An Introduction to Xero


Online Accounting

Xero is online accounting software renowned for its attractive interface. Like other online software packages, it allows you to access your account through your web browser and manage your financials from anywhere, using the cloud. Where it stands apart from its competitors is in its design, which is created to be intuitive and is regularly updated based on input from current and past users.

While Xero staff may have an idea of what their customers want before launch, according to Philip Fierlinger, head of design, they need that feedback to make the product ideal. “It’s a hugely iterative process,” Fierlinger says. He also mentioned that the software is made to be “Web-first,” meaning everything is done with the end user in mind, as he or she would see the interface through a laptop, tablet, or Smartphone.

Xero is based in New Zealand, with offices and distribution in Australia, the UK and the United States as well. Rod Drury and Hamish Edwards founders of the software company, Aftermail, began assembling a team to create what was to become Xero in 2006. They used Drury’s software development experience and Edwards’s accounting know how to ease the burden of the “horrible accounting process.”

Xero to hero is essentially what happened, as business took off quickly, thanks in part to a large marketing budget but also to positive word of mouth. In 2007, growth was so extensive that Xero earned a listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange after only one year in business. It is listed under ticker symbol XRO.

Xero is growing! In the last year Xero’s business customers have grown from 36,000 to 78,000, revenue from NZD$9million to NZD$19million and staff employed rose from 113 to 194. Xero is used by 16,000 business customers in Australia, up from 6,000 customers this time last year. In March 2012, Xero raised NZD$15.6m through its Share Purchase Plan, bringing the total capital raised in recent months to NZD$35.6m. “In Australia and the UK, Xero is emerging as a leading challenger by winning market share from the incumbents and introducing a new generation of businesses to accounting,” said Drury.

The founders’ goals are to reach a global market of small businesses and to constantly adapt. Right now, a software update is released every three to six weeks, free to users. Updates are automatic when you log into the system. User input is accepted and encouraged.

Xero allows members of an accounting or management team to collaborate on financials remotely from anywhere in the world. This includes bringing in external bookkeepers and accountants for assistance. Each member of the team can have full or restricted access to maintain information security and integrity. The software works on Mac, Windows and Linux systems and has the extra convenience of being available as a mobile app.

Users can access updated financial data in real time to facilitate the accounting process. There is no need to send information through other electronic means; everything can be accessed through a secure login. Once you log in to the system, you can see your cash flow and import and code transactions with over 500 banks around the world, using credit cards, PayPal and currency from over 160 different countries. All major Australian banks have integration with Xero and transactions update automatically using current exchange rates.

The first iteration of Xero did not include an inventory system. Luckily, a simple inventory system was added in an update, and it is available in the current software. Additional features are available. (See the Add-On list.)

Xero’s invoice capabilities allow you to track your sale and supply of goods and services. You can design an invoice template branded to your organization, including different layouts for different customers and transaction types. After you invoice, Xero charts out who owes what and when and predict your cash flow based on when payments should come in. Customers or clients can pay you directly through the Xero system if you choose to set up the functionality.

Initially Xero didn’t provide payroll either. Last July, the company acquired Paycycle to provide this service to customers. An integrated payroll system is set to go live in May 2012. Automatic superannuation payments will be available on the Large plan. Xero has also acquired Max Solutions, maker of internet-based job, time, and invoice management software, Workflow Max.

One drawback of Xero is that it doesn’t allow you to keep offline copies of your data. This can be a turnoff for those who don’t want their financial data locked in by vendors. With the access and security that Xero offers its users, this does not create a significant problem for most.

While you can already use Xero with over 90 applications, you can have even more features through Xero’s partnerships with outside developers. The following functionality can be added in mere minutes:
*Advanced Inventory – Manage the more complex needs that come with having a larger staff or expensive work machinery.
*Customer Relationship Management – Track your sales, presentations and bids to keep project proposal information up to date.
*Job Tracking – Keep on top of your current and past projects, human resources, and time spent.
*E-Commerce – Get everything you need to sell your goods and services over the Web and manage your customers’ activities.
*Point of Sale – Designed for a brick and mortar retail business, track cash and credit sales onsite.
*Payment – Facilitate your client invoice system with PayPal or Debtor Daddy.
*Time Tracking – Manage invoices for hourly employees and timesheets for all employees. Generate bills to clients for employee time.
*Custom Integration – Find a developer to help you with your unique company needs.

All of Xero’s data is stored in the United States using multiple redundant servers, which are guarded 24/7, and located at tier-one data centers. The servers are managed by Rackspace Hosting. Data is backed up every ten minutes. The content delivery network allows for the distance between the server and end user and negates any speed issues that could come up due to geographic distance. Xero has never had a breach of its security.

