An easy-to-use accounts service for business newcomers, but it's too simple for larger firms
The learning curve involved in setting up and running a limited company can be steep and intimidating for those who’ve never done it before. Accounting software has never been particularly helpful in this regard, bombarding the hapless entrepreneur with questions about charts of accounts and year ends before they’ve even raised their first invoice.
Cloud-based accounting has some real advantages, like giving your accountant direct access
Fortunately, Sage has come up with a big improvement in Sage One Accounts; an online accounts package aimed at business owners who just want to get on with doing business. It’s part of a small suite of products that also include Cashbook, a cheaper service designed for the self-employed, and Payroll, which integrates with either Cashbook or Accounts and supports payments for up to 15 staff members. A free version allows accountants to access their clients’ data directly.
The signup process for Sage One Accounts involves nothing more taxing than providing basic company details and accepting the terms and conditions, although you can enter a year-end date if you already know it. With this done, the service is ready to use. Its web-based interface is pleasingly sparse. The initial screen displays a summary of the business’s current position, including the primary bank balance, the sales, expenses and profit to date and the ‘top’ unpaid invoices. Other details are accessed via tabs that cover incoming and outgoing funds, banking and the contact details of customers and suppliers.
Raising an invoice is as easy as it could be
There’s a welcome minimum of distracting text, with short, useful help provided throughout. The overall feel is one of the friendliest we’ve encountered. There’s also a lack of jargon that makes this far more intuitive than most accounts packages we’ve used. Raising an invoice, for example, is done via the Sales tab where there’s a big Create Invoice button to start the process. It couldn’t be simpler.