A comparison between Xero and Calxa for financial reporting
We often get asked why do I need Calxa? What does Calxa have that I cannot do in Xero? Our reply usually starts with a return question: “What is it you are trying to achieve?”
For many businesses, using their in-built reports in their accounting system is enough. But, when do you need to look outside and find more depth? This article will help you along the way of answering some reporting questions and get you closer to making an informed decision.
Xero does a great job of organising your accounting. But what about the reports? Will it do everything you need or are there times you need more? The answer largely depends on your needs and those of your business. Compared to what it initially was like, Xero’s reporting has advanced in leaps and bounds and the in-built reports may prove enough for many needs.
What reports to you need to keep your government, and especially your tax department, happy? Generally, you can get most of these reports out of Xero. It will tell you how much GST you need to remit. And, at the end of the year it has the information your accountant needs for your income tax return – especially if you’ve used the fixed assets.
On a month-to-month basis, you can get the staple of most reports on sales, purchases and inventory. You can see who owes you money and who you need to pay. The Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet reports are the main reports most people use and Xero serves this well (some may quibble about the limited range of comparisons but, usually, those aren’t things you would lose sleep over).
Unlike other systems such as QuickBooks or MYOB, Xero’s chart of accounts is very flat – there are no header accounts, no grouping or summarising of data. Calxa worked around this a few years back by introducing Account Trees but now you have similar (and in some ways better) functionality in Xero itself. Report Layouts give you that option of grouping and summarising your accounts, of moving them around, of adding formulas (you need to be careful where you place formula rows as they can lead to odd results, but in the right spot they are great).
We just mentioned that some people will find the P & L and Balance Sheet comparisons limiting (like comparing to the same month last year or the end of last year). While the organisation level budget reporting is generally functional, many people find the reporting on Tracking Category budgets very limited.
And, like most accounting systems, Xero is very much focussed on what’s happened in the past. There’s no cashflow or balance sheet forecast to help you predict the future.
When does your Business need more?
It’s time to look for an add-on solution when:
- Your bank needs a 3-way forecast (profit & loss, balance sheet and cashflow projection)
- You need to create your own KPIs to measure and monitor your performance
- You need charts that are easy to understand
- You want to automate delivery so your reports come to you every month rather than you having to remember to find them
When does your Not-for-Profit need more?
All except the smallest NFP needs better reporting for:
• Board reporting. Don’t spend 3-4 days with spreadsheets. Automate!
• Grant acquittals. They’re all different and you need a flexible way to manage them.
• Tracking categories. Your program managers need the right information in a timely fashion (not just actuals compared to budget but how much is unspent?)
• Automate delivery to all of your stakeholders – board, management, supervisors, all with the right level of detail.
When does your Accounting or Bookkeeping Practice need more?
When you want to automate the delivery of reports to your clients so that you can provide them with a valuable service at minimal cost:
- Create a personalised Report Bundle for each client and schedule delivery each month (schedule to yourself the day before if you need to review it).
- Use the auto-budget if they don’t have their own. It will be a great conversation starter.
- Add a couple of KPI charts to suit their industry.
- Set up in half an hour and deliver on schedule every month.
- Your clients will love you for it!
Most reporting add-ons provide a free trial that allow you to compare the reports. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial with Calxa and link to your Xero data to check out the many report templates and see if it suits your needs.