The reasons I hear are generally the same…
* It’s what we’ve always used
* Our accounts team don’t know any other product
* I don’t trust ‘the cloud’
But what would you do if I told you that there was another way? A way that would save you time, money, perhaps even staffing costs, accountancy costs, payroll…the list could be endless!
There is a well known accountancy system that continues to take the world by storm, and you may be surprised to know that there are well over 1m people out there who are spending less and less time managing their accounts systems because of it.
Xero is an online only, cloud based accounting system, and has been around since 2006 when it was founded in New Zealand.
We use Xero at Tekkers IT Solutions, and thankfully we have done since the business started back in 2011. I’ve never had the fortune to use Sage to manage my own business, so I may be a bit naïve about the functions within Sage. However, what I do see are the issues that flood into our support desk on an almost daily basis and I’m glad, so glad that I don’t have to deal with any of those.
Firstly let me say this outright.
In my opinion, everybody should be using an online accountancy system.
It might be Xero, but it could also be Quickbooks or even Sage’s own online version called Sage One.
But I’m already using Sage 50 Cloud.
No, no you’re not.
Sage 50 Cloud is an awful product misrepresentation with their line of products.
The reason why Sage 50 Cloud is called ‘Cloud’, is because it talks to the cloud for MTD purposes.
Pretty misleading right?
You’re not alone. Of all our customers using Sage Cloud, the majority assumed their data was now in the cloud. Wrong.
Sage, A History.
Since starting Tekkers IT Solutions in 2011, and even before then at previous positions, I saw what a horrible mess Sage was turning into.
Over the years, the software updates seem to be getting worse, less reliable and buggy. In one update that I can recall, they broke some core functionality that wasn’t resolved until a couple of months and a couple of software patches later.
It’s this unreliability that throws up the first red flag for me.
The second red flag is when accountants start getting involved.
The need to backup your Sage database, zip it up and send it over to your accountants to review, who then make changes and then send it back over to you to restore into your own Sage software – It’s nearly 2020 people! You shouldn’t have to do this sort of thing.
With the likes of Xero, you simply grant your accountants permission to log in and access your information. They can make adjustments, all whilst you are still logged in and working. No zipping or files required.
The third is when it comes to access from multiple locations, and this is a big, big issue with some of our customers.
If you have Sage installed centrally and are trying to log in from home, or from another location over, say, a VPN connection – it’s going to be 1) Slow and 2) Unreliable.
There are things that Sage have introduced such as Sage drive to alleviate these issues, but it still doesn’t meet the convenience factor of the web based alternatives.
We still have customers today who are adamant that this is how they have to work, yet suffer issues almost every month that require them raising a case with Sage to help with shoddy software updates.
I needed something that was easy to use and manage, reliable and with as many processes as possible being automated, to minimise the manual work required.
Xero does all of this, and more, for Tekkers.
It integrates with our helpdesk system, automatically pulling through all of our customer invoices. It sends invoices out to customers, and even automatically chases any overdue payments.
We use an add-on called Receipt Bank, and Receipt Bank is just magic! Any invoices that we receive from suppliers are automatically forwarded to Receipt Bank who then scan those invoices, pull out all of the information such as Supplier Name, Amount, VAT, and then send the information straight into Xero – without having to pay someone to manually input the information. This is so easy that I now have a button setup in Outlook so I can check over an invoice, then click once to automatically forward the invoice to Receipt Bank and then file the invoice! How clever is that !?
What about paper invoices you say?
Simple – we use another app, called Scannable, which scans any paper invoices in and then sends them to Receipt Bank.
We try not to do paper at Tekkers, being a technology company of course!
Float is another magic add-on for cash-flow forecasting. Float looks at Xero and plans out a very accurate cash flow forecast based on historic information.
We can then adjust the forecast to take into account any additional expenses falling in the next 12 months, and even work on case scenarios where we can see what happens financially if we employ another engineer, or lease a bigger office. It’s so valuable to me, and we review it regularly to ensure we’re on track and avoid danger.
Since Tekkers began, we are yet to fall into debt, never needed a loan, and we have always, always made profit (even in year 1!) This is something I’m very proud of and it’s all down to managing our cash flow.
There’s tonnes of reports built into Xero too, so we can easily run these at regular times to stay on top of things.
Many accountants firms have also trained and even certified their staff on Xero due to the number of companies using it, and it’s great to be able to speak to our accountants who can guide us through its use from time to time.
The downsides? Well, the only negative I’ve hit in 9 years has been around 2-times where our bank feed had technical issues, so we couldn’t really use Xero for a day at a time. This is greater emphasised with email-only support for Xero. There is nobody you can phone to shout at when things aren’t working.
However this turned out to be an issue with a third party bank feed which is not directly related to Xero, so can’t really lump the blame on this one to them.
But where credit’s due, I’ve only wanted to do that twice in 9 years, as it just so happened that the 2 outages co-incided with us paying accounts staff to come in on those days, who couldn’t get on with much work.
One thing I have been advised is to avoid the Xero Payroll for now. It’s not quite all there yet for UK businesses, so for now it’s only a Sage Accounts replacement.
If you haven’t already taken a look, I would heavily suggest you do. If not only to reduce the number of times you have to call us when Sage breaks, but also because you may see a step change in your accounts process for the better.
With the changes to MTD, businesses are being forced to think about the software they are using.
And as mentioned above, Sage released their ‘Sage Cloud’ product to prepare for the MTD changes – however Sage cloud is one of the worst named products I can think of.
I say that, because Sage Cloud, isn’t Sage in the Cloud…
Instead, Sage Cloud is still installed locally, on your machine. It just TALKS to the cloud.
You still have to go through horrible updates with the sage product, still have to deal with storing and backing up the data.
Please, look at something like Xero, or Sage One (Which IS their actual CLOUD product..!), Quickbooks Online – just get rid of Sage Line 50.
There is some work to migrate away, of course, but you’ll thank me once you have completed the move.
There are even services such as Movemybooks who can make that transition relatively pain free for you, so there really is no excuse not to move to a cloud accountancy product…