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Sage bookkeepers

Sage bookkeepers

Hi there

I am interested in buying a bookkeeping franchise that uses Sage 50 Accounts - could anyone please tell me if there is a high demand for Sage bookkeepers from accountants in practice who need to outsource some of their bookkeeping/VAT work? 

Thanks very much.



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29th Nov 2011 12:10


I dislike sage very much.  A couple of my clients use it and if that is what they want to do then so be it, but I would actively try to stop a new client from choosing it.

Sorry if that is not what you wanted to hear....

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29th Nov 2011 12:39

All depends on your 'target' clients

For the majority of small business, Sage is not necessary, and is over complicated, slower in use, and expensive, when compared to other offerings.

I would never recommend Sage for small business, and I cannot imagine that any other size business would need a freelance bookkeeper, but I may be wrong!

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29th Nov 2011 12:41

Keep clear

I think that you will find that most accountants in practice will not touch sage at all. We only use it where clients use it

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29th Nov 2011 12:48


I do not understand the hostility towards Sage. If clients are helped to master the basics then it works well. How else do clients control sales on credit to customers and purchases on credit from suppliers.

I support Sage but loathe Quickbooks - as it has too many glitches due to being a north american product converted for UK use.

On book keepers and Sage. If they are good they can be a help to clients and the accountant. If poor,which in my experience most are , they represent a false economy and cause more hassle than benefit.



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to DMGbus
29th Nov 2011 21:18

Everyone hates Sage

Thats why they have massive domination of the industry, I can't imagine anything better for small business records and it is definitely not expensive if you buy it through an accountant.  Same rules as for other software though rubbish in=rubbish out.


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29th Nov 2011 13:00

@steve kavanagh

You have hit the nail on the head with this comment ...

On book keepers and Sage. If they are good they can be a help to clients and the accountant. If poor,which in my experience most are , they represent a false economy and cause more hassle than benefit. 

Most small business owners don't have the time, or the inclination, to learn Sage properly, so the data is useless. Give the same guy a simpler piece of software that is more user friendly and you will usable data.

To take just one example .... he enters a figure wrong. To amend this in Sage is fraught with danger, assuming it's possible at all. I find most people are scared to alter anything in Sage, and it is justified, because they generally make the situation worse.

It may seem ok to put them on Sage if you have an experienced freelancer, but what if the day comes when they want wifey or hubbie to take over the bookkeeping? Teach them how to use Sage properly (Arghhhhhh!) or waste lots of their time/money by moving the data to something easier for them?

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By Rikos
29th Nov 2011 13:22


I have noticed a large amount of negativity towards Sage but to be honest it is only as bad as the user in most cases.

I took on a client last year who was moving across to Sage and having never used Sage at all I found it relatively straight forward and have no issues. The only thing I will say is that the reporting is not great for things like suppliers to pay etc but thats about it.

In response to Steve Kavanagh about making a mistake in Sage. Making a mistake is the same regardless of what system you use. You either reverse what you did to take it out or do an adjustment transaction. With Sage if you make a mistake you can delete the item and start again, that doesnt seem to fraught with danger. Obviously you just have to have the knowledge of month end dates etc but anyone doing book keeping should be well aware of these.

In answer to your question Ann, there probably isnt a large amount of demand for Sage specific book keepers but then most book keepers either do the books on their system (which would be Sage with you) or use the clients system. I wouldnt advertise yourself as Sage only as that would limit you dramatically.

I hope this helps.


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29th Nov 2011 14:11


If you know it inside out (and I used to) its a decent bit of kit but once you use other software you realise how many years behind the curve it it. I find most SAGE fans simply haven't used anything else for years, or have only done so superficially.

My main bugbears (apart from the attitude of the company) are inability to easily change transactions properly even with full 'god' access and the poor reporting/lack of drill downs. Its fairly basic functionality to double click on a line and see what's behind it without writing down the code and switching to another screen. Not possible of course with SAGE due to the ancient architecture.  There is also the added pressure that you cant undertake simple reporting until the year end is run, a problem unique to SAGE which means clients on it tend to want their year end completed within a short space of time.

Training a non-accountant to use it is very hard work indeed, not least due to the difficulties in error correction.

That said a good bookkeeping on SAGE can work very well but I would argue could do so equally as well on other software and with other software year end adjustments take seconds to do and dont require journals.

Its main use is not in a mico biz, but one probably with 10+ employees where the owner is not the same person as the bookkeeper and the frustrating parts of SAGE are to its advantage in terms of fraud prevention.

Its also a complete rip off to run it in-practice with full licences required for each client.

