Archive for the ‘ Sage ’ Category

What do I need to do for Auto Enrolment?

Auto Enrolment. It’s the latest buzzword around payroll processing, but do you know what it is and what you as an employee or employer need to do?

Basically it is the right of anyone in a job to be enrolled in a company pension scheme unless they opt out.  This means that employers need to have a pension scheme ready for staff who don’t opt out, and they also need to manage their admin records, know who is entitled to be enrolled in the pension, and record those who have opted out.

There will of course be pension contributions to pay both as an employee and an employer for those that don’t opt out – so you need to be prepared for the costs involved in both cases.

This is being phased in over the next few years, with larger employers already having started on the process.  Employers will be given a ‘staging date’ by the HMRC to indicate when you need to be offering the pension to your workforce, but setting up a company pension is not an easy choice or a quick process, so employers really need to be looking at their options well in advance of this date.

If this is not something that you have looked into as an employer yet, I recommend that you get in touch with our preferred financial advisor, Sharon Bassett, of Throgmorton Associates, as they are able to offer advice and guide you through the process.  Sharon can be emailed on

It is worth noting that there are financial penalties for missing your staging date, and also if you try and influence your employees to opt out too.  There are also less financial advisors around since January 2013 due to the introduction of legislation which required those giving advice to have additional qualifications.

And to help manage the pension contributions and all the legal duties required by the new Auto Enrolment system, Sage have released Sage 50 Payroll: Auto Enrolment Edition. The new edition includes:

• Creation of an Auto Enrolment preparation plan to coordinate work
• Review of existing pension arrangements
• Forecasts and preparation for the additional costs of providing a workplace pension
• Assistance with communications to employees and to get them ready for Auto Enrolment
• Access to the Sage Community for additional support and information

To find out more about this latest version of Sage 50 Payroll, get in touch with Alison at Silicon Bullet.

Sage 50 2014 – User friendly new features.

Sage have recently released Sage 50 2014 (or version 20) and you can read the official blurb about the new features in my previous post, Sage 50 Accounts 2014 – New Features.

I have noticed, though, running my own accounts on the system, that quite a few little tweaks and extra messages have been added into the system which are not in the publicised new features, but I know my customers and other users will find very useful.  In this post I am going to focus on the purchasing side of the system, but many of the changes are mirrored in the sales side, too.

Purchase Order Processing

The first improvement in the purchase order processing is the inclusion of free stock levels when you are entering an order.  This is also available in the Sales side, too.  It makes it much easier to check that you are ordering the correct quantity of any item.

Free stock shows on the purchase order screen.

Free stock shows on the purchase order screen.

We have customers who occasionally have problems where they accidentally Receive Deliveries on more than one order in error, by having multiple orders highlighted which are not showing on the visible screen. When you highlight an order, it now brings up a screen which states in bold “You have selected x Purchase Order(s)”, so you should be able to pick up your error and amend your selection more easily. It’s so easy not to read these warning screens and just click Yes blindly – but the use of a larger bold font will hopefully make you stop and think before clicking Yes.

Clearer and bolder fonts make warnings more obvious.

Clearer and bolder fonts make warnings more obvious.

Supplier Payments

There is also a new tick box within the Supplier Payments screen, giving you the option to “List Invoice/Credit by item Line”.  This could prove extremely useful if you wish to make a part payment on an invoice whilst disputing items, as you can split the display down into line by line detail.

Supplier Payment - List Invoice/Credit by Item Line

Supplier Payment – List Invoice/Credit by Item Line

I love discovering these little tweaks, and that is why I like using Sage 50 to do my own bookkeeping as well as teaching others – someone who doesn’t use the software for real would not realise the significance of these new features, and to be honest probably wouldn’t spot them!

If you find any other small improvements when you upgrade, please leave me a comment, and I can feature them in future posts.  For more handy tips check out the Sage Tips tag on my blog.

Sage 50 Accounts 2014 – New Features

Sage have now released their latest version of Sage 50 Accounts – they are focusing on making it much smoother and easier to process your VAT, as this is something which stresses out many small business owners.

What’s new in Sage 50 Accounts 2014?

