Xero vs MYOB – A comparison

[UPDATE 13 July 09: I review Xero again 3 months post-implementation.]

[UPDATE 12 October 09: MYOB vs Xero 6 months post-implementation]

OK, I can see some of you asking what has accounting packages got to do with language and culture? Well, for starters accountants speak a different language. To understand them is no easy task. I spent some time in a Big 4 accounting firm, so I can now act as an interpreter for some of my poor business friends who have no idea what their accountants are going on about.

Anyway, I have decided to switch over from MYOB to Xero starting 1 April. Why? Especially given Xero costs $49 + GST per month, and MYOB is essentially free, after you pay the upfront cost of buying the software (much like buying MS Office and other software). Given the need to tighten spending, why spend money on paying a fixed fee forever, plus the cost of swapping over?

Accounting software by definition is pretty sticky. Business owners typically find it too cumbersome to swap. Because your staff would have to relearn a new system, and you can imagine the hassles involved with just switching say, photocopier suppliers, let alone a critical system integral to the running of the business.

Thinking of the hassles involved sends shivers down the spine of most business owners. So why did I decide to do this? For the following reasons (in no particular order):

1) Staff can access Xero from anywhere.

Right now, MYOB is hosted on a file server at the office. Major hassles because you can’t get to it from outside the office without setting up a remote connection, which is slow even with naked broadband at home. It’s a major hassle if something happens and the PC connection is lost, as I would then have to physically be at the office to fix this.

2) Instant and easy access, with no backups required

Getting into MYOB is quite a hassle. You have to look for the filename, and when you have an unfamiliar staff member, you have to explain where the file is etc. Xero is pretty intuitive. It’s idiot-proof. If you forget the site URL, you can just google it.  We don’t have to run backups and wait 15 seconds and specify a “save as” location. We also do not have to worry about backing up this information remotely anymore.

3) Interface looks pretty

This is not a key reason, but high usability and visual aesthetics are important in order to generate buy-in from staff with no accounting background. Most people panic from the moment they open MYOB because it’s not designed for non-accountants. My initial feeing is that using Xero is like playing a game. Using MYOB is like washing dishes; you don’t like it, but you have to do it.

4) Integrated with ipayroll

Makes it easier than having to make sure the accounts person import / export journals correctly.  If only ipayroll can learn some lessons from Xero and update their interface.  Ipayroll is just plain ugly, but at least it works, and it’s online. We already ditched MYOB Payroll.

5) Xero is an amazing business

They employed an “agile design and development” process to build their business. I like their story. Doubled their client base in the last 6 months. Cool!

6) I can access Xero from my Iphone.

This is a stupid reason I know, but basically with this last accounting portion now on my phone, I can pretty much access 90% of the information I need to operate the business using a phone. How cool is that?

7) Bank transactions automatically flow into Xero

It’s great because we don’t have to wait for bank statements or download them from the bank. Bank reconciliations can be performed with ease and it’s so much easier to stay on top of things.

8) At the cutting edge

Xero boss Rod Drury blogs about technology and implications for business eg check out his write up on provoking customers. They even have a twitter account! My bet is the senior guys at MYOB have no clue what twitter is, let alone what it does! Why is this important? You want your technology provider to know more about technology than you. Betting on the right horse increases your chances of success. You wouldn’t want your GP to not know the

canada pharmacy

difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacologist.

When I find time, I will write about the transition experience from MYOB to Xero. [Jul 09 update: Xero implementation experience]

Dsclosure: I have no investment interest in Xero or MYOB. My company has been a loyal client of MYOB for years, but the time has come to switch.

[UPDATE 13 July 09: I review Xero again 3 months post-implementation.]

[UPDATE 12 October 09: MYOB vs Xero 6 months post-implementation]

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.