Xero’s invitation to test its online accounting software arrived at the right moment.
I’ve given up on Quickbooks. I doubt the application could ever work for me. And buying a copy of Quicken Home and Business 2010 (which seems right for my needs) seems impossible.*
What’s more, my bi-monthly GST return was due.
First impressions count. Xero is clean and easy to use. It runs in a browser, but is as responsive as an installed application and everything is accessible.
Xero hand-holding, peer support
There’s lots of hand-holding. Better still, just about every computer-savvy self-employed person in NZ uses Xero, so there’s plenty of peer support on Twitter and other various forums.
In the end I needed help. Not so much with Xero, but getting my head around the way it differs from Quickbooks and MYOB.
Xero still confuses at times.
I liked Quicken Home and Business in the past because it is single-entry accounting. Yes, I know double-entry is the gold standard, but I often don’t know if an item is a credit or debit. And I have devil of a time working out what to do with GST refunds or bank charges automatically deducted off invoiced amounts.
Accounting not intuitive
Accounting is not intuitive. And double-entry accounting is an unnatural act.
The better programs do what they can to hide the difficult stuff and steer users in the right direction, but no matter how good the user interface, help is necessary. This is, perhaps, Xero’s strongest card.
When I couldn’t figure out how to treat expenses paid from my personal account as introduced capital – I tweeted for help. It was a Sunday evening, hardly the time you’d expect quick answers. But in minutes I had replies. Thank you @DardeeBooks and @TeamXero for your quick response.
Xero’s ease more important
In practice, Xero’s key selling point; software delivered as a service and not as a conventional application, isn’t important. The way the program joins up with other online services does matter. Xero isn’t paperless as such, but it is neatly integrated with email and grabbing data from banks is a breeze. And support is excellent.
*I tried six software stockists on Auckland’s North Shore. Only Harvey Norman had Quicken Home and Business 2010 boxes on its shelves – but they were empty and the were no discs in stock. Every other store gave me blank looks – or tried to sell me Quickbooks, which is the nightmare I’m running from.