Accounting software review - do you use Sage?

Should I spend time testing Sage Individual/Start/Standard compared to other options

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Interested to know if anyone has tried out the new entry level Sage products introduced last year, and/or those using Sage Start/Standard/Plus?

I'm carrying out a review of softwares (including a decision on where to migrate my own practice accounts) and trying to work out whether it is worth looking into some of the newer offerings further, or if other's experiences and reviews could help save me time.

I'm relatively happy with any software so my viewpoints are predominantly based on price comparisons. I'm particularly interested to know if others find their clients 'love/hate' products as it can be hard for me to understand what non-accounting people find easy/hard about interfaces etc. E.g. I have a client who really couldn't get on with QB SS, but has taken to FA in a brilliantly organised fashion.

Some of my thoughts, comparing features with standard accountant-available pricing (with no extra discounts):

1) Mettle business account/FreeAgent is still a fantastic free solution, particularly as purchase invoices attached in the Mettle app flow through to FreeAgent automatically (great feature).

2) If no sales invoicing is required, then Sage Individual might be worth trying for a tiny self-employed self-assessment client?

3) QB Self-Employed has sales invoicing, which neither of Xero Non-VAT Cashbook (more expensive), or the Sage offerings have. Does Xero Non-VAT Cashbook have the ability to edit/add to the Chart of Accounts? The fixed COA in QBSE and I think(?) in Sage Individual are annoying.

4) I am a QB SimpleStart and FreeAgent fan with most of my small VAT clients on one of these and a few on Xero. I note Sage 'Start' has the same price point as QB SS but doesn't have quotes, or paypal feeds - does it have any other 'extras' to make it worth considering?

Do Xero VAT Cashbook or Xero Starter have any amazing features that makes them worth considering alongside the above two cheaper options?

5) Sage Standard and Plus come in CHEAPER than all other offerings, which makes them of interest - particularly if you want multicurrency (Plus only). Are these any good?

6) For those that mainly use Xero, do you have volume/legacy discounts that make the price point more comparable to other software? Xero prices are all about double what I can access for clients elsewhere which makes it feel a hard sell. I quite like it as a software but for small clients every penny counts.

7) Xero has such impressive sales invoicing customisation (full Word doc customisation) I will probably put my own accounts here. It's surprising how limited and ugly most of the other software templates are in this respect, though I realise they only need to be functional.

8) I have a client on Clearbooks, which is fine and decent, but have never really understood it to have any real advantages for being more expensive. I find editing errors is far more long winded than on QB/Xero/FA so tend to prefer the latter three.

I'm trying to make fair and balanced comments about my experiences, but I am not considering P***** any further as it is just too slow (which is a shame, as having multicurrency at such a low price is a good feature).

Thanks in advance for your comments and wisdom.

Replies (3)

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By TidyCloud Accounting
01st Mar 2024 22:05

Xero Cashbook's are exactly that, cashbooks. They don't have sales invoicing which QB self employed does.

However, they do have bank feeds and the full range of accounting tools other than sales and purchase ledger.

I.e. You can edit COA, run full range of reports including balance sheets (Most Self Employed systems don't have this), Fixed Asset recording, accounting journals etc...

Basically, the full Xero system other than debtor and creditor ledger.

I find the ability to run proper accounts (PNL, BS, Cashflows etc...) through a Xero cashbook much easier than using the self employed tools elsewhere.

The caveat being that the client needs to raise invoices elsewhere. (Word, Excel, Mobile Apps etc...)

Thanks (1)
By J M SpringASL
04th Mar 2024 13:22

I tried Sage Start as the price was attractive. However it does not have a purchase ledger. I discovered the only way to enter a transaction with reverse charge VAT is by creating a purchase invoice. This was also true in Sage standard when I tried it last year.

So for VAT registered clients this is not an option.

I was also disappointed with Sage bank rules, you cannot have more than one criteria and cannot create a rule that splits a transaction.

I am becoming more and more disenchanted with Xero due to the unnecessary 'improvements' and lack of addressing basic requests from users for many years.


Thanks (1)
By tracey2412
14th Mar 2024 11:29

I use only Sage Cloud - I've been with them about 10 years - since the days when it was bloody awful but they've worked hard to make it comparable to the rest. I recently had to do a comparison for a potential client against Xero. I did a spreadsheet (of course!) - it's very basic but happy to send it if you like?

As I have a partner agreement with Sage, I pay less for the licences than a client going direct & am happy to pass on part of those savings to the client so can always be 'cheaper' (excluding the 3-6 months free that they all offer on new users). It earns me a little something every month so I'm happy.

Most of my sole trader / micro Ltds are on Start - for Paypal & other payment platforms where there is no direct bank feed, I take csv downloads & import like a 'bank statement' - works fine.
Some are on Std cos the recurring invoice feature is very useful if they do subscriptions or instalment plan payments. Most don't bother with the supplier ledger tbh.
I looked at Individual but you can't upgrade from it to Start or above - I found it very restrictive so have avoided it. In particular the fixed COA. I can edit COA in Sage Start & above quite easily & often do - to hide the ones the clients don't need to see to avoid as much error as possible!

I have recently got a few on FreeAgent & actually for a very simple sole trader (think service based locum or similar) who needs to send invoices & may or not be VAT registered, its actually quite good, though as with all - it does depend on the settings used on set-up whether the reports are accurate or not. Though its a bit of a pain on new VAT - it allows VAT on all pre-trading transactions or none & includes everything posted under a code that is usually VATable so you have to check each one to make sure it actually has VAT & is allowed. But I particularly like the expenses feature where they add stuff they pay for personally (like mileage) & it works out the VAT for them based on the car info they click. In Sage I have to do this manually as a journal. First time is a pain but after that its copy & over-write.
Hope that helps some?

Thanks (1)