First impressions of Sage 50 2009: the credit crunch edition

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During the past week, Sage users have been receiving CDs of the latest upgrade to the company's flagship accounting program, Sage 50 2009 Accounts. John Stokdyk took the online demo version for a drive to see what has changed.

Compared to previous years, the launch of Sage 50 2009 was positively downbeat. The details were posted on Sage's UK website and those who were entitled to immediate upgrades were sent the CDs to install last week.

Perhaps because of the problems encountered two years ago with its new reporting module, Sage opted for a more organic approach. And with the economy looking bleak, the company has tailored the new version to match the market's mood, with improvements focused on keeping you...

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16th Sep 2008 13:42

Sage 50 2009
Don't like Sage, and I think other products do a better job and cheaper too. I agree with the other contributor who stated VT did a better job.

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12th Sep 2008 14:22

Credit crunch edition?
But I still have to produce my basic credit control tool, the annotated debtors list, in Excel - because so far as I can see, you still can't enter notes against an individual invoice and then print out a list of all your o/s invoices, with notes. (That's what I need, to delegate typing the debtors letters, and to give an overview to my boss)

Hopeless. Wish I'd bought something else.


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12th Sep 2008 09:11

The verdict
The conclusion I have come to with the new update is what I told a client yesterday,

"It will look a bit prettier and cost a bit more. There will be a few slight improvements but in areas you probably don't even use so you might as well wait 4 years until your 2008 version isn't supported"

We intend to wait until later in the year to update our Client Manager after learning a valuable lesson from the 2007 fiasco.

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11th Sep 2008 12:24

Cheers to Tricia and Chris on workarounds
Thank you both for the work arounds.

Yes, I've had lots of fun exporting and reimporting transactions into Excel. Exporting is a very powerful way of getting to do the things you want with transactions, but then you wonder why you're doing everything yourself when you've purchased accounting software.

You'd have to Export and then filter. I don't see a way of filtering and then Exporting.

Reimportation can be quite hair-raising. Extreme rebuilds can be done, but can be massively time-consuming given that none of the VAT or Bank flags get reimported, and none of the matching on ledgers. And Excel interprets codes that begin with zero as lesser numbers, but Sage wants them as text with initial zeros, so you end up building an engine in Excel that lets you reformat information... And you have to remember not to export deleted transactions, as it doesn't treat these any different than normal transactions, and these cannot be identified any other way. Simple answer is don't do it! Unless you're importing a simple long journal or somesuch to some established data.

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By TC1
10th Sep 2008 18:24

For Stephen Braund (4 Sep):
"in V14 the bank rec only shows transaction type in the bottom part of the screen not the top, and neither show the transaction number." ...... Go to the header in the top window, right click and you can choose to show both of these columns. Unfortunately, the programmers didn't think of doing this for the bottom window and no, you can't show Trans No. there; you have to 'unmatch' the item so you can see it in the top window.

But I agree with all the frustrations from other users, and have a long list of mine own. Only today I gave an Accountant Club Support person a very hard time on the fact that you can't run 2 small companies using Instant on one computer (I've got clients who have to stay on Vs 10 for this reason). The P & L cannot be formatted to match the published accounts. The entire Stock, POP and SOP systems are (as someone suspected) almost unchanged since DOS, and quite inadequate. You can't use Foreign Trader with Cash Accounting (a VERY common requirement nowadays, with small companies trading overseas). I could go on.

And as for the pricing policy! I must admit to finding Instant cost-effective for many companies, small and medium, and my clients maintain their books very well. BUT if you want a bit more - departments and cost centres, or 2 users, or 2 companies, or POP, or special reports - then you have to go out and get a mortgage.

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10th Sep 2008 17:15

Workarounds (Stephen Braund)
Stephen, a couple of solutions to some problems you have raised.

Bank Rec
To see the transaction type and number in the bank rec screen, right click on the collum headings and select the extra collum.

