Business-like, isn't he?



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    Sage Software targets small business accounting needs

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2008 First published in Business in Vancouver February 5-11, 2008; issue 954

    High Tech Office column; 

    If I ask you to name an accounting program for home or small business users, I suspect that most of you would come up with Intuit’s QuickBooks.

    But Sage Software suggests that its Richmond-created Simply Accounting is, in fact, the most widely-used accounting software by Canadian small businesses, with more than half a million registered users. New in last year’s product line- up, was a low-priced version aimed at new entrepreneurs. The recently revamped 2008 aims at the other end, with a new Enterprise edition, and also features improved ease of use across all versions of the product.

    Despite its name, the enterprise edition isn’t really aimed at the Fortune 500 market. Instead, Sage is targeting it at growing small businesses with increasingly complex accounting needs. It provides five or 10 concurrent user licenses, inventory tracking and role-based security, allowing different employees access to only the information needed to do their job ($1,250-$2,500). It includes one year of unlimited payroll and customer support, including a year’s worth of payroll tax updates.

    For more basic accounting needs, Simply Accounting is available in a variety of versions and prices, still starting with the $50 entrepreneur edition (now available only from Staples or online).

    The standard Simply Accounting single-user edition (the software formerly known as Simply Accounting Basic) is $150; $350 with an added payroll module. It adds improved inventory features and basic budgeting support.
    A premium two-user package, including unlimited multi-currency support and sophisticated forecasting and budgeting tools, starts at $250; $450 with payroll. Conversion tools are included with all versions to simplify switching from other accounting software, such as QuickBooks or MYOB.

    All versions feature a re-worked start screen. This customizable home window is designed to take users quickly to most-used tasks, including balances and reports. Attention has been paid to making the software follow customers’ workflow.

    Onscreen windows of information can now be easily resorted, simply by clicking on a category name. Reports are more easily customized and all reports can be easily output as PDFs, without needing additional software like Adobe Acrobat. Users can now work in two fiscal years at a time, while the product stores at least seven years worth of financial records.

    Behind the scenes, the MySQL database has been built in, promising more flexibility, scalability and performance.
    Sage claims that it is seeing an average of 600 Canadian small businesses a month switching to Simply Accounting from competing packages and, in January, announced a Simple Switch campaign to encourage switchers.
    It promises small businesses a free copy of Simply Accounting if they switch over from QuickBooks or MYOB. Also included is a free one-year subscription to the Simply Care support plan, and the updated data conversion tool.

    Because Sage has often gained customers through the recommendations of accountants, the company is also offering a year’s free membership in the Sage Software Accountants Network to accountants and bookkeepers with QuickBooks or MYOB-using clients.

    Details on Sage’s Switch campaign can be found at:

    If you miss the February 15th deadline for Sage’s Simple Switch campaign, 60-day free trial CDs are available for order by phone (1-866-665-2688) or download. Current customers can also get a 60-day free trial of the payroll service. As well, an online test drive of the Enterprise edition is available – all at •

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan
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