QuickBooks Xero

Why I Favor QuickBooks Online

Written by Hector Garcia

I attend several accounting and technology conferences every year, and one of my favorites is Accountex (formerly know as SleeterCon) in Las Vegas. This is a great experience for me because I’ve always been a “QuickBooks-Head” (which means I tend teach and learn only QuickBooks-related concepts. So when the conversation turns to other accounting systems like Xero, Sage, Zoho Books, and others, my attention-meter automatically shuts down and I tend to just stop paying attention. At this conference, however, it’s especially hard to avoid the overwhelming presence of other accounting systems.

Accountex (formerly SleeterCon) is awesome because it brings together great minds in the industry, who then get to interact and share perspectives. In that spirit we present this lively exchange between Patti Scharf (for Xero) and Hector Garcia (for QuickBooks Online).

Conversations at the Conference

Needless to say, I have been very dismissive about anyone telling me they recommend Xero over QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop to any of their clients based on the premise that it is a “better” system. I do not use Xero as part of my daily practice so my experience with the software is limited to a few clients for whom I’ve received reports in Xero that I converted over to QuickBooks. And although this exposure did not result in a change of heart (QuickBooks is still my own and only weapon of choice) I did have a change in mindset… I have grown to respect other accounting systems after speaking to a number of experts at Accountex.

The first of these conversations was with Patti and Scott Scharf (to view Patti’s side of our exchange, click here) at SleeterCon 2015. We discussed in detail the reasons why Patti and Scott moved their practice to Xero only — and even developed a very good specialty practice to cater to e-commerce businesses. Scott gave me a walk-through of the third-party applications available to work with shopping cart data, and connecting that data to order and shipping management applications to track fulfillment of orders.

My second conversation at the conference was with Greg Lam, who has authored several articles and videos that compare multiple cloud accounting systems — including head-to-head comparisons of QuickBooks Online vs. Xero. When I met Greg, the first thing I told him was, “I think your videos have a bias toward Xero.” He explained that he does not mean to show a bias, but naturally if he likes a solution better, it will tend show. Pressing him further, I asked: “Tell me one feature you could demonstrate in 5 minutes or less that indicates Xero is likely to be a better solution than QuickBooks for most people you meet.” His answer was, “Cash Coding,” which in the QuickBooks world translates into Online Banking or Bank Feeds.

QuickBooks Technical Features I Love

I personally have several reasons why I choose QuickBooks Online over Xero, which boil down to technical features plus marketing. Specific functional reasons why I choose QuickBooks Online over Xero are a number of features I have grown to love, like the following:

  • Online Banking (Bank Feeds): almost every major financial institution can be connected with QuickBooks Online, and once the connection is established the transactions download daily. If you learn how to use the Bank Rules and all the matching features, you will find it quite a compelling reason to choose QuickBooks Online. This is a feature that I label as AWESOME — and I explain why and how in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7z-fS60ihY.
  • Reporting: although QuickBooks Online is not as robust as QuickBooks Desktop in Reporting, I find that the QuickBooks Online reporting options are quite extensive compared with any other online data system I have used (sans Xero). I believe it to be the most comprehensive.
  • E-Invoicing: with QuickBooks Online you can link your Intuit merchant services to give your customer a portal experience when they receive an invoice from you. Customers can send messages about the invoice and pay it electronically, all at the same link.
  • Well Designed and Intuitive: QuickBooks Online is a very easy-to-use program, and the design of the transaction screens is consistent throughout almost every transaction type, which encourages users to explore the software and become more familiar with its features.
  • Community: I have interacted with several top-notch user communities, including Adobe Photoshop users and Microsoft Excel users, and Intuit’s user community is up to the same high standards. Many users share their experiences with other users — good or bad, but with the greater purpose of improving the experience.
  • Growth and Improvements: QuickBooks Online has seen an unprecedented growth level in the last three years, higher than that of any other software I know of in a similar category. And along with that, it is not uncommon to see new features added to QuickBooks Online on almost a monthly basis.

The QuickBooks Marketing Edge

In terms of marketing, better marketing on the part of QuickBooks Online (compared with Xero) means more customers, which means more potential clients for me. More customers/users means there is a much bigger “support group” of people out there who use the system, which in turn means I’m likelier to learn how other people have done things in the past if I run into a unknown scenario. I am a true believer in sharing my knowledge, just as many people who follow me are glad to share theirs.

More customers/users also means there will be more connecting applications. If you look at the apps.com website you can see the number of applications that integrate with QuickBooks Online (even many e-commerce solutions), which leads me to think there are higher probabilities of connection with existing solutions for my QuickBooks clients.

