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Orbit Accounts or Xero?

Orbit Accounts or Xero?

We are looking to invest in some 'cloud' accounts software that our clients can use. We want it to be simple, reliable and user friendly. The two that have made the shortlist as Xero and Orbit and I was just wondering what experiences any other practices have had in using these.

Any comments you have would be appreciated! 


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14th Jun 2011 13:56

xero for me
I've been using Xero for 4/5 months for a handful of clients and Im really impressed with it, as are said clients. It's very easy to use has all the functionality we needed. My only criticism would be the cost which is rather on the high side.

The main reason Xero was a winner for me was that it was free for me to set up as a partner. Everyone else seemed to be trying to clog me x number of licenses to sell requiring an extortionate upfront investment from yours truly. Since I'm not and never intend to be in the business of flogging software I told them to jog on.

Hope that helps


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14th Jun 2011 14:06

KashFlow for us



I have been using Kashflow for around 18 months, we now have around 120 clients using the software. From a clients perspective it is very intuitive and easy to use.  KashFlow support are also very helpful.  From our perspective we have access to client’s data all year round providing us a real opportunity to add value.


I looked a the cloud offerings on and off for about 18 months before i took the leap and went with KashFlow.  Yes I paid a fee to become a partner but the partner programme carried real value with it.  I can buy licences at a greatly reduced price, any KashFlow users in my area that are not linked to a KashFlow partner will see on their log in that i am a local KashFlow accountant, this has generated a dozen or so clients in the 18 months i have been a KashFlow partner, paying the partner fee at least 10 times over.


At the end of the day you need to trial both, see what works for you but more importantly what will work for your clients, I went with KashFlow first and foremost as I felt it was the best option for my clients and any good practice should have clients at the forefront


Good luck with whatever you go with




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14th Jun 2011 14:10

Recommend Xero

We’ve recently switched to Xero (I run an on-line software company), and I have to say I’m very impressed. We’re using it fairly aggressively – fairly high transaction volumes, large numbers of multi-currency payments and invoices, and I have to say it really is excellent. It certainly beats anything I’ve used so far for multi-currency transactions, doing the right thing in 99% of cases on its own.

Another feature that I very much appreciate is the neat account reconciliation system, which is smart enough to automatically suggest sensible default actions in many cases (indeed, it even watches what you’ve done before).

As, I might add, is the customer service and support.


I can’t talk about Orbit, as I haven’t used it. However, just looking at the Orbit website I have the distinct impression that the people behind Xero are better web developers (which is actually a big deal for this kind of application; in addition to having competent accounting staff to help them figure out what to do, you really do need good web developers).

Anyway, Xero is extremely good and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

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14th Jun 2011 16:13

Kashflow pricing may be changing
Kashflow are currently considering changing their pricing for accountants. They're thinking about scrapping the annual fee, but increasing the cost per company upto around £175 p.a. That's going to cost a lot of money to accountants who have lots of clients. Whether or not they implement the plans is another matter, but it's certainly something you need to bear in mind in your deliberations.

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14th Jun 2011 16:43

No changes to existing customers

 If we do choose a new pricing structure for Orbit (and we may well do) then it wouldn't affect anyone already using Orbit Accounts. They carry on paying what they are if they don't want to change. It'd be shortsighted of us to force chnges like that on anyone.

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14th Jun 2011 18:01

Which ones didn't?

It would be interesting to know what others you looked into, which didn't make the shortlist.

I have been working with freeagent recently (there is an accountants partnership scheme offered through IRIS under the guise of, I think, clearbooks) and I really like it, especially for companies.

I am coming to the conclusion that all of these cloud accounting packages offer something slightly different and would suit different clients, mainly based on their level of IT and bookkeeping knowledge.

Take a look at freeagent, if you haven't already!


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14th Jun 2011 20:54

Why not more than one

Why not get tied in with both or even more and let the client choose what they like best.

I personally tend to recommend KashFlow but I have clients that use FreeAgent and BrightPearl, often due to recommendations from others. Xero is not one I have had much dealings with; however, tomorrow I am going to a seminar to look at their product.

KashFlow/ Orbit really is a great product and they are developing all the time. The best thing about KashFlow in my opinion is that, as you can see above, Duane Jackson the MD, is always available and you can ask him questions and he gives answers.