Xero is suited for small to medium-sized businesses. Its pricing is related to company size. All pricing includes a free trial and the ability to cancel anytime. Unlimited users are allowed, as is unlimited customer support. The limitations come into play in the number of invoices you can send and the number of bank statements you can reconcile per month. Monthly pricing is as follows, listed in Australian dollars. Up-to-date pricing is available at

*Small Package (Ideal for freelancers and 1 employee): $29. Send five invoices and receive five invoices. Reconcile up to 20 bank statement lines.
*Medium Package (for up to 20 employees): $49. Send and receive unlimited invoices. Unlimited Bank Reconciliations.
*Large Package (for medium sized companies with international transactions and unlimited employees): $64. Unlimited bank reconciliation and invoicing available in multiple currencies.

Purchase Xero
R2B has recently become a Certified Partner with Xero. To celebrate this partnership, and the integration of payroll to Xero, we’re giving away Xero subscriptions to new clients for free until 1 June 2012!
***No payments for Xero subscriptions until 1 June 2012!***
This offer is only valid when you sign up for Xero through R2B. Start today to take advantage of all the services Xero can offer your business, free of charge until 1 June 2012.

An Introduction to MYOB LiveAccounts

Online Accounting

MYOB LiveAccounts is an easy-to-use online accounting software for sole traders, startups and very small businesses. LiveAccounts, released in August 2010, is MYOB’s first cloud-based accounting solution and is an entry level product with a reduced range of functions designed for micro business. This lightweight solution allows you to manage your business’s finances remotely from anywhere you have access to the Internet.

MYOB LiveAccounts’ lets you store your business data on a remote server, making it easy to share information. This information is always up to date and readily accessible. The result can be increased productivity and an overall streamline of operations.

Thanks to cloud computing, your software and data is stored on a centralized server, so you can keep all of your records and conduct all of your functions in one place over the Internet. This helps you stay up to date with the latest applications easily and encourages collaboration among your staff members, wherever they may be. MYOB’s CEO, Tim Reed commented, “Desktop applications can be richer and more rewarding to users if they are connected through the cloud.”

About MYOB
MYOB, acquired by Bain Capital in August 2011, started out over 20 years ago with the goal of making business life easier. The organization has over 1000 MYOB Consultants in Australia, assists over one million businesses in Australia and New Zealand and offers over 100 different products and services. These products and services range from cloud-based solutions to client relationship management software.

MYOB LiveAccounts is only one facet of MYOB’s Business Platform Cloud service. The company also produces MYOB AccountRight software, which is an accounting solution designed for larger businesses. It is planned that MYOB AccountRight will join MYOB LiveAccounts as part of its MYOB Business Platform Cloud services. According to Reed, “ … technology never stands still.” For its continued growth, MYOB remains focused on the local market and is committed to investing in the company’s platforms. It plans to spend $100 million for further research and development, hoping to maintain position as an important player in the shift to Cloud Accounting and to stay ahead of the curve.

Currently, the company employs over 350 software developers with the goal to hire more in the near future. At present, over 700 third-party developers and 350 web designers are accredited to work for the organization. The future appears promising.

MYOB LiveAccounts is made to be user friendly. Its clean, intuitive interface allows you to perform basic business functions with ease. It is a lightweight application which is targeted at owners who need a simple accounting program which can be accessed online. With the lightweight design and the cloud approach, it can run on virtually any machine, and it is currently integrated with over 100 financial institutions in Australia and New Zealand.

MYOB LiveAccounts allows you to raise invoices, track expenses, pay employees, and manage your GST online. Automatic bank feeds are updated daily directly within the application to ensure accurate reporting. The software also provides the benefit of an integrated payroll solution, which can calculate the income tax and superannuation contributions for your employees. LiveAccounts can factor in any pre or post tax additions and deductions like bonuses and child support too.

Note, however, that this is strictly accounting software. It cannot be used for inventory and its reporting functions are limited. It is also not integrated with other accounting programs. Additional software may be required, depending on your company’s needs.

MYOB LiveAccount’s main competitors are Australian-based Saasu and New Zealand-based Xero. For the most recent side-by-side comparison, see this table from Bates Cosgrave Chartered Accountants and this one from Sassu.

To view and assess the features MYOB also offer a free 30 day trial.

Currently, LiveAccounts does not integrate with other applications. MYOB’s research and development budget is geared toward creating additional online services, accounting service extensions, Smartphone and Tablet apps, and third party applications. Funds will also go towards advancing integration with other MYOB products. The upgrade is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012. New innovations that are planned for future development include adding the ability to scan receipts using a camera phone.

