Sage Instant Accounts v16 review

Price when reviewed

Starting up in business and looking to manage your accounts? The software choice lies between the growing number of online tools and the shrinking field of desktop applications. With rivals MYOB and Microsoft Accounting no longer on the scene, Instant Accounts 16 carries the flag for low-cost desktop accounting tools.

The program’s interface is unchanged from the previous version. It also boasts the same modules, holding ledgers for customers, suppliers, bank accounts and so on. The introductions in Instant 16 instead concentrate on smaller, practical functions, particularly for new users.

The program already boasts excellent video-based learning tools, and these are boosted in this version by a better-looking and more powerful data import wizard.

There’s still room for improvement, though: there’s fewer than a dozen choices of account types for new businesses to base their accounts on. So, if you’re in some service industries, you’ll have to fiddle about customising a generic set of accounts.

Sage Instant Accounts v16

Instant is an excellent invoicing tool. Quotations can be quickly turned into invoices, and a new handy timesaver is the ability to create a credit note within an invoice and quickly process this to allocated accounts, with returned goods automatically added to the current stock.

Suppliers are similarly easy to deal with, although we couldn’t find a way to create purchase orders for products – something that larger businesses will probably need.

A striking innovation is the ability to include bar codes in reports, layouts and briefs. Setting these up is a little fiddly, but we can see these being useful if you’re selling products on a volume basis.

Reporting functions are comprehensive and now more easily browsed through a revamped report browser. Where Sage really shines compared to online alternatives, however, is its electronic payment options. VAT returns can be electronically submitted, subscribers to the Sage Pay add-on subscription service, can add links in emailed invoices for customers to pay directly by credit card, and you can also enable e-payments for online banking. Not all banks are supported, though.

Sage Instant Accounts has its limitations – single user, single company, single PC – but it’s functional, powerful and for sole traders and small businesses represents excellent value for money, and for that reason it remains on top of our A List.


Software subcategory Accounting


Processor requirement 1GHz or higher

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no

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