Sage iXBRL accounts production tools delayed

Kashflow logo
Share this content

Sage confirmed that its accounts production programs will not be ready before the 1 April deadline when firms will have to start efiling iXBRL year end accounts with their Corporation Tax returns.

People inside and outside Sage have been aware for some time of the company’s struggle to incorporate the iXBRL functionality into Sage Accounts Production (SAP) and Sage Accounts Production Advanced (SAPA). The latest delay is the third time that the delivery deadline has been shifted back.

Generating the iXBRL output from a final accounts program is widely accepted to be the most efficient way to deal with HMRC’s iXBRL requirement, and not having these products ready in time for April is a major embarrassment for Sage. Sage’s head of R&D Ben Bishop is no longer with the organisation and has gone to “seek new challenges” according to Sage Accountants Division managing director Jayne Archbold.

Please Login or Register to read the full article

The full article is available to registered members only. To read the rest of this article you’ll need to login or register. Registration is FREE and allows you to view all content, ask questions, comment and much more.

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and


Please login or register to join the discussion.

21st Jan 2011 15:37

Writing in SMS text now?

In the above article, what does this paragraph mean?

"Sage’s Ben Bishop no longer with org. gone across to new challenges; Talking iXBRL & not code it. Fully u/stand ixbrol and will be compliant. New dev – iXBRL is only one tiny part o that. If we wanted to rel, we could get it out. Not."


Thanks (0)
21st Jan 2011 16:43


OK, OK - my raw typed notes sneaked in there unobserved. I was obviously too excited to check the piece properly.

The proper version of Jayne Archbold's answer will appear shortly. thanks to your eagle eyes Adrian, the world will be able to compare it with the contemporaneous notes...

Apologies to all concerned.

Thanks (0)
21st Jan 2011 17:51

Interesting insight..

 .. into the workings of the mind of the investigative journalist :-) Thought maybe you were inadvertently channelling iXBRL

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 12:23

Smug faces all round in this office!

 We are now very pleased that we moved to Digita a few months ago! We were happy with it anyway but this is the sort of news that makes you really feel you made the right decision.

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 12:24

Nice to see journalism


Good article, nice to see a news journalist rather than just the re-pumped press releases we see in most places these days. 

Minor typo in that you have repeated one sentence twice when adding it to the website. 



Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 12:25


Am i reading this right then:

We're currently SAPA users so we can't file CT returns at all from 1/4/2011 unless we use the product supplied by Thomson Reuters (ie Digita) and wait for an update "later this year" whenever that might be.

As a current user of the rest of Digita's suite, this could be the end of SAPA for us then too.

Hope i'm reading that wrong, maybe it's the end of the SA period and i need a break..

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 12:40

Well done Sage

I suppose that's what happens when you build a software company by buying the competition, rather than building your own software. You end up having to learn someone else's software after upsetting all the staff who knew it inside out and backwards. Then along comes a major tweak and no one left knows enough to get you out of the mess.

At least when Iris reinvented itself a few years back, going from one databse to Sequel, it knew all of the software was written in the same language. SAp, SAPA, C Tax etc are all different languages, therefore no wonder it is a problem trying to shoehorn them all into talking to each other.

Only draw back is, we use SAGE!

Not happy at all about this.

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 12:50

Stuck with Sage ?

I am sure there will be migration possibilities !

David Forbes

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 14:48


We've been a loyal Sage user for a very long time now, but this is pushing us very close to dumping it. First we had Practice Solution which is rubbish compared to the old Time and Fees and now this. SAP is so inefficient to use, its a joke (for example why can't you just click a button in the print options to get abbreviated accounts instead of having to go in and change the database settings). Sage urgently needs to bring its products into the 21st century with much more seamless integration and easier operation by the user.

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 15:07

Thanks Sage

Thanks to a quick response from Sage re this (actually beaten to it by Digita with a well timed marketing call!) I now am more settled.

Apparently we will still be able to file ixbrl compatible accounts, Sage will issue a new bit of software that will do most of the work (ironically written by Thomson Reuters - i.e. Digita!!!) and 80% of it will be done. Also thanks to the lenient approach by HMRC it shouldn't be so bad. So effectively the problem wont result in upsetting clients or late filing penalties or backlogging work until the software is fixed!

The main part of the problem would appear to be Sage trying to do too much - rather than just settling for ixbrl, they wanted to go three steps further and massively improve the useability of the product (SAP/SAPA). Unfortunately they underestimated the amount of work this would take and now have serious egg on their face.

