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Need a list of the Pros and Cons of Sage & Quickbooks

Aaron C RescueAaron C Rescue Feels At HomeRegistered Posts: 76
Hello,

I am about to begin working on the accounts of a new small start up company, (more of which later) and the bank are offering Sage and Sage Payroll as a 'freebie' with the Business Management Service (simply pay a monthly fee).

The MD has asked me if I am happy with Sage (which I am), however I have noticed that a few of you believe that it can be overly complicated for requirements.

If you have experience of both packages would you let me know the major features and main differences which cause you to prefer that one package over the other?

Thanks

Comments

  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,440
    I've not really used QB much so although my first opinions of it aren't great I haven't really tried using it that much. Menu systems seem a bit complex but I'm sure you can overcome that when using it for a while.

    Sage I have used quite a bit. I know my way around it and so don't have any problems. However, it's expensive even through banks usually. It has a lot that isn't needed for most businesses and so can seem complex. Sage payroll, well I find it awful, clumsy and expensive.

    I would look at Solar Accounts and Moneysoft and the chances are that will still be cheaper than the Sage package through the bank.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • truecockneytruecockney Feels At Home Registered Posts: 93
    I've not used Sage so can't do a comparison. However, with QuickBooks, although it does appear clumsy to start (has improved) it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is ideal for a small practitioner who doesn't require too much analysis, however past that I would advise look elsewhere.

    It can be cumbersome if operating it on an external server and not very user friendly if you have to deal in foreign currencies (their write off methods if incurring bank charges leaves a lot to be desired!), but running basic reports is really simple, as is processing purchase and sales ledgers. Beware if you are importing data from another system though as it can pick up errors that aren't necessarily there and their support call centre leaves a lot to be desired!
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I've used sage in the past where clients have had it up and running and I've never enjoyed using it. THe versions I used were from a few years ago so things may have improved. I've used quickbooks for most of my work since 2005.

    1. The reporting facility in QBs is amazing. You can run a variety of standard reports or very easily customise your own. Most reports come with drill-down functions and if you spot something out of place on the report you can just double click on it to open the transaction and make any amendments if required.

    2. Payroll (although it costs extra) is integrated into the system and like everything else in quickbooks entries can be easily deleted/amended if required.

    3. Quickbooks is quite flexible in what you can enter. This is great for recording unusual transactions and there's generally a work-around for recording pretty much anything, but I think that the danger is that if someone who's not a competent bookkeeper uses it they can easily end up making a complete mess of it. Sage seems much more rigid in what you can & can't enter, so it makes it easier for accountants to review at the end of the year (all the transactions will be where they're meant to be with deleted transactions in red lines) but from a management point of view I think it limits the information avaliable to them.

    4. The call centres for QBs aren't actually that bad. Yes, they're in India and the lines can be faint, but they actually are really friendly and most of the time do know what they're talking about.

    5. Cost-wise QBs wins by miles! Look into the professional advisor membership thing, it usually works out to be worthwhile.
  • LondinaLondina Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 814
    I have used both Sage (Line 50 version) and Quickbooks (pro 2008 version) for years and this is what I think for each side:

    BOOKKEEPING (example if you have a batch of invoices to post):
    SAGE: it's quickly done, you can enter all the invoices in one screen (that looks like Excel) and save them at the end
    QB: invoices are post one by one and the whole posting can take longer

    POSTING BANK PAYMENTS/RECEIPTS:
    SAGE: easily to post them, menu bar really straight forward, you can post "payment on accounts" for invoices not yet received or missing and match the payment aftwards
    QB: easy as well to post them, however you have to go to different screens (if it's a customer or supplier payment). For suppliers, QB list the invoices of suppliers all together in one screen and this is a bit annoying, as you would just see the invoices of the supplier you are deal at the moment, especially if it has a long list of invoices!!

