Accounting SaaS Comparison: Xero vs Sage vs Quickbooks

A comprehensive look at a few of the most popular accounting SaaS.
Accounting SaaS Comparison: Xero vs Sage vs Quickbooks

Every high-performing startup will outgrow spreadsheets and manual data entry to track financial performance. With growth comes an opportunity to use software solutions designed to automate and streamline operations. 

Accounting software gives your startup the time and room to uncomplicate a typically stress-ridden process of financial reporting and management. 

What accounting SaaS does

Accounting SaaS give businesses a single platform to monitor your business’s finances and generate insightful financial reports. Essentially, accounting software:

  • Helps you do basic invoicing and billing, calculate tax, manage clients, reconcile bank accounts, and track financial metrics.
  • Reduce manual burdens on finance teams, save time and resources, and gives you easy access to all your business’s financial information in seconds.

Why CFOs need accounting SaaS

The role of the CFO has evolved significantly in the era of SaaS software as accounting automation provides businesses with more options.  Gone are the days when CFOs were responsible for ‘just the figures’. 

Now, CFOs sit on the fronline of company growth plans, using financial and operational data for corporate planning, expansion strategy and fundraising.  Cloud accounting software allows CFOs to

  • drive improved collaboration with accountants, bookkeepers and colleagues
  • avoid combing through manually compiled reports and spreadsheets
  • get accurate insights to executives, investors, auditors, or tax authorities
  • use real-time information to refine operations, purchasing, and hiring. 

When your startup begins to scale and you attract the attention of larger customers, investors (and regulators), you need to have a bullet-proof account of all the business’s finance and compliance processes. Accounting SaaS makes it a lot easier for CFOs to achieve this. 

Comparing accounting SaaS: Xero, Sage, and Quickbooks

When considering accounting SaaS, start with the specific needs of your business.

Remember that the software you choose needs to scale with your growth.  Your 10-person team could easliy grow to 50 in a matter of months, and your software stack will need to keep up. Ask yourself: 

  • Is it easy for my finance team to use? 
  • Is it easy to query data and generate reports and financial statements?
  • Will it support accurate reporting and auditing as we scale and complexity ?
  • If the business expands internationally, will this accounting software support different payment methods and currencies, and comply with local sales tax and regulations? 

Let’s have a look at the three most popular accounting SaaS tools among Cledara users: Xero, Sage, and Quickbooks. We will break down each tool’s features, strengths, and limitations.

Xero

First up is Xero, an accounting system born in New Zealand and most popular there, in Australia, in the UK and US, where it’s expanding. Xero is popular with growing start-ups as their platform is straighforward and easy to use. It’s designed for small businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers. Xero helps small business customers pay bills, file tax returns, and claim expenses.

With Xero, users can:

  • Transact in over 160 currencies, get instant currency conversions, view rate changes, report in preferred currencies, and analyze how currency markets impact cash flow
  • Track cash flow with a dashboard, get an overview of the business’s finances in one place, and monitor financial health
  • Match bank transactions, reconcile data with bank feeds and store documents online 

Xero is a favorite among businesses because of its ability to integrate with leading tools such as Stripe, PayPal, Vend, Shopify, and GSuite.

Xero’s features at a glance
Highest rated on G2 for Reducing admin time for finance
Lowest rated on G2 for Customer support services
Other notable features ● Variety of integrations
● User friendly interface
● Value for money
Pricing Starter: $22 per month
Standard: $35 per month
Premium: $47 per month
Website https://www.xero.com/

In their own words: “Xero’s online accounting software connects small business owners with their numbers, their bank, and advisors anytime.”

Look out for Xero’s user-friendly dashboards, mobile app, and comprehensive app store. Some reviews suggest it may not suit larger businesses, and that it has limited financial planning and analysis (FP&A) capabilities.

Make informed software decisions. Book a Cledara demo today.

Sage

Sage Accounting helps finance teams create and track invoices, cash flow, automate admin, and record income and expenses.  One of the big strengths of Sage is that it suits the needs of just about any company, regardless of  industry or size. 

Sage Accounting also supports bank feed integrations covering hundreds of banks, eliminating the need for manual data entry as transactions are automatically imported into your Sage.

Sage’s features at a glance
Highest rated on G2 for Tax calculation
Lowest rated on G2 for Maintenance and updates
Other notable features ● Short learning curve
● Easy integration
● Easy customization
Pricing Sage Accounting Start: $0.32 a day
Sage Accounting: $0.24 a day
Website https://www.sage.com

In their own words: “Take control of your small business bookkeeping with time-saving automation, invoicing, and remote access. Improve cash flow, get paid faster, and get more done.”

Look out for Sage’s strong data visualization, accounts receivable automation capabilities, and affordable pricing tiers for small businesses. But be mindful some reviewers found the initial setup difficult. 

Quickbooks

Intuit Quickbooks collects and collates all your business’s financial information and displays it in easy to digest and manageable reports and visuals. Based in the US and the market leader with over , Quickbooks is often referred to as the ideal solution for small-to-medium sized businesses thanks to its entry-level support and user friendly functions.

Quickbooks integrates with more than 650 third-party solutions such as Paypal, Square, and Shopify. Quickbooks is an all-rounded tool that offers features to manage income, expenditure, planning, profitability, and your teams

Quickbooks features at a glance
Highest rated on G2 for Wage and tax forms for payroll
Lowest rated on G2 for Customization
Other notable features ● Time and expense tracking
● User friendly dashboard
● High quality of generated reports
Pricing Simple Start: $25
Essentials: $50
Plus: $80
Advanced: $180
Website https://www.quickbooks.intuit.com

In their own words: Simplify your accounting. Easily track income, expenses, and more with accounting software designed for all kinds of businesses.”

Look out for Quickbooks’ integrations with third-party apps and easy-to-understand financial statements. But note that some reviewers mentioned rare outages, while others highlighted limits on transactions. 

Summary: Xero vs Sage vs Quickbooks

Xero, Sage and Quickbooks share a number of similarities, but there are also quite a few differences that set them apart in terms of customization, billing and user-friendly interfaces.

Xero Sage Quickbooks
Accounting Solutions ● Connect to your bank
● Customize according to your business needs
● Collaborate in real time
● Multiple layers of protection
● Personalized invoicing
● Customized dashboard
● Regulation and tax compliance support
● Budget management
● Multi-currency
● Employee management
Use cases ● Start-ups
● Company management
● Scaling businesses
● Subscription-revenue business
● SaaS organizations
● Investment ready firms
● Multi-currency operating companies
Third-party integrations More than 1,000
(including PayPal, Vend, Shopify, and WorkflowMax)
Sage Marketplace (third-party apps such as Stripe, Clarity and AutoEntry) More than 650 (including Paypal, Square and Shopify)
Free trial 30-day free trial (cancel at any time) 30-day free trial (full refund within 30 days if you’re not satisfied) 30-day free trial
Entry pricing $22 per month $10 per month $25 per month

Xero is ideal for small businesses and freelancers operating in Australia and New Zealand, owing to its strong grasp of the market in those two countries. 

Quickbooks is well-trusted and well-known by accountants and bookkeepers across the United States, who use it to comply with different state and federal sales tax rules. It’s another good fit for small businesses.

Meanwhile, Sage is the solution that many larger enterprises stick with, given its ability to manage multiple business entities and its broader capabilities around HR, payroll, and payments. 

Make informed software decisions. Book a Cledara demo today.

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Jenny Liu
Head of Finance @ Marshmallow