I have Xero, so why haven't I got real time information?

Real time information. This has been the buzz word in accountancy and bookkeeping circles for a couple of years now. Pretty much every article or blog on the subject will try to tempt you away from your beloved excel spreadsheet or your tried and tested desktop software such as SAGE.

Get on the cloud, we cry. Then your business will have real time information so you can see exactly how you are doing at any moment and at any place. This is better than simply looking at your bank account every morning. Make informed decisions. This is real live data.

Let's be honest, it's an easy sell. We all want our businesses to thrive. We all want to make more profit. Lots of us will want our business to grow.

But there's a problem.

The problem is not Xero. That's a fantastic piece of software (I'm biased of course). The problem, I'm afraid, is you.

Let me explain. Imagine SAGE is a gym.

You need to make time to go to the gym called SAGE. You need to change into your gym outfit, gather up your membership card, drink, iPod, towel etc. You need to drive to the gym. Try to find a parking space. Hope that the machines that you want to use are available. To make the most of the effort that it takes to go, you may spend an hour or more there. Possibly take part in a class. When you get home you then have a shower. The whole, I'm just popping to the gym, can take hours.

Although some people will go the gym daily, because of the time it takes most will be once or twice a week. For some it may be a couple of times a year – before holidays or big occasions. For other's it will be a binge job in January.

Xero, however, is like having a cross trainer in a spare bedroom or garage. Now you can work out whenever you want as you have a mini gym in your home. It gives you the opportunity to do a short workout in the morning before work, at lunchtime or in the evening in front of Corrie. There's no commute or finding a parking space. You have the possibility of exercise on tap.

But do you exercise more often? In the first week or two maybe yes. Then you miss a day. Then you hang some clothes on the Xero cross trainer. Then you stop.

And that is the reason why you have Xero but do not have real time information.

So, what can you do?

You find the motivation

If you really want real time information, then you need to change your mindset. You must do your bookkeeping daily.

There are ways of making this easier – you set up bank feeds. You use Receipt Bank. You plug in other apps that fit your industry but you block off the time and you make that daily commitment. Xero is only the tool and it will only work if you use it. There's no silver bullet in this case. Real time information requires work.

You pay someone to motivate you

Like someone who hires a personal trainer to help them to get fit, maybe hiring a bookkeeper is what you need.

And if you get a bookkeeper like me, then we will nag and we will push you. We will make you use Receipt Bank on a daily basis. We will work with you to create systems which fit in with your expectations and desired results.

But as the saying goes, you need to own it, before you can outsource it. So, hiring a bookkeeper doesn't mean that you can pay a monthly direct debit, kick your shoes off and relax. It just means that you can do a lot less work. Not none at all.

You accept that it's not for you

It's okay not to want real time information. If you're not motivated to do the work, then it may mean that you're not excited by the results.

If the only reason for you to do bookkeeping is to complete your VAT Returns and annual accounts, then use Xero for the time savings that it can give you. You may feel that you work in a slower industry, so daily results are unnecessary but monthly or even quarterly is enough. That's okay.

So, to summarise this blog – if you treat Xero like SAGE, you will get the same results as SAGE. Likewise, if you treat SAGE like Xero, you will get the same results as Xero. You'll just have to spend longer doing your bookkeeping and will only be able to view those results when you're sat at the computer which has SAGE installed on it. Other than that – exactly the same!


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