For a long time I was a bit of a doubting Thomas when it came to the online accounting package cleverly named Xero. I thought it was a good idea and was pretty impressed by what the NZ company based in Wellington were undertaking. But I guess I thought the product was still too immature to cover the full gambit of functionality required to replace our incumbent system (MoneyWorks) and be a useful business tool.
Well, I'm here to say I'm a convert. We love Xero!
I started easy, convincing my partner Ben to switch his business over just before Xmas - I thought we could see how that went and decide whether it'd be a good fit for Digital Fusion. I didn't tell Ben he was my guinea pig, I thought that might influence his perspective.... Even so, I was expecting lots of the usual change-related frustrations - you know swearing, cursing, slamming of laptop lids etc. Ben does all that quite well usually.
Our accountants Wood Walton set things up and brought all the historic information across from MoneyWorks. I showed Ben how to log in and we worked out how to add his company logo and create a debtor invoice then I left him to it. I braced myself for impact and hoped for the best.
But there was nothing, not a peep. Next thing I know, he's loading in creditor invoices, creating new customers, receipting invoices, checking his aged debtors and bank balances. I almost felt... surplus to requirements.
The benefits of changing from a desktop-based solution to the web were obvious from the outset, it's always backed up, we can both view the information all of the time (which is a biggie given the amount of travel Ben does), and we can log in from any computer that has an internet connection. But there's extras, it's fast, really fast. I would estimate we've reduced our financial administrative time by about 75%. The automatic bank feeds means that your cash position is always up to date and bank reconciliations are a joy.
Given the success of Ben's transition, the plan was to switch Digital Fusion over at the start of the new financial year however the events of February 22nd brought our plans forward somewhat and we've now been using Xero for several months.
Digital Fusion may appear a simple business to the untrained eye, but there's some real hooks when you scratch beneath the surface. We operate in both Australia and New Zealand, use 4 different banks and need Xero to integrate with our in-house CRM.
For the most part Xero has stepped up, much like in Ben's business we're seeing big reductions in admin time (now that Elaine and Xero have bonded), and the sharing of information between admin and management is easy - we all just log in and look. We've had a few difficulties with inter-bank transfers, the extraction of specific information is not always simple, and I'm not sure we've come to terms all of the reporting as yet.
These are pretty minor in the big picture though and overall the gains are huge... bigger than Texas. So if you have been considering Xero and you're on the fence, get off it. This has been a really big win for us for relatively little effort.