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.
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.