MYOB LiveAccounts is a secure software package. Your information will be handled using proper procedures and you can be assured that it will be maintained with the utmost in safety in mind.

MYOB LiveAccounts data is stored on servers in Australia, which benefit businesses worried about data stored offshore. MYOB insists that they use best practice standards to ensure your information is highly protected and backed up.

MYOB LiveAccounts is competitively priced with established players Saasu (founded in 2000) and Xero (founded in 2006). MYOB LiveAccounts is $25 per month, the same price as Saasu’s “Pro” product and lower than Xero’s “Medium” product (priced at $49 per month). View the most up to date features and pricing information. Read the feature matrix carefully to determine its suitability for your company’s specific needs.

Time to get your Accounting sorted? MYOB is helping you to get your accounting sorted in 2012. Subscribe to MYOB LiveAccounts by 31 January 2012 to get your first month subscription free. Saving you $25. See MYOB for more details.

Purchase MYOB LiveAccounts
Want anytime access to your business records and data? Save time and money by moving your accounting to the cloud by purchasing MYOB LiveAccounts today from Red 2 Black Business Management (R2B).
R2B, a strategic finance and business management provider based in Cairns, Australia, is an MYOB LiveAccounts Advisor. Not only can it sell you the software package, but it can also work closely with you to define your Cloud Accounting requirements and to help you determine how LiveAccounts fits your company’s needs. R2B can also simplify your transition by helping you migrate data from your current systems to the new software. Contact R2B today for answers to any questions or concerns you may have or to start moving your Accounting to the Cloud today.

Accounting goes to the Cloud

Online AccountingThe Global Financial Crisis has made a large impact on businesses and they are looking at ways to reduce operational costs and overhead so that they can devote their time to other areas, such as production and marketing. You can see this trend in the increasing use of serviced and virtual offices, and the use of remote service providers to handle business tasks. These practices are also known as cloud computing or software as a service (SaaS).

In cloud computing, all business data operations, for example —sales, expenses, payroll, point of sale, banking data, client database, spreadsheets, office applications, email, file storage, project management and workflow —are sent and processed through the internet and stored at the provider’s data servers. This frees businesses from having to maintain and update expensive onsite hardware and software and enables them to devote their time and resources elsewhere. Google Docs is an example of a free (but limited) cloud computing service.

Going Online

Accounting is not exempt from this trend of moving online. Nowadays, several companies offer cloud accounting systems. In these systems, accounting operations are done online, via Web Browsers or Smartphones. When evaluating a suitable online accounting solution, you should take note of these things:

●    Is the system user friendly and fast to use?
●    Does it have all the features you require?
●    Is the price of the solution worth the features it offers?

Pros & Cons


There are many benefits of adopting an Online Accounting System for your business:

●    Lower costs and flexible pricing.
●    Reduced IT and maintenance cost.
●    Accounting Services are available from anywhere that an Internet connection or Smartphone signal can be accessed.
●    Accounting data is stored and backed up at remote, central server. This allows the business to safely recover from interruptions and disasters.
●    Data is more secure and less prone to security breaches.

As an added bonus, many Online Accounting Systems have a feature which allows Managers and their Accountants to work collaboratively, which means that they can view and work on the same data in real-time, leading to huge time-savings. Accountants may also be able to telecommute or work from home, which can also lead to these savings.


Data privacy is the greatest source of concern against online accounting. In most cases, accounting data is stored in servers that are located in a country distant from the client. This poses a privacy risk if the government of the place where the server is located can demand access to this data, if it is dictated that country’s laws, for example in the US Patriot Act.

If data privacy is a major concern for a business, a cloud accounting system provider that hosts the data on servers in their own country may be a better option, although there is still the risk of the provider expanding to other countries.

Cloud Accounting Providers in Australia and New Zealand

In Australia and New Zealand, the leading cloud accounting providers are MYOB, Saasu and Xero. They have thousands of customers, from small to large businesses, and professional accountants who offer online accounting services through the cloud accounting system of their choice.

For a comparison between MYOB, Saasu and Xero see this table from Bates Cosgrave Chartered Accountants and this one from Sassu.

All possible functionality is not shown in these tables, for example additional functionality from add-ons. Consult your accountant to formulate a checklist of the functionality you require. If you are using the services of a professional accounting firm, they may already be capable of doing your accounts in the cloud. Red 2 Black Business Management, for example, offers online accounting packages like Redi Online for small businesses that are based on the previously mentioned online accounting vendors.

Online accounting is still a new concept in Cloud Computing, its features and services are expected to improve. It won’t be long before a majority of businesses move their accounting to the cloud.

If you are interested to try out a Cloud Accounting solution, talk to an Accountant today to start a free trial, and experience the benefits of Accounting in the Cloud.