I work in accounts and although I find the job quite boring, I have worked in many places with different accounting software, and have to say that Sage Accounts 2009 does make your life a little easier.
The software is very user friendly, so even if you've not used it before, as long as you have a grasp of accounts and the double entry system, you shouldn't have too many problems working it out. The program has bars along the left hand side representing Customers, Suppliers, Company Information, Bank Accounts, Products, Projects and Diary, and so it's obvious when you are attempting to do something which screen you need to be in.
In the Customer and Supplier tab, you have the option to create new accounts for customers/suppliers, raise invoices, print letters, run statements, or print various reports from the reports icon.
The Company tab is where you manage things like VAT, department codes, journals, month end, and your financial statements mainly the P&L and balance sheet.
The bank tab lists your bank accounts, and enables you to pay suppliers or receive payments from customers through this screen, post payments, transfer money between accounts and do bank reconciliations.
The other tabs are self explanatory, with products being to help you manage your stock so you can see what's being booked in and out (I haven't used this for a while), and the projects and diary I have never used.
The only issue with Sage is that if you make a mistake and post a transaction in error, you can't just press an 'Undo' button like in Microsoft Office, instead you have to reverse the transaction through journals. This can look messy on the transaction history.
One thing to bear in mind with Sage, as with any other software, is that you will need to run regular back-ups of the software. If you fail to do this you can risk losing data if the system is corrupted, and I have learned through experience that this can cause many a sleepless night!
Overall though, this is an excellent package for maintaining your sales and purchase ledger, and running monthly and annual accounts. It cuts down on your workload as it posts the double entry transaction for you, you just have to choose the correct nominal code. I would say it's most useful in larger companies, and if not too many people have access to enter transactions as it's better if one person keeps control over the system.
Sage 50 is what I currently use while working from my office.
What is great about this package is that it is simple to use and can be used by sole traders upto much larger companies who are turning over a lot more money.
Its easy to install and theres a helpline should you need any help, its just a case reaslly though of inserting the disk and following the step by step instructions as they appear on the screen.
Using sage 50 is also extremeley simple, enter all of your customers by simply clicking add new customers putting their name, address, contact number and names etc.
Then your all ready to start invoicing! Just click add new invoice and go to the drop down list of customers and select the one you need. Then just start typing in the column below any work or products bought and the column next to that add the price, whats great as well is you dont need to add VAT on yourslef simply by clicking enter will add that on for you! And if you have to put a few prices on the one invoice it will even tott all this up for you, so even less work for you to do!
Once you've finished you can either save or print it.
It's the eact same principle to do quotes only click add new quote!
On sage you can also check who owes money by going into your reports and this gives a clear sheet of who owes exactly what money.
I honestly couldn't have done without this as its all stored on my computer and im only a click away from finding out any information i need and it's easy to print duplicate copies for customers who need copies of invoices!
Sage 50 Accounts 2009 ("Sage 50") is an accounts package produced by Sage, the company responsible to numerous accounting and finance software packages such as corporation tax advanced, personal tax, payroll manager, P11D manager and forecasting amongst many others.
Sage 50 is in the same class as Pegasus and QuickBooks, along with many other packages, and it is by far the best. It is the most user-friendly, accurate, reliable and technically correct package on the market today. In addition to this, the Sage team is second to none and provide excellent after sales advice and support and can provide training on all it packages.
Sage 50 is suitable for nearly any size of business. I know of a sole trader that turns over £250,000 per year that uses Sage 50. I also know of a reasonably large sized company that turns over £45 million that uses Sage 50.
Sage 50 is the most popular and is not only used by individuals and businesses but also professional firms of accountants (all the ones I have worked for have used this above other packages) which means it is more than likely that your local accountant will be able to offer advice and assistance if you get in a muddle with it.
In my opinion, it is the complete bookkeeping package and has many features including:
i) Sales day book maintenance
Sage 50 allows the user to post sales invoices and receipts and keep control of the debtor book.
Sage 50 automatically posts the other side of the entry to the correct place, ensuring that double entry is adhered to at all times. It also allows the user to agree the control account to the nominal Ledger as a self-review mechanism to ensure that the sales ledger is being correctly maintained.
ii) Purchase day book maintenance
Sage 50 allows the user to post purchase invoices and payments and keep control of the creditors book.
The other side of the transaction is automatically posted to ensure the double entry is adhered to at all times. It allows the user to agree the control account to the nominal Ledger as a self-review mechanism to ensure that the purchase ledger is being correctly maintained.
iii) Bank account maintenance
In addition to the sales and purchase day books, the bank control account (or cash book) is one of the most important accounts to maintain correctly. Cash is the lifeblood of a business and it is imperative that it is closely controlled and monitored at all times, as well as being accurately recorded.
Maintaining the bank account on Sage is easy and simply involves posting the cash payments and the cash receipts. Sage 50 will automatically post the other side of the transaction to the day books, or nominal ledger as appropriate.