  • Manage your stock with confidence
    Sage 50 Accounts 2014 gives you an up-to-date view of what you have and how profitable items are, and helps keep your customers happy by ensuring that you never run out of stock.
  • Foreign trading made easy
    Sage 50 Accounts 2014 makes it simple to trade and account in foreign currencies whilst keeping you compliant with legislation.
  • Manage charity donations with ease
    It’s now quick and easy for charities to record donations and upload gift aid returns straight to HMRC, and also to manage your gift aid thresholds and stay within your allowances.
  • Stay connected to your business
    Sage 50 Accounts Mobile gives you live management of your accounts on the move and allows you to create quotes without being in the office.
  • Improvements to File Maintenance and Data Check area
    You can now see details of your previous file maintenance check, and technical information is saved to help with troubleshooting.

New Sage File Maintenance

Sound Interesting ?

As a Sage Business Partner, we specialise in a range of services designed to help you to get the most from your Sage software and support your individual requirements. Get in touch via our website for more information.  Keep a look out for future posts highlighting the most useful changes.

Meanwhile, take a look at this short YouTube video which tells you more about why many small business owners choose Sage.

Sage Training

Sage Instant Accounts 2013

Sage Instant Accounts 2013

My main business, and the one I enjoy the most, has always been helping people to get the most out of their Sage Accounts and Payroll software through my one-to-one bespoke Sage training. I find it very rewarding to pass on my years of knowledge on how to be a great bookkeeper, and how to manage your own company’s accounts.

However, I have always struggled to be able to provide course documentation for my Sage courses, as the sessions are always very bespoke and customer led.  My trainees always have to make their own notes, as each training session is so unique that preparing course material to leave with them would be impossible.

Although there is no substitute for one-to-one Sage training and hand holding, I know that some of my customers would benefit from a Sage manual to refer to when the training is over, as often there is a gap between being trained and actually being able to use the software.  A step-by-step guide to remind you of those less commonly used areas would really be useful.

So I am very pleased to be able to offer training manuals, in partnership with Softext, for Sage Instant Accounts, Sage 50 and Sage Payroll, which I can leave with the client once the training is completed.  The prices of these manuals are very reasonable, and they are well written and easy to understand, even for beginners.

Contact us for a full price list of the manuals we have available.

Direct Debits for all – Go Cardless

I was recently approached by GoCardless, to offer advice on their development of an interface for their Direct Debit service with Sage 50.  I was really pleased that they had the foresight to consult with Sage users and trainers as they did the development, and they listened to our comments and acted on the advice too.

Go Cardless half-lo-resGoCardless is the leading Direct Debit provider in the UK. Their system helps companies to take payments without having to chase customers, and unlike their competitors, they only charge 1% per payment up to a maximum of £2 – and nothing else.

Go Cardless Screenshot

Go Cardless Screenshot in Sage

They have developed an add-on for Sage 50 Accounts that allows you to use their award-winning system from within Sage for the first time. I have used it myself and can vouch for the fact that it is remarkably easy to use – once you have customers set up, there’s no need to chase them for payments, saving you loads of time.

It works well for regular subscription type payments, account customers where you have an ongoing relationship with your customers, and service businesses such as accountants and credit check provider. It is a great alternative to asking your clients to set up standing order payments, as well as for more general invoice payments.

What are the benefits?

  • low cost – They only charge 1% transaction fee; the add-on itself is free at the moment (although they are planning to introduce a charge in the future). That means no risk in trying it out, and it’s much cheaper than card payments.
  •  Instant signup – You can sign up online and start collecting immediately, unlike other DD providers. (Take a look at our website for a link to sign up).
  •  No more chasing customers – setting up a customer is really easy, and after that the customer doesn’t need to manually pay you every month! This can result in your debtor days being significantly reduced.
  •  It all works within Sage – you can set up Direct Debits, charge your customers, and automatically reconcile your accounts, all from within Sage.
  • You do not need Sage to use GoCardless – they integrate with other accounting products such as Xero, and you can also use the system from your web browser.

To find out more, contact Alison at and I will introduce you to my contact at Go Cardless.

Sage 50 Payroll V19 – Update 2

It is almost time for the new Real Time Information era of Payroll submissions, and as usual I am making sure I run everything in my own payroll first so that I can correctly advise my customers on how to follow the new process.  There is no better way to learn than to do!