Last Thoughts

Although I still wouldn’t recommend Xero to any of my clients, I am now a lot more open to seeing what Xero and other accounting systems can do when compared with QuickBooks Online.

I hope this exchange between Patti Scharf and myself encourages others to jump in and share their Xero and QuickBooks Online experiences. Let us know what you think!


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About the author

Hector Garcia

Hector is a passionate trainer and consultant who loves helping small businesses grow and sharing best practices with colleagues. He works and Lives in Miami, FL. Hector has a postgraduate degree in Accounting, a Masters Degree in Finance, and a Masters Degree in Taxation from Florida International University. He was selected a top 40 under 40 Accounting Professional by CPA Practice Advisor in 2015, and a Top 100 QuickBooks ProAdvisor by InsightfulAccountant.

30 Comments

  • Hey Hector. Nice piece you’ve written here. Your feelings pretty much echo my own. QuickBooks, both desktop and online, has been great for me and my clients for many years.

    One thing I would add is that my own personal experiences with Intuit have been so great and have made me pretty loyal to their brands. ProAdvisor tech support has been great. I’ve had several customer reps, they’ve all done all they could to be helpful. For more than fifteen years I’d rate my interactions with Intuit as 98% positive.

    Why would I change?

  • Intuit is far from perfect and QBO needs a LOT of work in order to raise to the occasion of deserving the QuickBooks name that the traditional desktop platform has created… and Yes, we are going to times of transition for cloud-based platforms are still relatively new. And yes, support may be spotty, with 5mm customers, it’s hard to have a a support team that knows how to solve every problem.

    With all that, I go with Intuit… has been my professional livelyhood to do so for the past 7 years, and its been great to me. Like Lance said, why change?

    I do not want to convince any Xero fans otherwise, just sharing my POV and that’s all.

    I recommend to read this article in conjunction with Patti’s article:
    https://www.sleeter.com/blog/2016/03/sleeter-xero-vs-quickbooks-online-op-ed/

  • Hi Hector – great article. I think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can be quite a powerful argument. Heaven knows there are already plenty of broken things needing to be fixed in most companies. ;o)

    However, I did want to make one point of clarification… Cash Coding in Xero is not the same as bank feeds or online banking. Yes, Xero has bank feeds also, but that’s not what Cash Coding is.

    Check out my article, “How Xero Helps Me Get Work Done Fast,” which walks through Bank Feeds -> Bank Rules -> Cash Coding, and you’ll see the difference. https://www.sleeter.com/blog/2015/04/xero-helps-get-work-done-fast

    I LOVE this feature in Xero.

    Greg Lam also has a good article on this: https://www.sleeter.com/blog/2015/06/xero-cash-coding/

    Hope that helps!

    • I saw cash coding.. looked interesting. But, I have some killer techniques to convert data from PDF statements or excel/CSV bank downloads into .QBO files (using 2qbo Convert Pro by http://www.2qbo.com ) that can be uploaded into QuickBooks online that can really speed up my process; and I doubt that “cash coding” or any other thing our there can help me do the data entry faster, I explain my process in these 3 videos:

      1) Importing Vendors into QBO:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPSL_ktfCJQ

      2) Converting CSV/EXCEL/PDF into .QBO (Bank Feeds)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TxdoXyMsOI

      3) Complete review of QuickBooks Online Bank Feeds:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7z-fS60ihY

      you are welcome to test it against Xero’s Cash Coding to see if its better/faster for you

      • Hi Hector,

        Thanks for sharing your videos. I’m sure they’ll help a lot of people who haven’t seen them.

        But… “I doubt that “cash coding” or any other thing our there can help me do the data entry faster.”

        I think you’d be surprised.

        The steps you’re discussing above seem very similar to what Xero has as far as quickly and easily importing data. I think QBO and Xero are pretty much six of one and half a dozen of the other in that regard. But getting the transactions into the software is only half of the battle.

        Cash Coding really is fairly unique. The best way I can think to explain it is that you have the power of a spreadsheet embedded in your accounting software that’s used to quickly and easily code a gazillion transactions in record time.

        So AFTER you’ve imported all those transactions… whether through bank feed or manual import or whatever, Cash Coding helps you account for them properly in the accounting system. Yes, you can (now) create some bank rules for specific payees in QBO, but it’s not nearly as elegant or as powerful as what Xero offers.

        So when you have 100 (or a 1000) transactions, you can pick and choose them and change payee, memos, coding, etc. all at once and all with a few clicks. Or if you also have bank rules set up in Xero, you can literally click ONE green button to properly account for all of the transactions. It’s a glorious thing.

        • It may be more elegant… but is it faster? or does it increase accuracy?

