Sage 50 Accounts 2017, or Version 23, is now available to download. For those of you on subscriptions with Sage you can now download the update to install on your machine. If you were previously a Sage Instant Accounts customer you would normally have had to wait for about 6 months to get any of the new features, but now with Sage 50 Accounts Essentials it’s the same update as all the other Sage 50 users to take advantage of the improvements.
Transaction Drill Down
I don’t know about you, but I have always found it annoying not to be able to see the tax code on a transaction in the Customer and Supplier activity windows. Especially when you are using Cash Accounting and you have had that annoying Tax Mismatch message when you are trying to match a payment on account to an invoice. Previously you have had to go and find the transaction in the main transactions or corrections screen in order to double check the tax codes used to work out what has gone wrong.
Now the latest version has a transaction drill down option within the Customer, Supplier, Bank and Nominal activity screens which opens up a details window if you click on the new View Transaction button. The screen you see is very similar to the Edit Transaction screen, but at the moment it’s a view only feature of the system. This will really speed up some of my more complicated bookkeeping jobs where errors in VAT codes are commonplace.
Negative Values on Sales Invoices
Sometimes discounts are just not flexible enough as the only way of reducing a balance owed on an invoice. I have been asked many times to be able to put negative items on a Sales Invoice, and this feature, after over 20 years of using Sage 50, has now been added. It would work well with self billing invoices where an admin charge is levied as an example of an application for the feature.
Currently however this negative value can currently only appear on a Service invoices and special S1 items on Product Invoices but not in the Batch Invoice entry screen, so this is a step in the right direction and will help some of my customers but isn’t quite there yet in my opinion.
To add a negative line on a Sales Service Invoice you simply use F3 or the arrow in the Details line to open the Item Line window, enter your amount in the usual way and click the Make Negative button. On a product invoice use the product code S1 and tick the Make Negative button one in the Item Line details window.
Due Dates on Invoices
There is a new Due Date field in both Order and Invoice Screens in Customers and Suppliers modules, as well as in Batch Invoice entry screens. The Due date is automatically populated using the payment terms in the credit control area of the customer and supplier records, but can be overwritten manually if required.
I have actually already found this new addition a bit annoying in my day to day job as I’m not used to it being there, and in a small business like mine then due dates aren’t usually too relevant (most people pay straight away!) so I have chosen to hide this column in my batch data entry screens and in my Customer Receipt and Supplier Payment screens. To hide a column you don;t use simply right click with the mouse anywhere on the title line and remove the tick from the column you don;t want to display. You can always put it back at a later date, or return to the software defaults at any time, but it can really help avoid confusion if the new column isn’t of use to you. For other useful tips on customising your screens take a look at my previous post “Customising Your View in Sage”.
Invoices and Payments on the same screen
In the past if you wanted to enter an invoice and a payment at the same time, but still use the suppliers ledger in order to keep track of your business with a particular supplier, you had to enter the invoice in the batch invoices window, then navigate with a few clicks to the supplier payment window to find and match the payment to the invoice. It’s quite a long winded process.
Now you have an extra 4 columns added to the batch customer and supplier invoice screens which allow you to record the payment at the same time and on the same screen as you enter the invoice. This is great for bookkeepers who aren’t given the invoices to enter until after the bills are paid and can be a real time saver if you have a back log of data to enter. One of my training clients updated her Sage as soon as the update came out just to use this feature as they had 6 months worth of data to catch up on entering.
Back-Up Manager Improvements
I have found the backup manager a real god send for those clients who never seem to have time to kick everyone off Sage to be able to do a manual backup. It was introduced in Sage 50 2015 and enables the system to take regular automated backups in the background without needing everyone to be out of sage. A common request however was to be able to specify a backup location, which wasn’t an option previously. You can now backup to a fixed drive or any cloud storage folders available to the machine. A word of warning though, if you use Dropbox there is a known problem that backing up straight to your Dropbox drive can cause errors in your backup which would mean you could never restore them, making it useless, so I would personally use the cloud option with caution.
I don’t always recommend that all my customers should upgrade their Sage every year, unless there is a new feature here which you might find really useful. I will be hoping that all my bookkeeping clients update to the latest version as soon as possible this year however just for the improvements to the transaction breakdown details as this will make a real difference to my productivity. Most of my clients enter their own invoices and some put their payments and supplier invoices in too, I then just do the bank reconciliations and VAT returns for them, so any way to make tracing what has been entered by other staff is always going to make my job a lot easier.
If you would like to upgrade your Sage to the latest version, whether in the ‘old’ way by upgrading your software for a one off payment, or by moving over to the Sage Subscription service then please get in touch with me, Alison, on 01604 420057 and I can offer you guidance on the best upgrade route for you, and often there are special offers from Sage which I can pass on to my clients. Just give me a call and I’ll see how I can help. I also offer one to one refresher training on Sage 50 to enable you to make the best use of the new features, or for anyone coming back into using Sage after a break.