    VAT RETURNS:
    SAGE: very accurate method, can reconcile all the invoices of the period and for the next one, can pick up invoices that maybe have been received later
    QB: unfortunately VAT is not handle very properly, there are small differences on the total when you run a VAT report or a Balance sheet, or nominal ledger activity

    EXPORT ON EXCEL:
    SAGE: terrible...numbers are in different cells and "wrap text" most of the time is on, the only option is to export in .cvs format or spend time formatting the data
    QB: very good, numbers are tidy in the cells, even formulas are exported (if I remember)

    CORRECTIONS OF ERRORS:
    SAGE: It's quite restricted, you can easily amend or delete invoices, payments, but journals have to be reversed. You can trace every correction that has been made
    QB: it's very flexible, you can amend/delete everything, however once is gone, is gone, you cant trace the steps of the corrections.

    CUSTOMER SERVICE:
    SAGE: you can phone or email them, they get back to you within 1 day and with an answer
    QB: call center is in India, once I spent 30min on the phone going in circle and still didn't have a answer to my question!

    Overall, depends on the job, if the company requires lots of reports, analysis and management account, go for QB as it's flexible in manipulating data and has good export in excel, otherwise if the company has lots of invoices and you want to have the accounts in order and accurate, go for SAGE!

    I personally prefer SAGE, even if it has annoying exporting facility, at least it's quick and I can always find what I am looking for!
  • Claire321Claire321 Well-Known Registered Posts: 209
    I have quite a bit of experience of using both Sage and Quickbooks. I worked for a company who used Sage and changed to Quickbooks because they felt it was more user friendly, and could record more information e.g job numbers, and that the reports were easier to use and more adaptable for the specific needs of the business.

    I then worked for a company who were using Sage but changed to Quickbooks because they were having difficulty recruiting someone with Quickbooks experience and also their accountants preferred Sage.

    Both have their advantages and disadvantages compared with each other in my opinion - I could write quite a long list!, much of which Londina has covered above. I think for a small company Quickbooks is a good program to use because it is very easy to use. It is really easy to amend the transactions you've entered e.g adding additional information, job numbers. I found it quite different to Sage to start with, in some respects a bit simplistic but then began to appreciate the flexibility and we were able to change and improve a lot of our internal accounting procedures.

    I am now working for another company which uses Sage, which suits their business and accounting procedures well, but I do miss the reporting, excel export feature and being able to amend transactions easily.
  • Aaron C RescueAaron C Rescue Feels At Home Registered Posts: 76
    Thanks for all this info - is very helpful.
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Been a while since I last saw or used either and my memories of each are fast fading: Sage in 2005 and QuickBooks in 2008. Of the two however, QB befits it's name, being by far the easiest to use with none of the "Which (G/L) code?" threads I sometimes see in these forums.

    And as Jodie said, price wise QB Pro is light years cheaper than the equivalent version of Sage.
  • SueSue Well-Known Registered Posts: 217
    Londina - If you are using one of the later versions of Sage it is now much easier to export certain things from Sage to excel. There is an option under the file menu called Office Integration where you can export the details of the screen you are in straight to excel.

    If you get to speak to the right person at Sage you can get a much better price than they advertise on their website. I have a fifty company licence of Client Manager, which is the equivalent of Accounts Professional, for £500.00 including Vat. I'm not sure of the price of quickbooks so I don't know how it compares.
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    I always thought Sage was 'ok' but expensive and Quickbooks was 'good' but not as intuitive for us bean-counters given their different use of language for the same thing.

    However, these days I am sick of Quickbooks. Every VAT return I get uncategorised entries that I am endlessly trying to reconcile. I just don't trust the reports it gives me.

    I would say that they have reversed their position in my mind that every thing is now just slightly easier to do in Sage, but then I do not use either for day to day bookkeeping, only quarter end or year end routine.

    I'd choose Sage.
  • LondinaLondina Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 814
    blobbyh wrote: »
    QB befits it's name, being by far the easiest to use with none of the "Which (G/L) code?" threads I sometimes see in these forums.

    No matter which software you are using, someone will always have the problem of "which (G/L) code?"!If there are threads in this forum about it, it is because SAGE is the most used software in the companies.

    Actually the nominal ledger in QB is terrible, it only contains the profit & loss ones, and for the balance sheets it only have:
    -Accounts payable
    -Accounts receivable
    -Bank
    -Credit Card
    -Vat
    -payroll liabities
    a couple more and that's it.

