As a CEO of a time tracking software company, I need to know what my competitors are up to. That means I’m often researching about and/or playing around with their products… you know, it’s part of the job. Here, I share my findings from that research, giving credit to those competitors where credit is due and being honest about which products I believe you really need to avoid. And so, there you have it, this review. And in it, I try to be honest, fair, and insightful.
This review covers:
- What Do Users Like about Xero Projects?
- What Don’t Users Like About Xero Projects?
- What Pricing Plans Does Xero Projects Offer?
- What are the Standout Features of Xero Projects?
- Selected Positive User Feedback
- Selected Negative User Feedback
- What are Xero Projects’ Review Ratings from Review Sites?
- What’s My Final Verdict on Xero Projects?
Xero is known and loved all over the world as an accounting software, but did you know that they also have a time tracking and job tracking software that sits within and integrates seamlessly with Xero? Today, we will review Xero Projects and see what it has to offer, and how it can impact your business. So sit back, relax, and let’s zero in on the subject.
Xero Projects is a time tracking and job-tracking tool inside Xero that is marketed as a profitability software. It allows users to track time and expenses against projects or work, streamlines quoting and invoicing, and makes project progress and profitability monitoring a breeze in comparison to paper-based systems.
With Xero Projects, the entire process of working on a project from its inception to completion is simplified and contained all in one place. New projects can be created with just a few clicks and a little bit of input. For every new project, relevant team members can be assigned, and the work can be broken down into tasks with time estimates and charge rates for granular monitoring of expenses. The sum of the estimated expenses plus markup can be sent as a quote to the customer, and once greenlighted, the project can proceed. As the project moves along, worked hours can be monitored and actual expenses can be recorded and compared to estimates to ensure that projects remain profitable and on track. Xero Projects also allows users to send invoices based on the captured data to customers, and receive payments online.
In addition to all of these, because Xero Projects sits natively within Xero, users can also streamline processes further by using Xero features. This allows them to recover staff expenses by assigning them to projects through Xero Expenses, as well as link invoice line items, spend money transactions, and bills. They can also create new quotes or link existing ones, and add inventory items and customer and supplier credit notes to projects. This means that all project components are contained in one well-integrated ecosystem that eliminates the need to jump from software to software to keep a hawk’s eye on projects and address multiple workflow factors, avoiding duplication and helping save time and resources.
What Do Users Like About Xero Projects?
- Fuss-free setup with a low learning curve
- Ease of use
- An uncomplicated and well-designed interface
- In-depth and highly actionable reports
- Excellent customer support
- Automated accounting processes save time and effort
What Don't Users Like About Xero Projects?
- Not a complete project management solution
- Lacks key project management features such as shift scheduling and planning
- No central communication solution and document management feature
- Manual recurring payments and transaction approval are time-consuming and counterintuitive
- Pricing and features are not friendly to small businesses compared to similar software
- Simple to the point of being basic
- Limited staff access
- Usage by untrained personnel may result in accounting faux pas
What Pricing Plans Does Xero Projects Offer?
If you’re already using Xero, Xero Projects is an add-on that costs $7 for one user per month, plus $5 per additional active user per month.
If you don’t use Xero yet, you’ll have to subscribe to one of the three plans first to be able to buy and use the Xero Projects add-on; the Starter Plan costs $25 per month, the Standard Plan is priced at $40 monthly, and the Premium Plan is at $54 every month.
What are the Standout Features of Xero Projects?
1. Straightforward Time Tracking
Xero Projects simplifies time tracking with its very straightforward start-and-stop timer on desktops or mobiles. It cuts out all the frills and thrills and focuses on the functionality of the feature with a clean and uncluttered interface with a highly visible and responsive start/stop button.
