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Recommend accounting and payroll software

We are a new tenpin bowling centre with 20 F/T and P/T staff. Our accountants have recommended Sage Line 50 for compatibility with their own systems. Is it a decent package?

What about payroll? I've read some negative opinions on Sage Payroll, while Freeway seems to get mixed reviews. Any thoughts on those two, and any others I should be aware of?

Thanks in advance.
George Drever


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Agree with Daniel
Following on from previous comments. It would seem the best approach is to confirm your key processes and reporting requirements, then find the product that satisfies all of the important ones in an easy to use manner with a price that is affordable. The only way to be sure of that is to get some demos and quotes making sure that you are satisfied with the result. Yours Viv Burrows [email protected]

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Ask to see it

Drop us a line and we can discuss further.

I'd agree with the comments about Moneysoft (we actually use it for our payroll !), but your key accounting needs, EPOS, departmental reporting, etc, will drive the rest

For example many programmes can charge a cost to a department, but many cannot split the same purchase invoice between as many as you want, which is pretty useless for all the 'global' purchases, or post sundry receipts or payments to a department or have cross department journals or have.....etc, etc. The key as always is having a clear view and asking for it to be demonstrated to you, which ever package is presented to you

Kind Regards

Daniel Clark
Ryba Macaulay Ltd
[email protected]

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Thank you!
Thanks for your comments, folks. The compatibility and ease of file transfer from me to them seems to be the main reason for our accountant recommending Sage. They have had complications in the past when dealing with client files produced in other packages, resulting in more work and consequently (shudder!) more fees.

Daniel - you are pretty much spot on with your assumptions. I particularly want to split the business into separate cost centres, principally bar, food and bowling.

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Money Manager can knock them for six!
Check out http://moneysoft.co.uk for a splendid accounts/database/contacts/diary/payroll suite of progs for less than £200 ands will do all that you ask or need of it. Simple to use and updates can be d/loaded on line at any time.
Why pay £,000's for something than can be done simply?
Can give you departmental cost centres with the input of one letter. eg stock purchases can be globally entered to Purchases but can be analysed over 99 departmental sub-sections with the addition of an alpha/numeric letter/number in the single line entry. Management Reports are then available as per that letter/number. Simple!
The payroll prog is excellent and can include editable staff contract templates. It also keeps the whole year open/closed if you want to-unlike more expensive progs.
I use it for all clients and have never had any problems with it.

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New Accountant Needed Too?
I despair of accountants who try to sell their clients ideas which make their (the accountants) life easier, whether that be the software the client uses or the order the invoices are filed in ("makes it easier for audit" etc).

You will be using the system daily, they use it once a year. If by any chance these accountants of yours really do have trouble importing data from other systems (as mentioned below pretty much all systems nowadays export data in easily usable file formats) perhaps that says more about the accountants than the systems!

Go with Daniel's suggestions below - find the system which best manages your operational requirements. Any extra fees you may have to pay your accountant will be wiped out many times over by the efficiency savings and the ability to better manage your business, although I would argue you should consider whether your accountant is as progressive as you are.

AIMS Accountants for Business

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MYOB have a free CD
I agree with the many comments critical of a knee-jerk response to go with your external accountants recommendation. Your business would be ideal for a product such as MYOB (free CD from www.myob.co.uk) which is intuitive and allows you to create the books without initially worrying about an opening TB and has strong database functions. Quickbooks would be a good alternative.

The power of these smaller packages is often surprisingly strong. If the external accountants thought about it they would probably find their final accounts generation prog will import data from a wide variety of bookkeeping progs. But then most external accountants I know rekey the trial balance into such packages anyway.

I expect the main reason they recommend Sage is because that it is the program they probably have a reseller arrangement for!

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What aspects suit you best?
I agree with the earlier comment that whatever package you use must suit your needs not the accountant. If you think Sage 50 will provide what you need then fine.

I operate both Sage and Quickbooks. The latter is not so favoured by accountants because it gives the client too much flexibility! Can be a pain for me but at least it is easier to correct than Sage. I prefer Quickbooks because doing bookkeeping for clients it is quicker for staff to leran and is faster for data entry and correction(!)- full audit trails are available to keep the likes of me satisfied.

Again I agree with the comment that using any product than Sage may put up your accounting bill but not by nearly so much as the opportunity cost of not having the information that you want and need in a timely fashion.

Finally, Sage is fine but there are other packages which would probably meet your needs better. Go for it! And remember payroll doesn't have to be integrated.

Good luck!


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Don't let your accountant bully you!
You have to decide what's best for you. To be honest, as long as your accounting records are well kept you shouldn't be charged additional fees - I find it's just as quick to prepare client's accounts from spreadsheet kept records as it is from Line 50, Access Horizons or anything else! If I was your adviser I'd be more interested in how you deal with the cash takings into the accounting system than what that system was.

You could ask your accountant what fee discount they are prepared to offer you if you do go with Sage though... ;-)

Never forget - if they are a really professional firm they are there to make your life easier and not vice versa.

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Accounting package

Put on the suite that suits your business and design it where it fits. The information you get at the end of the day needs to fit the purpose it is intended to as management information posing as a "gateway to figuring the future" - my maxim. I have used various packages ranging from Sage to the Access and Dimension/CEFAX/SUN/Open accounts and other front end with EPOS systems. In deciding the package consider its cost against "tarting" up the accounting system with different modules thereby adding up the cost of the system. Consider a system with has updates through the websites rather than a disk operated system, interrogation of the figues to its source and most of all a layman can understand not just the auditor or accountant and will one to be able to interpret the figures to your stisfaction. You will need to remember that at the end its is your money and your investment you are putting into and not the accountant's.
You will also want a system which will produce cashflows and possibly inland revenue returns eg P45/46/35 and possible self assessment returns electronically!

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More info

What package you use depends on what is key to you. It is a bit of a red herring for your accountant to say "use X, because it is good for us". At the end of the day, most final accounts packages will accept a trial balance (either imported or input by hand), so as always any package choice should be based on what you want, not what your accountant tells you. Of course writers here will be divided our Sage50. Where it is suited, it is very good.

Having been bowling only last week, I'd imagine a lot of your issues revolve around

1 whether you want tills to link auotmatically or merely report daily takings manually.

2 whether you record all your different income streams (fees, food, drinks, etc) separately and what reporting you want to drive from this. For example, the one I visited had separate staff looking after the food area (and easily identifiable other costs), so although they probably needed to have food to attract punters, it is probably useful to know it is not a cost, but actually contributes

3 payroll - in the end, there is no need for a payroll to link automatically to an accounting system, so getting a package written by the same company is another red herring. Most businesses have no more than a 10 line GL journal for their monthly payroll. Packages well thought of on this site are Freeway and MoneySoft. If you spend more than £100/£200 for a 20 employee package, you've been had !

In the end

1 number of users who would actually use the system. This will be higher if you link in EPOS, but some systems are not true multi user systems (ie the underlying code cannot cope)

2 budget. A 100K system is bound to do it. a £1K system may struggle (users, functions, processes, etc). Your budget needs to cover software, services and annual support.

3 key needs. I've only guessed at a few needs, but any system must do your key ones. Every system will have good and bad points. If it meets all your key ones....

If you want any assistance, please get in contact

Kind Regards

Daniel Clark
Ryba Macaulay Ltd
[email protected]

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QuickBooks Pro with payroll
Seriously worth consideration as the QuickBooks payroll fully integrates with the accounting package.

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