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.
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!