Xero Review Part 1 – Usability

Xero has a great interface. It's pretty easy to find whatever you want to do. You're not going to keep getting lost.

The Dashboard

Xero has a great interface. As seen in the screenshot below, the Xero Dashboard shows a clear overview of key balances and recent trading.

It's got all the main bases covered with bank accounts, key accounts and also a nice cash flow forecast, based on the due date of invoices. The expense claims section is a nice addition for owner managers that pay a lot of bills with a personal credit card.

Bank Reconciliations

It's clear that Xero have had usability at the forefront of their mind throughout. Where the software really shines is with bank reconciliations, one of the hardest bits to get right in accounting software. Check out the image below:

What this shows is a big list of imported bank transactions (see features below) on the left with the right hand covering how these should be dealt with. If an expense receipt has already been entered into Xero with the same amount as the bank transaction Xero will realise and bring it up. Assuming it is right all you have to do is click okay. If there are more than one unpaid invoices in the system with the same amount it will give you options.

For items where you aren't ever going to get an invoice (like bank fees) you can click 'Create' and quickly put in the key details. What's really great is that you can also set up a Rule for such items. If you do this Xero will realise from the description on your bank statement what the payment is for and then autofill all the fields for you.

We have one gripe with the Xero bank reconciliation feature. You are forced into a choice of matching the payment to a pre-input invoice or creating what Xero calls a 'Spend Money' transaction. A Spend Money transaction is less easy to analyse in the future, for example they do not show up on Supplier statements. We really don't get why you can't create a purchase invoice record driven from the bank statement. In a perfect world everyone would load their supplier invoices and then mark the payments, but let's face it most people are going to be doing their accounts on average once a month and if you can lead the whole thing from the bank transactions that's a lot easier.

Accounting Jargon

Xero appear to have created the their software for the small business owner that has a decent grasp of accounting language. Other software, notably KashFlow, use much more every day words which make more sense to those with zero accounting knowledge.

This isn't a big issue but someone who has just started up in business might be a bit confused to start. For example under the 'Accounts' tab you will find following menus:

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Does everyone know what the developers mean by Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable? I'd suggest that to some this isn't exactly clear (Accounts Receivables are sales nvoices raised by you, Accounts Payables are supplier invoice you have to pay) KashFlow uses the simpler terms Sales and Receipts. It's a small thing but we think such accounting terms can be a bit off-putting to some users.

Usability Verdict

Overall we really like how easy Xero is to use. We've only covered a tiny portion of the features here but it's all pretty indicative of the system overall.

We give Xero's usability 4 stars.

 

>> Xero Review Part 2 : Features

 

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