First impressions of Sage 50 Accounts 2011

The latest version of Sage 50 Accounts 2011, introduced this month, answers some long-standing customer requests with new automatic bank reconciliation features and support for the VAT flat-rate scheme.

Rather than bringing a battery of minor improvements to the market, the product development team focused on users’ priorities to improve their overall experience of Sage 50 Accounts, said product manager Robin Moore during an online demo of the new features.

The other “themes” that underpinned the latest upgrade included business information management, and integration/connectivity, said Moore. The business information element was addressed by enhancements to the VAT and charity functionality, while integration focused on extending the application’s links to the Sage Pay portal and other online services provided by the developer.

Bank reconciliation
Judging from recent conversations in the Sage 50 Accounts discussion group on AccountingWEB, the new bank reconciliation module will have the biggest impact.

VAT module: support for flat-rate scheme
When you create a new company in Sage, the Set-Up Wizard now provides Flat Rate VAT options for both invoice-based and cash-based businesses, alongside the existing options for Standard Rate VAT and VAT Cash Accounting. If you choose one of the Flat Rate options, you will also need to enter the percentage rate for your industry within the Company Preferences dialogue box.

Webstore integration with Sage Pay
With the 2011 upgrade, a step-by-step Wizard now lets the user download all transactions made via the online Sage Pay system (formerly Protx).

Charities: Funds account reporting
If the company is identified as a charity within the Set-Up Wizard, the program will activate the Funds functionality. The basic dialogue screen has been rejigged to look more like a “mini-ledger”  with four main menu options - P&L, Balance, Activity, Transfer – each of which provides a simple grid for a quick tabular review of relevant data, or data entry for new activities or funds.

Links to other Sage services
A new Sage Services bar at the bottom of the program’s left-hand “task pane” points to an interesting new approach. Clicking this part of the screen brings up a menu of different services, from the user’s main Sage Account details, to Sage Cover options, a wishlist request option, Support bulletins and several variants of the company’s information  advice lines, for example on health & safety. All of this material is served up from the web, but in a browser window within Sage 50 Accounts itself.

Other minor modifications and enhancements
Product manager Robin Moore said that Sage is keen to record and respond to user requests, particularly where they contribute to their overall efficiency. He highlighted several other small additions in the 2011 edition that fell into this category:

  • Nominal ledger journals “Ex Ref” – an extra field added so users can add their own internal reference.
  • More Initial View options – When setting up Sage 50 Accounts, the administrator can configure each user’s default view to the Quotations module, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Manage Payments, or Chase Debts to cater for a wider variety of roles within the organisation.
  • Archive Company Data Before Year End – Addressing a sensible request to make it easier for users to back up active data as the year progresses.
  • One click email option – Within the Quotations, Invoices, Purchase and Sales Orders modules, clicking the Email icon will call up a default layout and dispatch the document to the contact with a single click.

Continued...

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Comments
John Stokdyk's picture

Useful feedback from discussion group members

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

I have to confess to being a little underwhelmed by the new features. While as a reviewer, it was a relief not to have to wade through a whole stack of finnicky little enhancements I pressed the Sage product managers to show me something that would really catch the imagination of users and convince them to upgrade.

Robin and Phil stuck to their guns. Having demonstrated the product at the recent Sage Connections event, they reported that both the Bank Rec and the VAT Flat Rate option (with the Benefit/Cost calculator) had drawn applause from an appreciative crowd.

I also asked for feedback from members of our Sage 50 Accounts discussion group. So far, the members who have responded have been favourable. Sarah Douglas was involved in the Sage user group consultation over the VAT elements and appreciates the way it allows you to constantly keep an eye on whether you should change over to the flat rate scheme or vice versa. "If you discover that it is to your disadvantage you can change back prior to reconciling vat return. My clients ask me this all the time so now it will be easy to say yes or no quickly," she wrote. "I think for many small to medium size business this will be very useful tool to save some money."

Another member, johndon68, commented that Customer Statements appear to run much quicker in v2011, adding, "Albeit anything would be better than the glacial speed that v2010 ran at."

