Considering cloud-based accounting software?

1 February 2017

 

What did we compare?

Which is the best software for your business? Luckily for you, any package worth considering will offer a free trial so you can take it for a test drive before you buy. Registering for a one month free trial is as easy as creating a username and password - you don’t even need a credit card.

To point you in the right direction, we undertook a trial of three of the main players in the New Zealand cloud accounting marketplace: Xero, MYOB Essentials and Reckon One.

To assess each product, the following tasks were carried out:

•    Initial company information set-up
•    Invoicing    
•    Bills
•    Quotes
•    Payroll
•    Profit and Loss reporting
•    Balance Sheet reporting

 

Xero

Xero offers a free trial just like its competitors, but alternatively you can use the ‘demo company’ tool to practice with fake data. The Xero interface was practical and under the different header tabs were many practical accounting tools. With all its different functions, Xero required a slightly longer orientation but with practice the tools became much easier to use. For example, the invoice interface lacked clarity and seemed frustrating to begin with. However, once you know where things are, it quickly becomes an effective invoicing tool.

Xero gave the feeling of being powerful software for users who know their way around it. This was because of the features it offers and the way that it quickly became easier to operate as time wore on. Each of the tools was similar in set-up to the others, which meant that the first task learned generally meant you could find your way around the other tabs. Luckily for potential users, Xero offers its fantastic ‘Xero 101’ and ‘How-to’ video series to familiarise yourself with its day-to-day functions. One of Xero’s perks is that multiple users can access the package at the same time, which may be of benefit to you if you want to grant access to your accountants or other employees.

Support is given through email 24/7 (Xero replies within 24 hours), the online help guide or the community discussion. Xero does not offer an 0800 number for support.

Xero offered a standard accounting package for $27.50 per month (limited to 5 invoices), $55 per month (no invoice limit), with payroll an additional $10 per month for one employee and $1 for each subsequent person.

 

MYOB

The initial information set-up for MYOB is a breeze. It offers a simple and clean look throughout the site with nothing too fancy or overwhelming. Completing each task was a smooth process. The tools were obvious and could be used without any need for guidance from a how-to manual. That said, some of the navigation within the site (i.e. where to click to next) seemed awkward and clicking ‘back’ on the browser window was usually easier than following the buttons on the site.

Overall the package had no major problems. Payroll was as simple as it could be, allowing you to add an employee and carry out a pay run with without trouble. Another highlight was the receivables tracking function which lets you effortlessly view that all-important revenue stream. MYOB has a simple help section with an 0800-number open 24/7. It also has a community support forum where queries tend to be answered by other users in 2-5 hours.

MYOB offered its MYOB Essentials accounting package at $20 per month (limited to 5 invoices), $27 per month (no invoice limit) and a payroll package for $40 + GST per month.

 

Reckon One

Reckon One has a tidy and simplistic user interface with relatively few bells and whistles. That said, it is easy to navigate and understand. Like Xero, Reckon One allows you to use its demo book if you prefer to take the trial with fake data. Reckon One performed its invoicing and bills functions on par with Xero and MYOB. A major downfall of Reckon One is that it only offers its payroll function to Australian customers, although it has plans to roll this out in NZ during 2017.

On the positive side, Reckon One’s reports were attractive and user-friendly. Reckon One gives support through its Reckon Community, online support team, email and 0800 number.

Reckon One offered a package with all its available features for $17, the cheapest of the three but without payroll. 

 

Summary

Being cloud-based means you can access your own information from anywhere there is a reliable internet connection, as the data is stored on a server in a datacentre rather than on your own pc. Other advantages include automatic backups and upgrades all managed centrally. The cloud is all the rage in software, so unless you run a large business (and thus require a bespoke package for more complex operations), cloud accounting is the future.

For the basics (set-up, invoicing and payments), the three packages were remarkably similar. Xero and MYOB had more functions than Reckon One, including the optional addition of payroll. It was hard to find any significant reason you might prefer Reckon One. Even if you are searching for the cheapest package, MYOB and Xero offer discounted options without access to payroll. Considering that, choosing between MYOB and Xero is a matter of preference and it might be best to take each for a spin before making a commitment.

The best thing about the three packages was how highly functional they are. Switching to cloud accounting eliminates the need for clunky desktop accounting software, and any of the three cloud accounting options would be immeasurably better than a stack of papers!

 
Summary of results
 
  Xero MYOB Essentials Reckon One
Accounting Yes Yes Yes
Payroll Yes Yes No
Quotes / Estimates Yes Yes Yes
Starter $27.50 $20p/m $18p/m
Standard $55p/m $27p/m $25p/m
Premium $70p/m $40p/m From $27p/m
Payroll Price Add $10p/m to pay one person, then $1p/m for each additional person Starter and Standard products have Payroll for one person. $40 product has unlimited Payroll

Not available

(NZ rollout planned for 2017)