After using Sage accounts for several years it was nice to finally move to an hosted online accounts system.
We'd been wanting to do this for a while, but whilst Sage wasn't the perfect fit for us it was still the tool of choice for the majority of accountants. We migrated to Xero mid 2012, here are some of the benefits we have found after using it for a year:
- It improved our previous convoluted process of adding invoices to a Google docs spreadsheet that would then be raised by our accountant in Sage (we got fed up having to move backups around so this method was better, although still far from perfect.) Our admin staff now add invoices directly to Xero that can then be checked, approved and sent.
- Sage runs on Microsoft Windows and our environment is all Mac & Linux so were running a virtualised terminal server just for Sage. This again meant extra overhead & slowness when requiring a VPN to access it remotely. Xero is all browser based and can be accessed from anywhere over HTTPs.
- Bank reconciliation in Sage was a manual process done by our book-keeper onsite once a month. Xero automatically synchronises our bank account via bank feeds and does a good job of matching up the majority of transactions making reconciliation easier. This both reduces time & costs but also gives a much more accurate representation of our cashflow.
- Emailing of invoices from Sage previously required the invoice to be saved as a PDF to a network share then manually attached and sent via email. Invoices can now be sent straight from Xero in a few clicks, as can statements / remittance etc.
- Phone apps for expenses - We previously maintained yet again more spreadsheets outside of Sage, these can now be added directly from a phone (or online) and photo attachments can be used for receipts etc (another step closer to paperless?) The app is also useful for checking items quickly, such as who has (or hasn't) paid.
- UI improvements - We often found Sage to be tricky or sometimes impossible to do certain things, for example in certain views columns wouldn't be sortable by date / value etc. Xero seems more intuitive for us and the general dashboards give useful information prominently upon logging in (balances, top 10 debtors, overdue invoices etc)
- The Xero Network allows you to send and receive invoices to and from your customers and suppliers that use Xero. We've tested this and it works well and takes out another step of manually adding or sending invoices. Unfortunately the majority of our clients / suppliers don't use Xero, so until a standard appears it's a shame we can't use this feature more.
The whole setup feels that it is more aimed at users rather than accountants and is allowing us to be more involved with our accounts again. The main reason for us not moving earlier was there not being an easy migration path, so we made the decision to not migrate all historic data. In the end this wasn't really an issue, and there are now specialists in the migration space like Movemybooks.
Xero is a great example of the SaaS model, judging by the news today they look to be doing particularly well financially also!