Printing from financials
To print a search filtered list you have to export it to Excel first. (file>send>contents to Excel) this is quite useful because all the unwanted collums can be deleted and the date can be manipulated much easier than in Sage.

Flat Rate VAT
As far as I can see the easiest way to produce a return is to just manually adjust the return Sage gives me.

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10th Sep 2008 13:20

Sage shortcuts (function keys)
Mike (posting 16.02, 5.9.08):

You just need to press F8 to get rid of the extra line, so you don't need to ditch all of the entries on your posting screen.

Just go to Help/Shortcut Keys to see what they all do.

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06th Sep 2008 21:27

Time to reture
...or time for people to be looking more closely at the saas world? Seems that way to me.

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05th Sep 2008 17:12

Reach for the light
"One day the guys who write the software will go and talk to ordinary people. It's incredible to me that a market-leader has failed to look at usability and actual everyday use after so many years."

My thoughts exactly. Actually using this software has been an eye-opener for me over the last couple of years. I've learnt so much about what is and isn't possible, and been flabbergasted at times.

On Sage not being appropriate for small businesses, I find any encounter with a client who uses Sage for accounts or payroll results in a heap of sorting out. Also most users I've encountered just don't understand the software. They don't keep their payroll legislation in line, they've never even seen their nominal balances.

But then of course even for us with some accounts knowledge have difficulties, because of the sheer goatish stubbornness of the software. It makes life hard as a small practice. Fixing errors takes a big chunk of time, to the point where you wonder why you bother. Sage talk a lot about Accountant Link, but then the people selling this don't have any idea about the extensive fundamental corrections you have to make, and how accountants link only does some of that automatically. Doing that in Cash Basis for VAT adds a whole extra level of fun.

Any software that saves a pdf of your reconciled transactions in the form of a bank statement - when you would have had the actual bank statement to do your reconciling - and then calls that a bank reconciliation, is ignorant of what these terms mean to the point of being misleading.

(Then there is how people use the default Chart of Accounts, which is neither Sole Trade nor Company, and seems to have been produced by someone who's never seen a set of accounts before, let alone had the sense to space out each item so they aren't packed together. When I did Basic on a BBC in school 20 years ago we were told to number our lines of code 10, 20, 30 - but Sage doesn't do that (yes I know I can use a 5-digit code instead, but why?). I've had to produce my own standard chart to cover our small business clients and I've more or less moved everything. It goes on and on and on...).

Connecting together dissenting voices is vitally important. My comments on here have been extremely diplomatic compared with my actual feelings. I think a lot of people would think 'well, it must work OK, so many people have heard of it'. User feedback should be near the top in software development - I suppose it's other companies that are benefitting.

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05th Sep 2008 17:00

Sage and the under £150k man
My comments on the VAT fixed rate scheme apply to Sage Instant as well

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05th Sep 2008 12:08

rock on Ben...!
i thought i was the only irritable unreasonable oppressed user of Sage!

the serious point to make is that Sage is NOT suited any more to small businesses, its pricing takes it out of their league, and the official review published here waffles on about stuff that 80% of Small Bus UK Ltd does not give a tinkers xxxx about.

Unfortunately the 'establishment' keeps giving products like Sage and QBooks sycophantic reviews which puff them up, and they then get away with it.

PS. As a small practice we have used the outstanding VT Accounts since it started, and it is difficult to think of a scenario it does not do excellently in.

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05th Sep 2008 10:46

A member of staff asked me this morning - how do I print this out? It was a Search filtered list in Financials in V14 - I said, well, to my knowledge you can't. Can you print the Financials screen in V15?

Also with Flat rate VAT, if you try to use a special VAT rate you only have 2 decimal places to play with, which means large receipts won't calculate VAT correctly. Is there a way of getting Sage to calculate 12% on Gross accurately? That was another wishlist item of mine.

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05th Sep 2008 16:02

Sage Rage
I wait in vain for the day when Sage actually sort out the product fundamentals.

