Cloud Accounting Practice Management Small Business Xero

Xero Add-on Manilla: A Step Toward Zero Data Entry

Written by Scott Scharf

I’m on a mission – a mission to attain zero data entry in our virtual bookkeeping practice. One of the most time-consuming processes is collecting statements and entering bills. The integration between Xero and add-on Manilla provides a major step forward in completing my mission – attaining zero data entry.

Author’s Update September 2014: Please review my new post on Hubdoc. Hubdoc provides similar services to Manilla but with enhanced capabilities, and they have a better business model. Plus, they focus on the accounting community vs. the consumer.

Author’s Update July 2014: The Manilla service described in this article was closed on July 1, 2014.  This is one of the challenges with cloud solutions, if they are closed the data will go away.  Manilla provided 60 days of warning and lots of reminders. Manilla was part of a larger corporation and the new executive team decided they wouldn’t move forward with this solution.  The big challenge was that it was offered for free to the end user and they received funding on the back end from banks.  I recommend asking questions about the business, number of subscribers, funding, and business stability before committing to a product that you expose your customers to.

Manage and Organize Bills and Accounts

Manilla is a free service that enables self-employed individuals and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to seamlessly and accurately reconcile bills and finances. It eliminates the risk of mixing personal and business accounts and provides a complete view of the user’s finances.

Xero add-on Manilla supports more than 3,500 accounts, so you’ll be able to access all of the core business banks, credit cards, and standard recurring bills, including Internet and cable providers, mobile phone accounts, and many more. Manilla provides Reminders of bill due dates (that are also emailed) as well as summaries of account balances (Figure 1).

Manilla's main screen

Figure 1: Manilla’s main screen shows account balances, when bills have been paid, and Reminders.

In Manilla, each account can be configured to export bills to Xero when there’s a new statement (Figure 2). When exporting a bill, you can select the Account Name and Chart of Accounts mapping.

Manilla's Manage Accounts screen

Figure 2: Manilla’s Manage Accounts screen, where you can select the Account Code and Expense account.

Benefits of Xero Add-on Manilla

The integration to Xero’s cloud accounting platform is straightforward. Manilla regularly checks on all the accounts and downloads the bill and supporting statement when the statement is processed. It will then enter a Draft bill into Xero with the attached statement (Figure 3).

Xero Draft Bills

Figure 3: Xero Draft Bills; note the attached files.

This provides a number of benefits to accountants and business owners. First, it removes two manual steps: entering bill details and downloading the statements into Xero. Second, it will save you the time and effort checking on the latest statement, whether you have calendar reminders set up or have repeating bills set up in Xero.

Manilla also helps you if you have to ask your client each month for specific bills and can’t close the books or process bills until the client gets back to you. You can share the Manilla login with your client, and the client can enter his or her username and password for specific accounts (for example personal accounts that are paid by the business) without sharing the password.

Note: New bills will not be entered into Xero until there’s a new statement for an account, then Manilla will push the invoice and any attached documents to Xero (Figure 4). It might be days or weeks until there’s a new statement and bill entered into Xero.

Sample Xero Bill

Figure 4: Sample Xero Bill; note the attached file.

The combination of Xero’s cloud accounting platform and Manilla provides a great solution to capture and enter regular business bills and push the envelope of zero data entry accounting.

You can find more information about Xero at

Xero was one of The Sleeter Group’s Awesome Application award winners in 2013.

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About the author

Scott Scharf

Scott Scharf is the owner of Catching Clouds LLC, a cloud accounting practice providing virtual controller and virtual bookkeeping services leveraging cloud technologies. Scott has been in IT for over 30 years providing consulting and solutions from global multinational businesses to small businesses and is an expert in Unified Communications and Collaboration, IT Security, and cloud technologies. Scott now focuses his attention on helping businesses succeed by provide cloud accounting solutions, virtual CIO/CTO services, and cybersecurity/cyber-liability solutions. Scott is passionate about leveraging technology in smart and new ways to improve business processes, productivity, and profitability. Scott collaborates with his wife, Patti Scharf, a CPA who provides the deep accounting expertise, builds our virtual controller and virtual bookkeeping programs, and is a technology power user herself.


  • I guess I’m not seeing the point of this… Well at least the way I do things (which could very well be wrong). I never enter bills for the things that would be tracked by Manilla. For example, I don’t enter a bill for PG&E and my electric bill. When PG&E gets paid it comes out of my bank account. Then, xero downloads those transactions. Then, there is a PG&E rule that matches the transaction and all I have to do is say “ok” to the transaction in the reconcile screen. Now, the expense is logged in Xero.

    Why would I want to enter a bill for all these things when I just need to “accept” them from my bank downloads?

  • Jeff, the usefulness of this solution depends on the services that you provide to your accounting clients or perform for your own business. In our cloud accounting practice we expect to have supporting evidence for every bill, including the regular overhead bills that are paid with a credit card. We receive bills / statements in multiple ways; e-mail, snail mail, and scanned & saved to a folder from our clients. We attach all of these bills in Xero.

    I see this solution as specifically useful for outstanding bills that need to be paid (like credit card bills) and if they are missed there can be late fees or cancellation (insurance premiums, etc.). So Manilla, is helpful in that it will create the bill in Xero right after the statement is processed and entered into Xero so that it can be processed to be paid.

    We also use repeating bills, Manilla would replace some of those bills and automate collecting the supporting statements.

    This is a new solution and will help in some situations but not all.

  • Thanks for yet another great contribution to this stellar blog.

    My interest is piqued for Manilla, as it also is for I finally have a client for whom these appear to apply. Forgive my ignorance, but I wonder what’s the difference?

  • has closed down. One of the challenges with cloud companies is that they can go away.

    Please look for my future blog on, in my opinion, a better solution than Manilla. Plus, they have a better business model, they charge the customers to take advantage of their service.

    Here is the note from Manilla.
    Dear Manilla User,
    The Manilla service has ceased operation. You will be able to retrieve your documents from the Manilla website through September 30, 2014. Android and iOS apps have been disabled – access is only via

    Manilla no longer collects new documents and no new reminders will be sent to you.
    download, please contact

    We apologize if we are not able to respond to all emails.
    We thank you for your support.

    Please contact me directly at if you have any questions.

    • Too bad, it looked like an interesting company. I disagree slightly with one point – I don’t think that it is just cloud companies that can go away easily, I’ve seen the same with desktop software companies as well. And you can extend that to “features” or services even for stable products from stable companies, they can go away.

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