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Which "version" of sage for bookkeeping services?

I have used sage 50 for some time now and would like to offer my services to the world in general Target business <£1m My problem is knowing which version to purchase: As far as I can tell Sage Instant does not allow for multiple companies. Sage 50 does but is quite an investment (£550 per the website). Then there is the professional online etc etc. Why Sage? It seems to have the largest market share and I think would help attact clients I'd be interested to know if there are any other bookkeepers out there and how you manage - especially to keep the software costs down Is there a way (or indeed version of sage) to make instant multico? Thanks


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30th Nov 2009 11:46

Sage Bookkeeppers Club is all you need...


Starts from £425.00 per annum for 5 companies..



Neil Parsons
Sage Accountants Division
Mobile: 07773 548 177 

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30th Nov 2009 11:52

A better idea

Just invest in Sage Instant.

Have a data back-up for each client and restore it when you want to use it.

An even better idea. Don't use Sage at all, there are plenty of alternatives. Search this site to find recommendations.

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By Anonymous
30th Nov 2009 11:59

Why use sage...?
In response to Skylarkin:
I agree - if it was 'up to me' I wouldn't necessarily choose sage but given the market share that they hold it would seem wise to offer accounts produced in sage. I can only imagine it does make some difference when marketing.
So many people use sage it seems like a sensible service to offer...

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30th Nov 2009 12:26

I take your point, but

1, Sage is not the best product. Isn't it better to recommend rather than join the sheep? And,

2. Given that the herd of sheep is a big one, it makes you very replaceable if later on your clients think your fees are too high etc. That might be good for them but it's not good for you and your business.

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By Anonymous
30th Nov 2009 12:27

but will say, sage 50 backup open on a sage instant??
Skylarkin - great answer btw

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By Anonymous
30th Nov 2009 12:29


"sage" words (if you will excuse my pun!) and good advice to think on!

Out of interest what would be your preference?? (I know it depends it depends it depends...)

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30th Nov 2009 14:21

I've moved from the dark side

To VT Transaction+

There are lots of good products out there if you look hard enough.

Oh, you can restore Sage 50 data to Instant so long as you have the same or higher version and the 50 back up doesn't contain data that is particular to 50 and not available in Instant (I think!). 

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By 3569787
03rd May 2016 19:22

Why Sage?

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By Anonymous
30th Nov 2009 17:44

Herd of sheep

 Skylarking this has tickled my fancy!!!!

I take it you are city based?

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30th Nov 2009 18:35

I'm with Skylarking

The more I don't use sage (and I have used it for 20+ years), the more annoyed I get when I do have to use it for certain clients.  VT Transaction plus please.  Life is SO much simpler.

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By Anonymous
30th Nov 2009 19:00


We run some basic bookeeping for a CIS ltd company client.

Old sage file we took on from former bookeepers took a  total of 3 hours work per Q for my assistant (who is quite SAGE savy)

Spreadsheet............done and dusted in about an hour including the VAT return and bank rec (which is automatic using the system we use in excel)

Same fixed fee is paid of course. 

And when we get to year end.................the TB that falls out of the spreadsheet will save another half hour messing about in SAGE to get the same result, plus no doubt piddling about clearing supplier balances that are tuppence out etc.

Obviously this is a very simple case, but horses for courses.  Judge each client on their merits, and use something that suits.


+ people loading sage per company are very naughty. You are supposed to have a liscence for EACH company. That is to say if you have 100 SAGE clients, you need 100 liscences at whatever ridiuclous fee that is, even if you only use the thing one day a year for each client.  Bonkers, and another reason not to use it.

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02nd Dec 2009 11:46

Forget Sage

Spot on Sklarking.

I dumped SAGE in 1997 and I'be been using VT Tranaction ever since - one of the best things I ever did.

Very small cost compared to Sage and you're not forced to update every year or so!








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02nd Dec 2009 11:57

Sage... horrible, inflexible, user-hostile software.  Probably deliberately, so that Sage can make extra money from training courses and support contracts.   I use Quickbooks 2005 Regular (still!) which is robust, reliable and flexible (no support contract necessary).  Does everything I need, but probably (confusingly) more than many need.  However, I don't think you can get this anymore, and I have heard the later QB programs can be unstable.  I have heard good things about Mind Your Own Business, and Solar Accounts - good for inexpert finance staff, particularly.  (BTW, QB is multi-company - dunno about the others, though).

