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Am I wrong to reject Freeagent and Sage?

Freeagent has serious flaws, Sage are greedy

We have to decide NOW which software to go with.

FreeAgent
So far (for NatWest/RBS customers at least) Freeagent has been front-runner because it is free for them. We have been trialling it in our own business. The worry is committing to a product that just is not a serious accounting program.

You cannot control the Nominal Ledger codes properly - in one client account we have codes for wages north of 400, for another we cannot see that. You cannot make ANY changes to Balance Sheet codes and the thing does not understand the concept of credit notes and setting them off. Search online and there are Freeagent Forum posts going back years with smug responses from them about making the user experience simple and allowing accountants to sell 'other services' to clients

It is tantalising - we were told that 300 staff have been recruited by the new owners so perhaps in a month or so the program will be transformed. But we cannot wait for that

Sage
I'll let the text from an email I sent on Friday speak for itself;

"Thank you. To recap, it would cost £875.76 per annum (for the Client Manager), and it costs £59 to take your accreditation course - all for free from your competitors.

I am in the fortunate position of not having expended any time on the training, having no Sage clients and no need to sign any up. It looks like the perfect point at which to choose to stay out of the Sage ‘ecosystem’ !

Thank you for your wasted time"

Quickbooks and Xero
It looks like these will be our options of choice. I've completed their (free) training and very much liked what I saw, including ability to file accounts and Returns online direct from the software

Does anyone want to try dissuading me from dropping Freeagent and Sage?

 

 

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By mumpin
09th Feb 2019 10:21

I wouldn't disagree hugely with your views.
I moved a client with a £500k turnover who uses job costing from Sage to Quickbooks and they are not happy.
I think Quickbooks targets are OMBs with a turnover under £200k.
Sage is expensive but it is a serious product.
I prefer Xero to Quickbooks as it is more structured (N/L numerical codes etc).
New clients turn up who have set up their own Quickbooks and its a disaster.

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to mumpin
09th Feb 2019 10:41

Yeah thanks to the almost false advertising from QuickBooks on TV (they mention digital taxes but not VAT only) some clients buy it without checking then come in at year end with an electronic bag of receipts screwed up

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09th Feb 2019 11:33

If the answer is Sage I guarantee you’re asking the wrong question.

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09th Feb 2019 18:35

I use all of the above, tolerate Sage and hate Freeagent and Quickbooks (although have a ridiculous number of clients who have signed up to QB - it appears very simple for them to make a total dogs dinner of it all). Xero is my 1st choice - is user friendly but accurate and makes sense to an accountant - great budgeting and Mgt accounts tools as well as bookkeeping and financial accounts. kashflow is also worth considering, particularly if you use any Iris/Keytime accounts prep or tax return software

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09th Feb 2019 19:40

We won't touch any Sage products and only have a couple using Quickbooks. We mostly use and recommend Freeagent - it has it's limitations, but we've found that clients take to it more easily and make fewer mistakes. Sage is just too expensive and Quickbooks usually ends in disaster with clients just being unable to use it unless they're experienced book-keepers.

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By Anita14
09th Feb 2019 20:38

Sage is solid and transparent. Being desktop based you can run a backup before doing any critical operations and restore if it goes horribly wrong – from what I’ve seen you can’t do that in the cloud. Xero doesn’t offer batch processing for supplier invoices so would be very tedious for a quick data entry clerk. One of my Sage clients has a £4m turnover and the thought of them processing 2,000 transactions a month through Xero doesn’t bear thinking about. On the other hand, I think Xero or Quickbooks would be much more suitable for sole traders and small businesses. But one size doesn’t fit all, so it depends on what makes up your client base.

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to Anita14
10th Feb 2019 10:04

Hi Anita14. Anyone with a large quantity of supplier invoices would be well advised to use Receipt bank or auto entry for these to be automatically uploaded to the software concerned. The days of manual entry are coming to an end for those in the know.

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By Anita14
to Moonbeam
10th Feb 2019 10:56

Thank you, I’d be very interested to hear of your experience as I have recently been looking into ReceiptBank (and AutoEntry) for this particular client. I’ve used RB successfully with a sole trader where invoices are easy to code and follow basic rules, but couldn’t see how to apply to a larger organisation. One invoice might easily cover a dozen line items, each with differing department codes and authorisation. There are over 60 departments in total and some even have to be split by percentage not by line item. I couldn’t see how RB or AE could be quicker. If you’ve found the answer I’d be very grateful to hear it.

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to Anita14
10th Feb 2019 11:27

You have identified a major issue here for this client, I agree.

