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SME business - new software

Moving away from Sage

I am the FC of an SME business (roughly £5m T/O).  We are rapidly expanding and the data entry/day to day bookkeeping is taking up more and more of my time.  We currently use Sage 50 as our accounts package and for payroll.  It is an outdated 2014 version so hasn't had any of the recent updates.

I am now looking at making processes more streamlined, and part of this is to look at Sage and see whether it still works for us.  So, I'm looking at it's pros and cons, and comparing against other options - namely Xero and Quickbooks.  I'd like it to have auto bank feeds, auto invoice and expenses entry, but also to have decent management accounts reports, decent multi currency functionality, budgets/forecasts, and the ability to store documents (to move away from paper!).

I'm interested to guage experiences with Xero and Quickbooks, and how they work in SME's.  I've tried searching AW already, but most comments/questions are tailored towards practice.


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By tom123
20th Mar 2017 20:24

£5m is quite substantial - so I'm guessing a lot of transactions. Your staff (I presume you have some) are not really going to want to wait for internet lag.

Like you, I work in the SME sector - in our case manufacturing - similar t/o.

We use Sage 200, which is a proper period based system, with some decent reports, ODBC connections, multi currency etc.

As it happens, I am looking at document storage - which is available as third party add ons- but not convinced yet.

Bank feeds not that relevant to me, as I use Sage to produce all my AP payments anyway, and I don't have a huge volume of cash receipts as I am selling machinery.

I do my management accounts via pivot tables.

Multi currency is fine.

I certainly wouldn't move to a cloud based system for a substantial business - but perhaps others have.

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By kevin01
to tom123
21st Mar 2017 14:22

Thanks Tom123.
We have 80 FTE's on the payroll, plus about 10 contractors ,so quite a few people. But only one person in finance - me! Hence why I'm trying to look at process improvement....

We are a service company, so no stock to worry about. I used Sage 200 in a previous role but couldn't get on with it, although it was good from a stock control point of view.

Sadly, the Sage I've inherited is old and hasn't even got the bank feeds set up, so everything is manual. I have asked IT to set this up though, so hopefully this is something that can be improved quite soon!

Management accounts are ok from Sage, and multi-currency.

So, it is really the day to day stuff that needs reviewing....

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By tom123
to kevin01
21st Mar 2017 15:27

It will be interesting to see what other recommendations you get.

Personally, I have used some hideous pigs of systems, so S200 quite suits us.

Not sure I would want to try Line 50 at this size myself, so I don't envy you ;)

Good luck..

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By Glennzy
21st Mar 2017 16:02

get the new version of Sage 50

It now has bank feeds on it and OCREX will work with it to scan invoices into the system.

Xero and QBO are good but you might struggle with the work load in them.

If you are wanting cloud solution maybe look at something like Exact which is a bit more heavy duty

You can upgrade to Sage 200 but i think its like £20k cost of getting it in place.

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By tom123
to Glennzy
21st Mar 2017 21:27

S200 was put in before I joined present co, and it would have cost several thousand - although perhaps not quite as much as Glennzy - I presume you have a server already.

The thing is, if you don't put man enough sofware in, you will curse it forever.

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By marks
to Glennzy
21st Mar 2017 23:13

Glennzy wrote:

get the new version of Sage 50

It now has bank feeds on it and OCREX will work with it to scan invoices into the system.

What version of SAGE links to OCREX? is it SAGEOne or SAGE 50c that seems like a hybrid between desktop and cloud.

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By Glennzy
to marks
22nd Mar 2017 17:34

Sage 50 and Sageone work with OCREX you might need a fairly current version though like V21 or better

Ask them they are very keen to help folk out.

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22nd Mar 2017 14:53

You'll undoubtedly find pros and cons of all the systems you review. Many years' ago I reveiwed all those on the market at the time and compared them against each other as well as our requirements. Dimensions from Access Group had fewest criticisms! So it is always worth putting them on your shortlist. Might be more expensive than others - but it has a module called Transaction Broker - which when you realise what it can do - is a game changer - a business system not just an accounting system. Good luck and choose carefully.

