Sage Wrangles the Cloud in Small Business Accounting Revamp

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted May 16, 2012

Sage today unveiled Sage One, a cloud-based bookkeeping and business management application for entry-level businesses.

Sage One is more than a just a tool that help small business owners keep their financial house in order, says Mike Savory, a senior product manager for Sage. The company's developers designed the software-as-a-service (SaaS) package, and they took cues from the real-world business processes of SOHOs and small teams made up of a handful of employees -- many of whom don't even share a zip code, or time zone for that matter.

Two themes kept cropping up when Sage surveyed the small business accounting scene, says Savory. First, workers "were using multiple tools and systems to get things done," he states. This includes "a mix of desktop and online tools" like Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Quickbooks and manual systems according to Savory. Next, Sage discovered that entry-level businesses -- fewer than 10 employees, by and large -- "struggled with collaboration," be it between business partners, contractors or a couple of employees, he adds.

Small Business Accounting and Collaboration in One Cloud App

Sage One addresses these with an integrated offering that combines financial management with project tracking, payment processing, collaboration and customer management features. And all "without having to string a bunch of applications together," says Savory.

Accessible via Web browser, Sage One greets users with an overview of their overall financial positions along with invoices, a task list and project updates. This dashboard includes graphs and charts that offer at-a-glance, up-to-the-minute income and expense statistics.

To dive deeper, a tabbed interface allows users to access project management functions, assign tasks, manage contacts, and invoice and monitor account balances on a checkbook-style ledger. Sage One automatically links the underlying data and keeps all the components in sync with new changes, updates and transactions. For instance, the Projects tab can be used to access project-related shared files and messages, and assign tasks and provide time tracking. Upon completion, you can use that data to populate a customized invoice, which Sage One can generate and email.

Sage One is available now. Prices start at $29.00 per month, which includes a second administrator account, unlimited team member support and 5 GB of online storage.

Peachtree Evolves to Sage 50

Sage isn't catering to only the SOHO set. The company also debuted its Sage 50 2013 product line for small businesses that have more complex accounting requirements. While it still carries the Sage Peachtree branding, albeit to a lesser extent, Sage 50 signals a new era for the accounting software suite, one that embraces mobile and cloud-connected services to expand business opportunities, says Shari Willman, a product marketing manager at Sage.

Sage 50 builds on many of the updates and usability enhancements that the company debuted in its Sage Peachtree 2012 product. These include guided, context-aware tips and video tutorials called Sage Advisor Technology, data and IT systems checks and alerts, and "business intelligence that is tailored for the small businesses," adds Willman.

New this year: two optional, paid services that fall in line with the company's connected services strategy, explains Willman. They take Sage 50 beyond the realm of accounting and into email marketing and real-time mobile payments.

The first is Sage E-marketing, which leverages the rich stores of customer data that business owners keep in their Sage 50 environments to run professional, customizable email marketing campaigns. Using the Sage 50 export feature and Sage E-marketing templates and tools, small businesses can try their hands at boosting sales with customized messages targeted at prospects and inactive or current customers. Built-in reporting tools help generate leads and measure campaign effectiveness, according to the company.

Also new this year: a nod to the "bring your own device" (BYOD) trend that is transforming the IT landscape. A Sage Mobile Payments credit card swiper for smartphones lets small businesses securely accept customer credit cards on the spot.

Sage's mobile integration service supports most smartphones and tablets, and it allows businesses to reduce collection times and immediately take payments in places where cash registers can't go. Sage 50 integration means that it automatically adds transactions to sales tallies.

Sage 50 prices start at $129.00 for the Sage 50 First Accounting 2013 edition. Other single-user editions include:

  • Sage 50 Pro Accounting 2013 ($269.00)
  • Sage 50 Complete Accounting 2013 ($369.00)
  • Sage 50 Premium Accounting 2013 ($569.00)

Multi-user Pro Accounting pricing is $669 for three users and $899 for five users. Complete accounting multi-user packages cost $999 for three users and $1,399 for five users. Sage 50 Quantum multi-seat pricing (from five to 40 users) ranges from $3,000 to $15,000. Sage E-marketing prices start at $14.95 per month for 250 emails per day.

Top 10 Small Business Accounting Software Options

Want to learn more about your small business accounting software options? Be sure to read The Ultimate Small Business Accounting Software Guide.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.


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