Feel free to add your impressions here, or if you'd like to delve into the application and share your opinions with experienced Sage users, drop by the discussion group.

abelljms's picture

Might as well play the same old records…..

abelljms | | Permalink

 

 

Does it do all reports in DATE ORDER by default?
Is the cost of the software less than the gdp of a small country?

 

VAT Flat rate

stevenpearson | | Permalink

It looks to me like the Sage software is netting off the flat rate VAT and the inputs to code 4099

The sales shown in sage will be net of VAT and so will the expenses when in fact the accounts should be drawn up to show gross sales less the vat paid on the flat rate scheme and the expenses should be shown gross see extract from revenue website below

7.8 How do I prepare business accounts for income tax purposes while I am using the flat rate scheme?It is expected that accounts for businesses who are using the scheme will be prepared using gross receipts, less the flat rate VAT percentage, for turnover and that expenses will include the irrecoverable input VAT.For both VAT and income tax purposes, there is a requirement to keep a record of sales and purchases. But, for businesses using the scheme, that record does not have to analyse gross, VAT and net separately. The records need only be complete, orderly and easy to follow. 

Also would it not be a good idea to have this featue in Sage Instant which is the offereing to small business and I think in the main it is small business who have turnover less than the £150,000

VAT Flat Rate scheme

cnb | | Permalink

Its good to see Sage catching up with their little brother TAS on this at least. Maybe one day we will get full drill down of all transactions as well.

Frankly, I think the Revenue's ideas about Flat Rate Scheme accounting make no sense at all. We show the figures net as before and disclose the saving (per the TAS printouts) as a "Flat Rate Scheme adjustment" deducted from overheads. That way the comparative figures make sense (and it doesn't look at if the accountancy bill has gone up 17.5%).

SecretariuS's picture

Sage Accounts 2011

SecretariuS | | Permalink

 Sage told me earlier in the year that Sage 2011 would be on a new databse running off sql.  This does not appear to have happened and in many areas the programme remains as slow as ever. As it stands it is not in my opinion worth upgrading. Note I have been using Sage since 1987  and rarely have reason to complain - apart from price and the rather too regular upgrades - but since version 13 (Remember that fiasco!) it has become more functional but so much slower.  Also the pdf reports do not work on a 64bit machine.

John Stokdyk's picture

Some very interesting points...

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

Particularly the last one from SecretariuS... I spent so much time focusing on the detail that I took my eye off the underlying database issue, so thanks for reminding me of that.

I think the quality of the feedback we're getting here and in the Sage 50 Accounts discussion group merits a follow up to highlight both the positive and less positive aspects of the upgrade.

At the same time, Sage has also sent me a note that reads as follows: "Thank you for the valuable feedback we have received to date on Sage 50 Accounts 2011. We are currently looking at the next release of Sage 50 Accounts, and if you would like to be involved in any User Groups or Beta Testing programmes in the future, please contact us on getinvolved@sage.com."

Sage 50 - upgrade is just tinkering

businessplanteam | | Permalink

Rather than waiting to see if the upgrade resolved my many gripes around Sage, we junked it and got something else instead.

I am glad we did - it is still rubbish.

No drill down and no ability to view multiple windows on the same screen. No changes to the defaults that mean you have to enter all your ranges becuase it does not remember your last choices. And so many. many annoying things that make it a complete pain to work with.

It is still fundamentally a DOS product. Avoid.

richardterhorst's picture

Sage 2011

richardterhorst | | Permalink

 Well but Sage Excel integrated reporting does not work with Office 2010 32 or 64 bit. Now tell me Office 2010 has not been out for some time.

Large software houses, like Sage, have the attitude "We will do what we think we should and never mind the customers". Hence still a 1980's engine in Sage.

Sage is not unique as Google refuses to say anything iro Office 2010 sync.

Nothing like being a large corporation he?

Sage 50 2011

bm242 | | Permalink

The performance issues is something Sage should have sorted out for this release. I along with many others would have been happy to see no new features in favor of software that performs in a manner that reflects the investment in time and money users are expected to pay.  I too have been told by Sage that the sql version is coming - this version not supporting this leaves me thinking it'll be another full year before we have software that feels comfortable to use.  Also a PDF driver that works on a 64 bit system seems a reasonable expectation.  Will Sage ever actually listen to their customers.....