Making the Move to Harvest

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After I just talked about making a big move last month, it looks like I'm doing it again.

Last month I talked about a client who I was moving from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online. I'll be writing more about that in the future, but now I'm facing another move.

One of my clients is moving from FreshBooks to Harvest. I very briefly tested it out a year or so ago, but otherwise I have no experience with it. It's focus is similar to that of FreshBooks. They specialize in time tracking and invoicing. So, the question is; why are they making the switch?

The move has nothing to do with the bookkeeping side of things. This is a very project-focussed business, and apparently Harvest has better project management than FreshBooks.

My initial reaction was to throw a tantrum like a 4 year old. Apparently I'm getting into the grumpy old man stage of life. I've spent a long time tweaking the system to work just the way I need it to, so I wasn't looking forward to a change.

But here we are.

I did a bit of research into Harvest. There are a couple things I don't like about it, but at the end of the day the benefits for the team far outweighed any minor complaints I had.

< rant >Fellow bookkeepers, let me talk to you for one quick second. It doesn't have an AR Aging Report. A friggin' AR Aging Report! How do you build an invoicing system and not include a way to display a simple report of what clients owe you money...broken down by age? It just doesn't make any sense. < /rant >

Ok, deep breath...

So, in the next few months I'll be reporting back with my impressions. My initial thought is that it's going to be different. Not better or worse, just different.

If any of you have used Harvest before, please let me know your thoughts. If you have been wanting to check it out, feel free to ask me questions. I'm happy to guinea pig this for you, so just leave a comment with "Hey, does it do __?" and I'll find out.

Wish me luck.

One on One: Xero

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*One on One is a series of reviews. Instead of a long-winded breakdown, I give you a quick summary along with one positive and one negative. *


So far my One on One reviews have covered 2 of the 5 main bookkeeping apps I use. Today we're going to do a quick review of Xero.

If you follow this industry at all you've heard about Xero. I don't think it's any secret Xero has their sights set on being the company who overtakes Intuit. I mentioned in a previous post that Intuit just announced that QuickBooks Online just surpassed 1,000,000 users. Xero has the silver medal with over 500,000 users. It's no surprise. They have created a very powerful service that offers a lot of power with a large directory of compatible 3rd party add-ons.

Name: Xero

Description: Xero is a full featured bookkeeping service based out of New Zealand. Founded in 2006, it has grown to become the second largest cloud-based accounting software. From the software I've used in my business it comes the closest to replicating the features and power that Intuit has in its offerings. Payroll is still quite basic and not available everywhere. It also doesn't do time tracking so I usually use it with FreshBooks. However, Xero does connect with a wide range of 3rd party offerings to fill in the gaps where it lacks features. You can connect your bank accounts, send out and receive payments on invoices, and track everything your accountant would need from you. The only major feature it's still lacking is inventory, so this is still not suited for any businesses that need inventory management.

Cost: There are 3 price tiers, from $20-40/month. The first tier is quite limited (send 5 invoices per month) and the top tier only adds multi-currency support. Most people will be using the $30/month plan.

One Positive: Bank rules, hands down. Some software will do a fairly good job of learning how to categorize your downloaded bank transactions. This lets you get through bank reconciliations a bit quicker than a fully manual process. Xero takes this 3 steps further with bank rules. You can create simple or complex rules to automatically handle the transactions as they come into Xero. For example:

If the vendor = Staples, then mark this as Office Supplies. That's a really simple example. Take a look at the screenshot below to give you an idea of what you can do. Combine this with Cash Coding, which lets you accept multiple transactions at once, and you can really fly through those bank recs each month.

Xero Bank Rules

One Negative: Reporting. I just can't find a lot of good to say about most of these bookkeeping services when it comes to reporting. Why is this so tricky? The list of reports is a bit bigger than others, but you can't do much in the way of customizing them. I don't have a problem spending the time to create a custom report of my own, but I'm not given the tools I need to make this happen. Xero is tracking the data, so there's a database that contains all the data points I need. Why not give us the ability to dig into our data and report it the way we want?

Final Thoughts: Xero is pretty darn good as an all-around bookkeeping solution. Other services do certain things better. FreshBooks does invoicing better. ADP is much better for payroll. But if you need something to handle your entire business and your business is a bit more complex than what Wave can handle, Xero is a great solution.

5 Reasons You're Wasting Your Money On A Bookkeeper

Don't worry. I haven't lost my mind. I know I have written a few posts over the years telling you why it's important to have a bookkeeper.

What I do see too often though, is people not using their bookkeeper properly. They get the very bare essentials done in order to file their returns each year, and little else.

In my opinion, it's a big waste of money.

Yes, I (or any other bookkeeper) can spend a couple hours and give you a quick report on how you "did" last year. However, most software can do the bulk of that work automatically too. If I spent a couple hours setting up rules in Xero you almost could have it all done by itself.

So, if you're wanting to get a passing grade on "Tracking My Finances 101" that is the lowest you need to set the bar. If, instead, you'd like to grow your business and get the most out of the bookkeeper you hired, here are 5 reasons you are currently wasting your money on your bookkeeper.

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QuickBooks Online: First Impressions

Last week I told you I was about to make the jump to QuickBooks Online. I also said this wouldn't become a site just about QuickBooks. Both of these things are true.

I had a chance to get my client file setup, and put it through a few good tests last week so I wanted to give you my first impressions. Maybe a month or so from now I'll give you another update, once I have really put it through its paces.

The Basics

I won't go into details about the client, but I think it's important to give you an idea of the type of work I'll be doing in QBO. It's a small business with less than 5 employees that will require payroll. It has multiple bank accounts which get quite a lot of daily use. We need to track GST (sales tax), payroll tax, staff health insurance, loans, and shareholder activity. We need to track receivables and payables, and there's a good chance we'll want to eventually setup class tracking and job costing.

I will be reconciling the accounts daily, doing payroll weekly, and providing a basic set of reports weekly with a more detailed set monthly. Payroll remittances are monthly, GST returns quarterly, and then of course prepping for year end. This is all pretty standard stuff, but I think by the end of the year I will have used a large percentage of QBO's feature set.

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