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By Anonymous
02nd Dec 2009 12:08

Why use SAGE???

I cannot understand the love affair that many accountants have with Sage. It is not suitable for all applications. I have used VT for many years, and more recently VT+, and as it was written by a Chartered Accountant who like me, was taught double entry bookeeping (!), I think it is the best software available, and is very reasonably priced. I use it for my own practice records and also for clients' records, from GPs to Architects. Have a look at it - you will not be disappointed!

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By David2e
02nd Dec 2009 12:14

Weigh it all up and then go with your own preference

Do you believe you will pick up new clients primarily based on the software you have?  And will there be a decent number of clients out there that use Sage but have no accountant or bookkeeper already?

I get a feeling that many businesses using Sage are doing so as their accountant has advised them to.

I also don't believe this point alone will be a strong enough reason to only look at Sage.  To win clients you will have to look at your overall service, market position, and image.  There are many packages out there that can help you with this, such as SaaS depending on how you expect to work with your clients.

One option you could consider, which is free for you to use for your own accounts so you can have it in place for when its need arises is e-conomic.  Our partner offer from e-conomic gets you going without needing to touch your pocket.

This is just one option. It is a good idea to look at all the options for yourself, see what suits you the most and what you feel will be the best value and most beneficial for your clients.

If you do decide to go with Sage, I'd expect your best bet will be with either the bookkeepers or accountants club.

David Toohey
The Accountants Circle



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02nd Dec 2009 12:16

Horses for courses

Sage is not the best package, we use Sage - all versions and VT+. Both have there good points and bad.


VT+ is brilliant and very user friendly, but lacks security and controls. The untrained could mess up the accounts big time!!

Sage is secure and we use it for businesses £50k and upwards. Very secure and if you get the right training, you can configure reports and interrogate the database for non-standard reports. We have been able to create reports for clients that do not exist in the standard files. We even turned Sage on its head and used it for a completely different purpose - Sage were surprised at what we had done!

We tried Microsoft Accounting - it was a very good package but poorly presented and supported... that's why they have dumped and run.

We have used Quickbook, but frankly, we turn away clients who insist on this package - its for small businesses and it does not allow us to interogate the data and create custom reports.

So, Sage is not perfect, but we have found it to be the best of the bunch!

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02nd Dec 2009 13:05

QuickBooks is best - if you are an accountant

I've been using QuickBooks (currently 2006) for years without any major problems, however it is sometimes too easy to make amendments, so it is not suited to those without accounting knowledge.

The range of reports on QuickBooks is far greater than Sage and very easy to use with a couple of clicks.  Customising is also very good. And when exporting into Excel it retains formatting much better.  The 'find' option is also quite powerful.  Maybe Sage can do more, but only if you are highly experienced in using Sage, I had a look at Sage 100 the other day and was appalled at how difficult it was to produce simple reports.

I haven't moved to 2008 because bizarrely it cannot handle multicurrency.

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03rd Dec 2009 09:14

Security and controls in VT Transaction+ as mentioned in an earl

In VT Transaction+ you can optionally lock and password protect previous periods. You can also password protect all the editing functions. Without these passwords, all the user can do is enter new transactions into the current period.

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By Anonymous
03rd Dec 2009 12:19

Sage can be messed up too

I have spent hours sorting out errors by both clients and 'qualifed' book-keepers using Sage. In one case, many years ago an SME had overpaid well over £7000 in VAT. I think VT and now the new VT+ are much easier and clearer to use. But - do lock previous years!

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03rd Dec 2009 14:31

VTT+ is easy to use and at a fraction of the price of SAGE! Really a fantastic piece of software!

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10th Dec 2009 11:06

Not Sage for goodness sake!

Years ago someone said that you never got sacked for ordering an IBM computer, now the new mantra is Sage, Sage, Sage! It has become an industry standard for no real good reason other than the fact colleges train it and its been around for years. It is certainly not the best.

Think for yourself, don't follow the flock! Let your service be your selling point not the fact you use Sage!

Clients using Sage cause more problems in my office since the advent of the partly completed Simplex D cashbook!

Look at VT Transaction Plus. It really is a better all round package for most clients and most in house bureau applications.

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10th Dec 2009 11:24

Use the correct tool for the job.

My dad (who was an engineer) told me that it is important to use the correct tool for the job.

You shouldn't use a :

14lb hammer to tap in a panel pinpair of pliers to tighten a nuta knife as a screwdriver

The same follows with software, you should look at what you want to achieve and then choose the correct package.

