The accounting application, Xero, might just be the best thing to ever come out of New Zealand. It's a bold statement, granted. But could a sheep really reconcile your bank transaction? Would a kiwi be able to sort out your invoicing? Would an All Black know how to seamlessly manage payroll? I doubt it.
But just how did New Zealand's greatest export become such an important player in the small business accounting world? It all started in 2006 when Rod Drury and Hamish Edwards founded Xero to offer a cloud-based alternative to the desktop accounting solutions of the time, which they felt were not suited to the needs of modern accountants. It certainly took off and since then the company has expanded into Australia, the UK, and the US. It now has a user base of more than 717,000 subscribers, and is considered to be one of the main competitors of accounting software behemoth, QuickBooks.
Xero's success has been borne out of its user-friendly accounting features, and the ease with which it enables team collaboration. One of the other contributing factors to its popularity is Xero's add-ons and integrations with other third-party business applications, which help companies to save time and hassle when bookkeeping.
But how do you leverage Xero's capabilities to improve your small business accounting and what are the Xero integrations you should look out for? This guide will explain:
What Xero can do and who is it useful for
What types of applications and services it works well with
What popular apps it integrates with
How these integrations work
As an all-in-one small business accounting software, Xero is ideal for small business owners and accountants or bookkeepers. Since it's a cloud-based accounting app, it's ideal for enabling collaboration between teams of accountants, or different departments.
Most companies using Xero fall into the small end of the small business sector. 80 percent of GetApp users who say they use Xero fall within the 1-50 employee size. Part of its appeal is its simple-to-understand three-tiered pricing structure, which begins at $20 per month for the Starter package, going up to $40 for Premium (Standard is $30, in case you were wondering).
Xero's feature set is extensive and includes core functionality such as:
File upload and storage
Xero is powerful in itself but to further extend its usefulness to your small business, you should check out the app's integrations, which allow you to sync up Xero with the other software you use.
Xero scores top marks for integrations in GetApp's Category Leaders ranking of the top accounting software. It integrates with 55 percent of the most popular applications on GetApp, so it's likely there will be apps within your company's software stack that you can plug into Xero. Examples of big name apps that integrate with Xero are Dropbox, Infusionsoft, Shopify, and Insightly.
Among other big players in Xero's list of its top integration partners are: Square, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Dropbox.
But how do these integrations work to help you avoid manual processes and extend the capabilities of Xero?
One of the great things about Xero is that enables small businesses to pull all their financial account data into the software via direct bank feeds. Xero offers feed support for a wide range of banks, listed here. If you're in New Zealand, Australia, or the UK, you'll be more likely to be able to access this feature, since Xero has partnerships with many top banks in these countries.
Xero is starting to make real strides in the U.S, too. Although it currently only supports direct feeds from City National Banks and Silicon Valley Bank, Xero has recently signed a pioneering partnership with Wells Fargo, whereby the two companies will work on a data-sharing platform which will mean that Xero customers can use Wells Fargo servers to ensure that the don't need to enter their banking details such as usernames and passwords into the application.
Although Xero is jam-packed with features for all areas of small business accounting, if you're currently using disparate apps for things such as billing and invoicing, time tracking or expensing, there could be an integration that will allow you to pipe this data into Xero. For example, the Expensify integration helps you to speed up the time it takes you to reconcile expenses, by pulling all your expense information from Expensify into Xero.
Likewise, if you're tracking time and invoicing through WorkflowMax, you can use the Xero integration to sync information about billable hours, with all of this data being imported into the Xero system, to give you the best of both worlds.
It's even possible to integrate Xero with FreshBooks, using the OneSaaS-developed integration. The OneSaaS Xero + FreshBooks solution is available from $29 per month and allows you to share data between the two products. For example, when an invoice is created in FreshBooks it will be automatically created with the payment status in Xero, and likewise when a sales invoice is raised in Xero, an invoice will be created in FreshBooks, along with the associated product and payment.
Users appear to love the way Xero integrates with other accounts-related solutions. "I really like the ability to "extend" the system - integration with FreshBooks means that our existing invoicing system integrates well," says user Grant Nelson in his Xero review on GetApp. "We also have the ability to get our payroll data into Xero - the inbuilt payroll in Xero can't do the calculations required for Canada - so we opted to use PaymentEvolution. The combination of PaymentEvolution + Freshbooks + Xero helps us run our business efficiently."
Integrating your CRM with Xero is great for ensuring the end-to-end management of your sales pipeline. Xero integrates with a whole bunch of CRMs. Insightly is one of the most noteable Xero CRM integrations, allowing you to provide visibility to sales and support staff of a customer's financial activity. For instance, you can use the Insightly integration for Xero to view information about a customer's overdue invoices, bills, lifetime value, 12-month value and full contact details.
Other Xero CRM integrations include Work[etc], Base CRM, and Capsule CRM. There's no native Salesforce integration for Xero, but there are a couple of third-party integrations from Carry The One and OneSaaS, which allow you to sync up your accounting and sales management data.
More information on CRM integrations for Xero is available on the Xero Add-on Marketplace.
Want to sync up your inventory and stock control with Xero? No sweat. Xero boasts integrations with a number of the top inventory management applications. For instance, the TradeGecko integration for Xero saves you the hassle of entering and updating data manually, allowing you to automatically link invoices, stock levels, and customer data.
The integration fun doesn't stop there. There are many more kinds of business software you can sync up with Xero to save you time and boost functionality. For example, Xero integrates with project management tools such as Mavenlink, ProWorkflow, and ProjectManager.com, allowing you to tie project work to invoicing within Xero.
If you run an online store, there are Xero integrations with top eCommerce and payment software such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and PayPal. Xero is ramping up its payment processing options, and this year has added support for processing credit and debit card payments via Stripe and Braintree.
Xero is one of the most expandable accounting solutions out there, thanks to its huge range of supported integrations. It offers the kind of functionality to make everything from invoicing to expensing to inventory control much less of a headache.
Check out GetApp's full list of Xero integrations for more detailed information.