Functionality and pricing

For £26 QBO provide the following functional areas  for up to 5 users. There are additional fees for additional users to a maximum of 25. Bear in mind that 2 of these users may be your accountants.

  • Capture and sort receipts
  • Download bank transactions automatically
  • Calculate & file VAT
  • Manage CIS deductions
  • Manage bills and payments
  • Run payroll
  • Multi-currency support
  • Track employee time
  • Create budgets & purchase orders
  • Manage stock
  • Track costs by project, location or budget

For £27.50 Xero has very similar functionality but does not limit the number of users. It does however charge an extra £5 per month for each user of the projects module 

Both companies charge an extra £1 per month for each employee on the payroll module. 

A final note on functionality is that gaps are not apparent unless you do a detailed analysis against a best of breed product. For example neither asset management support GPS tracking or maintenance scheduling.  The only way to get the right solution is to study your business processes and plan for the future. 


Data Migration

Both offers are monthly rolling contracts but the cost of change in terms of data extraction and business disruption make changing your accounting system a serious project.  To help overcome this both companies have data migration offfer's.

Intuit are currently offering to convert data for free from the QuickBooks 2012-2016, Sage 50 Accounts 2010 - 2015, Xero (excluding Xero US version), Kashflow (Beta) and CSV files (Beta).

Unsurprisingly Xero also say you can convert to Xero for free from Sage 50, Sage Instant, QuickBooks desktop and QuickBooks Online using a free tool.   


 

Hardware 

Both run on desktop and mobile, the only difference I can see is that QBO does not currently run on Linux

 

User Permissions

Both have generic set ups for different types of user. These are straightforward but unlike more sophisticated software neither Xero or QBO allow bespoke user profiles.

 

Ease of use

Xero's strap-line is "beautiful software" but some observers consider Quickbooks to be the easier to adopt quickly.  Both offer trial software so no excuse for not testing which one suits you.

Winner

Which one is best

It is fair to say most organisations who buy software feel at least some disappointment that the product and service do not live up to the sales hype. Trying to gauge this as part of the selection process is difficult but the maturity of the business can at least give some clues.

Xero has grown enormously recently and the software clearly works as it has millions of users.  But there is always some pain with this level of growth and there are stories of poor support and bugs in certain scenarios and devices. Quickbooks on the other hand has its established infrastructure of staff, methodologies, customers and existing code to soften the pain of launching this new product.  This of course can be seen as a negative and a constraint on innovation and flexibility.  

Ultimately the choice should be driven by the business case, which product can deliver the highest return for the lease cost and risk. Buying something because it is cheap is not really the way to approach these projects. Ideally you should start with the requirements and then research the products not do it the other way around.