by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 21 June 2011
In 2003, Rod Drury, a serial entrepreneur, and Hamish Edwards, an accountant, came up with the idea to design and build an online accounting software for small business that was easy and intuitive to use. But it wasn't until 2006, with a greater acceptance of the internet and more advanced web techniques that the timing was right. Since then, Xero has and gone from strength to strength, winning several awards and the software is now used by over 100,000 users in over 100 countries.
HOW DIFFERENT IS CLOUD-BASED ACCOUNTING FROM REGULAR ACCOUNTING?
Just like any other cloud-based solution, online accounting enables you to work on the fly. This means your accounts are available to you anytime and anywhere, whether at work, home or on the go. What's more, you can also invite others to view your accounts and help you figure things out. I can already see several benefits to this feature: you can do things that you once left to your accountant which means they can focus on being a business advisor to you rather than on compliance. I even feel better about the question of security - quite a few of us are apprehensive about putting critical data and numbers up in the cloud. Xero seems to go to great lengths to protect your data including having tier-one enterprise grade servers. The data transferred between users and the service is encrypted in the same as with internet banking. According to their website, your data is completely secure even if your computer is lost or stolen. No more hard disks!
WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE FEATURES?
Think of Xero as an all-in-one solution. This means you can set it up to perform your regular activities. What's more, the folks at Xero have done away with the jargon. So, you have simple nomenclature for modules that cuts through the clutter viz., bank accounts, money coming in, money going out, and expense claims. You can perform regular activities related to your business such as invoicing, raising expense claims etc.
You can also add multiple users for free. In addition, there are a plethora of reports: performance reports, cash reports, foreign currency reports, position reports, and detail reports that help you make sense of your cash details.
Xero also integrates with a big list of applications. So if you need something beyond accounting such as CRM, job tracking, inventory management etc Xero will connect to add-ons that do these things.
THE INTERFACE: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
It looks pretty good. The interface is clean and intuitive. Accounting is a pretty complicated task. However, Xero makes it simple. In addition, completing a task does not take more than three clicks i.e., you do not have to plod through multiple screens to get work done.
Xero has free online help accessible through the application and by email. Apart from providing regular support, the company monitors customer "satisfaction" with mood indicators. So, if you have smiley face on, then the company knows that you are happy :-). According to folks from the company, all feedback is looped back to the Development team. This ensures that customer feedback is incorporated into development of new features. They also have a forum where customers can request or discuss features.
IS IT FOR YOU?
Definitely! I know it made accounting much simpler for me. They have an excellent interface, experience, and support. Go for it!