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to Anita14
11th Feb 2019 08:06

Yes - we've hit the same issue with a client with complex coding requirements. The bookkeeper has come to the conclusion it is quicker to enter them manually than correct RB or AE. The volumes are fairly low so it is clearly the correct decision.

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By johnt27
to Anita14
13th Feb 2019 00:04

If you're thinking of using RB or AE connected to Sage the integration is minimal and whilst it would save you time (in pure data entry time) it is a poor imitation of the integrations into both Xero and QBO, to a lesser extent.

There are always challenges around dealing with departments, line item extraction but these can be overcome or the burden reduced, such that your data entry requirements are minimal.

As for authorisation, again there are apps that will deal with that, even for the most convoluted of processes.

There are also new ones coming into the market that will deal with both invoice processing and approval in one, but again the integrations on offer as not as well developed as the current market offering. One further thing to note - not one of the apps I could mention, or I'm sure others could, develop for Sage first, they are very much an afterthought.

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to Anita14
11th Feb 2019 10:40

Sage is solid and transparent?

Sorry I would disagree with that.

The few decent sized clients I have on Sage have always have differences on the purchase ledger and sales leger control accounts and in one case that we moved to Xero had a trial balance difference.

The Sage desktop system for accountants is a pain as the client always has 10 year old version that you have to restore on two and sometimes three versions of Sage before you can start working on it.

Of course you have to back up Sage as it is constantly corrupting. Decent cloud software backs up, every time you post a transaction. Xero certainly has a more user friendly audit trail than Sage.

Regarding the 2,000 transactions have you looked at Hubdoc, Receipt Bank or Autoentry. I expect that the majority of those invoices are emailed into the client. You know they can be emailed into their Xero.

Finally is your £4 million turnover client ready for MTD. Have they had their quote for the MTD bolt on which is more than a full Xero subscription with unlimited users.

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By Anita14
to david.bransbury
11th Feb 2019 11:18

Oh dear! The only occasions that I have found differences in the sales and purchase ledger controls are when the operator has incorrectly posted adjusting journals from their accountant into the N/L rather than correcting in the ledger. Unfortunately all software is prone to error if operated incorrectly.

No, the bulk of invoices are received in hard copy at various locations, but agree that life would be simpler if they weren’t but that’s not the point of this thread.

Finally, Sage only charges extra for the MTD module if you are not on monthly subscription. I have already submitted an MTD VAT return through Sage and didn't need to pay any more to do it.

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to david.bransbury
11th Feb 2019 11:26

Most unlike me to be a defender of Sage but I have to disagree with much of that.

All software has its quirks. Sage PL and SL differences are down to a very small number of specific types of transaction timings and can be reconciled very quickly and clear the next month (or period) anyway.

I have to confess a 10 year old version would be more of a challenge. But the oldest I have in operation is 6 years and that just loads straight into client manager (which of course holds multiple versions of Sage); no conversion necessary.

Can't remember the last time I saw an irrecoverable corruption (it can happen of course) but very rare.

Sage and MTD is no problem (for this round of MTD at least). There is going to be plenty of low cost bridging software available. No need to take the Sage solution.

And the best thing for me and my clients is that it is free in the sense it is all sunk cost.

And it has a decent purchase ledger.

There are clients I wouldn't dream of moving off Sage (although whether I would put new ones on is a different question). It is robust and solid; just be aware of the quirks and have a proper backup routine in place.

Xero, QBO, VT, etc all have their place as well and I use all of them (although I hate QBO).

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to david.bransbury
11th Feb 2019 11:26

Most unlike me to be a defender of Sage but I have to disagree with much of that.

All software has its quirks. Sage PL and SL differences are down to a very small number of specific types of transaction timings and can be reconciled very quickly and clear the next month (or period) anyway.

I have to confess a 10 year old version would be more of a challenge. But the oldest I have in operation is 6 years and that just loads straight into client manager (which of course holds multiple versions of Sage); no conversion necessary.

Can't remember the last time I saw an irrecoverable corruption (it can happen of course) but very rare.

Sage and MTD is no problem (for this round of MTD at least). There is going to be plenty of low cost bridging software available. No need to take the Sage solution.

And the best thing for me and my clients is that it is free in the sense it is all sunk cost.

And it has a decent purchase ledger.

There are clients I wouldn't dream of moving off Sage (although whether I would put new ones on is a different question). It is robust and solid; just be aware of the quirks and have a proper backup routine in place.

Xero, QBO, VT, etc all have their place as well and I use all of them (although I hate QBO).

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By marks
10th Feb 2019 13:55

Personally i dont like Freeagent, QBO and Kashflow.

