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Why Sage? Why do accountants 'like books kept in Sage'?!

Why Sage? Why do accountants 'like books kept...

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I've been wondering this for a while now.

Why DO accountants like books to be kept in Sage?

Presumably it's because it's easier to take figures from Sage into accounts production software, thus making the process easier.

I'm honestly baffled though, because I loathe receiving Sage files. There are a million and one expense accounts, which don't correspond to the TB accounts in VT (our accounts production software). It takes a long time just to translate a Sage TB into a VT TB.

I would guess that most accountants use something like Digita, PTP or VT to produce accounts (i.e. not Sage's offering). Therefore why is Sage perceived to be easier? I've not tried Digita or PTP so if their CoA broadly matches Sage, I can understand. Does it?

I know that historically, Sage was 'the' bookkeeping software and became the standard.

It is still really preferred? We would be interested to know as the other folk in the office can't work it out either!

~Monsoon (not a Sage fan)

Replies (10)

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By Anonymous
17th May 2010 14:09

Beats me

I hate SAGE too ... i do not understand why anyone would use it ....  especially an accountant ... it is an absolute nightmare to correct things on SAGE especially when a client makes a mess of the balances ...

We use Iris and the CoA is nowhere near Sage's CoA  ...


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By Ken Howard
17th May 2010 14:20

It's all they're used to!

You're not alone in thinking that.  In various fora, including this one, many accountants are openly saying that they don't like Sage and are encouraging clients to use other software.  I, for one, move clients away from Sage if at all possible, as soon as I can.  The vast majority of small business clients don't need to use it and can use something else cheaper and/or better and/or easier. 

The thing is that a lot of accountants have never used anything else.  Go back to the advent of the desktop PC and all we had was Sage & Pegasus.  The worker drones who used them are now partners and because they don't know anything else, they impose Sage on their worker drones who in turn impose it on the clients.  Another factor is that many accountants are Sage "resellers" so make a profit on selling Sage to their clients and then make a profit on teaching the client how to use it.

The only thing going for Sage is momentum.  It's taught at college etc and is the most widely used software.  It stays as best seller because it's well known and used.  That doesn't mean it's the best!

For my practice, we're well and truly converted to cloud computing, offering both Kashflow and Freeagent and it's revolutionised our working with clients.  We're no longer spending time correcting their posting errors etc and instead are spending time on true "accountancy" such as business development and tax planning.  Both systems are so easy to use, the clients actually give feedback that they "enjoy" doing the book-keeping, and they are literally thrilled to start seeing "real" and understandable management information out of the systems.  One of the latest clients we converted from quickbooks to kashflow is now producing their first meaningful management accounts for a decade - everything is balancing - the ledgers make sense, the control accounts all reconcile - VAT return produced in just a couple of seconds - client actually complaining that we didn't convert them sooner!

Sage and QB - RIP!

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By 3569787
03rd May 2016 19:00

Why in deed?

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By zarathustra
17th May 2010 16:39

Still has lions share of the market

I think that the reason is it still has such a large section of the market accountants think that, as they cannot be familiar with every brand of software , they might as well use one that is pretty widespread.

However there are many problems, not least the cost/upgrade policy, complexity, and the fact that there is no decent online offering.

However, there are some useful features such as the departments, and the data is relatively easy to export to excel. VT transaction+, our other common software wouldnt provide all of the features required for managemnt accounting, of which we have many clients.

I quite like the myriad of accounts codes because it cuts down the amount of analysis required at the year end. You can just bundle together half a dozen accounts and post to sundries for expanle, and your sundries schedule is effectively prepared for you.


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By Steve Holloway
17th May 2010 17:01

I'm lazy that's why!

I know the product inside out, most of the commercial bookkeepers are familiar with it and in 'instant' form it is cheap enough. Why wouldn't I use it? It's like excel and word ... yes other products may be better but why would I want to invest the time to find out?

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By yorsolution
17th May 2010 18:30

I hate it - but it's got me business!

I too hate Sage, so many clients are sold Sage by their accountant when it is totally unsuitable for their needs. However, we have gained quite a lot of business from clients who have contacted us to help them sort out their bookkeeping records on Sage on a "short-term" basis but have gone on to engage us to manage all the bookkeeping on a regular basis and we've then eventually gained the year-end accounts too!

I have always suspected that accountants recommend Sage because they are (a) lazy and (b) can make money from it - but maybe I'm just too cynical?




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By Paul Scholes
17th May 2010 22:07

Ken seconded

Saw the question, formulated an answer in my head and then saw Ken (and Steve) beat me to it. 

I too have been amazed over the years at how many accountants still swear by sage and impose it on their  clients, without thought.  I was fortunate in having been turned off Sage and its clunky ways back in the 80s by a colleague and discovering Quicken and Quickbooks which were modern, cheap and flexible with reporting functionality that made Sage appear quill pen-like.  I have kept an open mind ever since and match systems as closely as possible to client needs, which is why, within a year 90% of my business clients will be using online accounting.

Sage will rumble on and may, eventually, get the online thing but it may find that it has to wait some time until the bandwidth catches up with its cart horse functionality, by which time most small businesses will be using something else.

Having said all that, there is a way to go.  I got a call from Barclays last week to say they were sending over a new business who needed an accountant.  In they trotted with their Barclays Business Manager box full of dubious software, including Sage Instant.  They were just given it & told to sign on the line, no advice or thought over whether it suited their needs and whether the £xx per month fee they pay Barclays is VFM, ie the bank (accountant) says it's best so it must be true?

Steve, your comments were honest but do you repeat them to your clients? ie there may be something better out there for you but why should I waste my time to find out?  There is almost certainly something better out there and not only might it be better for the client and make him happier but there's every possibility there's money &/or less grief in it for you too.

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By gilbertdeclare
18th May 2010 12:21

No good for Corporation Tax

The majority of my clients who are using QuickBooks pay between £250 to £350 per annum for Corporation Tax work whereas the clients using Sage are paying  30% more because of the extra time required to complete the work. It is difficult  to get detail breakdown of expenditure. Likewise the Accounts work is more expensive but even more so !

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By timmit
18th May 2010 20:59

Another way of looking at it...

If you get there first and assist the client in setting up Sage you can impose an Iris code nominal ledger and chart of accounts on them before they know any different!

If they are running with the default Sage codes and, let's face it, they nearly all do (except for a few incremental tweaks) you can still set up an import in Iris and others to map the usual account codes in Sage across to the equivalent Iris codes...

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By Paul Scholes
18th May 2010 22:57

IRIS Codes

Hi timmit, I know we are the "chosen ones" but not everyone uses iris, anyway "mapable" or not, it doesn't change the view of many that Sage is past its sell by date and not necessarily the best thing for a client.   Even better (I hope) is online Irisopenbooks where the TB is directly identifiable by Iris.

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