If location is crucial to the job, Xero projects can be set up to auto-track time by location on mobile, which allows the mobile app to automatically track time when an employee enters or exits the 100-meter radius of a pre-defined job site. Xero Projects creates a suggested time entry that users can review and then save or discard. All it needs is the on-ground user’s permission to access their location, which can be revoked at any time if necessary. Xero projects can support up to twenty locations at a time for auto-tracking, which can be managed by editing details, enabling and disabling auto-tracking for chosen locations, and deleting locations from the list to make room for new ones.
Time can also be manually logged by clicking the menu icon on any particular project and adding the duration of hours worked, or start and end periods. For the second option, Xero projects will automatically calculate worked hours and eliminate the potential for human error through manual calculation.
The data captured by the manual timer, location-based auto-tracker, and manual log are automatically organized into timesheets that reflect worked hours and rates that can be compared against time estimates and expenses to ensure that projects are progressing as they should, helping businesses deliver on time by meeting estimated timelines and budgets.
2. Easy and Accurate Expense Tracking
Xero Projects allow users to track expenses easily and accurately from the get-go. With its expense tracking tools, Xero Projects enables businesses to see how much a project will cost by creating estimated expenses during the planning stages of a project, before creating a project quote. Later on, actual expenses are tracked against the estimate to ensure that the project is running on budget.
The beauty of the Xero Projects expense tracking system lies in its simplicity. Users can see everything they need to know about the project in one dashboard — estimate, invoiced amount, time and expenses, deadline, tasks, and itemized expenses that automatically show if it is untracked. Plus, the project bar on each item is a great visual indicator that shows users if they’re still operating within estimates or if they’ve already gone over them at a glance. Drop-down sections on each expense item dive into expense details and show exactly where users may have exceeded estimates, providing insight into their next moves so that they can realign and ensure that the project remains profitable.
As projects move forward, expenses can be easily added and tracked against estimates by adding them directly to the project using the Add button near the top right of the project dashboard. To keep things organized, Xero Projects will prompt users to enter details such as the name of the expense, its quantity, unit price, and markup percentage. From these, Xero Projects automatically calculates the total cost to the user and tracks the total expense amount against estimates. Employee expenses and mileage claims can also be assigned to projects, enabling businesses to recover every cent spent on the job.
The Xero Projects expense tracking system is a great way to ensure that projects don’t go over expense thresholds, provide clear documentation of what goes into completing a project, and remain profitable.
3. Flexible Invoicing
Invoicing is made easier, faster, and more precise with Xero Projects. The data captured by the time and expenses trackers are automatically calculated and organized in error-free invoices that cut down on the time traditionally required for invoices to accurately reflect costing and markup using spreadsheets or paper-based systems.
Xero Projects can generate four types of invoices, namely the deposit invoice, tasks and expenses invoice, project amount invoice, and the accepted quote invoice. Once a quote has been sent to and accepted by the client, they need to be sent an accepted quote invoice that details the agreed-upon price of the project. After that, businesses may send them a deposit invoice to request a deposit to make the project run, which can be applied to future invoices. Tasks and expense invoices itemize chargeable tasks and expenses that haven’t been covered by other invoices yet. A lump sum may also be requested from clients using the project amount invoice, which is very useful for projects that don’t need to show chargeable tasks and other details or for projects that need to be paid all in one go.
The line items associated with any particular project are automatically listed when an invoice is made from the project, and additional line items can be added at any time. Similarly, details can be edited or removed according to need. All changes are automatically reflected on the Invoiced total which appears near the top of Xero Projects’ Quotes and Invoices tab, allowing users to monitor numbers and progress with ease. To further enhance the streamlining of payments, users can add a Pay Now button that allows clients to send their payments online in just a matter of clicks. Now that’s intuitive!
4. In-Depth Reporting on Project Profitability
Xero Projects is laser-focused on ensuring that projects are profitable. This is evident in the way that its time and expense tracking functions are designed for real-time changes versus estimates through the progress bar. But beyond the visual cues offered by the progress bar, Xero Projects offers some serious data-crunching capabilities through its thorough and very insightful reporting functions.
