Sage Instant Accounts 2012 review
Sage seems to work on the theory that the old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” doesn’t apply to accounting applications. This update to its introductory accounting package retains the familiar interface and module-based approach of its predecessors. Unexciting, perhaps, but old hands will feel right at home.
All the improvements are either solidly practical or aimed at more efficient working. There are modest changes to Instant Accounts’ standard view for ledgers, which lists records, accounts and transactions, making it easier to navigate and find records. At the other end, the Reports window has been redesigned to make it faster to print and easier to store favourites.
For all the lack of new frills, though, Instant Accounts is a solid choice for start-ups and sole traders. It’s easy to get going: a wizard organises your chart of accounts quickly and Sage has addressed a niggle we had previously, by introducing an extra wizard that makes it simpler to add opening balances. We also like the way you can switch ledger views to show a thumbnail-based business flowchart, or a dashboard which, in the case of the Company module, displays your top-selling product, bank balances, and an overview of your accounts.
For an entry-level program, Instant ticks many boxes. There’s a huge number of reports to choose from and unlike the basic version of Accountz, you can create quotations and turn these into customisable invoices. As with Accountz, Instant copes with cash, accrual and flat-rate VAT schemes, and allows online submission of the VAT return. But Sage adds a handy diary function that integrates with Microsoft Outlook for task tracking.
What’s missing? The lack of built-in payroll – it’s a £100 add-on – isn’t surprising, but 45 days’ free support is meagre and compares poorly to online accounting services (including Sage’s own Sage One). But only if support is critical should you look elsewhere.