Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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SageOne opens new Cloud front

18th Jan 2011
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Two years after its first failed SageLive experiment, Sage UK has returned to the Cloud accounting battleground with SageOne, a three-stage web application catering for microbusinesses and their accountants.

Developed from the ground up by an autonomous team within Sage’s online division, the SageOne name derives from the company’s convention of assigning numbers that reflect the size of the user organisation. Where Sage 50 and Sage 200 cater for organisations with those numbers of employees, SageOne is targeted at sole traders and small firms who struggle with bookkeeping but don’t want to employ a dedicated bookkeeper, explained Sage Online managing director Simon Black.

The emphasis on the product itself is simplicity. SageOne comes in three varieties, all based on the same underlying code. The cashbooks module costs £5 per month and presents a simple graphical workflow to step the user through entering income and expenses into the software.

For a £10 monthly subscription, the Accounts version offers a fuller set of accounting functions including invoice processing, VAT, banking and bank reconciliation.

The Sage One Accountant edition is available for a £250 yearly payment (or free to Sage Accountants’ Club members) and presents the practitioner with an overview screen for each of their Cashbook and Accounts users, with the ability to access journals for each client to amend entries or generate trial balances.

SageOne Accounts moduleBorrowing a trick from other graphical desktop and Cloud accounting programs, the Accounts and Accountants editions include a customer view showing a chart of the user’s recent current account balance, plus and summary boxes detailing cash in hand and at the bank, the top five invoices due and number of days until the next VAT return deadline (see right).

“We kept it it simple, retaining the strong elements o accounting software while making it easy to  use,” said Black.

At the time its launch on 18 January, Black described SageOne as a “first step” and said new features would be added in a series of upgrades. The roadmap currently includes more detailed reporting (eg aged debtors), integration with Sage Pay, and eventually a payroll option.

“It will evolve very significantly, but it won’t move away from the target customer set,” he added. “We won’t be throwing bells and whistles in for the sake of it, we’ve got to make sure customer requests add vale.”

Dave Gibson of North Shields-based Blu Sky Accountants was a test user during the SageOne development project and thought the application was simpler and more flexible than others he had tried such as Xero and FreeAgent Central. But aside from the emphasis on simplicity, on a first view there isn’t much to set SageOne apart from the 50 or so other Cloud accounting applications available in the UK.

Figures from the annual Software Satisfaction Awards have shown that Cloud accounting providers such as KashFlow, FreeAgent, Liberty and Xero have grown exponentially since 2007, capturing the small and start-up businesses that Sage needs to secure if it is to sustain its organic growth. Within the Cloud space, Sage has got to try and offset the four-year headstart it has handed to smaller rivals. According to Black and Sage’s CEO for Northern Eruope Paul Stobart, the combination of a simple product, 24/7 support and the power of the Sage brand will re-establish Sage’s presence in this crucial competitive sector.

“The value is in the overall proposition in what the customer and accountant get,” said Black. “First of all there’s the backing of Sage and the credibility and assurance that brings as brand leader.”

Stobart added: “The thing that swings it for me is the support. No matter how simple the software, users will find a something like a negative credit and need your need help. It’s not the same as sending an email - you want a personal touch –someone who’s friendly, capable and, understanding. You want an organisation that understands how to do the personal side of support. That, added to the simplicity and value of the product, is what differentiates the proposition.”

For more coverage of what Sage, test users and accountants Blu Sky and other industry insiders have to say about SageOne, visit the extended thread on the subject in the Cloud computing for accountants discussion group.

Replies (6)

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By petersaxton
18th Jan 2011 21:40

Two problems but seems interesting

1. Many clients may deal with expenditure on a cash basis but still issue sales invoices on a weekly or monthly basis. What would these clients do? Go for the £5 option and fudge it or the £10 option? I think it would make sense to give these simple invoicing clients the £5 option and have a limit to the number of customers.

2. I have always liked the FreeAgent idea of uploading bank statements and fitting them into the accounts package rather than having to do a bank reconciliation.

Other than these two issues, I am impressed with the pricing. I still have to try out the package, though!

I hope they allow a demo version so that an accountant can run through the software with a client. It's much more effective than simply offering a trial to customers.

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
19th Jan 2011 08:58

3-day free trial

Thanks for your feedback, Peter. I've got a lot of other comments I'll feed into our Cloud discussion group and summarise here.

There is a 30-free trial for all three versions - but according to KashFlow's Duane Jackson you'll need a separate email account for each!

No bank data feeds are available yet, but Sage is certainly aware of the demand. Because it went for such a simple approach (for speed of launch as well as user profile), there are a lot of other items on its development roadmap. Getting the banks to agree and implement automated use of their statement data can be a long process (ask Xero), but now that they're doing it with other apps, I would imagine they'll be pretty amenable if Sage comes asking.

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By dahowlett
19th Jan 2011 15:56

Could have fixed

 @john - they could have fixed the bank thing using 3rd party services. Generally - being a Simplex D replacement is not enough.

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By nickmiles
20th Jan 2011 12:57

Online Books with SageOne

If its anything to do with Sage, then no thank you. Arithmo for us. It may be £5 a month as an introductory offer but just wait until the take up hits the marketing department's targets. Up will go the price without any doubt whatsoever if past history is anything to go by.

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AS
By AS
21st Jan 2011 14:14

No demo version?

As accountants club members, we get it free of charge but Sage cannot tell me at the moment how to log in and look at it as a demo does not exist. Apparently I can only view live clients' data but I cannot recommend it to clients as I have not tried the software myself. How do Sage expect us to sell this to clients?

I refuse to sign up for a free trial with my email address and financial details when I am already an accountants club member.

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
22nd Jan 2011 18:27

Is it worth the money?

If I understand correctly, there are two versions available to clients ...

For £60 + VAT per year, you get a "solution" that cannot handle invoicing, bank reconciliation or VAT.  This is next to useless for most of my clients.  I would rather they use a spreadsheet, which saves them £60 + VAT per year.

For £120 + VAT per year, you seem to get something that resembles an accounting package, but which does not have an aged debtors report and possibly other functionality that a business you really find useful.

This compares to a one off payment of £115 + VAT for Sage Instant, which includes aged debtor reports and for most small businesses does everything that the ridiculously over priced (upwards of £560 + VAT) Sage 50 does.

With the twin cash cows of Sage 50 and Sage Cover, I wonder whether Sage will ever have the incentive to develop a competitive online solution.  For online solutions, I think I will be looking first at Xero and Kashflow - they have no legacy cash cows to protect.

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