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Most efficient way of book-keeping

Currently using sage

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I would appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this.

We currently have a fairly large number of book-keeping clients. Probably 98% of them are on Sage line 50 which is maintained solely by us. The clients are in a wide variety of industries but you could probably group them as follows:

1) Construction

2) Restaurants/Pubs

3) Service industry (recruitment/IT) etc

4) Other

I know lots of firms have rolled out Xero to all their clients, we have had experience with Xero (remaining 2% above plus clients who do their own bk) but we are not convinced enough to follow suit as yet.

As you will all appreciate, the types of clients included within the above will all be completely different and therefore it is difficult to create a one size fits all position.

We still manually enter everything onto Sage and my concern is that we do not slip behind in terms of efficiency. What is everyone else doing with their BK clients, what problems have you come across and what have been the benefits of changing your software/system etc.? 


Thanks in advance 


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By SXGuy
19th Jul 2019 07:14

First thing i do, is not use sage.

2nd thing I do, is find something else.

I use quickfile. Find it very good to be honest.

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19th Jul 2019 07:29

For various reasons I use quite a few different types of software for different clients - Sage, QB, FreeAgent, Xero. Some clients do a lot of their own data entry and some do none. The efficiencies come when nobody does it, you get the software to gain its data direct from source. The inefficiencies arrive with errors in coding/understanding from the clients. And it has taken me some time to understand that some clients are just never going to get it right and you shouldn’t let them anywhere near it. It takes much longer to correct their errors. You can upload data direct from the bank, you could download bank data as a .cvs file, code it up and then upload it, you can enter data manually, or do a mixture. Data from tills can also be exported as .csv files and used. Work out how to ‘touch’ the data the least.

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19th Jul 2019 07:59

VT Transaction Plus

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19th Jul 2019 08:13

I think it's one of those horses for courses answers and you need to find the balance between the number of packages you are willing/able to be fully conversant with and support against the best individual client solutions.

I do like VT Transaction+ but it doesn't suit some, Xero is OK although I've never really fallen in love with it and is probably one of the best if you have a high volume of transactions where you can import invoices and use bank feeds. I have one client for which good old fashioned desktop Sage is just ideal and I wouldn't dream of changing them from it.

Personally I find Quickbooks a frustrating version of Xero but some swear by it.

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19th Jul 2019 08:17

Depends on the clients - we have lots with foreign reporting needs. Xero and QBO deal with these relatively well but also use FreeAgent and Sage 50 still.

The live feeds in Xero/QBO and FreeAgent save so much time, that I would seriously consider switching to those, particularly where you can set up rules for regular transactions so it does a lot of thinking for you. It also makes it easier for clients to be able to look at their own data and even help out where appropriate.

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By raj1234
19th Jul 2019 10:14

I am currently going through a similar transition. We have a lot of 'shoebox' clients, and feel that cloud based systems are the best way forward. I like receipt bank and it integrates with Sage accounting. Sage have improved this product over the past few years.

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19th Jul 2019 13:34

Whilst you say its difficult to create "a one size fits all position" I would disagree with that.

Xero or QBO + Bank Feed + Receipt Bank will give you massive benefits across all clients.

On top of that you could add some more personal stuff like GoCardless, Chaser etc to improve invoice payments, which may not effect all of them.

I do believe RB works with Sage but not as good as it does with Xero. If you are doing the work in house Xero will also sell you a block of bureau licences which are cheaper than normal retail price.

You can also migrate all the Sage stuff to Xero quite easily and retain a good chunk of the historic data using Move my Books.

I have been migrating a few people over from Sage lately as they simply were unaware of alternatives but all very happy with the time savings they now have.

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to Glennzy
19th Jul 2019 10:58

I'm going to stick with "not a one size fits all position".

"Xero or QBO + Bank Feed + Receipt Bank will give you massive benefits across all clients. " Many clients have benefits. Massive, I'm not convinced. With bank feed failures, misanalyses, etc, the problems with legacy systems are sometimes replaced by different issues. But I accept there can be substantial time savings and efficiencies for some clients.

And I still have one Sage client where I just cannot see the benefits that a move to Xero would bring because of the nature of their activities and accounting requirements. (That view arises from a considered review not a luddite approach).

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to paulwakefield1
19th Jul 2019 13:38

Bank Feed failures dont really happen now, will reduce further when new generation start in next few weeks.

Misanlyses (is this a word) surely your doing the bookkeeping. If set up correctly human error should be eradicated.

From your answers you seem dismissive of the responses trying to help you and look like you have made the decision to stay with Sage

Good luck with that.

