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Just interested in everyones opinion, IMO you tend to stick with what you know as the time at the foot of the learning curve can't always be found for a new product.

I'll start the ball rolling

At a very basic level, MYOB and DOSH are OK

SAGE has limits but does the job. Easy to export to Excel and work on if needed (including importing TB to IRIS)

I have a psychotic hatred of Quick Books/Quicken due to bad experience many years ago - these things scar you for life!

Have great expectations of IRIS Accounts Office, but need to find the time to learn it more intimately.

In terms of trail, I've yet to find anthing to beat a properly analysed, accurately cast and reconciled monthly cash book, especially if coupled with a simple purchase and sales day book (i.e. invoice date, supplier/customer name, gross amount and date paid). Not so good for detailed management reports, but 90% of clients don't want/need that anyway! The tendancy with computer packages is to have hundreds of P&L headings with £10-20 in each.
Old Greying Acountant


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One more vote for VT
I have used VT for many years and as a bookkeeping package I think it works extremely well.

Having also used Quickbooks, TAS and Sage (amongst others), I find that VT is much quicker and easier to keep the records straight.

So it doesn't do stock control, nor order processing, and only one person can work on the file at a time. Not big drawbacks for any business that doesn't need the bells and whistles.

Clients like it too and most find it straightforward to use - the chart of accounts is sensible - covers most things.

For the 90% you mention, I think it works a treat.

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I would just like to assure everyone that VT Transaction+ is used by some very large businesses and is perfectly capable of handling millions of transactions without any noticeable degradation in performance.

It is deliberately designed to be single user, but this means you can also very easily edit transactions and alter standing data.

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VT and TAS
VT seems to be a good package for micro clients. I have looked at it superficially but have not used it as I have never had the need.

VT is not suitable for small businesses with a large number of transactions or where more than one user at a time needs to use it simultaneously or which need stock control and purchase and sales order processing. The versatility of TAS enables these.

A word of caution regarding TAS (and this applies to SAGE and Quickbooks too). Though it has a report generator, I have found that it is not good enough to produce the detailed analytical management accounts that my clients require. I usually build a customised model specifically for the reporting requirements of each client in Excel, making extensive use of VBA to automate the processes of preparing the model for use in the next month by transferring current figures to comparatives, importing the book-keeping trial balance from TAS into the ETB, etc. Also, TAS cannot calculate reversing journals (like accruals using date arithmetic) and non-reversing journals (like depreciation from a separate, detailed fixed assets register) that can be done in Excel and the results automatically update the accounts which can be reviewed and adjusted as required far more easily in Excel.

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Great to see a comparison of packages, rather than just "package xyz is great".

Can you explain why you consider TAS to be more versatile than VT?

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VT is the best
For the best bookkeeping and final accounts package
ust VT.

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TAS is the best
I have used SAGE, TAS and Quickbooks for many years but would recommend TAS, without hesitation, to any clients wanting a new small business book-keeping package.

SAGE is the worst. Only IT knowledge challenged accountants would recommend it. Because SAGE is such a badly designed package, it adds considerable to the time costs of those using it. Of course, the accountants who follow the herd and recommend it, as well as their clients, will probably never realise this.

Since the Sage Group PLC acquired TAS, they have rapidly increased its cost and support charges to extort as much as they can from its customers, as they have always done with SAGE. However, unlike SAGE, TAS is a very good product and so its cost is still very good value.

Quickbooks is far better than SAGE but they do not care about its customers and will have no hesitation in leaving their customers in the lurch unless they can make a quick buck. In any case, TAS is a much better package. So why bother with Quickbooks.

Regarding VT, I use VT Final Accounts to produce statutory accounts. It is quite good for this. It used to be just £100. Now it is double the price with VT Transactions bundled in. I wish they would sell VT Final Accounts separately and price it accordingly because I prefer to use a more versatile package like TAS for the book-keeping.

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Inteprise worth consideration?
Interprise is a new one on the market, that may be worth looking at.


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Bookkeeping packages
We always recommend TAS Books to all our clients. We have been using all 3 of the TAS Books products for years and have found them extremely user friendly and reliable. We would never recommend Sage and only use it if a client insists.

As a practice we have tried Iris Accounts Office but have stopped using this after a year and returned to Exchequer. IAO had many bugs which the development team did not seem to be interested in resolving. The most serious of these was that if you posted a transaction after the end of the VAT quarter, say 1 September for items to be included in the August return, the posting was dated with the date of the posting and not with the date of the transaction as input. There were many other bugs which made the software difficult to use and we eventually gave up.

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DIY Accounting
Many of the accounting packages mentioned are databased accounting software which is great for accountants who understand what is happening to the data entries of the prime documents and understand how to query the packages for the required function.

