Nothing about accounting is straightforward; and it is complicated even further by the complex nature of some accounting software. You input figures where you believe they should go, and the end result doesn’t tally up so you need to work your way through and trace everything while you gain a headache along the way.
Sage One aims to remove the complication from accounts. It’s a web-based accounts package meaning that there’s nothing to install on your computer and, perhaps crucially, you can access it from any internet-connected device running a recent web browser.
So not only can you run it on your Mac, you can also run it on the iPhone or iPad. For the small business or sole trader, this is ideal: you can update your accounts while on the way home from a job (perhaps on the train) and hence limit the amount of time you need to spend on your accounts in the evening.
It’s easy to get started, a visit to the Sage One website, then a click of the Sign Up to Accounts button launches a 30 day trial after which you can literally get started in minutes. There’s no accountant-speak within the service, it’s all designed to be very easy to follow.
Logging into the service for the first time directs you to add starting balances, business info, bank details and so on. If you’re VAT registered, selecting the option for VAT at this stage will prepare the service to allow you to submit your VAT return online.
With a click of the mouse you can get an at-a-glance snapshot of your business performance including sales, expenses and profit for both the month and year to date. The same summary screen also tells you when your VAT period ends, how much you have in the bank, and your top five outstanding sales invoices.
You can assign codes to products or services you sell on a regular basis. If, for example, your company sells the service of installing Windows onto PC computers, you may resell Windows. Assigning an item code to the Windows DVD set will mean that whenever you sell it you can charge the same price. Similarly, if your labour charge is fixed you can apply the same theory.
Invoices can be created to template. There are a few templates at present but because of the online nature this can be expanded in the future, and they can be customised to include your logo. You can email invoices to your customers, or alternatively print them off from your emailed copy and mail them.
Tracking purchase invoices is simple enough as well and you have the ability to pay multiple invoices from the same supplier at once.
Keeping track of your bank account and ensuring it matches up with your accounts is important: Sage One has therefore kept the concept of Bank Reconciliation, ensuring your bank and accounts match up. If you do this regularly, there’s little chance that your accounts will be wrong.
Reports are available, as you’d expect, with Balance Sheet, Outstanding Sales / Purchase invoices, Profit & Loss and Trial Balance available and exportable as a CSV file.
On the whole, Sage One Accounts mostly succeeds in its aim to make accounting accessible. Where it suffers though is in its limitations simply that you need an Internet connection to use it (there not being an offline option), there’s no Payroll link (meaning that a small business employing staff will need a separate service) and you’ll not be able to run any custom filters on the data.
For a new business, though, Sage One Accounts may be an ideal way to focus on your business without getting stressed over the accounts.