An overview of a project’s profitability can be seen in the dedicated Profitability dashboard, which may be accessed by admins on Xero Projects for web. It displays a variety of figures, charts, and tables that map out how profitable or financially healthy a project is. Key data such as comparisons of profit or loss calculated from the total invoiced amount minus the total project cost, total invoiced amount versus estimate, breakdown of costs and expenses incurred by the project, and more are displayed in simple but highly understandable visuals.
If you need to go even deeper into the numbers, Xero Projects offers even more insights with highly specific reports such as Project Summary, Project Financials, Project Detailed Time, Project Staff Time Overview, And Project Details.
The Project Summary report shows a basic summary report of the financial aspects of the project within a date range, covering the three transaction stages: Cost, Charge, and Invoiced. Cost refers to the expense a task or material a project incurs, or how much something costs the business to do or acquire for a project. Charge is what the business can hypothetically charge for such an expense, which includes the markup. Invoiced is the amount that the business charged and invoiced the client for the expense. This report can be customized to either show the profitability of a project across a date range with filters for a granular look at the three distinct stages, or without any filters for a view of the bigger picture.
On the other hand, the Project Financials report tracks expenses against budget. It helps businesses adjust work to address potential issues and ensure future projects are costed accurately by pulling from historical data. Like the Project Summary report, it also shows the distinct stages of an expense across a date range with customizable filters.
The Project Detailed Time Report allows businesses to see the time teams spend on specific projects and how much of that is chargeable, as well as find time entries that haven’t been invoiced yet. The Project Time Staff overview goes deeper into the data and enables employers to see where individual team members’ hours are spent, the completion status of their time entries, and if they’re meeting their targets for chargeable hours. Both reports can be customized to show the distinct stages and desired level of detail and date range like the previously discussed reports.
For a more comprehensive view of any project, the Project Details report offers an in-depth look at every estimate, expense, and invoiced amount, and how they contribute to the health of the project. Like the other reports, it can be customized to reflect the distinct stages, desired date range, and level of insight, as well as other details like Project Item Type, Charge Amount, and Supplier.
These indicators are important in ensuring that businesses are treading the right path when running their projects — after all, the key difference between winning and losing is knowing the numbers. Xero Projects does quite a good job of doing all the calculating and heavy lifting for its users. With this level of depth in reporting, Xero Projects users are enabled to scrutinize all the nooks and crannies of a project’s profitability, arming them with highly valuable insight for use in present and future actions.
Selected Positive User Feedback:
- “…Allows my company to keep track of expenses, revenue, and aging receivables in a timely and organized fashion. Its dashboards provide us with a bird’s eye view of the state of our company’s finances. There is a relatively low learning curve, especially for users who aren’t from finance/accounting backgrounds.” Daniel V. (Source G2)
- “Paying employees, managing expenses and overviews of ingoings and outgoings” Shania G. (Source G2)
- “Modern architecture = it seldom breaks….” Brett W. (Source G2)
- “The reports it generates… are extremely helpful for us, allowing us to make automatic comparisons that allow us to foresee where we are financially, in cases of human error allows us to go back and make the necessary corrections which makes the failures are not a headache in terms of transactions.” Samantha M. (Source G2)
- “The dashboard is clean, designed intuitively, and thus visually making it easy to get a snapshot of your financial situation at first glance. The software also makes robust offerings… which can be helpful for small businesses hoping to simplify their operations forcefully.” Craig C. (Source G2)
- “Great accounting for the modern entrepreneur that is cloud-based and wants insight to their company while providing the tools… to do their job while removing the burden on the small entrepreneur from being buried in paperwork 🙂” Andreas L. (Source GetApp)
- “I give thumbs up to the… complex features for project accounting and financing. Managing cash outflow and inflow is another thing that I like.” Brittany N. (Source GetApp)
