Chartered Tax Advisers & Accountants

My Making Tax Digital Blog, Part IV, which software solution is right for you (and me)?

Published On: 02 May 2017
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If you were with me last time, I finished my last blog by noting that the cloud accounting software supplier XERO are advertising rather a lot on the radio at the moment.  Fair enough, they recognise that there is likely to be a lot more interest in their product in the next few months as small businesses realise that they will almost certainly have to do something about Making Tax Digital.  However, the fact that they are not taking part in the HMRC pilots (which is what HMRC told me) does make me think they are piggy-backing on everyone else’s efforts.

I have used XERO for some time now.  Generally, it’s pretty good.  However, their customer service is increasingly found wanting – something that I believe M&S, despite their ‘Silver Supplier Status’ are also experiencing.  To make matters worse, XERO was recently brought down by the recent outage of Amazon’s servers.  OK, that can happen, but there are two things that worry me (as a user) about this.

Firstly, XERO went down on the last day of February.  Many businesses still bill at month’s end.  I had one bill which I hadn’t been able to send because I was waiting for confirmation of a detail, so I was going to send it on the evening of the  28th February.  I wasn’t able to do so and tweeted to XERO to see what was happening. The response could have been better worded…


Secondly, bearing in mind that XERO is a New Zealand company, it was then reported in that country that “Cloud accounting company Xero says it didn't know it was entirely reliant on a United States storage facility operated by Amazon Web Services until it crashed.”  I can hardly believe that’s true, but if it is then it is very worrying indeed.  A company whose entire business is based in the cloud must surely know where its services are hosted!

As my regular reader knows, as well as using XERO, I am also road-testing FreeAgent, as part of the HMRC pilot for MTD.  So far, it seems easier to use.  Because I’m part of the pilot, I get FreeAgent FOC, but that also means that I have to answer questions every time I log on and also on other occasions when FreeAgent want to find out what I think about their system.  That’s fine, but what will matter will be how they respond when I have a real problem.  At present, I am seriously thinking of switching from XERO to FreeAgent.  I’ll keep you posted!

Alastair Blair, thePotentMix