Sage 50 also allows the user to perform the bank reconciliation that serves as a self review check to ensure the bank account is being correctly maintained.
iv) Preparation of the business of VAT return
Depending upon the type of scheme adopted by the business the VAT returns may be due on a monthly or quarterly basis.
At the touch of a button Sage 50 will prepare the VAT return, regardless of whether it is a monthly return or a quarterly return.
Sage 50 will automatically pull the VAT figures from the sales day book, purchase day book and nominal ledgers and amalgamate them all into the VAT return on the users behalf.
The VAT returns produced by Sage 50 are in the correct format and can simply be printed off and sent to HM revenue & Customs along with the cheque.
v) Preparing reports for management information
Providing the financial transactions are posted onto Sage 50 on a regular basis this program allows the management of the business to see the financial results (i.e. a profit and loss account) and the financial position (i.e. a balance sheet) of the business at the end of any month.
Printing off a profit and loss account and balance sheet allows the management the opportunity to review the figures to make sure they are in line with expectations. Any anomalies identifies can be looked in to and dealt with as appropriate.
Sage 50 is an off the shelf accounting package, hence it is reasonably priced, that can be used in a variety of businesses across many industry sectors.
I should note that whilst it will deal with basic bookkeeping duties there may be instances when it can not deal with industry specific tasks. A good example of this is costing in the manufacturing industry.
In order to over come this Sage has developed bolt-ons such as Sage costing and Sage stock management to try and bridge this gap. Whilst these are useful add-ons for businesses in this industry they are not the 'complete' item and there are still flaws.
The only way to overcome this is for the individual business to pay a program developer and purchase a bespoke system that is fully built around the needs for the business. This option is not only expensive to develop in the first case it is also expensive to get the support since only the programmer will have the detailed knowledge and can charge what they like for the support service.
Sage 50 is available direct from http://shop.sage.co.uk for £550 plus VAT.
Whilst not cheap it is well worth the money and potentially could save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds in accountancy fees.
If you present all the financial information to the accountants on Sage then it will take them far less time to put the financial accounts together (those that have to be filed at Companies House for companies, or those that need to be presented with the tax return for un-incorporated businesses) than if all invoices, bank statements and other core records were presented in a carrier bag.
For a small business I can get a set of financial statements together in a couple of days if the information is given on Sage but if I receive a bag of paperwork it can take weeks. Since I am charged out at £57 per hour it is easy to see that Sage is well worth it. I should caveat this by stating that the information on Sage should be accurately posted otherwise the accountancy costs will be higher.
Sage 50's competitors Quickbooks Pro 2008 costs £293.57 (or £24.15 per month) for a one user licence and Pegasus costs from £399 for the basic package and a one user licence. Whilst Sage 50 is more expensive than these it is in a different league. Sage 50 is far more powerful and has far more features than either of these and with the ability of additional bolt on features to make it a bit more sector specific, albeit at an additional cost, Sage 50 is the best accounting solution.
Sage will fully support all its products, and I can highly recommend taking support packages since all of the staff are trained, experienced and very helpful. There are no YTS or Saturday boys here that know nothing about the product here.
Sage cover costs £46 per month. At first glance this does not appear that cheap, however, this cost includes:
i) Free upgrade to the latest version of your software with SageCover Extra
ii) Dedicated telephone & email support so you don't waste a moment
iii) Extra help at Financial Year End
iv) Repair and recovery of your accounts data
v) Sage Business Advice helping you with Health & Safety and HR issues
Whilst advice is given over the phone if they cannot sort out the problem then and there it is possible for the users to save their data in a zip file and email it over to Sage and they will work on it at their end. Once the problem is sorted out they will email the corrected version back and offer full explanations of what they have done and how to overcome any similar issues that may occur in the future.
My only gripe is that calling the Sage help line is not an enjoyable experience. I have always been put on hold, usually for around 20 minutes to 30 minutes, although it has been up to an hour or more in the past. I guess this is to be expected as I experience the same issues calling other help lines.
Sage offers class room training in all of its centers that are located all over the UK including Birmingham, Bristol, London, Reading, Croydon, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Glasgow.
If you cannot get to one of the training centers then there are other training aids such as e-learning, self study and user manuals and work books and CD-roms. It is even possible to take examinations and get Sage 50 qualified, complete with certificate.
Training prices vary, depending upon the method selected and further details can be found on the Sage website.
Whilst many accountancy firms use Sage and will be able to offer help and assistance I would highly recommend the training. The lecturers are very helpful and there is no such thing as a 'stupid' question. Training will also work out a lot cheaper in the long run as the cost of being trained by 'experts' will have soon paid for itself in a couple of trips to the accountants.
****Why is Sage 50 better than its competitors?****
Sage 50 is the most powerful package in its class. Whilst it is not the cheapest it has the most features, enables the use of bolt-ons (although I do actually question the use of some of these), is very easy to use and is the most user friendly.
In addition to the above the support is great and you deal with very experienced and highly trained staff that are very helpful. Sage 50 appears to be the choice for accountants, therefore, if you get stuck it is very likely your local accountant will be able to assist.