After undergoing a few tweaks in development, Sage is rolling out its Sage Accountant Cloud, an integrated online suite that marks its next step towards becoming a provider of online tools for professional accountants.
The underlying idea is that once a firm has gathered its data in the Sage Accountant Cloud, it will have everything it needs to run an efficient, connected practice.
Sage UK and Ireland managing director Alan Laing told AccountingWEB the new product was, “One connected platform; the whole concept behind it is to eliminate admin and maximise productivity.”
The Sage Accountant Cloud will give practitioners the ability to look at all their client information in one place and serve them in a more proactive way. “The platform is flexible, so it’s adaptable to what each practice needs,” he added.
As the first practice-facing tool to emerge from what Laing called Sage’s “cloud-first” strategy, Sage Accountant Cloud combines a Client Manager to access their accounts data online, alongside new bank feed and practice management tools built on the Salesforce platform. This is the same architecture used for the Sage Live system that provides the accounting foundation for the new environment.
“It’s logical for Sage Accountant Cloud to be built on same platform,” Laing explained, adding that it can link to other Sage accounting programs including Sage One and Sage 50c Accounts.
In olden days, practice suites assumed that accountants and their clients would all be using a single, homogenous software family. Real life isn’t like that, so the plan is to plug the Sage Accountant Cloud into external data from other systems.
“We will continue to enhance the API to open it up,” Laing said. “We make no bones about it. Some apps may come from competitors. This is an open platform we want them to build their practices on. We are being driven by what accountants say they require. All the usual suspects will be in there.”
The difficulty surrounding something as nebulous as an online hub or service platform is defining what it actually is and does. The Sage Accountant Cloud combines some familiar and not so familiar elements.
Client Manager – Newly developed as part of the cloud platform, Client Manager gives both parties access to the online bookkeeping data in a manner that will be familar to users of the existing Sage 50 Client Manager and Sage 50c products.
Bank Feeds Manager – Work is continuing behind the scenes at Sage to automate the import of bank transaction data.
Practice Manager – Practice dashboard pictured above; this module brings staff resources and workflows into the mix to support better productivity.
Sage Live – The underlying accounting engine, though the Sage Accounting Cloud can also link to Sage One and Sage 50c via the Client Manager.
Compliance tools – For practitioners, the key interconnections within the platform will allow them to produce final accounts, personal and business tax returns using Sage’s compliance tools.
Sage has been previewing its new practice suite for the past month at various live events and in a series of online webinars introducing the product. AccountingWEB will be taking a closer look in the next couple of weeks and will return with a more detailed review.
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.