[IMGCAP(1)]Xero has been a revelation to small and growing businesses that were in need of top-notch small business accounting software.

It excels because of its comprehensive setup and a clean user interface that’s easy to use. There are plenty of other things to like about it as well – not the least of which are the dozens of add-ons available, which can greatly expand on the original Xero functions and help customize it to fit the specific needs of a business.

Which ones does your business need?

It’s easy to get lost with all the different add-ons that are available. Luckily, we’ve done the job for you and have picked out the five essential and most used Xero add-ons that can enhance the software’s possibilities without adding too much confusion in managing it.

MinuteDock
$9 and up; 14-day free trial

For those businesses that are looking for a painless way to track time for projects with hourly billing rate, MinuteDock is the ideal solution. It has become a favorite among many Xero users because of its incredibly simple interface, which allows the process of tracking tasks, time and billing extremely easy and intuitive.

Many MinuteDock users report increased productivity and time savings because of just how quick time tracking becomes using this add-on. Some even use it to track all of their activity, to see how they are spending their time and how much of it is billable.

Receipt Bank
£20 and up, 14-day free trial

This is one of the most renowned add-ons of Xero, having received “Add-on Partner of the Year” awards at Xerocon in both 2012 and 2013.

It makes tracking real-time data of business accounts an incredibly simple process, seamlessly converting receipts and invoices into Xero data, which can be processed and evaluated immediately.

One of the best things about Receipt Bank is that it not only makes the life of the business easier, but for the clients as well. They can simply enter the receipts directly into Receipt Bank without any hassle. 

Unleashed Software
$38.50 and up, 14-day free trial

Unleashed Software is perfect for businesses that are in the manufacturing and distribution industries. It is probably the best online inventory software, which helps to maintain accurate costs, margins and stock control. The integration with Xero is seamless and the software is very easy to use.

One of the biggest advantages of using Unleashed Software, reported by many users, is the support team’s willingness to promptly respond to new feature requests by specific businesses, which continues to make the software better day after day.

Vend
$35 and up, 30-day free trial

Despite some mixed reviews, Vend remains the main add-on for retailers. It’s still the best choice when it comes to keeping tabs on point-of-sale, inventory and customer data. It’s easy to integrate with your current equipment and offers a lot of options to track all sorts of data continually.

You can automatically publish daily sales totals to Xero, keep track of any outstanding purchases, apply custom invoice branding, send regular statement balances to customer accounts and much more.

Again, it must be said just how easily it integrates with Xero to expand on its functionality and exchange data that allows for much more efficient control of everything retailers need to track.

WorkflowMax
$25 and up, 14-day free trial

The hands-down best add-on for customer relationship management, WorkflowMax seamlessly combines it with the sales management, timesheets and general project management.

Basically, it allows businesses to track and manage almost anything – time, jobs, orders and invoices, and also measure team productivity. It makes sure the business is on schedule on individual projects and keeps tabs on the money brought in by each job.

A lot can be said for the fact that Xero loved this add-on so much that they went ahead and simply bought the company that made it.

Guy Pearson is Chief Ignitioneer at Practice Ignition, which is part of the Xero Business Community. He is a firm believer in shaking up the accounting industry and focuses on bridging the gap between businesses and better financial information and advice. The views discussed in this article are his own.