Sage did a very good marketing job at the right time, hence a vast majority of accountants and businesses use it.
However, as has been said, it's not always right for everyone.

There are many other packages (the tools) around, all of which do a job.  You have to decide which job you want to do before you choose the correct tool.

The important thing is to take plenty of advice, which you are obviously doing through AccountingWeb, and then make an informed judgement.

In my work I regularly ask people which accounting package they are using and I often hear people say "I'm using Sage, I don't like it but my accountant says I've got to use it". I question what that says about Sage's poularity. There is a difference between popularity and market saturation.

If you haven't, I suggest you have a look at Diamond Discovery Software
This product is unlike most of the others. It is one product with many levels.
If you buy Sage instant and outgrow it, you have to buy a different product to replace it. Meaning re-learning a new and different system.
If you buy Diamond Discovery Prelude (similar level to Sage Instant) and outgrow that, you simply buy the next level activation key and release the hidden features. Therefore, no re-learning a different package, no re-keying or importing data, you just have to learn the new bits.

For accountants/bookkeepers, the top level Diamond Discovery Commercial edition can use data from all the lower level products, so you only need the one system for all your clients.
Granted, it doesn't do "Final Accounts" but the PL and Balance Sheets are easy to export.

I'd also recommend you to look at Datafile.
Like Diamond Discovery, Datafile has 4 different levels of the same product.
So, as a business grows opening up the additional features is just a case of buying the new activation and learning the new bits.

I have experience of Sage, Pegasus, Access, Datafile, Diamond Discovery and Interprise and offer these simple final comments.

Sage is popular.Pegasus has some good features and the fantastic XRL tool linking to Excel.Access has great drill-down.Datafile has 4 levels of the same software, is completely flexible and has user-definable databases.Diamond Discovery is simple to use and is truly one product that fits a wide variety of businesses.Interprise is free for one user.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards

Roger Neale
An I.T. Systems Consultant trying to be helpful

Mobile : 07714 670 789 (don't hesitate to call if I can help)

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By Anonymous
10th Dec 2009 11:26

Are you a Sage operator or a Bookkeeper?

If the answer is the latter then you have the pick of the bunch, and if I was you I certainly wouldn't be choosing Sage.  There is much better software out there and for a lot less money.  Take a look at Pastel Partner - multi company as standard and a bookkeepers dream!

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10th Dec 2009 11:45

y Sage???


'Ermintrude' in Comments understates  things in her generous assessment of the product


ENTERING SALES Receipts, a line at a time, and NO AUTO-COMPLETE, unlike when u  enter bank receipts, when you get f6 functionalityall reports STILL default in transaction order, both on-scream, and via report generator.putting a date sort on is a fritemare.backups still clunky, filename default is stupid, and massive file sizescan't tell backups to run in nightno transaction nos. on bank rec screen so hard to know number for editingall corrections STILL ONLY via maintenance screenSTILL no adequate drill-down availablestill loads worse than TASdeleted trans should not show in reports, unless an option is selected as it is vvvv confusingSTILL can't print a quick supplier report direct from enquiry screenwhen enquiring an account the "details" tab shows at bottom by default - mega- stupidcalls RECEIPTS "payment on account" -  brilliantcan't customize icons that display on menuswhen updating purch orders screen does not display whole order, and u can't make columns narrower!ditto, default date is today's date, and u have to amend each line manuallywhen u do update the cursor goes to bottom of document, not top!p/l display for an invoice when you enquire does not show VATeuro vat is to55, what a palavervat reporting is toss as well, no drill down on the vat screen itselfdefault dates are not the current vat coherent VAT report produced by a single button pressthe 3-column display in s/l and p/l is crazy crazy – does anyone know why this was ever inventedetc……


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By Myshkin
10th Dec 2009 15:57


I came across Sage late in life having used various other accounting packages and, frankly, Sage (Line 50 or whatever) is easily the worst.  In fact I dread going into work each day and using it.  So how has it become the market leader?  Well it is the only package many people have heard of - especially non-accountants.  I asked my new employers why they had chosen it in the first place and they had pretty well seen it as Windows itself ie no competitors.  The trade press and institutes are much to blame and indeed sometimes they appear to be on commission.

The worst thing is that I can't see how anything is going to change.  Sage are never going to spend money improving their product as it sells well enough as it is and according to last weeks news release they make 66% turnover from support.  Sell a lousy product then coin in the money supporting the poor souls that have got to use it.  And then spend the money on marketing to keep other package producers out of the market.