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29th Nov 2011 14:12

Plenty of others

Whilst it's true that Sage is fine with proper training and data entry, I can't see why anyone would go through that for no obvious benefits.  We use VT in house and have recommended it to loads of clients - we get excellent results back from very little training.  That costs £125 for a full ledger based system.  As for the post saying that all systems require deletion or adjustment entries for a wrong entry, then that's just not the case - in most systems you can simply edit the original transaction.  Certainly in VT, it's very quick and simple to double click on an entry and edit the analysis - just a few seconds.  It's also very easy to de-allocate and re-allocate supplier/customer payments against invoices which is a nightmare to attempt in Sage.  Then there's reporting - with VT you can simply double click on the P&L or balance sheet to drill down to view (and edit) the original data entry which I understand isn't anywhere near that simple in Sage.  As for Quickbooks, yes, I agree they've recently botched it especially with VAT, but otherwise it's similar to VT due to the ease of drill down and data entry corrections.  In both VT and QB, the bank reconciliation procedure is also far quicker and simpler than Sage, and neither have the cumbersome period end close downs in Sage.  So, overall, whilst Sage will do what it says on the tin, it's expensive, takes more time for training, harder to edit, and reporting isn't as good.  That's why there's a lot of negativity - it's been well and truly overtaken by its competitors.

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29th Nov 2011 14:44

Thank you for all your replies - Sage certainly gets mixed reviews. I'll give the franchise some more thought & do some more research.

Thanks again



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29th Nov 2011 14:56


Generally, it's medium sized older companies that use Sage and they should be able to do their book keeping and VAT in house.

Twenty years ago, Sage probably was the leading package and accountants would mutter things like you can't go wrong wiith Sage.

However, as other people have said the new generation software is much better and generally newer businesses are looking at VT ,Kashflow, Xero and so on.

I would think hard before signing up for a franchise based on a  legacy system with a contracting market share and look at some of the modern systems.









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29th Nov 2011 14:58

Playstation and XboX

These debates always remind me of debates about playstation vs xbox.


There are fanboys on both sides.


Just looking at VT and Sage my two pence:


Sage is much more intuitive for my liking. The supplier/customer/company/bank tabs make inherent sense to me and once you know the software quite well it's fantasic - particularly if you want to monitor profit and cost centres / product lines.


VT is excellent value for money and if your requirements are not overly complex and you want something at a good price then it's the best piece of software on the market - coupled with it's final accounts too. However, I just feel it's aesthetic design is really REALLY shoddy. Sometimes I wonder "I have downloaded the right software?" when I see all the fanboys raving about how amazing it is. It's really good, no doubt, but there are room for improvements.

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29th Nov 2011 15:38

Horses for courses

Sage does a few things that VT doesn't do (like enhanced security), but they aren't of any importance to the standard small business. VT does lots of things that Sage cannot do, and these are useful to the standard small business. Compare the costs for multiple companies and save tons by using VT.

My favourite features of VT:

Drill down

One click extract to Excel

Ability to amend virtually anything, including changing bank payments to become supplier payments, and vice versa.

Ability to add/amend transactions to bank rec while on the fly

one click change of reporting period

I could list loads more but I'll stop there!

I advise my clients what I think will be best for them and always take the view that they may (at some point in the future) take on their own bookkeeper. Good Sage bookkeepers are very hard to come by!

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29th Nov 2011 16:35

yes sage it has a few bugs,

yes sage it has a few bugs, but don't they all. A good bookkeeper will know away round these which should set you apart from the other below standard bookkeepers out there (which there are a lot!)

There is a good demand for quality bookkeepers.

I wouldn't go with a franchise though. Try working with local firms of accountants. If you impress them, they will in time provide you with loads of work! 


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29th Nov 2011 19:14

Yes back to the OP, a franchinse? For bookkeeping? Madness.

Good bookkeepers are ALWAYS in demand. Its all about you and your skills, why let a franchisor cream off a big slice of the profits?

If you are good then just contact local accountants and let them know you are with skills, without work and if they know of any clients looking for help.  I am ALWAYS looking for good bookkeepers for our clients given the hopeless ones many seem to put up with. When I find a good one, I fill up all their time!

Re SAGE, well i have access to loads of different software products to run my own business. My tool of choice?  Xero. I have just reconciled my bank for the day, 4 transactions took precisely 6 clicks in all, (one to link to the software and enter the password, one to goto the bank rec and four clicks to reconcile as 3 were payment receipts of invoices that already exist which of course Xero spotted and suggested as a match and one a regular payment auto identified by SAGE and suggest the correct postings). Total time around 60 seconds.

I should of course point out the bank feed was of course already there and I didn't have to look at my bank account either. I defy anyone to do that in SAGE in less time.


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29th Nov 2011 20:03

Sage bookkeeping

Hi again

Thank you all so much for your advice - I have decided not to go with the franchise idea. Having given it a lot of thought I have decided to go to some local networking events & hopefully meet some accountants!

I must say VT is my favourite software as it is so easy to use, but I also like using Sage - probably because I've had Sage training & been lucky enough to not have too many problems with it (yet).

I really appreciate all your advice - you are all very friendly and helpful on this site, thank you.



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30th Nov 2011 07:27

Buy through an accountant?

 ... when I was in the Sage Accountants Club the power sellers were selling Sage on Ebay cheaper than I could buy it myself ... direct from Sage, so I always pointed potential purchasers to Ebay!