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By Monsoon
15th Jun 2011 13:17

Accounts Portal or Xero for me

I've not worked much with Xero, but what I have seen, I've really liked. It seems well laid out and simple to navigate.

I have to confess, I honestly don't understand what people see in KashFlow. Most of the accountants and bookkeepers I have spoken to haven't liked it at all, myself included. We must be in the minority because I know KF is very successful, but I have found that the KF files I've worked on (that clients have kept themselves before appointing me) have been incredibly messy and my gut feeling is that the software isn't intuitive and there seems to be a lot of scope for error. Possibly I have just been unlucky to have gotten clients who may have struggled with any type of bookkeeping software correctly, I don't know.

My main gripe is the software's tendency to make it very easy to let users post transactions to the "other" account which is effectively a suspense account, equivalent to 9998 in Sage, which means in some cases I've had thousands of transactions to analyse and journal out to the correct accounts. This includes transactions from a direct feed from Paypal which is supposed to import them and automatically put them in the right place; I don't know if that was KF automatically posting transactions to "Other" or whether that was the way the user set it up, but it really put me off.

It's also worth noting that the TB is not a TB, it's a transactional TB, which is fine, but to get a real TB with b/f bals, you have to run a TB from the year dot to the year end, as opposed to just specifying the y/e as I'm used to with other software. Not a problem but confusing until you know. Also, the nominal ledger report only containts P&L accounts, I have not been able to get a nominal/general ledger report that includes BS accounts, and I had to pull them off manually from various screens, which was frustrating.

I also find the double entry hard to see, and you need to drill down a few levels in some screens to see where it's put things, which takes a bit of time.

Their support has been very helpful on the times I've used it, but my issues seem to have been with the software itself more often than not.

As I said, I know I'm probably in the minority, but I just don't get on with the feel of KF at all. Sorry Duane!

Personally, I really like Accounts Portal and is my online software of choice. The accounting partner package is free and the client accounts are discounted thereafter to £5 per month and it also imports bank feeds. For £5 per month (when a lot of the functionality of higher priced packages isn't useful for the average small business) to me this option is a no-brainer.

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By johnt27
15th Jun 2011 15:42

Xero and Liquid Accounts for me


We've been using Xero and Liquid accounts pretty much ever since they were released in the UK and they are great and getting better. As most other respondents have said Xero is intuitive, has great bank feeds and it's free for accountants to partner with.

Liquid accounts is very similar to Xero but takes the concept one step further, with extras such as payroll processing, order processing, stock management etc. If you were to compare the two to boring old Sage products Xero is like Line50 or Instant and Liquid is like 200 only much better :)

It has to be said we considered some of the other options available such as Freeagent and Orbit but they didn't really do everything we wanted from them, plus the costs didn't seem to provide sufficient benefit when comapred to the above.

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By Dukus
15th Jun 2011 17:35

Orbit Accounts or Xero?


We were approached about 3/4 years ago by a client of ours who was using freeagent and asked whether we would be prepared to support him and this software. We agreed to this now four years on, we have integrated freeagent into our practice and our back office, we use Digita to produce accounts, and it all works well.

Most of our clients are freelancers and contractors and we only have a handful of clients who do not use Freeagent, not one of these is because of the the product, one is an excel trainer, who likes to keep her records on spreadsheets, and the others are clients who like to do their bookkeeping on the train into London, and internet connectivity can be an issue on all cloud based products.

My main point with freeagent is their excellant customer support, which does not surprise me that it wins awards, this enables my practice not to have to support freeagent queries, check out their getsatisfaction website, this has saved me substantial staff time.

I would also say that their staff are prompt knowledgable and straightforward, which from experience is refreshing in a software company. I have never considered changing from freeagent which I suppose sums it all up.



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16th Jun 2011 11:10


I've used Kashflow and Xero, Xero is probably more appropriate for bigger clients, but I'm not particularly keen on it.  It is quite inflexible and doesn't (or didn't when I was using it), have online VAT filing or Fixed Rate Scheme options.  The upside of Xero is the ability to have users with different permissions, plus they don't require Accountants to pay extortionate sums to be 'Partners' (I, like many accountants, have zero interest in becoming a volume software seller).  I've heard that the ability to import bank transactions is a strong feature with Xero, but haven't actually tried it.  Foreign transactions are fairly easy to handle in a cost! 

