A few years ago I took a quick look at Xero and felt its accounting features were not strong enough to justify changing from MYOB. It was totally online but I didn’t consider the benefits of an online accounting program at all. In October 2012, MYOB released its online version and I was keen to use it. I then began to realize how amazing an online accounting program could be: it offers all the business owners, all the staff, all the consultants, all the tax accountants and in fact anyone who is given permission to access the data file from any internet connected computer from any location at any time. It makes local area networking methods completely redundant.
OK, some people believe online data is a security risk but so much data is online these days, it’s no more risky than that. For someone to get access, they must be invited by the administrator (e.g. the business owner or consultant) and must enter a user ID and password. Access can also be restricted to read only or to specific parts of the data file if required.
However, I quickly realized that MYOB’s online version, AccountRight Live, had all kinds of technical problems and was much slower than the desktop version. The accounting was all there just as before, but that’s probably why it had all the technical problems, maybe it’s just too much to go online.
By comparison, Xero has practically no technical problems, it runs in the browser virtually as reliably as the browser itself. You don’t have to instal anything and updates are frequent and done completely on the Xero side so users just carry on as normal. It’s quick too as it was built from the beginning to run on the internet. However, its accounting features are nothing like as strong as they are in MYOB, they are just OK. They are improving with every update but there are quite a few frustrating inadequacies which you just have to live with or work around.
So in a nutshell, if you want a robust, full featured accounting program and don’t need it online, choose MYOB. If you want a slick online accounting program and can get by with basic accounting features, choose Xero.