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to Samantha20
30th Nov 2011 20:53

Point taken

ShirleyM wrote:

 ... when I was in the Sage Accountants Club the power sellers were selling Sage on Ebay cheaper than I could buy it myself ... direct from Sage, so I always pointed potential purchasers to Ebay!

My point is, it is not expensive and also it is not too much for a small business in terms of technical requirements.  It's perfect for anyone who will have over 1,000 transactions a year, and has a modicum of sense.


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Just read the pile of replies - I can't see that anyone has answered the question about demand, but I think the answer to your question is that people who have proper financial management training dislike Sage and the way it "dumbs down" the book-keeping process, whilst those who are not natural book-keepers, eg small business owners, who recognise the need to be diligent, love it.

I have a foot in each camp - I learned Sage through nescessity, when I managed a manufacturing business, before my formal accountancy training, and now spend much of my time using those tools to help small businesses, who's owners are busy delivering chargeable services to their clients.

It's difficult to see how Sage can keep up with new cloud based technologies, especially since they are cheaper and don't require back ups or upgrades !

I wouldn't invest in Sage today, but I cling doggedly to it because it's one of my core skill sets and there is demand amongst business owners for the skills in how it operates - best use is to record keep in Sage, then export .CSV files to Excel for the real business insight.

Good luck in your decision, and focus on the destination you seek, not the prettiest journey.



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01st Dec 2011 08:45

Getting information out

Much of the antipathy towards Sage will come because of the difficulty in getting information out, and those aspects of Sage reporting that are just plain annoying.  It's based on an old, old flat field database and just cannot compete with better written software.  It's based on the kind of technology that was around when Ford Cortinas were being made, and it shows.

Three examples - and there are plenty more.

Who on here hasn't run a report on the nominal, sales or purchase ledger only to find that somewhere there is one inadvertetly highlighted blue line so the report covers one code or one customer?  This despite the fact that the report parameters specificy the full range.

What about the time that you export information from a nominal code to Excel so that you can manipulate it, but Sage leaves in all of the deleted transactions and they are included in the totals.  That leaves me speechless.

And what about the time that you report for a set period, but want to go in and change the dates?  Sage simply doesn't compare with Quickbooks or nearly any other program in that respect.


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to leshoward
02nd Dec 2011 15:11

Make sure you get a fair view about what it can and can,t do


I run my own bookkeeping practice in Glasgow and 95% of all the businesses  use sage.   Most of my clients use the Invoicing Module, Stock system, Cash Sales POS system .  Purchase Ordering Processing , Sales Ordering processing  all of these also link to the stock system.  It creates Dispatch / Delivery notes are can be used purely serviced based industry.  They also use the communications tab heavily for Chasing Payment and making payments in both the Suppliers and Customers module .   There is also a detailed invoice report to highlight exactly what should be paid and when.   My clients also use the project costing more now because of the current climate.


If used to it its best Sage does not dumb down information and I have a proper Financial Background.  I have raised this issue before , sage can do most of the things many claim it can,t and I feel it down to a lack of training.  If you don,t want to to the training or learn how to use the package then I do not have a problem with that.  But I think the statement like my understanding is Sage cannot do   ......... would be better rather then a point blank it definitely does not do that.  This can be said for all softwares and programs. 

 Accountants might not like it but plenty of businesses do.

Like any program the information is only as good as people using it.  So if an accountant ,bookkeeper staff at the clients premises do not know how to use it then information may well be incorrect.  Most people use Excel and many have had training and those who have know how to use it really well .  It is no different to any other software.  Training makes a huge difference .   I trained on how to use a MAC correctly  .  I also train all members of a clients staff how to use it for their needs

 There are a lot of statements here about what sage can and cannot do.  May I suggest you take a look Sage Discussion Group and look at the threads, because you will see lots of statements about what sage cannot do and then members who know how to sage works explaining that it can. It would give you a better judgement. 

For example the above poster says Sage show all deleted items .  It is your choice if you want to see deleted items.  Go to the Settings on the menu bar . Pick the Company preferences , just go to the Parameters tab and tick the box to exclude deleted transactions .

I would also like to add .  I provide management accounts for all my clients, those who use sage in the above detail would probably like the bookkeeper to be at the premises.  

Kind regards Sarah Douglas . Douglas Accountancy & Bookkeeping Services Glasgow 

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to A Chandley
03rd Dec 2011 18:17

I am an accountant

I would not use anything else given the choice, I have used Sage for over 10 years, it can do about anything that the large majority of businesses will need, and the rest are merely poor imitations IMHO.


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By BirdnCo
03rd Jan 2012 20:26

Sage - yuck!
I agree with most accountants in practice, stay clear of Sage full stop. It is fine for trained book keepers, but when you come to prepare final accounts therefrom, that is when accountants in practice have the problems. Most people are not trained book-keepers and if all accounts are not reconciled that is when the problems start. Sage is so difficult to extract the information to prepare final accounts when compared to other accounting packages that are far easier to use and less costly!

For straight forward book-keeping, I always recommend VT Transaction and advise client's to stay clear of Sage!

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