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Sage outflanks rivals with cloud HR bundle

UK-based software house Sage has integrated data capture and HR tools into its Sage Business Cloud Accounting suite in a bid to gain ground on Xero and QuickBooks Online.

13th May 2020
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Sage Business Cloud Accounting comes as bundle with CakeHR and AutoEntry

The new additions come as part of a spring update designed to position Sage Business Cloud Accounting as a serious challenger to the two international giants of cloud accounting.

According to small business segment executive vice president Neal Watkins, the “reimagined” Sage Business Cloud Accounting platform has been extended out to include payroll, cloud HR tools and AutoEntry’s data capture capabilities to offer a complete accounting-payroll-HR solution “all in one native cloud destination”.

The enhanced Sage platform now boasts:

  • AutoEntry integration to automate data entry from invoices and expenses receipts
  • New bank rule and recurring invoice features, along with a Correct Transactions tool
  • Construction Industry Scheme module due next month  
  • CakeHR available as an additional option for customers (image above)
  • Multi-currency and stock management capabilities available as part of the new Sage Accounting Plus edition. 

While Xero has led the way with automated coding and reconciliation, and can put its Hubdoc document retrieval capabilities up against Sage’s AutoEntry, adding CakeHR to the Business Cloud Accounting raises the stakes.

According to Michael Office, Sage product vice president for the UK, the launch is the culmination of a year’s behind-the-scenes work to readjust the company’s competitive stance.

“In the past, we’ve been good at announcing what was coming and then not coming through with it,” he said. “We put significant investment into the platform a year ago. It’s taken us that time to get that right, and the way we built the technology and workflows accountants and customers go through has given us a stronger platform to build from.”

Introducing CakeHR

Sage acquired Latvian developer CakeHR last December. While the deal attracted little fanfare, Watkins said it has given Sage a cloud-native HR system that handles everything from recruitment, performance management, time management and expenses to employee workflow collaborations.

There are a lot of tools on offer, including individual performance assessments with 360 feedback from peers, managers and subordinates. The timesheet routine can be automated to forward the hours recorded to managers for approval and on into a report that can feed into the payroll software.

With the integration that has been added, businesses can sign up and populate CakeHR from their employees’ records in Sage Payroll.

The list price for CakeHR starts at £4/mo per employee, but Sage’s expanded accounting-payroll-HR suite is being offered free for three months to new customers. Office also promised “all sorts of offers for existing customers”, including a free offer period for CakeHR and AutoEntry and discounted rates to encourage customers to continue using them.

Once the initial three-month trial period is over, the suite is offered at three different price levels: a £12/mo Start edition; £24/mo Standard version; and £30/mo Plus edition with multicurrency and stock. Payroll is £7/mo on top of that while the list price for AutoEntry starts at £9/mo.

“We focused a lot on getting integration right,” said Office. “What we’ve been thinking of is how to connect people in an organisation, and how to unlock data in the right way, with the right privacy to speed up things like expenses all the way through. We think those workflows need to be Sage end-to-end.”

Coronavirus capabilities

Employee communication features within CakeHR have taken on added significance in recent weeks and the company has also added its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme module to the new platform – with a report generator to handle claims for larger organisations.

Alongside that, Sage has embedded its government support diagnostic tool into Sage Business Cloud Accounting to help users identify the support available.

The software will help put together the information to access a coronavirus business loan from their bank, Office added, while other context-sensitive prompts will alert someone raising invoices about the cashflow situation and funding options, or a payroll manager might get prompts about furloughing and statutory sick pay.

“The platform has the capability to surface information where you are in the workflow,” said Office. “As we get to the end of summer, you’ll get more sight of the things we’re improving.”

Replies (5)

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By BryanS1958
14th May 2020 10:30

Lol, in the same way that Kodak outflanked digital photos!

Whilst I haven't seen the latest version of Sage online the previous versions were very poor compared with QBO and Xero. Xero isn't really a contender for accountants because it has e-mail only support and they often take up to 24 hours to respond and if the response doesn't solve the issue you have to go back into the e-mail loop until they eventually solve it - not many accountants can afford to put down and pick up a job just because Xero wants to do everything by e-mail, a phone call or live chat is normally far quicker. In addition reports are quite limited, I find the bank reconciliations hard work compared with QBO and there are extra costs for some of the functionality compared with QBO.

QBO , whilst not by any means perfect, is my preferred choice, all options include Receipt Snap, which is a form of data capture tool, SmartScan to help check VAT returns and the flagship version for £30 plus VAT includes multicurrency, time sheets, projects, budgets, stock and up to 5 users at no extra cost and all have multiple support options included in the price. Payroll comes in standard or advanced at £4pm/£8pm + £1 per employee plus VAT.

Whilst it depends what you are used to, I expect Sage and Xero users will say otherwise, for me QBO has the widest range of functionality, reports, features and support for the price.

Thanks (2)
By ColA
14th May 2020 10:10

Oh the delights of cloud technology.!
Over the past decade I have never been convinced and saw recently a sponsored advertorial applauding a virtual finance function.
Glad I’m retired!

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By North East Accountant
14th May 2020 15:14

It will be interesting to see what traction this new development from Sage gets.

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By indomitable
14th May 2020 16:54

Not sure I agree with BryanS1958 comments that QBO is the best online supplier.

I have no axe to grind about software and we are both Xero certified advisors and Quickbooks Pro certified advisors and we have clients on both and I have bookkeepers that do both

I personally find Xero far easier to use than Quickbooks.

With regards to Sage, the only difference I can see is that they have an HR module and so what?can't see they are going to clean up the market if that's their selling point.

Haven't looked at Sage for a long time but I don't believe they will make it work sufficiently to compete

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17th May 2020 18:54

I've been a Sage software user for over 20 years but took a recent leap to Xero. We still have some online clients on Sage but will probably switch them over at the next YE. Xero is so much better than Sage online but more expensive. The integration with Receipt Bank is a big plus. I hope Sage gets back onto a level playing field with its online competitors because A we need competition to help keep the prices down and B my experiences so far of contacting Xero echo what others have said on his site in that they have been a painfully slow experiences. If Sage got their act together quickly I will go back to them.

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