Sage Business Cloud Accounting review

Small business accounting in the cloud

Image Credit: Sage

Our Verdict

Sage Small Business Accounting can tame the challenges of bookkeeping with a cloud based approach. Available via a subscription model, it offers advantages of integration with Microsoft’s Office 365, and accountant remote access.

For

  • Free 30-day trial
  • Higher plan offers deep integration with Microsoft Office 365
  • Can generate cash flow statements
  • Automatically reconciles bank transactions

Against

  • No free tier
  • Limited lower tier
  • Cost

Necessity became the mother of invention when the founder of Sage had a need to automate accounting business processes for his own business. He partnered with a team of Newcastle University students, subsequently realized other businesses could use this software as well, and back in 1981 founded the company Sage. 

In 1998 Sage acquired the leading desktop accounting software, Peachtree, and came to the North American market. The company now boasts 13,000 employees, in 23 countries worldwide serving over 3 million businesses that use its software.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers both a starter plan as well as a more advanced plan that includes invoicing and cash flow management (Image Credit: Sage)

Sage Business Cloud Accounting offers both a starter plan as well as a more advanced plan that includes invoicing and cash flow management (Image Credit: Sage)

(Image credit: Image Credit: Sage)

Pricing

Sage provides cloud accounting solutions under the Sage Business Cloud umbrella. Both plans are subscription based, and offer a free 30-day trial with no credit card required. Sage Business Accounting also handily connects to over 100 connected apps including ReceiptBank, Fluidly, AutoEntry and Stripe. Being cloud based, it is not downloaded, and accessed via the web browser.

The entry level plan is called Accounting Start, has a cost of $10 per month, and is designed for sole proprietorships and micro businesses. This plan focuses on the basics, including creating sales invoices, tracking accounts receivable, and syncing to your bank.

The step up plan is designated as Accounting, which has additional features at the higher cost of $25 per month. This plan adds quite a bit of advanced bookkeeping functionality, including producing balance reports, generating quotes and estimates, recording purchase invoices, and viewing cash flow statements.

The other offering for small business accounting is the Sage 50cloud Accounting software. This combines “the convenience of cloud with the power of desktop accounting software.” This solution is able to integrate the Sage bookkeeping with Office 365 Business Premium and the Microsoft Small Business Productivity Suite. This enables key cloud based features, such as backing up to OneDrive, generating financial reports in Excel, and accessing Outlook contacts. 

This starts at the Pro Accounting tier, via a monthly subscription of $46.83 per month, with the limitation that it only supports a single user at a single company, with the option to add Microsoft 365 for an annual subscription of $150 per year. It can also automate bank feeds, and can be remotely accessed by your accountant.

You can easily connect your bank accounts to Sage Business Cloud Accounting (Image Credit: Sage)

You can easily connect your bank accounts to Sage Business Cloud Accounting (Image Credit: Sage)

(Image credit: Image Credit: Sage)

Features

Regardless of the plan chosen, all of Sage’s offerings in this bookkeeping segment are cloud based. The advantages include online backup support, and integration with mobile apps. This also makes it easy to access the software from any browser, regardless of location, making this approach advantageous for a mobile professional.

A core feature of small business accounting software is invoicing. Sage Business Accounting can handle the whole process, including invoice creation, sending the invoices, tracking what is owed, and accepting payments. Invoices can be customized with the company logo, with choices of font, colors and templates.  

Another key is that this software gets connected to your bank account, allowing the flow and tracking of these payments. While there is some effort to get this setup, it works well, and makes it an efficient process. As invoices can be sent instantly after they are generated, the goal is to reduce the time to payment. The bank data then gets transferred to the accounting software, which can then match transactions automatically, and reconcile the transactions with the invoices. Now it is easy to see which invoices have been paid, what is incoming, and which invoices are overdue, and at an administrative cost savings by saving time through streamlining the entire process. Along the way, it learns your selections, memorizes your choices, and creates bank rules to apply to subsequent transactions.

Managing inventory can quickly become an onerous accounting issue. Sage Business Accounting has tools to track inventory in and out, by categories and time period. This also facilitates costs and profit tracking, which then feed into the reports to provide insight on how well the business is performing, and target crucial opportunities for improvement.

While accounting software traditionally tied the user to a single desktop with the software, Sage Business Accounting uses a mobile accounting app so data can be accessed from just about anywhere. The mobile apps are available for the Android and iOS platforms, and used on either a smartphone or tablet platform for flexible use. This allows workers to be able to create and send a professional invoice while still on site at the job to significantly reduce the time to payment thereby improving cash flow. Another use is to be able to track expenses while away from the office by easily logging them into the smartphone. The mobile apps also let users to access their real time data from anywhere with the ability to see their business dashboard.  

Final verdict

Sage Business Cloud Accounting is a modern, cloud based approach to small business bookkeeping. We appreciate the robust feature set, with capability to create sales invoices, connect to your bank, and track what you are owed. This frees the small business proprietor to focus on making money for their business, and not get quagmired with piles of unpaid invoices.  

We find the lowest Accounting Start tier, while well priced, somewhat limiting, and only useful for a true micro business. On the other hand, the upper Accounting tier is quite a bit more capable, and the 50cloud variant has deep integration with Microsoft365, although the cost rises considerably from the lowest plan. For a medium to larger small business, without dedicated accounting resources, these higher plans become an affordable solution.