- “Everything is easy to do and easy to find.” Rebecca B. (Source GetApp)
- “Extremely easy set-up process – almost like plug & play, excellent dashboard… project tracking and automatic updates, very supportive & available customer support, integrates with payroll” Gethsun M. (Source GetApp)
- “Easy to use, things make sense and there’s plenty of support via help forums, YouTube, or customer services.” Mark W. (Source Capterra)
- “It aids in keeping track of expenditures to prevent overspending and in identifying unpaid invoices. By automating routine accounting processes like billing and invoicing, Xero has made my bookkeeping far more efficient and streamlined.” Shayla B. (Source Capterra)
- “Customer service is great, even for an SMB like ours, we get good response times and knowledgeable people. The system is very easy to use and has great functionality for managing our sales and supplier invoices so that we can keep track of our cash flow accurately.” Karl W. (Source Capterra)
- “I love it because it is intuitive which allows me to track transactions, generate real-time reports, and view my financial reports efficiently. The ease and flexibility to customize reports provide so much convenience for me.” Catherine B. (Source Capterra)
Selected Negative User Feedback:
- “Very good intentions but poor results so far.” Francisco Alcantara Spinola (Source Xero App Store)
- “…notes fields is definitely needed. Linking a project to a PO would be great or just a ref box to enter the client PO to it. Additionally, since Files exist in Xero, why not link the Projects files too? I was looking for an attach button to get the technical info of the projects. These simple additions would boost the productivity of the Projects section.” Suleyman Yildiz (Source Xero App Store)
- “Far too basic. What the hell guys, I know you don’t want to duplicate workflowmax, but this is lame! Can’t even put a note against a project or task to store basic info, and can’t link a PO number to a project. Currently, these are deal breakers, and make the addon useless – pity – I liked the Trello integration. Add some basic functions and I’ll try it again in 2024. Btw WFM also needs an overhaul as it hasn’t evolved much since I started using it ten years ago – what are you devs doing to earn their wages?” Ian Adams (Source Xero App Store)
- “Where Xero Projects is most lacking, considering its intention as a financial tracking tool is its inability to link to any quotes. While quote functionality exists in Xero, there is currently no integration with Xero Projects. This has been identified by the team at Xero Projects as an item on its roadmap for future development… If you are only concerned with tracking the financial progress of a project through time and expenses and want a familiar invoicing process with complete integration to Xero, then Xero Projects could be the software for you. While its limitations in quoting, customization & reporting are prevalent, it has the essential functionality to ensure small businesses can be in control of their projects.” (Source Business Continuum)
- “Where it falls down is in the trade sector, where a dedicated add-on such as Tradify or Servicem8 is your best bet with their fantastically focused trade workflow.” Shane Scott (Source Illumin8)
- “Xero Projects will probably never become a full project management solution. That would require planning and scheduling, client collaboration, document management, and customizable alerts and notifications. We’ve learned that Xero likes to focus on the accounting aspect of things, not necessarily the operational side of running your business.” Inbal Rodnay Steinberg (Source Digital First)
- “Xero Projects can’t handle serious job tracking. Watertight project management prevents leakage, such as failing to charge supplier invoices to a client. It also includes bulk billing clients or attributing a supplier invoice to multiple jobs. If you need these then you will find Xero Projects somewhat frustrating. It is better to stay with Workflowmax or one of its equivalents.” Inbal Rodnay Steinberg (Source Digital First)
- “Projects is great at what it does. But if you need a full-blown collaboration and communications tool along the lines of Asana or Monday.com, you will be disappointed. It’s simply not made for that kind of project management. Key features missing for larger teams include capacity planning, WIP reporting, and revenue recognition. The reviews in the Xero App Store do suggest that people find it a bit basic.” Rory Finegan (Source Beyond)