The underlying database and form layouts seem not to have changed in the last 10 years. Some things are impossible that should be easy.

My Telco has changed their name several times and it would make sense to change their Id. Sage doesn't like this and wants me to create a new one.

Recovering from mistakes is a joke.

Data Entry for bulk input is still a joke. It still cannot work out (v14) that if there is just a date on the line you've ran out of things to input and forces you to throw all your invoice entries away or fake and delete.

One day the guys who write the software will go and talk to ordinary people. It's incredible to me that a market-leader has failed to look at usability and actual everyday use after so many years.

It's still insane that they think anyone would buy Sage Stationary - that should have died with Dot Matrix.

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05th Sep 2008 10:11

So, no help for ordinary situations then!
Ever tried to fit the Fixed Rate VAT scheme into Sage? If you can find a helpline adviser who has heard of the workaround, in reality it is so confusing, no average Sage user would understand it.
That's just for starters. Someone has just mentioned the journal-cancelling problem. How do you extend/shorten an an accounting period? How do you go about cancelling old historic defunct ledger items when you are using cash accounting?
Simple problems, never addressed.
Programmers thinking about what we should have and do, without asking, so that the plc may churn its profits by making previous versions seem obsolete.
I once tried to put an excel based contracts company onto Line 50 when they introduced basic contract accounting as a feature. Unfortunately, my data input from csv files had no appropriate fields in Sage's front end for the contract details, making my historic data either worthless or only able to be added manually. Apparently they use an obsolete database or platform or something. I haven't bothered to look in 2009 to see if they have cured this as the client went elsewhere. I was put on wish list number 17089 or thereabouts!
It is annoying that I have to have a Sage licence because a few clents have managed to persevere with them. Most small businesses need nothing more than Excel in my view, or a good cheap diary!.

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04th Sep 2008 19:12

i guarantee ;-

you STILL can't amend a journal incorrectly posted e..g payroll monthly entry

That all reports STILL don't come by default in DATE order


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04th Sep 2008 14:48

User frustration
Because it is so hard to update large numbers of computers, my office is part way between V13 and V14. I promised myself I wouldn't update to V15 until it was absolutely necessary.

We found not being able to open Financials with Nominal Ledger to be an annoyance from the change to V13, so I can understand people wanting to stick with older versions. We keep V11 going so we can convert old data.

I still find Sage incredibly hard to move around. If you want to know what VAT was claimed on an item in your Nominal, first you have to find the transaction number, then go to Financials to find it. If I want to look at my Nominal balances I have to be in Nominal, but if I want a TB I have to go into Financials. A bit barmy.

The changes to Bank Rec will be interesting - I'd submitted a wish list item that the Bank Rec date should be used for the Bank flag. In V14 and before it uses the system date (so if they're using a date system to reconstruct old recs I hope they've used the Rec date and not the System date - cos else we'll have to keep changing the system date every time we do a rec).

Then in V14 the bank rec only shows transaction type in the bottom part of the screen not the top, and neither show the transaction number.

Anyway, there's certainly been a lot of user frustration here, but then you can only compare it to other products. Changing software is a plunge we've yet to take.

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By bobhurn
04th Sep 2008 14:02

Payroll Nominal Link still not fixed
As at 2008 and when I asked Sage regarding 2009 they had no idea what I was talking about, odd as I have been flagging it up for some years now:

The Problem:

Sage payroll has an option to link to Line 50 and automatically post payroll journals into Line 50. A great timesaver as we are running payroll and bookkeeping for a large number of companies. However every "upgrade" to either product removes all nominal links, causing me to give up best part of a day to restore them. In this area Sage is not compatible with Sage! We have now moved payroll to iris and will follow suit with Line 50 over the coming year.

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04th Sep 2008 13:31

If it ain't broke don't fix it
I installed Accounts 2008 on my laptop and found it so unnecessarily complex that I still use V11 on my PC.

I doubt if I'll bother to use Accounts 2009.

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