We have about 100 clients on Xero. Some of which use it themselves and some where they dont use at all and we use to do the bookkeeping or year end accounts.

Going forward we will probably look to use

1. Xero for bigger clients who want add on such as Futrli, GoCardless, Stripe

2. SAGE accounting for smaller clients who just want an piece of software to maintain the accounts. The online version from what I have seen does pretty much what the desktop version does eg batch processing, matching invoices against payments, etc. This version costs £22 + VAT (same as Xero) but we have been told that if we take out 50 licences will cost £5 + VAT per licence. So we will look to probably move a lot of the inhouse clients who are on Xero to SAGE accounting

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10th Feb 2019 15:19

Freeagent I don't like particularly, either. SAGE are as good as Xero, better in cases where supplier accounts are needed and Im not a great lover of Xeros payroll.

I'm currently talking to clients and depending on requirements recommending Xero and SAGE, or bespoke and bridging or excel and bridging. However, Im learning as many as possible as we will get new clients already using systems they are happy with. I also fear we will get a lot of QB new clients in future, who have signed up given their current advertising investment in alerting the world to MTD (at least they are doing a better job than HMRC).

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to Kaylee100
10th Feb 2019 15:59

The trouble is that QuickBooks are falsely advertising ALL taxes are digital now.

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10th Feb 2019 16:46

For me the issue you have is you have short listed Freeagent and Sage and not looked at the mRket leaders Xero and Qbo

Free agent is a decent product in its space of very small business or freelancers/ contractors but will struggle with more complex work

Sage cloud stuff is all over the place for me they would better off making the desk top stuff current by making bank feeds work properly and improved reporting I think it. Now works. With spotlight reporting

For me Xero is best as the 5 versions of the software offfer something for everyone and have clients on all packages

I am not a fan of QBO as feel they want to deal direct with clients and are misleading clients with how easy it is as I have done horror stories of people who bought it from the TV advert without an accountants input at the start and made a right hash

I also find Xero is easier to correct if clients mess up and the bank feeds are far better

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to Glennzy
10th Feb 2019 17:42

Forgive me, but the point of this thread is that I am considering rejecting Freeagent and Sage, not the other way round.

But your experience is very welcome, thank you

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10th Feb 2019 17:56

Thank you for all your comments over the weekend - I hope that more will join in when the working week starts.

We are actually starting a stand-alone bookkeeping business. Your comments have inspired me to draft the following;

"The hard truth is that accountants are dreading having to sort out the messes people will make - for which they will in turn have to charge higher fees. It’s not as easy as the TV ads make out."

and

"You can offload the job to us. Your trusted accountant with LOVE what we do - industry-standard book-keeping letting them do their job properly"

I take the point that Sage has its advantages for larger businesses - importing invoices in bulk being a major attraction. I wonder if they are all that bothered about the 'bottom end'?

I agree that Quickbooks (and HMRC) are creating unrealistic expectations that members of the AccountingWeb community will have to sort out.

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By Sebacic
11th Feb 2019 09:18

As a tiny business, I use Wave Accounting, a free app which lets me take a photo of receipts and import a csv of my bank account. I'm hoping I'll be able to find an accountant who won't cry at my stupidity.

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11th Feb 2019 09:59

There is currently a bit of a storm going on in America about QuickBooks. They are trialling in-house bookkeeping for their customers.

QuickBooks are adamantly saying they don't want to replace accountants.

Is this another KPMG scenario or something we have to worry about.

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11th Feb 2019 13:52

well i certainly wouldn't use Sage , its gone from hero to zero over 20 years. I use QBO (& QBD) these are different animals and in respect of QBO it appears that accountants are slow to change their mindset thereto. Job costing does work well on QBO in the Plus version you can use classes in the essentials version. Also I suggest that if clients are going to use it it you try and encourage them to bin nominal / general ledger codes

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11th Feb 2019 14:51

IMPORTANT UPDATE !

Full marks to Sage for noticing the sarcasm in my email of Friday, and ringing me back today. It turns out that the chap I was dealing with was taking me down the 'desktop' route.

For Sage One Online they DO appear to have a similar payment structure to their competitors (serious discounts to end users who purchase through the accountant) and whilst the training costs £1250 (!!!!) they'll waive that.

So I'm having a phone session next Tuesday to appraise the offering.

... I thought my life was getting simple, with only two suppliers now support. Looks like that may have gone back up to three.

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By johnt27
12th Feb 2019 23:57

I knew this question had been asked before and my advice hasn't changed. I refrained from reposting something from 2011 which was more or less the same but did unearth some old chestnuts - Orbit software and Will Farnell sticking to Kashflow before he saw the light :)

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/which-cloud-software-should-...

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