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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 16 September 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sage One is an online accounting package, aimed at small businesses. Its currently priced on line at £10 per month (cf the 3 month subscription package which is ~ £25 and is a DVD style box with a subscription code. ) Before you buy you can register with Sage and have a free one month trial, however subscription code needs to be entered before the trial ends as otherwise bank details are required for direct debit. Your accountant can be given access to help with preparation of year end accounts.

There is a 24/7 helpful line and monthly email/newsletters from Sage. There is a book Sage One for Dummies which summarises the key features of the software. Sage One For Dummies

The product is split into sections by tabs:

Summary tab- has a top line overview of 'sales', 'expenses' and 'profit'. If you put in your bank account details it shows a graph of income/expenditure vs date. There is also a summary of your top 5 unpaid invoices.

Sales tab -has sections `sales invoices', `other income' and `products and services'.

In 'products and services' you can set up details of your services or items (products) which you sell/provide frequently to save typing the details fresh every time. For example if you produced garden gnomes you could specify the details and unit price. If you then provided services e.g gnome sales, gnome servicing gnome cleaning, and repairs these could also be listed with separate prices/rates for each. Rates can be fixed, hourly, weekly, etc. When generating an invoice the details can be raised from these details..

Sales invoices -here invoices can be generated with customer details and then be printed or emailed, There are several invoice templates with an element of customisation in layout and personalisation with a small company logo.

Expenses tab- has sections `purchases invoices' and `other expenses'
In `other expenses' the payment method/account can be chosen, and the type of expense. There are predefined expense categories or you can create your own. At the bottom of the page a summary of expenses is shown.

Banking tab- gives the possibility to track/manage 'cash', 'credit' and 'current accounts'. For bank or credit card information an account has to be set up. However you can put in dummy details if you don't want all your financial info in the system

Contacts tab- contains 'customers' and 'suppliers' information. Here you can include details e.g. name company, email, telephone, mobile, VAT No. , customer/supplier address, delivery address and a notes field. Contacts can be imported in .csv format.

More tab- contains reports : 'profit and loss', 'outstanding sales invoices', 'balance sheet', 'trial balance', and 'outstanding purchase invoices'. Reports can be converted to .csv and exported to excel.

From the software you can get an overview of the Sage products to which you subscribe, such as cash book and payroll and the Sage One product settings: billing details and user settings.

Generally I found the software straightforward to use. However there were some niggles:

The 24/7 help line doesn't cover account queries which are only Mon to Fri.

Whilst up dating a complex invoice the server went off line (this could have been a problem with the broadband connection rather than Sage) however this was not detected until an attempt was made to save changes which were then lost.

The system times out if there is no activity for a period, this good from a security point of view but irritating if going through paperwork checking details to record and have to keep logging back on.

The sales invoices template has limited customisable fields, and some aspects were based on information put in the user settings so could not be changed. A logo could be added but had to be below a certain size and dimensions. The software recommends the size and dimensions however I found these were mandatory not optional for both parameters.

When trying to email an invoice from within the software the default email client was not launched, nor did the email address details come up to be selected, despite them being in Sage contacts.

In expenses I couldn't see a way to set up a recurring monthly expense even though there are categories like rent and rates which are likely to be recurring.
Although petrol costs can be recorded under other expenses I could not find any where to record business mileage.

If you need to access your accounts on line- perhaps if you attend craft fairs and have quiet periods then logging your sales could be a useful tool. However if you have few customers and perhaps provide services/products on an infrequent basis then a spread sheet would capture much of the information or a a single pc based solution could be more cost effective as you pay the monthly subscription fee whether you use the product or not.
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