Kashflow isn't too bad, more suited to smaller clients.  It handles Flat Rate Scheme, albeit incorrectly when there is a change in FRS rates and the client is also on cash accounting.  The major weakness is the VAT, which isn't particularly robust, so you have to keep an eye on calculations.

The downside of almost all these cloud systems is that you have to pay a separate licence for each business, so it can get expensive.

There is at least one free cloud accounting system called  I haven't used it, but a couple of clients do, and no complaints so far.  This is probably only suited to micro clients and, being free, don't expect full functionality and always keep a back up in case the business model fails.

For use as an accountant I prefer QuickBooks desktop, which is much quicker to use and offers the very significant advantage of being able to switch between windows at a click, so I can immediately see the impact of any adjustments on VAT returns, P & L, Balance Sheet, Trade debtors and creditors, etc.  None of the cloud systems seem to offer this facility, which is a shame and reduces their functionality and speed of use.  The reporting is also much more powerful, as is the 'find' function.  The layout of exported reports in Excel is also much better.  Kashflow for example just more or less dumps a csv file and leaves the user to format it every time.  The VAT report on Kashflow doesn't even have details of the supplier name and nominal account the posting was made to, making it very difficult to quickly check VAT returns.  QuickBooks is now much more robust for VAT and offers the advantage that you can run as many clients on it as you want for a fixed price and use it as long as you want before buying an upgrade.

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16th Jun 2011 17:42

Arithmo Online Accounting Software


Best to test all systems and see which one fits your practice and your clients needs best.

To trial our system, Arithmo:

Click on the below link

Look forward to hearing your feedback


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16th Jun 2011 23:19

Flat Rate VAT in Xero


Support for FRS was introduced in Xero about a year or so ago,

There's also a restricted Cashbook only pricing plan which is only available to Xero accounting partners for £9 per client per month which might suit smaller clients who don't need the all the functionality of the full version.

Gary Turner
Managing Director, Xero


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17th Jun 2011 09:56

VAT reporting

My recollection, although I haven't used Xero much, is that Xero does do a FRS VAT calculation, but the user has to manually put through the adjustments.  Then, the user has go to the HMRC portal to file the VAT return online, risking the possibility of input errors when transferring from one system to the other.

It seems that Xero has been adapted from a New Zealand system and this is apparent in some areas, particularly VAT where they haven't bothered to integrate online VAT filing.  It reminds me of a system which I used when I was doing my training more than a few years ago, where one of the codes on the nominal list was a Sheep Dipping account!

Kashflow does the FRS adjustment for you and enables you to file the VAT return online directly from the software, so less risk of errors creeping in.  The downside with Kashflow is that there is no facility to easily amend the figures if Kashflow VAT reporting is incorrect (which has been the case on several occasions)  Therefore there are situations where you are unable to file a VAT return online because the figures are wrong.

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17th Jun 2011 11:08

Xero does FRS

No manual adjustments are required. It would be nice if they did online filing.

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20th Jun 2011 08:21

Xero or Orbit - It depends on your clients

Hi Gail,

I think the answer is "it depends on your clients" - and you may find that SAAS/Cloud accountancy services have different advantages for different types of client. If all your clients have their differences then you could expect all SAAS providers to hev differences too and an expectation that "one size fits all"  may be a dis-service to your clients.

If you were seeking a  solution that fits into your BLISS service then it seems to me that FreeAgent is an excellent option based on 1) easy of use for the client 2) reporting information for the client 3) Integrated payroll 4) year end procedure for the accountant 5)pricing for an accountant/client  6) management controls for the accountant 7) positive community surrounding the application, its clients and the accountants 8) reliability of service

Other types of business size may need different servics and so a different type of cloud service may be more suitable.

Could your clients be using more than one application ? Which target size of business is your first consideration ?

I hope that helps.


-- Accounting the PaperLess way™

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20th Jun 2011 10:42


We now use FreeAgent for all our new clients as opposed to our in-house software, which will eventually be phased out, just leaving us with FreeAgent.

In our experience, our clients find it logical, aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, there are regular upgrades and any suggestions for improvements are taken on board by the FreeAgent team.  There are also some clever "add ons" from outside providers and apps to make life simpler

Their support, if needed, is second to none, quick and concise. 


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