    No Accruals, Prepayments, Stock, etc...which SAGE all have and more!
    nominal%20codes%201.bmp

    Someone new on QB and not a great bookkeeper would not know where to post something! This is was happened with an ex employee, she post things all over the place on QB...
  • LondinaLondina Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 814
    Sue wrote: »
    If you get to speak to the right person at Sage you can get a much better price than they advertise on their website. I have a fifty company licence of Client Manager, which is the equivalent of Accounts Professional, for £500.00 including Vat. I'm not sure of the price of quickbooks so I don't know how it compares.

    Sue, I got that version too! I told them I was an AAT, got into their "Bookkeeper's club" and got that version really cheap :-). It has nice features, example I am able to save recurring journals :-)
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I've just re-read the original post & one point which I missed & no-one else has mentioned yet is to be a bit cautious of what you're signing up to with Barclays. I've had a few clients who've got their software though the 'business manager' thing and it's great for the first year while they're paying £1 a month for it, and then, after the first year it increases to £30 - £40 a month. Most of the time they've not touched any of the other 'features' that come with the business manager programme and after a few months at the higher rate could have bought their software outright.
    Just something else to watch out for.
    Jodie
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    Londina wrote: »
    No matter which software you are using, someone will always have the problem of "which (G/L) code?"!If there are threads in this forum about it, it is because SAGE is the most used software in the companies.

    Actually the nominal ledger in QB is terrible, it only contains the profit & loss ones, and for the balance sheets it only have:
    -Accounts payable
    -Accounts receivable
    -Bank
    -Credit Card
    -Vat
    -payroll liabities
    a couple more and that's it.

    No Accruals, Prepayments, Stock, etc...which SAGE all have and more!

    I like QBs not having loads of accounts preset that you might never use. If you want to post something to prepayments for example, then you just type 'prepayments' into the field, it'll then bring up a box asking you whether you want to set it up as an asset or liability or expense account etc and within 3 clicks you've created an account code. This is where it can get messy if you don't know what you're doing, but if you do end up creating excess codes it's simple to merge duplicates together into one. Merging accounts allso works for supplier & customer accounts which I never worked out how to do on sage.
  • LondinaLondina Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 814
    JodieR wrote: »
    Merging accounts allso works for supplier & customer accounts which I never worked out how to do on sage.

    Not sure if I understood what you were saying, anyway I prefer not to merge any accounts on Sage or QB! example on QB there is an account called "Rent & Rates", then one called "Rent" and another one called "Rates"...why 3 accounts?!?
    I came across so many times rent's postings in one account, then in another...I found it messy, there is no continuity and lots of unnecessary adjustments were required.
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    Merging supplier accounts is useful where, say you've posted a load of invoices to 'Mark Smith Trading' and then next time you forget that 'Mark Smith Trading' is set up as a supplier and they all get posted to 'M Smith Trading' instead. You can go into one of the supplier records and change the name to the other one and the 2 accounts are merged into one. Very useful for when companies change their name and you haven't realised, or where payments are made to a different trading name than what you've entered the invoice under.

    The rent and rates accounts are examples of sub-accounts. If you run a P&L account and have columns for months then you can see at a glance what's been posted to rent on a monthly basis and what's been posted to rates, the total of which will show on the 'rent and rates' line. If you posted something straight to 'rent and rates' then it would show as 'other' when you're looking at the subaccount detail. You can use the expand and collapse button at the top of the report to show or hide subaccounts.
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Londina wrote: »
    Someone new on QB and not a great bookkeeper would not know where to post something! This is was happened with an ex employee, she post things all over the place on QB...

    With respect Londina, no software developer can compensate for an unskilled bookkeeper foolishly letting themselves loose with an accounting program - no matter how good it is - and this should not be any reflection on the software itself. Misposts are not confined to QB but are indicative of an overrall lack of accounts competency rather than a lack of software knowledge. The accounts are intuitively named so anyone posting the council tax bill to mileage costs is a clear numpty.

