Small Business Xero

A First Look at Xero Projects

Written by Blake Oliver

Xerocon Melbourne may have been “Coachella for accountants,” but it was more than just a fun party. It was also a conference heavy on new product releases and announcements.

From my office here in Los Angeles, I watched with major FOMO as Rod Drury announced a wave of new features, including

  • Xero Expenses,
  • An upgraded Xero HQ with third-party integrations,
  • A Lifelong Learning Platform, and
  • Xero Projects — the one I’m most excited about.

Here’s a first look at Xero Projects.

What Is Xero Projects?

Xero Projects is a simple way for users to track time and expenses on projects or jobs within Xero. It’s designed for small businesses in service industries.

In essence, you can accumulate time entries and expenses on a project, then create an invoice to bill those items to your customer (or not).

You can also budget your time and see if you’re over or under compared to your total project budget.

How to Turn it On

As of October 2017, Xero Projects is only available through Xero advisors, which includes accountants and bookkeepers who have set up a Xero partner account.

If you’re currently working with a Xero advisor, you can request that they enable Projects. If you’re not yet working with a Xero advisor, you may want to check out my firm, Armanino LLP (or you can search for a Xero Advisor).

Xero Projects

Getting Started

Once you’ve turned on the module, it’s a piece of cake to create a project.

Settings are limited to:

  • Contact
  • Project name
  • Deadline, and
  • Estimate

Xero Projects

Could it be any simpler?

Receiving a Deposit

One of the first things you’ll probably need to do is receive a Deposit.

Xero Projects

Deposits can be calculated on a percentage of the project estimate, or a custom amount of your choosing.

Xero Projects

Select “Go to draft invoice” to create an invoice.

Once you approve the invoice, you’ll see it appear in the Project Overview screen.

Now that we’ve got our deposit, we can get started on the work.

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About the author

Blake Oliver

Blake Oliver is a cloud accounting expert, blogger, and manager at Armanino LLP, the largest California-based consulting and accounting firm and a top 25 firm nationwide. In 2012, Blake founded Cloudsourced Accounting, an online bookkeeping company that was one of the first Xero Platinum Partners in the United States and grew to serve hundreds of clients in under three years. Cloudsourced Accounting was acquired by HPC in 2015. Blake joined HPC after the merger, serving as Director of Technology & Marketing. He then worked with Xero as a Xero Ambassador for the West Coast of the United States prior to joining Armanino. Blake holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University, where he majored in cello performance. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, son, and Jack Russell terrier. You can find Blake on
Twitter, LinkedIn, and personal website.


  • Thanks for the excellent review.

    “Note that you can’t credit the Project invoice using the Deposit unless the invoice amount is greater than the Deposit. In other words, you can’t partially apply a Deposit. My clients need to do this fairly often, so I hope this is something the Xero Projects team figures out how to enable soon.”

    I think this limits the usefulness of Xero Projects for many companies. If it it goes like most Xero feature requests, maybe they’ll add it in 4-5 years, if ever. No way I’d start using this based on the hope they make it functional on even a basic level, based on their track record of taking years to add the most core functionality.

    • David, thanks for reading, and glad you liked it! I hear you on the feature requests. Personally I’m still waiting for the cash basis trial balance report. But I’m optimistic about the development of Projects since it will be offered in 2018 to the public for an additional per user fee, and growing revenue from existing customers is key to Xero’s long term profitability.

  • “I’m optimistic about the development of Projects since it will be offered in 2018 to the public for an additional per user fee, and growing revenue from existing customers is key to Xero’s long term profitability.”

    That’s a great point. As a user I’m actually happy to see them charge for add-ons like this IF that means we’ll see more serious and faster development on them. It does seem as though they are suddenly coming out with some big changes, so hopefully the feature set will improve at a faster pace than it has in the past.

  • I’m really glad I read your review before going live on Xero Projects, because what a mind blowing omission this is: “Details of time entries don’t flow to invoices”. I couldn’t believe that when I read it and had to go test it, and low and behold, the invoice just shows the task name and cost, no description. Sending clients invoices for billable work that has no description is lunacy. Xero must be the only time tracking application on the market, or potentially ever created that does not flow the time entry description into the invoice. I find they build features that are never complete enough to actually use, and therefore are a waste to build at all. It’s been a torturous journey using the product and waiting and hoping many areas would mature. I think it’s stronger on accounting than it is on invoicing, and invoicing has been most important to me. For example, still no automatic billing of recurring invoices.

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