can manage fixed assets and check depreciation schedules within Xero. There’s also the option to choose between a variety of depreciation schedules, starting with declining balances, fixed rates, and more. You can also add information like an asset’s serial number or expiration date for the warranty.
For tracking and managing payable accounts, you can manage and track within Xero. It’s simple to set up bills that recur and attach files or photos in the Xero environment. There’s also a handy “new purchases” screen to show details about purchase orders and bills. For companies dealing in checks, you can also write, customize, and print these directly within your Xero account.
The Xero environment makes it quick and easy to manage your inventory too. You can track things like products and services, but generally, you’ll get better results focusing on products. It’s easy to add items and record basic information. You’ll be able to add attachments to items, track inventory, and even make adjustments based on inventory changes.
Tracked inventory options mean you can keep an eye on outgoing products, so you don’t end up with too little stock. Average purchase costs and items committed to quotes are all tracked for you.
In the established plan, you can also track projects and job-costing. This offers overviews of expenses associated with projects, budgets, and project invoices. You’ll also be able to use the progress payments and the Xero projects app too. The Established plan also comes with time-tracking in case you need to keep an eye on billable hours.
Alongside all the features mentioned above, Xero offers an ever-expanding selection of features to explore. Here are some extra features:
- Reports: You can create over 50 different reports with Xero, covering everything from cash flow and sales to budgeting. Reports are fully customizable, and you can save them too.
- Budgeting: There’s a budget manager to help you create various budgets from 6 months to 24 months. There’s also the option to run a budget summary at any time.
- Journal entries: Users with standard and advisor roles can create journals to track different pieces of information in the sales landscape.
- Class tracking: Xero allows for setting up different categories and 100 tracking options for each category. This makes it easier to organize your information and get more insights into your reports. You might create categories based on locations or departments.
- Purchase orders: You can create purchase orders and transition them into bills. There’s also support for delivery instructions, internal notes, and part supply tracking.
- Packing slips: You don’t have to worry about add-ons for packing slips with a bookkeeping tool like Xero. The packing slip is available within the help center, alongside plenty of other solutions for customer support.
- Email templates: For connecting with your customers, there’s a range of email templates and custom template options to explore.
- Sales tax: You can set sales tax to apply in real-time, to help with a more accurate bank reconciliation when you’re accepting payments from credit cards, Stripe, and PayPal. There’s also a sales lookup feature to automatically calculate tax based on contact address.
- Multiple currencies: You can switch between 160 currencies with QuickBooks online, provided you already have the “Established” plan for online accounting. The currencies are updated hourly, and you can create customized reports for your online and mobile app.
- Importing and exporting: It’s easy to input financial reports for your ecommerce company, or export information to show investors evidence of your growing business. It can be a little more time consuming than other solutions, such as FreshBooks, for instance.
- Mobile app: Android and apple users can check their information in real-time on the mobile app. This makes it easier for start-ups and other companies to keep track of their accounting system wherever they go.
Xero Customer Service
Coming to terms with all the advanced features of an accounting tool like Xero can take some time. With API access to explore, authentication strategies, automation tools, and integrations with other services, you may find yourself needing guidance from time to time.
Unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to get in tough with an actually representative if you have issues with your balance sheet, bank balances, or CRM data entry. Xero has never provided users with a phone support system and getting in touch through live chat isn’t great either. You can reach out through email, but it may take time for someone to get back to you.
Notably, Xero customer service also makes it quite difficult to find and choose from your various support options. There are some support options available with Xero, but these usually include:
- Email: Contact Xero via email for questions about your general ledger, invoices, or anything else you might have issues with.
- Live chat: The live chat function is mainly intended for sales inquiries, but representatives can also be helpful with feature-focused questions too.
- Software support: Usually, you’ll find articles, videos, and snippets of information littered throughout the Xero environment to help you when accessing various features. There’s a help button in the top-right corner that should pull up relevant articles from the Xero help center when you need them too.
- Help center: There’s a comprehensive Xero Central help center, with articles on everything you need to know about the service. You can also get in touch with the Xero community without having to search for users on LinkedIn. At the bottom of each article, you can post comments and ask questions. Alternatively, you can also send emails to help representatives directly.
Alongside all of those options, Xero also offers a variety of guides to cover all the basics of managing your accounts. There’s a quick-start guide for building your business from scratch which can help a number of users. Customers will also have access to hundreds of videos and podcasts, which talk you through different aspects of data entry and managing your finances as a business owner. For those who really want to get specific about their knowledge, you can also sign up for Xero U – the training program which comes with custom courses to help you understand the service.
Outside of those options, you’ll also find social media, blogs, and other forms of support to help you with your Xero accounting software. Phone support is really the only option that’s not available.
Xero Review: Verdict
Xero is one of the most impressive accounting tools in the digital environment. With countless integrations to leading tools like Hubdoc, Zoho, Microsoft tools, and more. The Xero pricing may be a little higher than expected for some customers, but you get a lot of functionality for your money, and a plenty of content to guide you too.
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