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By dnicoll
11th Dec 2009 16:53

Anything but Sage...

Cant do more than echo previous correspondents.  Sage is a pig, a nightmare - and I wouldnt recommend it if it was the only accounting software on the market....

I'll happily use almost anything before Sage (even the dreaded Quickbooks, which is bad but way better than Sage).

Personally, if you understand Double Entry Bookkeeping (and it is frightening how many so-called book-keepers don't) then VT Transaction Plus is simply brilliant. Easy to use, easy to interrogate, I run businesses from nothing up to a couple of million turnover off this software. If you previously used the 'old' VT Transaction and havent upgraded to VT Transaction Plus, do so!

If a more 'hand holding' approach is needed, then for small businesses I quite like Solar Accounts.

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VTT+ Why could I not have heard about you sooner?

I have been a Sage user since Sterling for DOS. I am a guilty party of using Sage due to not knowing of anything else and I have to admit that I absolutely hate it and always have done. They constantly "update" it with rather useless additions rather than concentrating on making good what already is presumably to enable them to say the program has been updated and price accordingly.  Support is luke warm at best. There are still bugs in some reports/layouts that have not been fixed yet they release "updates" with bugs still intact. Crazy!

I have seen the price rise consistently for Sage cover over the years and quality of service go down. Surely that can't be right.

Add to that the fact it is very user unfriendly, making corrections is still a complete mare and running on a network is a complete joke and you can see the recipe.  I don't have time to write a complete list of shortcomings and faults but there are many.

I have now found VTT+ which I have been trialling for some weeks now and I love it. Just what the doctor ordered. Simple and intuitive. Does exactly what it says on the tin in a very simple way. Corrections are simple. Layouts and analysis are simple. Just an all round extremely user friendly accounts software at a very fair price. A pleasure to use. It has actually lifted my work mood as I know I am not faced with the bore of using Sage anymore.

Safe to say I now use VTT+ for our accounts software and Moneysoft Payroll Manager for our Payroll (replacing Sage 50 CIS and Sage Payroll Professional). 2 packages from relatively unknown software houses that in my opinion are better than Sage (for my usage model maybe not for all). Couple that with a saving of over £1000.00 per year and you will see why I really am laughing all the way to the bank.

By the way I am not linked or affilated with VT in any way. These are my own independent remarks.


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09th Jun 2010 00:36

Sage Instant Accounts Compliance Pack

Hi, I've just purchased the above package fo £489.

It contains a Client Manager to maintain client info, etc, an Accounts Production, Corporation Tax & Income Tax Package which is compliant with the XRBL format required.

The price above is an annual payment for up to 10 clients.  The the Accounts Production Package allows 10 clients. The Corporation Tax Package 10 returns and the Sole Trader/Partnership Package 10 returns. 

(The Accounts Production Package has master data sets for Sole Trader/Partnership & Limited Co)

Only just started using it, but i went for Sage because i know it and use Sage Instant Accounts V12.

Time will tell if viable and user friendly, but i wanted a package that maintained consistency with my clients.

The next leap was for 25 clients at something like £700+

(Only thing it doesn't seem to do is payroll - so it would mean using alternative software, or HMRC software and journalling in the figures)

Hope this helps


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09th Jun 2010 07:49

"I'm using Sage, I don't like it but my accountant says I have t

I spend some of my time speaking to prospective clients and, if I don't know already, I always ask "which software do you use for running your accounts"? 

The usual answer is "I'm using Sage, I don't like it but my accountant says I've got to use it".

This is the most common answer I get so my plea goes out to you accountants out there......

Please, stop recommending Sage just because it suits YOU. Recommend the best software for the job, not just the software that makes your life easy.

Accountants are supposed to be professional people so it's time that they started acting in that way and not just going with the flow.

My apologies to those of you who are not guilty of this.

Roger Neale
Business Systems Consultant
07714 670 789

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By Anonymous
09th Jun 2010 09:03

To Jacq_Maud

Did you consider VT & TaxCalc?

You get VT+, VT Accounts, and TaxCalc, for less £ than you will pay Sage for 25 clients. For this you get a bookkeeping package, Accounts package, and all the tax software you will need, for an unlimited number of clients.

VT Accounts data goes straight into TaxCalc.

... last but not least, the support (if you ever need it!) is excellent!



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