          That is something I cannot give an opinion about, because I never really used cash coding before for an actual project (other than testing/experimenting)

          But, if this happens to be the only edge that Xero has over QBO (and the speed difference is immaterial) I would probably still stay with QBO for the other superior benefits such as reports.

          • Yes, faster. And yes, improved accuracy.

            I’ve used both systems (QBO and Xero) a lot, and obviously I greatly prefer Xero for this and many other reasons – as I alluded to in my article. There are even elements of reporting that I prefer in Xero… such as the ability to publish them for our clients right within the system (with footnotes and everything).

            But… that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone needs to run out and switch to Xero either.

            There are so many other factors to take into consideration. In your case, your entire practice was built around QB, particularly as it relates to training others. I wouldn’t abandon that to switch to Xero, if I were you. Why would you? You’d have to rebuild your practice from the ground up which is a ton of work. I think QBO will continue to improve as long as Xero is around to keep Intuit on their toes, so I don’t think you can go wrong where you are.

            In my case, we do all the accounting for our clients, so I want to use the most effective system for my practice. In our case, that’s Xero. It doesn’t matter to me if other people prefer QBO, and I also don’t think it needs to be an “either/or” for many people. I know many who work with both. (Although I would (and have) made the argument that specializing is a great thing for improving efficiency in your practice… but that’s a whole other Oprah.)

            I guess my main point here is just that I want to help educate others on some of the differences between the tools so people can decide what’s best for them based on the features that are available, not just because it’s the way it’s always been done.

  • Great article, Hector. I love QuickBooks Online and my practice is solely based on QuickBooks. I’m sure that Xero has its merits, I have chosen to be great at one product and I chose QuickBooks. I commend you for being open minded about other products and for encouraging interesting conversations from both QBO and Xero users.

  • It seems most of our colleagues who prefer Xero are those like Patti that primarily do all of the accounting for clients. Am I wrong? Are many people using Xero where clients enter all the day-to-day transactions?

    • Hi Wayne,

      You are only seeing Intuit, a very QB centeric response.

      Patti ‘ s firm is a unique CPA Xero eCommerce centric firm. Look at Xero, Partner’s, and their blogs to see and then make judgements.

      Patti and Scott, founders, could easily become eCommerce only consultants too. They already educate within the eCommerce global marketplace.

      Look at every blog, with an “eagle eye.” This is just one groups’ op.

      The Sleeter Group is still a very Intuit, QB centric group also. It is not exactly the total Accounting Industry, fair to all vendors approach, or a totally objective marketplace.

      Do not judge Xero or Patti ‘ s firm by this blog. Look everywhere globally. It is very important and informative. We have seen all types within Xero, as with Intuit.

      Xero’s community is vast and growing. Xero’s understanding of Cloud and Cloud Platform’s is a very indescribable technological change. They have embraced all future technologies, mobile, etc.

      Intuit and Sage are racing to adjust, develop, and compete.

      Hope this helps in consideration.

      Respectfully,

      Tamra

      Tamra Groff
      Senior Consultant
      GASC / GHFG

      • Tamra, if I understand what you are saying, I take some exception to it. We work very hard here to be fair to all accounting products. We like Xero as much as we like Intuit, and other companies, such as Sage. We don’t favor one company over the other.

        We might have more articles going on about Intuit products, mainly because Intuit has been around longer and we find it a lot easier to get good, experienced writers for articles about Intuit products. We are working hard to build up our coverage of Sage and Xero at this time.

        I personally write more about Intuit products because, like Hector, that is the market that I work in. I don’t have clients using Xero, personally. And then, I’ve been working with Intuit for at least a decade longer than I have with Xero. But, I am Xero certified, and I’m just starting to roll out my in-depth series of articles on Xero inventory.

  • Thanks Tamra. I’m sorry if my question wasn’t clear. “In my case, we do all the accounting for our clients” Patti wrote. I meant to seek input from others who are using Xero in the opposite scenario.

    I have one client using Xero so far, and planning to get certified. Always looking for additional clarity on what types of clients a product is best for, so I’m prepared when clients ask for recommendations.

    I pass no judgement on any software, firm or person…well, except for presidential candidates. They are all five descending on my town next week….for the first time in 30 years my vote counts in a presidential election…woot woot!

  • Hi Wayne,

    Yes, upon rereading my statement, it did come across a little harsh or lacking understanding. Sorry about that.

    Clients and Accountants alike select pure Cloud App.s for various reasons and uses.

    Our opinion is that it is as important to evaluate the sources of App. information and their usage, in order to provide clarity.

    Judgement and critical analysis are good.

    Hope you enjoy next week. Truly exciting!