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to Glennzy
19th Jul 2019 14:14

Bank feed failures. I can assure you they do still happen. Two weeks outage last month for one bank that one of my clients use. Good to hear they are about to become a thing of the past.

Yep "Misanalyses" is a word but possibly not the correct word in the circumstances. A lot of human intervention to ensure correct posting is required - a lot of one off invoices or one supplier to a number of different projects needs a close watch.

I think you may be under the impression I am the OP. I am not. I am not wedded to Sage - my clients primarily use VT, Xero and Sage with a bit of QBO and Excel thrown in. But I am wedded to the idea of horses for courses.

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to paulwakefield1
19th Jul 2019 14:21

Why are you answering as if you are the original poster then.

Have you got 2 accounts.

Things like bars and restaurants and construction tend to be purchase invoice heavy.

I have small restaurants that have 500+ purchase invoices per month I would not dream of entering them manually RB clears that all up.

Construction also tend to have a lot of supplier invoices but tend to only deal with a few suppliers the fetch feature in RB or Hubdoc again makes these jobs a breeze.

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to Glennzy
19th Jul 2019 14:45

Eh? My original "horses for courses" response supported the not one size fits all concept which you then challenged as you are entitled to. Maybe you missed that it was my second response in the thread.

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19th Jul 2019 12:43

For Bookkeeping it would be VT Transaction everyday of the week for me.

To improve efficiency further we ask clients to download a CSV file of their bank transactions, we created a spreadsheet that takes the csv file for each bank and puts it in to the headings VT requires and makes it a PAY or REC. You then just need to put the transaction to the correct analysis account, however, once you have done it a few times you can highlight the cells and right click then "auto-complete" and it fills in the details it thinks are correct (similar to bank feeds)

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By johnt27
19th Jul 2019 13:07

SA2016 wrote:

We still manually enter everything onto Sage and my concern is that we do not slip behind in terms of efficiency.

I think it's fair to say, by dint of your query, that you have slipped behind what others have pointed out as the benchmark in terms of efficiency of time. Cost being another matter.

You could do one of two things: stick with Sage or switch to an alternative cloud provider. The overrider is what's the catalyst for change and why now?

For all its significant failings Sage 50 is slowly being brought into the 21st century by virtue of the ongoing disruption in the digital marketplace. Openbanking means that bank feeds for all major banks will appear in Sage soon, bringing parity with cloud providers, essentially closing a 10 year old market differentiator. The current implementation of feeds in Sage is nowhere near as slick or efficient as most cloud providers but you'll gain something here. Receipt Bank also "integrates" with Sage 50 removing the need to manually process purchase invoices or bank statements, where feeds aren't available. Again, as for bank feeds, this type of integration isn't a patch on the comprehensive API integrations developed with cloud providers but will nudge you in the right direction.

As for cloud you've got lots of choices but the market leaders (for what this means) are Xero and QBO. The benefits of which are huge ecosystems of integrated, time saving, apps which cover varying sectors and business processes. Where others dismiss connected apps as creating differing problems this is wholly down to implementation and understanding the limitations of what these apps are capable of.

If you switch to cloud, you need to balance the relative disruption this will bring from converting your Sage clients along with learning new products and changing existing workflows/processes. If you own the process (as bookkeepers I don't know why you wouldn't) then both you and your clients will benefit. If you don't then others eventually will.

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19th Jul 2019 15:32

Gently I would suggest that it does not matter which one you choose. Changing the tech is pointless unless you change the system to make full use of it.

All cloud based packages work in a very different way to Sage 50. You will need to change to a new set of processes, systems and mind set, irrespective of the package you choose, to make this work for you.

I would suggest going deep with one package, rather than a number of different packages, understand that your staff will take a lot of nursing along to make the transition to your new systems (some will never transition). You will get some resistance from clients as the way you do things change and you may need to review pricing, after all who will be paying the monthly subscription cost

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By SA2016
19th Jul 2019 18:33

Thank you all, greatly appreciated.

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24th Jul 2019 12:07

When advising on software, I think the main considerations are :

1. Who is inputting the data into the programme?
2. Which software best suits the needs of the inputter?

If the client is maintaining the records, there is little point choosing a programme they struggle to adapt to / understand, as you will waste hours unpicking their messes at year-end.

For example, years ago I worked on a job where the client knew enough about Sage to post onto it, but not enough to keep sensible records. He posted car hire charges to the balance sheet (fixed assets) and according to Sage was £100,000 overdrawn at the bank but had £105,000 cash in the safe because he didn't know he needed to post a transfer from petty cash to the bank on sage when he 'banked' takings and he wasn't the worst client I dealt with...

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