Last week I bit the bullet and battled my way down to the Big Smoke to do the Xero Certification Course. (Yep, I’m a girl who really knows how to have a good time.)
Actually, it was quite fun in a nerdy way. I’ve been working with accounting software for 20 years now, and the interesting thing about Xero is that it rethinks many aspects of how people do their books.
Here’s some of the stuff that I hadn’t noticed about Xero before now but which caused my eyebrows to go up:
- If you allocate any transaction to a fixed asset account, this then automatically hooks up to an asset register. Your accountant can specify the depreciation rate and then Xero generates depreciation journals automatically, within your Xero file. (You normally only get this kind of functionality in asset management software, which typically costs hundreds of dollars and isn’t integrated into your accounting software.)
- I liked the way you can flag transactions with a comment, so that if you’re unsure about how to allocate a transaction, you can add a comment for your accountant. You know the kind of thing: ‘Is this an asset or an expense?’ ‘Can I really claim my holiday in the Cook islands?’
- When you’re managing payables and receivables, you can not only set payment terms (such as ‘Payment due in 30 days’) but you can also set expected or planned payment dates. So for example, I may have a client that is on 30-day terms but I know they always pay in 60 days, so I can predict my cashflow on the basis on the day I expect to get paid, rather than when I’m meant to get paid. (sigh . . . )
- Whoever designs the reports at Xero has a good insight into what small business people typically want to know. Reports such as the Executive Summary (I show a copy of this one just below) are very powerful in the way they combine key info from your Profit & Loss, Sales report and Balance Sheet and present it in an understandable format all in the one spot. (Although I do qualify this statement by saying that you get way fewer reports with Xero than you do with products such as MYOB or QuickBooks, and the reports aren’t so fully customisable either.)
- I finally realised how to have more than one window open at a time (duh…) so that I can have bank rules open in one window, reports in another, my bank reconciliation in another and so on.
- And I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the interaction between bank feeds, bank rules and the cash coding screen (although the last feature is only available for accountants/Xero advisers) is the thing that makes everything gel. Once you get used to working in this way, you kind of wonder whether you can ever go back to doing all that data entry from scratch, not to mention the process of ticking off transactions in bank reconciliations.
Anyway, I’ve done the course, sat the ‘exam’, and — in the words of the congratulatory email from Xero — I am now ‘certified’. (I’m sure when I was growing up, ‘certified’ used to mean something altogether different.)