- “Xero Projects does not offer any employee management or scheduling features. So managers cannot use this software to assign shifts or schedules or monitor real-time shift updates. Not to mention, Xero does not let managers assign multiple employees to the same task. So team members cannot work or collaborate on tasks together. Users can’t even create their own tasks (managers have to assign them individually). All of this takes up a lot of manual time and energy and hampers productivity and efficiency.” (Source Time Doctor)
- “Xero payroll offers limited invoicing and billing features in all of their plans. For instance, you can set up recurring invoices for your employees but you can’t enable automatic recurring payments. Moreover, even if you do set up manual recurring payments, managers will have to reapprove the transaction each time to mark the invoice as paid. This process alone will waste a lot of time and energy.” (Source Time Doctor)
- “Xero offers three paid plans, two of which do not offer time tracking features. So users will have to pay $47 per month to be able to track their project time. This is not an ideal arrangement for freelancers or startups who are just starting out their business. Moreover, other online accounting software such as FreshBooks, ZohoBooks, or QBO offer more affordable and convenient time tracking features in their basic plans.” (Source Time Doctor)
- “Limited Staff Access. Many employees can not use Xero as accounting professionals use it. There is some extent to the limit for the staff of the company to use it.” (Source Meru Accounting)
- “A person who does not have the idea regarding the use of the Xero software may end up doing scrupulous bookkeeping activity. Although Xero is software for accounting, it needs some basic understanding of bookkeeping. While using Xero, it is essential that the trained professionals use it.” (Source Meru Accounting)
What are Xero Projects' Review Ratings from Review Sites?
(As of 27/08/2023)
- Xero App Store: 3/5
- Merchant Maverick: 4.5/5
- Google Play: 4.2/5
- App Store: 4.6/5
What's My Final Verdict on Xero Projects?
Xero Projects is a nifty add-on to Xero that really helps boost productivity with its amazing capability to deliver in-depth insight into project health and profitability. Its robust reporting features with a variety of report types and customizable granularity are very helpful in helping businesses know exactly where they stand on projects, ensuring that every cost, expense, and invoice is recorded accurately and can be compared against estimates and budgets with relative ease. What I absolutely love is the little progress bar that shows how certain tasks or expenses track against estimates — it’s a very small but important visual detail that makes life easier for users because it informs them where they are doing well or going over thresholds with just a glance.
The uncomplicated and well-designed interface, ease of use, fuss-free setup, and straightforward learning curve also deserve praise. I admire the fact that Xero Projects revolves around the concept of simplicity, and in an era of “bigger is better”, this approach is a refreshing take on things.
However, its emphasis on simplicity might also be its downfall. Aesthetics aside, Xero Projects feels very stripped-down to the point of being basic. Case in point: document management capabilities are very rudimentary, and it lacks attendance, shift scheduling and planning capabilities, a centralized communication solution, and accountability features to protect employers from time theft shenanigans. While it does speed up some processes with automations, it is frustratingly counterintuitive where repetitive manual input and permissions are required. It is not a complete project management solution, and the features it offers for its price point may not be favorable for small businesses and startups on limited budgets — they can get better deals and more features from Xero Projects’ competitors, and comprehensive project management solutions that cover most important areas at that. Staff access is also very limited, and untrained individuals may cause accounting havoc when left to operate Xero Projects on their own.
To sum it all up, Xero Projects lives up to its name as a productivity booster. However, it lacks crucial elements to be considered a competitive project management software. You should only use Xero Projects if you have low complexity operations, already use Xero, fully understand its limitations, and can live with the lack of certain important features. Otherwise, you should be looking for a better option.
It’s straightforward and uncomplicated. It is designed around the concept of simplicity, and that is a refreshing take on things in this era of “more is better”. This is reflected in its well-designed interface and no-nonsense and in-depth reporting.
It’s not a complete project management solution — it lacks some very important features such as shift scheduling and planning capabilities, a centralized communication solution, and accountability features to protect employers from time theft shenanigans.