Sage makes a virtue of its long development heritage. While a feature-for-feature comparison with rival products such as QuickBooks might lead you to think they’re pretty similar, Sage 50 has more depth. It has greater flexibility for different accounting processes, for example, and provides a host of invoice discounting options and the capability to do mark-ups and mark-downs. Sage has also done a lot of work to make it easier to use and more accessible to the non-accountant, mimicking Quickbooks’ user-friendly philosophy. The welcome screen is now divided into simple categories such as Customers, Suppliers and Company, instead of using accounting names such as sales, purchase and nominal ledger. Just as important are those extra features that you won’t find in most other accounting packages. You can do stock control and inventory management, even build a simple bill of materials to order component parts of a manufactured item. The Bank module makes it easy to reconcile your accounts with your bank statements, and you can do internet banking payment via 18 different banking websites. And the project accounting features will cost up and manage a particular project for an individual customer. Another thing to note is the “process maps”. This may sound like management consultancy speak, but they’re actually simple, visual ways to set up the software so it matches the way you do business. If you generate quotes, for example, you can set the system up to convert them to a sales order, run a statement and receive payment. And if you’re taking an order over the counter, you can make a cash sale which automatically generates a receipt. For a small subscription charge, you can also take credit card payments online using Protx software that Sage acquired last year. You can also make VAT submissions online. And with a facility called Transaction Email, which Sage has been developing for a number of years, you can suck invoices straight into the system. Related story: Sage 50 Accounts 2008 review
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