Sage and QuickBooks are the two most popular accounting software packages for small but fast-growing businesses. Offering slightly different services – QuickBooks focuses more on bookkeeping and accounting services while Sage is a feature-rich project management service – the two do overlap but ultimately help your business grow in different ways.
Although many other packages on the market are competing for market share (including Xero, KashFlow and MYOB), this blog focuses on the pros and cons of choosing between Sage and QuickBooks.
How each system helps your business
Sage is designed more for the professional bookkeeper or accountant in mind; however, many of our clients do successfully use Sage themselves. As well as accounting, Sage can also help keep employees on-task when working on collaborative projects.
QuickBooks is designed using a process flow so can be more attractive for the business person with no accounts experience. However, this can still look a little complicated for some clients as QuickBooks offers powerful accounting and bookkeeping tools.
Pros and cons of Sage
Sage is primarily a project management tool that offers a few basic bookkeeping features. With that being said, it’s still an excellent option for today’s businesses as it:
- Saves time – you can manage your accounting, invoicing, cash flow, inventory, taxes and much more from one central system. This makes it quick and easy to create reports, view your finances, process VAT and international payments, and stay up to date with current financial legislation.
- Increases productivity and performance – with secure online access, cloud-based project management, and integration with multiple apps such as Microsoft Office 365, multiple employees can simultaneously work on a single project and collaborate.
- Grows your business – you can run your business more efficiently from project management to invoicing. Sage also offers scalable plans so the software grows with your business.
- Offers expert knowledge and support – the Sage technical support desk is excellent and most issues are resolved quickly.
With that being said, however, Sage does have its downsides, such as:
- The reporting tool can be difficult to use – it is not easy to pull out data to compare by month or quarter all on one report, and the report builder does take a lot of training to use effectively.
- It takes a lot of time to get through to support – expect a long telephone system to get through (especially at peak times).
Pros and cons of QuickBooks
QuickBooks has been a popular small business accounting software since the 90s and is favoured by business managers who don’t want to rely wholly on an accountant. This software:
- Is a superior reporting tool – you can easily track and monitor your income and business expenses over time; the data can then be easily pulled out over different periods and sorted in various ways to create neat reports that give you snapshots of your business performance.
- Offers various bookkeeping features – unlike Sage, QuickBooks has a full suite of bookkeeping tools to help manage the business, including income and expense tracking, payroll management (on higher-level accounts), and financial management tools.
- Saves you time – from invoicing to tracking your finances, QuickBooks synchronises directly with bank accounts and credit card accounts so that all transactions appear in the system automatically.
- Offers scalable plans to meet your growing business needs – like Sage, Quickbooks also offers scalable plans that help your business to grow rather than hindering it.
The drawbacks of using Quickbooks are:
- Disappointing technical support – although you tend to reach someone fairly quickly, the technical knowledge of the level one support team is limited and it can sometimes feel like it would be quicker to just read through the QuickBooks online help manual yourself. With the QuickBooks ProAdvisor programme, we do have direct access to the level two team whose knowledge is a bit better.
Sage Vs QuickBooks Comparison
Everything has pros and cons, so to help you choose which software is for you, here is a quick Sage vs QuickBooks comparison.
Various products: Sage Start-Up and Sage50 are the most popular for small businesses. However, if you require multiple company and multi-user functionality Sage 50 is required.
The most popular for small businesses are SimpleStart and QuickBooks Pro. SimpleStart is suitable for cash businesses as it doesn’t have purchase ledge functionality, however, we would recommend just going to straight to QuickBooks Pro for most small clients.
Mobile apps: QuickBooks and Sage both offer a suite of mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. You can perform virtually all core functions over the apps – including project collaboration and expense tracking.
Online access: Both QuickBooks and Sage can be accessed from any internet-connected device and all data will sync across devices online. Even if your device isn’t supported by mobile apps, you’ll be able to login and view account data from your mobile browser.
The most annoying thing about the online solutions for us is that it is not easy to transition from the desktop versions to the online versions as they look so different and it is not straightforward to bring all your data across. However, for the new business, they could be ideal.
Pricing: The starting price for both software packages are similar with Sage Start-Up around the £120+VAT mark and QuickBooks SimpleStart coming in at £99+VAT. QuickBooks Pro is much cheaper than Sage 50, £269+VAT vs £580+VAT. The online products start at similar levels from £6-£8 per month +VAT.
Trial and extra fees: Sage offers an excellent free trial where users can test the software for free without submitting credit card data (unlike QuickBooks). However, Sage does charge extra for adding administrators to your account while QuickBooks bases its pricing on features – the more you pay, the more you get.
QuickBooks vs Sage – How To Choose?
As small businesses rely heavily on their accountancy software to keep track of their business financials, it’s no wonder that all the available systems are going above and beyond with their features to be the chosen one.
It can be daunting, deciding which product is the one that you need, so here are a few ways that you can look beyond the bells and whistles to make the right choice:
- List your basic requirements that you want from a software package.
- Identify which are the most relevant products within the ranges for your business.
- Look at the trials to see which you like the look and feel of.
- Take the product’s online training course and play around with the practice data yourself.
- Seek advice from your accountant – before choosing a software, go through the pros and cons specific to your business with your accountant to help decide on the most suitable package. They will also help you with the software setup.
Deciding on the best accounting software product is all about assessing different solutions and figuring out what would be the top application for your specific needs. Try to keep it as simple as that.