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Topic # 225732 3-Dec-2017 10:37
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I'm back looking at the accounting software solution question for a bunch of small companies.


Requirements are - 



  • Online - if cloud base (v's hosted internally by us), must be across more than one DC in more than one location with more than one provider (ie I wish to avoid Amazon taking nodes off line in error and taking out our entire accounting system simply because the system was only across one provider in one location pool.)

  • PC based

  • Bank Reconciliation

  • Customer Invoicing

  • Smart GST

  • Job/ Project Tracking

  • Flexible Recurring Transactions / Invoices

  • Stock Management & Contract Pricing

  • Purchase orders

  • Users with different access (eg can access PO but not invoicing etc)

  • Multi currency - eg can link with Paypal downloads and reconcile our US accounts

  • Local back up - ie must be able to extract a human readable (so XML is fine) back up file as often as we like.

  • Affordable Price - SAAS is fine with monthly billing (seems most common today


 


Rod, I suspect Xero meets these requirements, however I read about the whole Amozon thing (well I think it was AWS), but I never read anything about what you did about this.  I did just this past week read about how you're selling a big lump of shares in your company and read people raise questions of confidence about why this has happened.  I do understand that it's very common to sell down shares so you can start up the next thing, so I have no issue with that point, but I do have issue with the AWS issue.  Normally I wouldn't even bother raise this, I'd just ignore Xero as an option, however more and more and more of my 'friends' on line are now using your solution, and while I try not to use Microsoft all the time, there is no denying that Windows is fairly good software (if you can make the implied connections).  Comment from you or your team (more likely) is welcome, though I'm not here to start a flame on this issue, I simply wish to share my reservation.






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  Reply # 1912214 3-Dec-2017 11:02
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"The whole Amazon thing". Are you saying you don't know if AWS is secure? It's used by many many international companies for mission critical data, it's approved by the NZ government for health and personal records below something like "top secret" (I forget the exact level), and they say "security is their highest priority".

 

AWS as a platform is as secure as any platform, and most likely more secure than most data centers. Any platform can be configured to be insecure, but I'm fairly confident Xero hires good people that know what they're doing.

 

Your post probably should be an email to their customer support, not a post on GZ addressing the founder.





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  Reply # 1912224 3-Dec-2017 11:18
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Not enough information there to know what else you should consider i.e. number of users, budget, what is currently in use, etc, but should you trust Xero? Yes. There have been some outages in the past but you can never eliminate this risk completely; and we can only imagine they will have worked hard to learn from it and make things more resilient - part of the reason for them moving to AWS I believe was to be able to be more distributed.

 

I haven't heard about any security incidents, but they have a very active security page at https://www.xero.com/blog/security-noticeboard/

 

Your brief requirements, will not be able to be met within Xero directly, you'll have to use third party add-ons. Are the third party add-ons designed with such a high focus on security and reliability? Haven't tried them so hard to say.

 

You should also look into -

 

  • MYOB AccountRight
  • MYOB Exo (?)
  • Dynamics 365 for Financials

 

 

 


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1912235 3-Dec-2017 11:58
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The amazon thing the OP speaks of is

 

 "A major outage to Amazon’s S3 service in the U.S resulted in numerous AWS services to fail or become degraded. This in turn caused a total outage of Xero, due to numerous impacts across our own platform."

 

see https://www.xero.com/blog/2017/03/reviewing-amazon-outage-learned/

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1912252 3-Dec-2017 13:10
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A lot of companies learned a lot of things during that outage. They had a single point of failure in their systems, which they probably removed. There are probably others, but things will improve.

 

There are regular stories about people putting data on S3 and it being open to the world. S3 data is private by default, you have to explicitly configure it to be publicly accessible.





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  Reply # 1914548 7-Dec-2017 12:22
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djtOtago:

 

The amazon thing the OP speaks of is

 

 "A major outage to Amazon’s S3 service in the U.S resulted in numerous AWS services to fail or become degraded. This in turn caused a total outage of Xero, due to numerous impacts across our own platform."

 

see https://www.xero.com/blog/2017/03/reviewing-amazon-outage-learned/

 

 

 

 

Thanks.  That didn't actually explain what they did about the issue.