    Sincerely,

    Tamra

  • When using QBO, how do you back up your client files? Intuit tells me there’s no way to make a backup copy of a QBO client file. Intuit has two copies of the most recent version of a file, in case a drive fails, but they don’t keep any older versions.

    • there isn’t a backup mechanism… you can use something that almost does the function of a backup.. called SafetyNet By Jobber

  • It looks like SafetyNet might restore most of the data, but some would still be missing. Anything stored in custom fields, for example, would be gone. Does anyone using QBO have a plan for how they would restore a client’s file if something went wrong? Would liability insurance cover damages if your insurer found out you weren’t making regular backups? Does this approach meet minimum standards for professional bodies?

  • Crickets?

    Chirp, chirp.

    Thank you for the thorough answer, Tamra.

    I have said, both in articles as well as directly to people at both Xero and Intuit (and other online accounting vendors) that the inability to make your own secure backup file, along with the ability to restore that file (at least to a new account, if not to the existing one), that is complete, is a major drawback. I am very, very concerned. Yes, your data is secure with them, and they have “disaster” backups, but that doesn’t cover all the cases.

  • Hi Charlie,

    Some time back, we at Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice, silently introduced a full data back feature.

    https://www.zoho.com/books/kb/subscription/backup-data.html

    For Zoho Invoice, we can even save an entire organization as a new organization. We have not exposed this to our users. But we do it when a customer requests for it with the caveat that it may not copy your timesheet data.

    Our other products like Zoho CRM and Zoho recruit offer a full data back too:

    https://www.zoho.com/crm/help/data-administration/request-data-backup.html

    https://www.zoho.com/recruit/helpnew/data-administration/export-data/request-data-backup.html

    Regards
    Prashant

    • Thank you, Prashant. The backup that you refer to is creating a CSV file – which is very useful if you want to move your data out of Zoho into some other system (not that someone would want to, but that is an option that I like to have). The FAQ you refer to doesn’t talk about how to RESTORE that backup, either as a new company or to overwrite the data in an existing one. That is a key part of the equation. I only looked briefly, I didn’t see information about that aspect. And the backup feature is limited to once every 15 days – not a terrible limitation, but it still is a limitation that the user has to be aware of. In a perfect world there wouldn’t be a limit.

      There are other related aspects to the Zoho system that I like, such as (at least in some of your products, I’m not sure how widely this is available) the ability to “roll back” an import, something that I’ve used in Zoho CRM.

  • This seems to be a comparison of QBO to Xero but I did not know that from the heading. I still find hosting QBDT in the cloud via and asp, the best solution for my clients. While Intuit and, it seems, Sleeter associates, are pushing QBO, QBDT has so many more features and beats QBO hands down with ease of navigation. I agree the bank feeds is better in QBO but is that a reason to give up everything else? I would love to see an article with specifics about why QBO is better than QBDT on an asp, than the bank feeds.

    • Deborah, assuming that the term “Sleeter associates” includes me as a guest author for the Sleeter Report, I will weigh in…

      Is difficult to make the argument that QBDT is “better” than QBO or viceversa unless the term BETTER is defined.

      In a high level view QBO > QBDT:
      -QBO is less expensive than QBDT Hosted
      -QBO is easier to use and has a much faster learning curve (I am a professional QB trainer, and train users in both systems.. it takes 3x the amount of time to get people well trained in desktop vs. QBO in MY experience)
      -QBO is much efficient to collaborate with Accountants because it avoids the accountant’s copy and file transfer drama. Practically Drama-free on multi-user environment
      -QBO integration with other apps is almost seamless
      -QBO is much easier to add additional users (and WAY less expensive) specially when moving beyond the first 5 users

      High level view QBDT > QBO:
      -QBDT has a lot more features and functionality than QBO in almost every single transaction type.
      -QBDT has better and more extensive reports
      -QBDT can do very in-depth job costing with payroll and burdened costs; QBO cannot do any of this
      -QBDT Enterprise can do Advanced Reporting, Advanced Inventory, and Advanced Pricing (which not even really sophisticated apps that talk to QBO can do)
      -QBDT has 4+ million existing users, which means more qualified personnel can use QBDT and more accountants still use QBDT better than QBO (of course this is shifting)

      So why is QBO “better” than QBDT?

      Well, ONLY for clients that do not need the functionally that QBDT offers (that QBO does not): it is less expensive, technical-drama free for multiuser environments, platform-agonistic, mobile-friendly, much easier to collaborate with accountant, and more streamlined integration with other apps.

      • Can you offer sample wording for a service agreement that makes the client 100% responsible for data backup, and absolves you of any responsibility to restore their QBO file if anything goes wrong? I assume you must have that written into your agreements.

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