Posts Tagged ‘Sage 50’

Sage annual upgrades for Sage 50.

August 22, 2009

For a number of years Sage have released a new version of Sage 50 every summer.  Each new version is chargeable (unless you have Sagecover Extra) and this can be a cause of, shall we say, disquiet for some users.

Some users, and their advisers, see the annual upgrades as evidence that Sage don’t listen to their customers.  For example eleansa  commenting on an Accounting Web blog says

If Sage really listened to its customers, who include my clients, then they would stop producing so many “upgrades” and merely enhance existing versions under their already expensive annual maintenance contracts.

Yet stripping this down to essentials, it is only a request for Sage to provide more for less, and so just another price discussion between a supplier and its customers.  My concern is how much discernment Sage exercise, not how many customers they listen to!

This “disquiet” is fundamentally unfounded.  The annual upgrades are optional, and Sage continue to support Sage 50 for a good number of years after their release.  For example Sage 50 version 11 will be supported until the end of April 2011, so by the time that support is withdrawn it will have been out for the best part of 7 years.

Sage 50 users can, then, take a pragmatic view of each new version.  The two obvious questions are:

  • Are the additional features of value to my business?
  • Does staying current reduce my IT risk?

We are relatively cautious.  For example our Sage 50 support team’s default recommendation is that clients wait until the first service pack  is released before implementing a new Sage 50 version.  Indeed, except for busy and sophisticated users, we tend to advise against annual upgrades.  Not on cost grounds, but because change without significant benefits bring risks.

BDE in administration, Sage support alternatives.

July 25, 2009

Sage Business Partner BDE Group went into administration in late May, leaving many clients scrabbling around for alternative support arrangements.

Protronics offers Sage 50, Sage Line 100 and Sage 200 support, and will honour the balance of BDE support contracts free of charge.  Please just mention BDE when you contact us.

Apologies for the plug, blogs aren’t really the place for them.  BDE’s demise was unfortunate of course, but there are lessons to be learnt from it:

  • Make sure you have access and rights to any software customisations that you’ve paid for, so that they can be maintained even if the supplier goes out of business
  • Big isn’t always better.  In the Sage reseller world in particular some of the larger resellers have grown by acquisition.  Acquisitions have to be financed, and often that will in turn leave the acquirer vulnerable.
  • Decide what’s important to you from your provider of support. The rational choices are: a small team which knows your business well and which you know and like; a larger team where you have certainty of rapid access, but at the expense of familiarity.
  • If your supplier fails, don’t rely on Sage’s recommendation. You’re more likely to be offered a favoured Sage Business Partner than one that has been specifically selected for compatability with your organisation.

Sage 50 online VAT Submissions.

July 4, 2009

Perhaps not news that will dislodge Michael Jackson from the front pages this week, but online VAT submissions are on their way.  Indeed they will be compulsory from April 2010 if your turnover is above £100 000.

HMRC are already accepting and actively encouraging online submissions, and Sage 50 2008 and 2009 are on their list of compatible software for doing so automatically.  Sage 200 does not currently have an e-submissions feature, but can of course be used to generate the relevant figures, which can then be keyed in to an online submission form.

HMRC extol the virtues of online submission, promoting it as a quick, efficient, accurate and reliable way to make your return since there is no postal system in the way, there are built-in data validation routines.  Somewhat oversold perhaps?  At least with Sage 50 the submission is automatic so you should be able to grab all the modest time savings on offer.

However, the fact that only 14% of returns are currently being filed online suggests that either people are not aware of the option, don’t know how to go about achieving it, or are simply not comfortable in making the submissions that way.  Articles such as  the International Tax Review’s  one in April this year  contend that a key factor is concern about the reliability of the HMRC systems, though HMRC are keen to reassure users that they have been thoroughly  tested and are very stable.  

Sage technical support list a series of known issues or error reports relating to Sage 50 e-VAT submissions over the government gateway.  In all the instances I’ve reviewed, however, the HMRC end is squeaky clean, as the errors can be traced back to the likes of the configuration of the e-VAT settings in Sage 50, issues with internet connectivity, or problems with the data itself (e.g. errors on the EC sales list, invalid VAT account numbers and so on).  To take a positive view of things, using the e-Vat facility encourages good practice, as it requires a better level of housekeeping of your accounts data than manual returns do.

Whatever users’ feelings on the matter, though, the fact remains that online submissions are soon to become compulsory for many businesses, and arguably it is better to get to grips with this method sooner rather than later, whilst postal copies are still acceptable as a fall-back if any difficulties were encountered either at a user or system level. Of course, this still doesn’t have to involve use of the e-Vat facility even for Sage 50 users, but would at the very least involve completing the form online using figures taken from the system.

In order to make online submissions, you need to sign up for a government gateway account, with more information about the online services available and terms of use here.

It is a notable condition of making online submissions that you must also pay electronically.   Both the submission and payment can be handled through Sage 50’s e-VAT facility if you have also set up the e-banking facility. Alternatively, you can choose to pay by direct debit or BACS (amongst other electronic methods authorised by HMRC), as indeed you would if you were using the online form to key in figures from another source such as Sage 200.