So – first things first – have you downloaded your year end legislation pack?  You need to have Sage Cover for this – there is no way around it – if you don’t have cover, please get in touch and I can help you to get it in place.

If, like me, you installed your Sage Payroll Version 19 software back in November when it was released, it is easy to forget that you now need a new version to make sure that all the legislation is correct.  If you go to Help -> About in your software and your version number is 19.00.0016 this means that you have not yet installed the new version. However – if you click on ‘Check for Updates’, Sage will tell you there are no updates – but there are.

You need to download the software from your Payroll Sage Cover area on the Sage website at – you will need to log in and click on Software Updates and then download your tax year software update.  You need to close all Sage products including Sage 50 and ACT before you do this – and you should also close Excel before installing this update.

Sage Payroll Website

Sage Payroll Website

Once this software is installed, you will find that your version has changed to 19.01.075.  If you go to Help -> Check for Updates now, you will find Update 2 available to download and install.  This MUST BE DONE before you start to do your first RTI submission.  It is a little confusing, as there is no Update 1 because it has been replaced by Update 2, which is not the usual way things are done.

The one thing I did find confusing is that once I had installed Update 2, the version number still said 19.01.075 – but the update had definitely installed.  I always go to the Company->Legislation area for my own peace of mind too and check the legislation matches the new HMRC legislation – you need to make sure that your processing date is 6th April or after otherwise the legislation displayed will still be last year’s.  An easy guide is to check the Emergency Tax Code – if is says 944L you are in the correct year.

2013 2014 Legislation Settings

2013 2014 Legislation Settings

The other confusing thing is that if you check the legislation before doing these two updates the message at the bottom of the screen says ‘The Legislation Settings shown are for the 2013/2014 Tax Year’, even though they are clearly incorrect.  Doing the two updates means that the legislation is now correct.

Summary: Updating Sage 50 Payroll V19 Update 2

  1. Check your version number (Help – About) – if it’s 19.00.0016 you need to do an update
  2. Close Sage, ACT and Excel
  3. Log in to click on Software Updates and then download and install your tax year software update
  4. In Sage, Help – About shows version has changed to 19.01.075
  5. Help – Check for Updates – download and install Update 2
  6. Check Company->Legislation area for the legislation matching the new HMRC legislation (processing date must be after 6 April, Emergency Tax Code says 944L)

I hope that this article has helped you if you are having problems with your payroll – and good luck with your first RTI submission – although don’t try to do them until after  6am on Saturday 6th April as HMRC are carrying out scheduled maintenance on the Gateway before then – no doubt preparing the decks for all of our new submissions!

**Update as of 23rd April**

Update 3 for Sage 50 Payroll has now also been rolled out.  Following download and installation of this third update your version number should read 19.01.079 .

Sage Instant Accounts 2013 launched today

Sage Instant Accounts 2013 has now been launched. It is perfect for new and small businesses. Sage Instant Accounts is the market-leading bookkeeping package that puts you in control of everyday essentials like cash flow and VAT. It also gives you the confidence to make more informed business decisions without being too complicated and without the need to have a bookkeeping qualification.

Some of the fantastic new features that larger companies already enjoy in Sage 50 Accounts 2013 have been extended into Sage Instant with this new version.

Sage Instant Accounts 2013

Sage Instant Accounts 2013

What’s New?

 Quicker and easier to do everyday tasks

• Save time by creating quotes and invoices from your product list

• Record cash sales to speed up selling your stock

Improved VAT, month end and year end processing

• Clear and logical screens guide you through the VAT process

• Logical approach to month and year end

Easy to get set up and running

• Set up your software to match your business structure, quickly, easily and in one place

• Customise your company details

New Report Browser

• Detailed descriptions of each report, telling you what’s included

• A preview of each report so you can check that it’s the right one before you open or run it

• The ability to filter reports, so you only see the ones that you’re interested in

Easier to email your customers

• Save time, postage costs and promote quick payments by using email

• Choose your settings and layout and apply to all future email documents

• Save time, send invoices, statements and letters to your customers quickly and easily

Easier to export information to Microsoft Excel

• Export data directly, without having to spend time manipulating spreadsheets to match things up. Clear and up-to-date help when you need it

• Brand new look and feel to Sage Help – easy to find in just one click from any screen

They’ve also updated over 1,000 buttons and labels in Sage Instant Accounts 2013, removing abbreviations and making sure the words used are consistent and easy to understand.