Well as the saying goes - there's no such thing as bad publicity! At least they have the Sage brand headlining the news again.

Gives us something different to talk about than the January filing deadline anyway

Thanks (0)
24th Jan 2011 21:17

iXBRL, SA - there's a theme here

So on the one hand, we are working all hours to sort out personal tax clients who like to leave everything to the last minute, and on the other we have a bunch of software companies that behave in exactly the same way. We all knew iXBRL was coming, the mechanics of what was required was clear enough to everyone. David Forbes managed to file iXBRL accounts over a year ago, clever stuff but hardly rocket science. Yet companies like Sage, with significantly greater resources than Forbes, have miserably failed to implement it after all this time, and the others have only just managed to release their working iXBRL updates. I know manufacturers work on a 'just in time' basis, but this is ridiculous.

I was amused to read Sage say that they didn't want to rush out the iXBRL update while customers were busy with the 31 January SA deadline. What sort of client base does this imply that they have these days? Even in our small firm we have separate corporate and unincorporated client teams. The latter may be busy, but the audit teams are hardly being stretched so getting iXBRL bedded in before the end of March would be perfect for them right now. I can't imagine Sage's very big audit firm clients are well pleased.


Thanks (0)
By workhow
27th Jan 2011 09:34

Fractal Excuses

Excuses are the same no matter what the size is - as anyone with teenage children will know.

Why were you late coming home on Saturday night?

Well. . .I thought about coming home at 11 but I knew you would be watching Match of the Day and didnt want to disturb that. I also felt that I could give you a more complete parent experience by letting you have a good night's sleep before I crawled in.

Oh - that's all right, then.



Thanks (0)
27th Jan 2011 19:45

The Downfall of Sage
"Sage’s head of R&D ...has gone to 'seek new challenges' ""Everything has gone a bit wild and out of control""Continuing delays in the development timetable meant there was not enough time to test the software properly with users, Archbold explained""We could have chosen to get this product out without going through beta testing""Sage talked a good iXBRL game, its inability to deliver working code will dent its credibility "

...and that's the sanitised version from the Managing Director!

I spoke to a Sage employee around six months ago who said that the head of the iXBRL team had unexpectedly gone to 'seek new challenges'. Now it looks like the head of their research and development department has done the same!

What a dogs dinner. Moving away from Sage was the wisest decision our practice has ever made. If we still used their SAPA product we would be very worried indeed.

Thanks (0)
27th Jan 2011 20:15

Get out of jail free card

There is always the possibility that the HMRC will slip the deadline to give Sage a chance to catch up !

Thanks (0)
27th Jan 2011 20:38

this time last year...

I found their old iXbrl promotional video featuring their 'new challenge seekers': XBRL with Sage

Says it all really!

Thanks (0)
By GaryMc
28th Jan 2011 10:54

They have had the same amount of time as everyone else

@daveforbes - I hope not.  All developers have had the same length of time to implement this and the vast majority have managed it.  Given the resources that Sage has, I don't see why they should be given special treatment.

Having said that, if HMRC worry that it will affect the whole mandatory filing thing in a big way, I could see them giving Sage customers an even softer landing!

Thanks (0)
31st Jan 2011 15:21

Sage failure - mutton dressed as lamb

Sage has at last been shown up for the imposter that it truly is. Its Line 50 and derived products have not fundamentally moved from their origins in DOS. As anyone who has tried to "drill down" levels of information only to be told that this function was not supported will have experienced, the software architecture is not the relational database that modern products are built on but something the IT world calls 'flat file' structure. All efforts to make Line 50 etc look like Windows programs are an illusion; just papering over cracks.

What is so galling is the steep rise in the cost of their products combined with the appearance of large corproate 'communications' about customer experience foisted on us by marketeers. Where is the core capability? Where is the honesty about the issues behind the scenes? Either Sage cannot produce a software development plan ("roadmap") i.e. incompetent or it has known about the fundamental technical challenge of working with modern software i.e. iXBRL but has chosen to take the chance that it will be ready and fully tested before the go live date i.e. mendacious.

Sacking Ben Bishop is not the whole answer. Fundamentally Sage has failed at all levels with Jayne Archbold and the rest of the board being equally culpable.

What can be done? The impression is that Sage is faced with such a large technical challenge that it has no idea how long it is going to require. If I was a rival vendor I would offer free migration software & tuition to move Sage users to my modern system and peg my future maintenance prices at no more than Sage have charged recently. What a way to win market share. And Sage will still be drafting their excuses.

Thanks (0)