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to D V Fields
23rd Mar 2017 13:19

Select and review your shortlist against your criteria and you'll get what your efforts deserve. Alternatively you will get what you deserve!

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23rd Mar 2017 12:03

Hi Tom123 I would recommend you check out the following mid-tier solutions which I have looked at, they can be cloud or hybrid cloud server setups I believe. They might give you some ideas on what processes and reporting you could make further time savings on.

Aqilla - Which is a very affordable version of SUN accounts you could get a 10k system (inc Consultancy day setup as the main cost) that can do what a 100k install could do.

AccountsIQ - This also looks a good system that can handle Multi currency and Groups really well. Again I think that is probably about 10k mark inital cost I recall.

Sounds expensive but if it eliminates the need for a headcount...

However I am sure Sage have an upgrade in your ball park like others have said. Bank feeds should be an easy win to get sorted out quickly.

QB and Xero would be a step back I expect, I think the UI is good for making life easy for Business owners but for someone like yourself who just wants to smash through a bunch of complex double entry you need something that enables you to get straight to the heart of the ledger.

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23rd Mar 2017 12:08

You're problem is that you're on the cusp of being big enough for a mid market system but not quite there yet.

I love QB but wouldn't advocate swapping Sage at this point. You'll have a hideous time of it and for every annoyance in Sage there will be an equal and opposite one in QB.
I'd suggest that you take a look at what you can do in terms of process improvement and what add ons are available commercially.
The only caveat is if you want to go to the cloud in which case I'd say you could look to Xero/QB before the Sage offering. The data cutover will prove problematic whatever you go for though.
Access, greentree, sage 200 are all good mid market and may well do what you want but you need to be realistic about how long these things take to implement. Don't listen to what the sales guys tell you!
If you want more specific advice then feel free to PM me.

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23rd Mar 2017 12:27

It depends how transaction heavy the £5 t/o is and the associated expenses. Thousands and thousands of small invoices might be a bit much for the likes of Xero/QBO but if it's less & higher value invoices that would be ok in those systems. As a service business if most costs are salaries and associated expenditure then costs would not be too bad.

My criteria would also look at if you are registered for vat in other countries as well as multi currency.

We have several multi £m t/o companies using Xero very well. Likewise the last c.50m company we went for Netsuite.

Certainly look to a seperate system or outsource payroll and leave the core system criteria down to transaction, growth trajectory, complex functionality requirement aka multi jurastiction vat etc, site connectivity speeds, costs, ease of transitions/implementation

Happy to chat further, just pm.

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By chatman
23rd Mar 2017 18:01

Unless your internet connection is slow, I would have thought Xero would be OK. You can import journals, and Receipt Bank or Keebo would help with purchase invoice processing, so I don't see that speed would be a problem.

You might need an expense-processing add-on.

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25th Mar 2017 12:04

We moved to SAP B1 as it met all our requirements. It does support multi currency and good management accounts. It has CRM, integrated items for sales and purchase. Bank feeds are available. It can be hosted in the cloud, that is how we have it.

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By paul.k2
27th Mar 2017 09:25

If you are a services company then I am going to guess that time and expenses are your real problem.

Are you interfacing to some other product?

With respect to bank feeds there are probably a couple of issues for you to consider.

1. To the best of my knowledge most UK banks won't play ball so you are left with the option of a service like Yodlee. I don't need to recap the pros and cons of this. It has been discussed on AW before.

1. As you are the FC you will have access to the company's online banking and should be able to download CSV files.

If you have a lot of electronic transactions look for a product that will import this file and post it to your ledgers. The best I have seen so far is Twinfield, but the interface is Web 1.o. They are working to improve it.
Exact will have something similar, but not as slick.

The last time I looked at Xero, it was 'ok', but nowhere near as efficient.

2. You should also look for receipt and invoice scanning systems such as Receiptbank and Basecone. These integrate with a range of products and once they are 'trained' are really effective. Most of my experience is with Basecone.

OCREX started out with a bank statement scanning product and now scan invoices and statements as well. I am not certain, but I suspect it will be able to scan line level detail as well as header and footer detail. Something Basecone can't do.

I reckon you will end up with a high-bred system. Hopefully that will give you food for thought.


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