 

 





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  Reply # 1914549 7-Dec-2017 12:24
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jnimmo:

 

Not enough information there to know what else you should consider i.e. number of users, budget, what is currently in use, etc, but should you trust Xero? Yes. There have been some outages in the past but you can never eliminate this risk completely; and we can only imagine they will have worked hard to learn from it and make things more resilient - part of the reason for them moving to AWS I believe was to be able to be more distributed.

 

I haven't heard about any security incidents, but they have a very active security page at https://www.xero.com/blog/security-noticeboard/

 

Your brief requirements, will not be able to be met within Xero directly, you'll have to use third party add-ons. Are the third party add-ons designed with such a high focus on security and reliability? Haven't tried them so hard to say.

 

You should also look into -

 

  • MYOB AccountRight
  • MYOB Exo (?)
  • Dynamics 365 for Financials

 

Thanks for the info.

 

I didn't know MYOB was SAAS and Cloud.

 

Don't know anyone using Dynamics.





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  Reply # 1914551 7-Dec-2017 12:27
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Trust in what sense? Trust that your data is private? Trust that the platform performs as required? Trust that your data won't be lost? Trust that they perform background checks and people working for them won't steal your data?





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  Reply # 1914604 7-Dec-2017 14:16
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timmmay:

 

A lot of companies learned a lot of things during that outage. They had a single point of failure in their systems, which they probably removed. There are probably others, but things will improve.

 

 

I personally advised Xero on multiple options they had available to avoid this issue back in 2014 when interviewing for a role there. I turned down the job offer and they obviously didn't implement any of my recommendations.


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  Reply # 1914662 7-Dec-2017 15:08
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Functionally Xero is probably not at the level you need for some of your requested features. It's going to cost more but you could look at something like Dynamics 365 or event Intacct?

 

The price jumps between accounting software i.e. Xero and mid market ERP is pretty big.








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  Reply # 1914848 7-Dec-2017 20:25
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freitasm:

 

Trust in what sense? Trust that your data is private? Trust that the platform performs as required? Trust that your data won't be lost? Trust that they perform background checks and people working for them won't steal your data?

 

 

 

 

Capacity to keep their product online.

 

 

 

I don't accept the suggestion by folk that 100% up time isn't possible and that I should accept a half day off line.

 

 

 

We've watched while discussion unfolded about the need for another cable provider to the US and AU because SXC can't be trusted to keep capacity online.  The same issue applies here.

 

 

 

It's not that SXC aren't competent, or that AWS aren't either, it's simply that stuff fails from time to time.  This is why we have technology like OSPF and BGP in the networking world.

 

 

 

I understand that the whole of AWS didn't fall off line, but a big part did and it just happened to be the bit that Xero was on at the time.

 

I never have a situation where I can't get money - never.

 

But that's not because Westpac never has an issue... it's because I have accounts with more than one bank.

 

I never have a total internet outage.  That's not because my ISP has a perfect network, it's because I have more than one data source.

 

Accounting however is complex and I don't understand hows to meet my requirements.

 

 

 

I also worry about backups.  I've seen the biggest companies just vanish and take their data with them.  Let's not forget what happened with MegaUpload.com. 

 

 

 

Right now I'm working on projects to grow my businesses and that of other peoples.  I worry about getting caught with bad technology choices, so I reach out to the community for advice.

 

 

 

 





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  Reply # 1914901 7-Dec-2017 23:31
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DonGould: ... it's simply that stuff fails from time to time.  ...

I never have a situation where I can't get money - never.
But that's not because Westpac never has an issue... it's because I have accounts with more than one bank.
I never have a total internet outage.  That's not because my ISP has a perfect network, it's because I have more than one data source. ...


You make my point for me. Systems and equipment fail. You should plan for that failure. I plan for a car failure with insurance that includes a rental. You've planned for the bank & ISP failure by having multiple providers. You can have manual processes or 'store & forward off-line processes' that will do a batch submit once the system is back on-line.

 

DonGould: ...  I worry about getting caught with bad technology choices, so I reach out to the community for advice.

