Xero VS Sage Intacct

In Business Management Software, Sage Intacct by Hannah Munro

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The first thing to point out that comparing Sage Intacct vs Xero is like comparing a raw apple to a homemade apple crumble with Madagascan vanilla custard. They both technically could be served for pudding, one is great if you are on a restricted diet and limited calorie count (think budget) but if you had the choice and calories weren’t an issue, you would choose the crumble. I will just add that if you are choosing the apple over crumble regardless of calories then we really cannot be friends!

All food metaphors aside, the reality is that Xero and Sage Intacct are aimed at two different markets. Xero is more designed for small businesses and start-ups (think along the same lines as QuickBooks and Sage 50) whilst Sage Intacct is designed for the rapidly growing business that needs to scale or medium-size organisations. So, this article is less focused on should you pick one or the other but more around what are the reasons that you might choose to upgrade from Xero to Sage Intacct.

Customer Satisfaction for Xero vs Intacct

We have talked about the target audience for both and I think it’s important to note that both products are very successful where they have a good fit for the organisations’ size and needs. That is fairly evident in the G2 satisfaction scores. In the small segment, Sage Intacct scores an 83 and Xero scores an 82 in terms of customer satisfaction. When you shift to look at the medium segment, Xero drops to 72 and Sage Intacct shoots up to 94. So, why is there such a shift between those segments?

A lot of this can be explained by the change in the requirements of a scaling business VS a small business. A small business needs simplicity and only has a small budget which Xero meets perfectly. In fact, quite a few users rave about how easy it is to set up and navigate. It also means that new users do not need a huge amount of training and the time to be live is quick. I will also add that most businesses using it do so through their accountant and they aren’t necessarily managing their own financials or doing their own reporting, which is where the cracks start to show.

Increased flexibility and Control

As businesses grow, they require more complexity. They need their software to adapt to their requirements whether that is adding in custom fields, building different transactional workflows or perhaps adding in additional levels of controls, such as authorisation or spend controls around purchase orders, purchase invoices and purchase payments. That ability to set budgets and give users visibility of current spend as well as analysing that budget against departments or other cost centres is one area that can cause a user to upgrade their systems. However, one thing I will say is fantastic about both systems is that they are both focused on the financial operations of the business, they are not trying to be all things to all people. They both have a great network of prebuilt apps for things such as expenses, CRM, and AP automation that you can plug in to expand the capabilities.


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Reporting in Xero Vs Intacct

One thing that is apparent from the reviews is that the lack of reporting capability within Xero is causing some real frustrations. I will however counter that with the fact that if all you need is basic reporting information; Xero will very likely suit you fine. It is the businesses that want to extend their reporting and get real-time insight and drillable visibility into their business financials that struggle. Examples of this would be custom P&L layouts that give you visibility of budget vs actuals, analysing that across departments, customers or projects, etc, can be cumbersome if not impossible within Xero. Dashboards & Reporting is an area that Sage Intacct excels at. Its multi-dimensional nominal structure and drillable reporting dashboards allow users to build custom reporting packs for all levels of the business. There are also pre-built reporting packages for specific industries such as SaaS, Non-Profits, etc that allow users to get up and running quickly. The short answer to this is that if you are spending lots of time exporting data and manipulating it in excel then you are more than likely at the point that you need to re-evaluate your reporting functionality.

Multi-Company Management in Xero vs Intacct

Xero is not designed to manage multiple entity setups which makes consolidation and cross entity transactions challenging. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum Sage Intacct has the ability to automatically consolidate multiple entities, automatically removing inter-entity transactions and process cross entity journals that auto post the inter-entity “due to” and “due from”. You can even take that a step further with the dynamic allocation module that removes the hassle of month-end journals and allows you to automate the calculation and distribution of values across the different entities. It is also worth mentioning that Sage Intacct offers you the ability to manage permissions across those multiple entities which is a minor thing generally, but when you have a large number of entities it can be a real pain in Xero.

Contract Management and Revenue Recognition in Xero vs Intacct

Revenue recognition and subscription billing are another of the key differences between the two platforms. Sage Intacct not only has an inbuilt contract management module (which incidentally has been assessed as the number 1 subscription billing platform by G2) but it also has the only ASC606 compliant revenue recognition module. This combination of capabilities in Sage Intacct is a real step ahead of Xero which struggles to manage both. However, if you only have a small number of contracts then there may be no need for this complex functionality which does add to the cost of Sage Intacct.

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Project Reporting

Getting visibility of project profitability can be challenging within Xero. They have made some strides with the release of their projects dashboards which do allow you to get visibility of the profitability across the different areas. It’s great for a top-level view so if you are just starting out managing projects then this is a great starting point, but it lacks some of the more complex capabilities such as time and materials billing, task management and WIP. Also, if you are looking to get real-time visibility of time spent on projects then you really should look at Sage Intacct’s new Intelligent Time module that uses AI to automate the generation of timesheets. Not only do you not have to chase those timesheets down but it’s based on real-time activities rather than a judgement call by the person filling in the sheet!


One of my last and final points is purely about scalability. A lot of the functions that we have talked about today are related to automation and visibility and that becomes incredibly important at scale. One of the classic signs that you have outgrown Xero is that it is starting to run slow or hit transaction limits, which can be incredibly frustrating. Now, I have heard of advisors suggesting that you should consolidate journals to just the header information but if that is the scenario then you need to think carefully about the impact that will have on your reporting capabilities and your visibility both now and in the future.

What are the next steps?

Again, I would just like to re-emphasise the fact that this blog is all about the differences – perhaps I should write one about the similarities too at some point, so please excuse me if I am too focused on the areas where they differ! But it does hopefully give you some guidance as to whether Xero or Sage Intacct is the better solutions for you as a business.

If you would like to investigate whether Sage Intacct is a good fit for you and your team please do give us a call on 01824 780000, we don’t do a hard sell, it’s all about picking the right product for you and guiding you through the process.

If you are not quite ready for that conversation – why not download our eBook, Life after Xero using the form below. We also have a great ‘Has your business outgrown Xero?’ webpage that you may find useful too!  To learn more about Sage Intacct, we have a Sage Intacct Product Tour that you can find here, and we also have a range of Sage Intacct on-demand webinars that you can browse in your own time!

Life After Xero eBook Download

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