Want to take a closer look?

If you would like to see a demonstration of Sage Instant Accounts 2013, please get in touch with Silicon Bullet. We offer competitive prices on upgrades as well as new software – and can provide refresher courses to get you up and running using all the new features.

Real Time Information – RTI – Be prepared

Payroll Submissions are Changing

Between April 2012 and October 2012, everyone who pays employees through the PAYE scheme will receive a letter from the HMRC informing them of the date they are required to start submitting their payroll reports when they pay their employees instead of at the end of each tax year.  This new system is called Real Time Information, or RTI.  Take a  look at this short information video for more information about RTI.

First Steps – Employer Alignment Submission

RTI is not complicated if you use a computerised Payroll system, such as Sage Payroll, but you do need to be prepared and organised before your first submission.  When you receive your letter, you will be asked to perform an Employer Alignment Submission (EAS), which will prove that the system is working and that your system can ‘talk’ to the Inland Revenue systems correctly.

The most important thing with the new system is ensuring your records are accurate and up to date.  Don’t wait for your letter to arrive – if you run your own payroll why not check that your data is correct now, while you have plenty of time to check and correct your information.  Things like the company information need to be accurate – including your Accounts Office reference – which was not required previously.

Check your Employee Records

For employees you need to make sure you have their full name – nick names and initials  are not allowed – full address including postcode,  the correct date of birth, gender and National Insurance number.  This may sound basic, but I have seen many payrolls where the processor puts fake information into the system so that the employee gets paid – then it is hard to remember to go back and change it.

Sage 50 Payroll RTI Edition includes an excellent report which you can print out from your payroll and hand to each employee so that they can check and correct any incorrect information, like missing middle names, so you can be sure that your data is correct.  The Real Time Information Help Centre is also there to guide you through the changes.

I will be writing more blog posts over the next few weeks with more RTI information – but let me leave you with a quote from one of our customers who has already made their first submission as part of the HMRC Pilot scheme – and they used Sage Payroll for 2012/13 for the task.

“Sage Payroll with the RTI update has made the processing of all 16 staff an extremely simple process. I am part of the pilot for trialling RTI and Sage payroll software. Our company went live with our first pay date in November and In order for the transition to be smooth I had ensured that all my personnel data was accurate within Sage Payroll. (A report was available to print and all staff were asked to check their individual details.) On the processing day, there was no extra effort except a couple of clicks to submit live information to HMRC. An email acknowledged receipt and now on to next month.”  Tracy Waumsley, Accounts manager at Encapsulite International Ltd

Sage 50 Accounts 2013 – Update 2

The second update for Sage 50 Accounts 2013 has been released. As for previous updates, if you run a multi-user system, once you have updated one machine you must then go ahead and update all machines which use the same data before you will be allowed to re-open Sage.

Before you update your Sage 50 software

You must close ALL Sage programs and Microsoft Excel before installing any updates: this includes ACT!

If you forget to close Excel and other Sage programs, you may get stuck in an update loop which will not allow you to open the program and also not allow you to update it. If this happens, please follow the instructions in my prior post, Sage 50 Accounts 2012 – Update 3 to access the Sage website, download the updates and install manually.

Installing the Update

If you follow the instructions and still are not able to successfully update, you should contact the Sage Cover Support lines, or we at Silicon Bullet can offer you remote support if you do not have Sage Cover.

Please see our other blog posts about Sage Updates.

Once you have installed the update, your program details in Help -> About should be

Sage E-Marketing – Maintenance Update

Sage E-marketing will be performing some system upgrades and the service will be unavailable during this time period (see below).

Any campaign that may be scheduled during this window will be delayed until after the maintenance is complete.

If you have any questions please contact the Customer Support team at

United Kingdom
London Sat October 27th 5:00PM – 9:00PM
If you are not in the UK then see the event time announcer webpage for your region.

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