A majority of the businesses that I work with ask me if I am able to integrate their systems with Xero, the software they use for accounting. Most businesses manage several software systems for their daily operations such as a CRM, ecommerce website, inventory system, appointing booking system and much more. However, the software platforms fail to communicate with one another which leads to wasted company resources and inconsistent, incorrect and duplicated data.
Software integrations enable software systems to communicate and move data between one another without the need to double handle. Well engineered integrations enable a business to save time, money and resources instead of manually moving data between systems themselves. Integrations also allow for new internal processes and automations that never existed before.
Different businesses use various software products specific to their industry. However, every business, no matter the industry, requires software for accounting, therefore a significant amount of people utilise accounting software, especially services such as Xero, Quickbooks, MYOB and others. With a user base of over 3.5 million across 180 countries, Xero possess a vast number of companies that utilise its software.
People want to integrate with Xero because they use it as the bedrock of their financial status as a business. To determine their profits and revenue, to manage client invoices, to manage inventory and much more. Therefore, they might want to synchronise data from other software platforms they use. For example, they might want to:
- Integrate Xero with a CRM such as SalesForce to synchronise their client list.
- Integrate Xero with their inventory system to raise invoices from sales orders.
- Integrate data from Xero with their custom software platform for audit purposes.
Many reasons exist to integrate Xero with different software platforms. If Xero fails to integrate with other systems a business must spend valuable time and resources to double handle and synchronise the data by hand. This works in the short term but in the long term it leads to inconsistent data that requires even more resources to fix. Sometimes no data is better than wrong data. In other words, platforms that fail to integrate with one another leads to errors, inconsistencies and wasted resources. A terrible combination.
Enter software integrations.
Why is it difficult to integrate with Xero?
To integrate an application with Xero is not exceptionally difficult for a Software Engineer like myself to accomplish. However, to perform an integration that suits the specific requirements of a client takes time, consultation, resources and money. For example, on the Xero app store it shows that most of the popular applications receive very poor reviews, as per the screenshot below:
These apps provide off the shelf integrations that fail to satisfy the specific requirements of a business. This one size fits all approach works for some but not for others. For example, the Xero app that syncs data between MailChimp and Xero received this review:
“Unless this integration has improved since 3 months ago when we tested it, it is in my opinion not good enough to implement. I would love to see a strong API between these two products as it is a really big gap for accounting firms having to maintain/administer/update one database of clients between two products that don’t communicate to each other.” - See review by Troy Tatam here
He illustrates the problem perfectly, he wants client data synchronised between Xero and MailChimp, however, as he mentioned, the integration fails to synchronise the information to the requirements of his business. With an average star rating of one, the off the shelf MailChimp integration illustrates its failure to satisfy the requirements of several businesses.
Why integrate software platforms with a professional?
If no Xero app exists to integrate a software platform required by a business then not many other options exist. To hire a professional Software Engineer consists of one of the only viable solutions as Xero allows 3rd party developers to build software integrations into its platform. This solution also suits a business that utilises a custom software platform such as a POS or inventory system built solely for their company.
Even if a Xero app exists to integrate a software platform as desired, I still highly recommend, if budget permits, a business to hire a professional Software Engineer or IT expert. To perform these integrations without an expert leads to misconfigurations and errors in their accounting software. Also, the apps may possess limitations, as mentioned earlier, that fail to synchronise the correct data to satisfy the requirements of a business.
If a business lacks the budget to hire a professional I recommend they at least study the apps and integrations they want to use fastidiously. I recommend a business to understand the limitations of the app, to read its documentation to ensure a proper configuration and to read the privacy policies to check that it handles sensitive business information to a high standard. If this proves too difficult then avoid any integrations at all.
A software integration with Xero enables the potential to save a business time, money, resources and improve internal business processes. The alternative to manually synchronise the data leads to worse problems such as inconsistent and incorrect data. I highly recommend a business to hire a local professional to handle their integrations as poor integrations lead to even more problems.
I am a fully qualified Software Engineer and deal with Xero integrations regularly.