If there's one lesson that the consumerization of IT and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movements have taught the software industry is that complexity is out and simple and intuitive workflows are in. People, particularly if they're on the go, need applications that don't get in the way and hamper their productivity. That holds true for small business accounting software, too.
That's the guiding principle behind Sage 50 2014. Another year into the product's evolution from Peachtree to Sage (Peachtree still appears on the box to reassure current customers, although not as prominently), the company has added new features that streamline common processes and taking the guesswork out of small business accounting.
New Features in Sage 50 Small Business Accounting
Major changes to the product include new account receivables tweaks that slash the number of steps it takes to record payments and to settle accounts. They're the first of several enhancements that allow small business owners to spend more time making their customers happy and less time banging away at a keyboard, says Shari Willman, product marketing manager for Sage.
When you log payments made against invoices, Sage 50 now surfaces practically all of the information related to a given account, including past invoices and customer information. If, for example, a customer sends you a check to cover multiple invoices, you can access all open invoices and apply the payment to several of them from the same screen.
For Sage, the goal is "getting more information at your fingertips without navigating to another part of the product," said Willman.
Small business owners no longer have to dig through menus and jump between screens. They can square away several invoices in one fell swoop. It's part of Sage's mission to make it easier for busy entrepreneurs to "receive money instead of receipts," said Willman.
In fact, it was the most-requested enhancement by Sage 50 customers. At first glance, it may seem like a subtle difference, but it's a timesaver that Sage's development and customer care teams were thrilled to deliver, said Willman. "Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference for them," she said.
Small Business Invoicing
The company claims that Sage 50 is more efficient while issuing invoices, too. Similar to the new accounts receivable functionality, invoicing now makes better use of the available screen real estate by displaying pertinent information such as critical due dates.
The product also helps business owners save time -- and perhaps some of their sanity -- by proactively displaying a customer's credit status on quotes, proposals and invoices, which allows them to make smarter decisions about setting terms or whether to engage with them at all.
This focus on fast, efficient workflows ripples throughout the entire product. A revamped Purchase/Receive Inventory screen offers many of the same easy-access payment options and account-management options. Similarly, the new Quote List now offers at-a-glance status updates and one-click sorting, so that you don't have to open each and every one to determine where you stand.
Looking for Sage Advice?
Sage Advisor, the company's in-context, help and guided learning system, has also been upgraded.
New features include a new Launchpad for quick and easy access to supporting information, which can take the form of several new videos that walk users through successfully completing a task. If you'd rather consult a printout, Sage now offers "downloadable PDFs -- we call them cheat sheets," revealed Willman.
While Sage Advisor is ready to assist at any moment, you don't have to worry about another Microsoft Clippy. The feature is "pretty discrete," said Willman. The company also rolled out a QuickBooks conversion guide to smooth the conversion process for switchers.
Sage Business Care, the company's service and support offering, offers Intelligence Reporting, which lets you leverage enterprise-like business intelligence and analytics features – such as forecasting with reports that they can view and modify in Excel.
The company also plans on more frequent product updates, and for Business Care Gold and Platinum customers, payroll updates. Platinum customers can now call upon a designated support team and schedule support appointments when their work day allows.
Sage 50 2014 is available now. Prices start at $269 for a Pro Accounting license.
Complete Accounting costs $369 for one user, $669 for three users and $899 for five users. Premium sells for $569 for one user, $999 for three users and $1,399 for five users, and it's available for the following verticals: construction, distribution, manufacturing and nonprofit.
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