One of the problems with such packages is that over the years they have become more and more complex to trry and provide a solution to every conceivable variation. That tends to move those packages away from the man in the street.

Certainly with my own DIY Accounting packages which are accounting spreadsheets I am often asked if for example can I add more analysis columns for this that and the other. I always resist because my packages are written and promoted as being simple to use and suitable for non accountants.

And yes I do use my own packages for my own business, the self employed actually although will shortly be changing to the company accounts package.

the larger the company the more sophisticated the accounting system has to be to cope with all the different areas of financial and cost control but for the small bsuiness such as self employed or one man company the main fovus is completerly dfifferent. What smal business wants from its accounting software is to calculate the tax liability and fill in the tax return for tem.

Small Business Accounting Software

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Emily - I used MORE and personally found it time consuming compared to VT and really struggled to see how it was any better than Quickbooks (which I know very well) and Sage. Ultimately though each to their own and if it works for you and your clients great! Dont dismiss VT though it really is very good for average small clients who dont want to spend hours keeping their records.

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"Can't see how MORE is different from Sage/Quickbooks"?

MORE is very different from Sage/Quickbooks because it is a much simpler package.

I've worked in practice using all three and found that MORE was much less cluttered and much easier for clients to learn. As Old Greying Accountant says, most small business clients simply don't need all the bells and whistles that come from Sage/Quickbooks.

MORE is a horse from the bookkeeping / data collection package stable. Sage/Quickbooks are horses from the accounting package stable.

VT Transaction I've never used so can't comment on that one.


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VT is best
I have never found anything that beats VT for a simple package aimed at clients with no/limited accounting knowledge.

I tried MORE and yes its good - but I cant see how it is any better than Sage/Quickbooks and is more complicated to use than VT.

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Old Greying Acountant
For year-end puposes, a goog set of manual records is as good as a computerised data.

From what you said about a properly analysed, accurately cast and reconciled monthly cash book, especially if coupled with a simple purchase and sales day book I think you'd really like the Interface of MORE .

Bob Harper

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TAS Books is a much superior product to its stablemate Sage 50 accounts. TAS Books has:

- extensive drill down on transactions
- open periods so that you can report P&Ls for 3 years on one report
- integration with Excel
- all the usual facilities such as sales invoicing, sales ledger, purchase ledger, nominal ledger, cash book, VAT returns with online filing, day books, audit trail, etc.

It comes in three levels. 1 is simple, 2 covers most business requirements and 3 adds stock control.

It is also quicker and easier to enter book-keeping transactions into TAS Books 2 than into IRIS Accounts Office, which has the air of a larger company product which has been slimmed down to try and get some of the small business market. Don't get me wrong - I am a fan of IRIS practice software, but their book-keeping products do not come up to their usual standard.

I share your opinion of QuickBooks from the early days when it simply could not handle UK VAT.

Yes - the book-keeping packages all come with default sets of nominal ledger accounts, but it is up to you how many of them you use.

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Again for VT
It's got to be VT.

We used to be members of the Sage accountants club, but were disappointed with their appalling support and the expense. Then we moved to Quickbooks professional advisers programme but their 2008 version foul ups have forced us to leave them as well.

We've been actively encouraging clients to use VT for the last year or so and have been incredibly pleased with the results. Clients find it very easy to use and it is very quick. More importantly, it is easy to correct any errors.

The only down side is that it doesn't really have much in the way of instruction or help included yet, which will presumably be included once it is officially released (current versions are only beta's apparently), but as we tell our clients how to use it, it isn't really a problem.

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Another vote for VT
Since they have introduced VT+, it has got much better.

I love to be able to tell clients just to download VT Cashbook for FREE!!!

It is perfect for the smaller client and since the files are so small, they can easily be emailed to me for review etc.

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You have just described
Cashflow Manager as your ideal, with its add-on Invoice Manager.

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For your average client with no/minimal accounting knowledge I'd highly second the vote for VT. It is fantastic - simple, easy to use and it works well. I recommend it to many of my clients. I think its what VT does best.

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VT Transaction +
I have become a huge fan of VT Transaction + in recent months. What I like is its simplicity, so for some clients, it will not be appropriate (it can't do budgeting, stock control and I'm not sure it deals with foreign currency very satisfactorily), but for 99% of clients, it does just what they need without complicating the issue. It is easy to correct errors (I agree this can be a donw side but sage drives me crackers with its inflexibility here). I am a simple soul, all for a simple life!
For many clients, the free VT Cashbook which does not have a sales or purchase ledger is great too. I even have a builder using and understanding it. (No disrespect intended to builders, but bookkeeping is often not their strong point.)

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Microsoft Office Accounting
I use Microsoft Office Accounting and I think it is as good as sage. It is an excellant starter bookkeeping software for small business owner/managers keeping their own books.

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