 

A very valid point, but this you will only know after the fact. No matter how much you plan. Remember, back in the day, nobody got fired for buying IBM. Five years ago I nearly purchased a vehicle with Microsoft version of CarPlay because of the MS phone usage in my house. In fact, we still have to suffer through the bad choices made with .doc & .xls. Try to find a provider that provides on-lin & off-line functionality. A provider that allows you to export your data in an industry standard format, ideally with geographically distributed data centres. Make sure your data is portable and regularly evaluate the competition. Maybe even pay an auditor to have access to your books and to regularly download a copy into their off-line system (which you regularly audit).


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  Reply # 1914993 8-Dec-2017 08:06
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DonGould:

I'm back looking at the accounting software solution question for a bunch of small companies.


Requirements are - 



  • Online - if cloud base (v's hosted internally by us), must be across more than one DC in more than one location with more than one provider (ie I wish to avoid Amazon taking nodes off line in error and taking out our entire accounting system simply because the system was only across one provider in one location pool.)

  • PC based

  • Bank Reconciliation

  • Customer Invoicing

  • Smart GST

  • Job/ Project Tracking

  • Flexible Recurring Transactions / Invoices

  • Stock Management & Contract Pricing

  • Purchase orders

  • Users with different access (eg can access PO but not invoicing etc)

  • Multi currency - eg can link with Paypal downloads and reconcile our US accounts

  • Local back up - ie must be able to extract a human readable (so XML is fine) back up file as often as we like.

  • Affordable Price - SAAS is fine with monthly billing (seems most common today


 


Rod, I suspect Xero meets these requirements, however I read about the whole Amozon thing (well I think it was AWS), but I never read anything about what you did about this.  I did just this past week read about how you're selling a big lump of shares in your company and read people raise questions of confidence about why this has happened.  I do understand that it's very common to sell down shares so you can start up the next thing, so I have no issue with that point, but I do have issue with the AWS issue.  Normally I wouldn't even bother raise this, I'd just ignore Xero as an option, however more and more and more of my 'friends' on line are now using your solution, and while I try not to use Microsoft all the time, there is no denying that Windows is fairly good software (if you can make the implied connections).  Comment from you or your team (more likely) is welcome, though I'm not here to start a flame on this issue, I simply wish to share my reservation.




No accounting system will do all those things.
You’ll need to use a combination of accounting and 3rd party apps. Xero definitely has the biggest choice of them so will be most likely to fulfill your needs.

Probably something like:
xero for the accounting, workflowmax or simpro for the job and project tracking. For stock management probably something like unleashed.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time investigating all the options, go to a cloud integrator who understands these things like the instillery and they can put together a suite of systems for your needs.

As for ‘uptime’ I think you should consider really how important it is to have ‘100%’ instead of 99.999%. Is it really the end of the world to have a few hours of outages each year? This isn’t life support, it’s accounting. Your businesses can handle a few hours of not being able to do a bank reconciliation each year.

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  Reply # 1915001 8-Dec-2017 08:25
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Does it matter to you in which country your data resides?


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  Reply # 1915030 8-Dec-2017 09:19
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Disclaimer: used to work for Xero.

 

I just wanted to chip in on the availability comments here.

 

Quite frankly, you'll never get 100% availability - it's mathematically impossible and you can always find a what-if X - regardless of how unlikely X is to happen. To be honest its far more likely for your equipment and or internet connection to go down than anything else - which still has the same effect of placing an interrupt on your business.

 

The closer you push to 100% availability, the more money you will need to pay to cover the costs of your provider putting in place all the protections and backups needed to provide that availability level.

 

From a pure ROI standpoint - the $30 (don't know what plan you'd need) you pay per month to Xero provides you with the support of the local teams here in New Zealand (whom I can attest to being staffed with some very talented and dedicated folks) - alongside the millions Xero invests in its tech every year - and the support of a/the biggest global SaaS infrastructure provider on the planet (alongside the billions of dollars they invest in themselves). And thats before you even get into what the product can do for you - which is a lot - especially here in the New Zealand market.

 

Balance that against whatever other product you like, ask a local hosting company to host it for you and ask them for 98%+ availability. There are some great hosting providers here in New Zealand - but I guarantee you that you'll be talking many multiples of $30 per month.

 

So, no, your $30 doesn't buy you 100% availability - but can you name a single product that does?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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