    QuickBooks is exactly what is says on the tin - quick and easy and even non-accountants can use it. Now whether they should use it or not is an entirely different argument but as I've said before, if all people were good at doing their own books, there'd often be no need for us!
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    blobbyh wrote: »
    no software developer can compensate for an unskilled bookkeeper foolishly letting themselves loose with an accounting program

    I think that the marketing departments for software developers also have a lot to answer for - the adverts for quickbooks (and probably sage too) do imply that you can use their software rather than using a professional bookkeeper which, from experience is often far from the truth! Although I guess we only get to see the ones who end up in a muddle, there may be plenty of examples where people use it successfully without aid.
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    I agree Jodie. If QuickBooks is being advertised as so simple that almost anyone can use it - unlike the more technical (and more expensive) Sage - then you're gonna get more non-accounts people attempting it and thus making more errors. As you and me both agree, in the right hands, QB is a competent enough accounts package and certainly the equal, if not the better, of the lower end versions of Sage

    You wouldn't ban hammers at B&Q just cos a few amateur DIY'ers end up knocking holes in the wrong parts of the house, would you?
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    Exactly!
  • wildgoose1ukwildgoose1uk Well-Known Registered Posts: 200
    Londina wrote: »
    Not sure if I understood what you were saying, anyway I prefer not to merge any accounts on Sage or QB! example on QB there is an account called "Rent & Rates", then one called "Rent" and another one called "Rates"...why 3 accounts?!?
    I came across so many times rent's postings in one account, then in another...I found it messy, there is no continuity and lots of unnecessary adjustments were required.

    Does this not have more to do with control over the Chart of Accounts along with staff training rather than a fault with the software?
  • LondinaLondina Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 814
    Does this not have more to do with control over the Chart of Accounts along with staff training rather than a fault with the software?

    Of course it does, but as Blobbyh pointed out in a previous post, some people don't know sometime where to post something, that's why they ask here in the forum. In my job I often discover posting made in error for these reasons
    blobbyh wrote: »
    Misposts are not confined to QB but are indicative of an overrall lack of accounts competency rather than a lack of software knowledge. The accounts are intuitively named so anyone posting the council tax bill to mileage costs is a clear numpty.

    Yes, but if you are using an "intuitive" software, it should help you where to post something. At least on SAGE there is a full list of nominal code, so if someone is in doubt, he/she can easily find that account and post the correct entry. I saw on QB where prepayments and credit cards were opened under the p&l, instead on the balance sheet, if QB would have them as default, that person would not make that error
    JodieR wrote: »
    The rent and rates accounts are examples of sub-accounts. If you run a P&L account and have columns for months then you can see at a glance what's been posted to rent on a monthly basis and what's been posted to rates, the total of which will show on the 'rent and rates' line. If you posted something straight to 'rent and rates' then it would show as 'other' when you're looking at the subaccount detail. You can use the expand and collapse button at the top of the report to show or hide subaccounts.

    Again, I don't find all of this "intuitive" , basically if you post something under "rent and rates", it would show as "other"?!? It's so confusing, best to avoid that! :-)
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Londina wrote: »
    I saw on QB where prepayments and credit cards were opened under the p&l, instead on the balance sheet, if QB would have them as default, that person would not make that error

    I'd guess that what you've seen here Londina is a badly drawn up chart of accounts by someone who doesn't or didn't know what they were doing. Again, this is not software error but user error as our multi-ten thousand pound Iris Exchequer would also allow someone to set up a prepayments account in the P&L. You can't seriously believe that Intuit would design a successful program with such fundamental errors by default?

    What should be appreciated is that QB allows a high degree of flexibility - no doubt one of the reasons why it's so successful - which we accept can be a hindrance in the wrong hands, but you can't really blame the program or stop people from doing their own accounts. A competent bookkeeper will have no problems in setting up and running QuickBooks at a fraction of the cost of Sage, one of the things the OP should need to know when considering which package to opt for.
  • LondinaLondina Experienced Mentor MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 814
    blobbyh wrote: »
    A competent bookkeeper will have no problems in setting up and running QuickBooks at a fraction of the cost of Sage, one of the things the OP should need to know when considering which package to opt for.

    Competent bookeeper....well, how many are they around at the moment with years of accounting software's posting?..
    From my experience I think QB is too easy and too flexible and because of that users tend to do lots of errors on it. SAGE is more rigid and someone will think twice where to post something, otherwise it's hell to adjust it later...

    You pay what you get at the end of the day..
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