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Sage 50 2014: Better Access to Existing Data

sage decision imageFor the small or mid-sized business owner, today's crop of accounting solutions is an embarrassment of riches. Your clients can dip their toes into cloud-based accounting by using an online solution for one or two functions. They can integrate an online add-on with their desktop accounting software. They can forge ahead and implement a 100-percent-in-the-cloud solution, like QuickBooks Online or Intacct, or sign up for a hosted environment.

Or they can maintain the status quo and keep using their desktop accounting applications, since Sage and Intuit continue to release annual upgrades. QuickBooks 2013 launched last fall, and Sage recently unveiled the 2014 version of the Sage 50 family.

You'd have to go back to 2011 - to Sage 50 2012 - to see a group of significant improvements to the line. That was the year Sage introduced the System Navigation Center, Sage E-Marketing and Intelligence Reporting - among other enhancements -- to all Sage 50 products. More features were added to the higher end of the Sage 50 solution family, like expanded payroll fields, the Vendor Management Center, more flexible dashboards and an enhanced Order Process Workflow.

Responding to Requests
But the last two years have been relative dry spells for Sage 50 upgrades. We've said it before: The Sage line is brushing up against the low-end of midrange financial solutions with Sage 50 Quantum Accounting, and the more junior applications in the family are bursting at the seams. The user interface and navigational scheme that were introduced many years ago can barely accommodate their internal accounting tools.

Further, Sage hasn't stretched the applications much with cloud-based add-on apps, multiple mobile apps, or services -- compared to archrival Intuit. The company has even stopped allowing new users into online bill-pay. Yet such initiatives feature prominently in the ongoing three-year "Sage Product Transformation." So we'll see.

What Sage does do with the low-end market is listen. Company reps say that the enhancements in Sage 50 2014 are based on user requests. And the No. 1 request - implemented in 2014 - is a faster, easier process for recording payments for outstanding invoices. Using the Receive Money screen, your clients can now select a customer and enter a payment, and Sage 50 will display all of the open invoices that would have that amount as their total (there are also links to the individual invoices).

Another Way
The 2014 versions of Sage 50 can help your clients access their existing data with more speed and efficiency. They offer another new way to accelerate A/R tasks: The Sage 50 2014 Sales/Invoicing screen, with enhancements.

Your clients can now receive payments on the Sales/Invoicing screen itself. There are several changes here. The customer's name Sage 50 2014 Sales/Invoicing screennext to the Bill to: field is now an active link, which provides quick access to the customer record. If the customer had made a partial payment, UNPAID would instead read PARTIALLY PAID, and the date of the last payment would appear. Either way, there's a new Pay Now link that opens the Receive Money screen. The Due Date is also visible on the Sales/Invoicing screen. Similar changes have been made to the Purchases/Receive Inventory screen.

These may seem like fairly small changes, but to companies that purchase and sell a lot of products, they could be real time-savers, and reduce the user's annoyance at clunky repetitive work. (Besides, Sage customers really, really wanted this.)

A Client Quandary
Another requested change is a pretty common-sense one that probably should have been implemented a long time ago: a column displaying the status of quotes: The Converted to column is a welcome addition.
Some existing Sage 50 features have been enhanced, like the planned release of more product upgrades, additional Sage Advisor help and more reports.

If you have clients who want to stay in the Peachtree desktop family but who either have an old version or need to move up at least one level, maybe this would be a good time to discuss their expectations for their companies' growth - and what kind is anticipated - over the next few years. The decision to purchase new editions of desktop software (as you well know) involves much more complexity and uncertainty than it did a decade ago.

Kathy Yakal
Kathy Yakal has been writing about personal and business technology since 1983, as an editor and writer at COMPUTE! Publications. She writes frequently for The Progressive Accountant on technology topics.She began freelancing and specializing in financial applications in 1988. Her columns, features, and reviews have appeared in publications including Barron’s, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, and PC Magazine.
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