We swapped Sage 50 for Kashflow and ditched Quickbooks on the way
Most small businesses have heard of Sage accounts, as it is probably the most used UK accounting software. CraftPrice has used it for 3 years and previous to that for 11 years in other businesses, so we know a thing or two about Sage.
Sage believes its products are pretty good, but we have noticed that their evolutionary growth of the product is falling behind some revolutionary online accounting products. It is still basically a batch-based system, as accounting systems in the '80s were. We decided in December to have a look at what else is out there now.
A bit of googling brings up Quickbooks online, a US based, but internationally used cloud based accounts system. In reviews it seemed to score highly, so we signed up for a trial to see what it was like. We were very pleased to note that they could import all our Sage data for the current and previous year, as this was a transfer job we were not looking forward to doing. It was probably also the reason why we have been with Sage so long, as the thought of migrating to something else and having continuity of business is a bit daunting.
We found out pretty quickly that the migration is not straight forward, but involved giving a Sage backup to an Australian based outfit who would perform the conversion for us in about 3 to 5 working days. Well, they had about 6 or 7 attempts at this and all were wrong, but finally they came up with a version that matched the balances in our Sage. There were some very weird journal entries posted to make it match, but it did match. So now, onward to test it.....
Quickbooks online (QBO) tries to post automatic entries for you and one of the nicest in theory is to post the cost of goods sold at the same time as the sales invoice is updated. Not many systems do this as the biggest challenge is the valuation of the product at cost. Done correctly, it is a winner, as you then have a good idea of your profitability on the dashboards in QBO.
Great in theory, absolutely abysmal in practice. We never found out how QBO values the stock but given a start valuation and quantity which matched Sage, it should not require a rocket science degree to work out the average cost price of the product. However, QBO could not do this and instead posted random values of the same stock item. It was impossible to unravel and made our set of books erroneous. From champ to chump in a day.
We searched for help and there is none on this subject. Trying to speak to a human is well nigh impossible and so we voted with our feet and ditched QBO. We found lots of other comments about their customer service being very poor and the quality of answers from staff being poor too.
It's very colourful and pretty on the dashboard, but the numbers are total bull....
Somewhat deflated by this result, which had taken over a week to get to this conclusion, we looked for something else. We had dabbled with Xero in the past, but it is a bit too expensive for our tastes, with no quantum improvement in benefits.
So we searched and eventually we came across Kashflow, another UK based accounting package. First impression is they can't spell it right, but after a fit of the giggles, we subscribed for a free 30 day trial.
This also offered Sage conversion and based on our QBO experience, we were not too hopeful this was going to work, but we emailed our backup file and hoped it would.
Within an hour, we had an email back saying "Bye bye Sage, hello Kashflow!" The conversion had been done and what is more, it was correct and contained no dubious balancing take on entries. The only missing bit was the general ledger account number used in Sage was not shown in Kashflow. However we were able to add it quite easily against each account description to allow us to continue using the same coding structure we were familiar with in Sage.
Standard reports are easy to tweak to suit the way you want to report your sales and margins, unlike any standard report in Sage.
We were able to replicate exactly, our management accounts actual results from within Kashflow, which we have never been able to do in Sage, being forced to use Excel spreadsheets to accomplish this task.
Kashflow does not post an automatic cost of goods entry when an item is sold, but we have a work around which we used before in Sage and this also works in Kashflow.
We were able to get invoicing and receipts and payments up to date for December in under a day and parallel run for a couple of days. Result? Kashflow just works. Today we jumped in and signed up for the unlimited invoices and unlimited bank transaction option at £13 per month + Vat. This is a great value for money product and knocks the socks off the competition.
An obscure name that is not at the forefront of accounting packages, but Kashflow really really works and works well. It is in our opinion far better than QBO and is ahead of Sage because of its reporting versatility and its cloud ability to integrate orders (via a paid app) from Amazon, eBay, Shopify and others. Sage is just too much batch processing, while Kashflow is more about getting the next sale and knowing the business systems are just working fine. We wholeheartedly recommend Kashflow and we have acquired a token which, if you click on the Kashflow Free Trial link at the top of this article (or here ) and ultimately sign up for Kashflow, you will get a £1.50 per month discount for 6 months. It might not sound a lot, but Kashflow is not going to cost you a lot either.
How much does Kashflow cost ? At Dec 2016, its cost is :
£7 per month - for 10 invoices, 25 bank transactions
£13 per month - unlimited invoices and bank transactions
£18 per month - the £13 package plus payroll
All prices exclude VAT
A little more than Sage (£10 per month + Vat), a little less than QBO (£15 per month + Vat) and a lot less than Xero (£22 to £27.50 per month + Vat if you want multi currency), it is a great solution for small business accounting systems. Sign up for the free trial, they don't take any card details from you unless you want to continue.
If you have any questions, please post a comment below, thanks.