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The replacement shortlist

There are thousands of accounting packages out there, but I’ve put together a shortlist for Sage Financials users in the unenviable position of having to find a new solution in the next 10 months.

Follow this link to receive a copy of the full shortlist with our assessment of the different solutions.
Sage Financials knowhow shortlist evaluation


The short-list criteria

Cloud based

There is nothing wrong with your old on-premise accounting solutions, but if you are going to change, you MUST go for a cloud solution. And I mean a true cloud solution, not a desktop package hosted online with virtual servers… As well as the well rehearsed benefits of resilience & security, continual improvement, scalability, subscription billing which make it “accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device”, for me the key benefit of a true cloud solution is the integration with other packages through an API. (An API is a standard interface that allows separate systems to communicate with each other). In theory this means you can choose the best of breed solutions for your various functions and connect them together. For example, Salesforce for CRM, Eventbrite for events, Expensify for expenses management, WordPress for your website, MailChimp for email marketing.

Choosing a Cloud solution provides the most secure long-term investment with the lowest risk of obsolescence.

Market Dominators

In the UK there are two cloud accounting solutions that dominate the market: Xero and Quickbooks. Any review needs to consider these. They have the revenue to invest in continual improvement, are exceptional value for money, and have an abundance of features and because of their dominance are the most likely to have integrations ready to go for you favourite cloud applications. Expensify for example provides a free integration with both these systems.

I’ve left Sage Line 50 out, not just out of spite, but because it is not a true cloud solution.

Salesforce native solutions

For many people, Sage Financials being on the Salesforce platform was the key reason they chose that solution. There are four alternative accounting solutions that are native Salesforce applications and these have been reviewed.

Sage Solutions

For Sage Financials’ users, Sage will be offering attractive deals for their new flagship product Intacct.

Native or integrated

Sage Intacct make much of their integration with Salesforce (though I do have reservations…) but bear in mind that both Xero and Quickbooks can also be integrated with Salesforce.

For Salesforce users the question of integration or native Salesforce is an important decision. I think of it like the difference between a caravan and a campervan – there are pro’s and con’s for both. My feeling is that reporting and customisation are going to be most flexible with a native solution, but you may have to make some compromises on the ease-of-use on the accounting side.

Salesforce provides a fantastic ‘hub’ for integrating cloud applications because of the APEX programming language. For custom integrations you will require the Enterprise Edition of Salesforce, but there are many standard integrations available through the Appexchange for the lower cost Professional Edition.

Assessment Criteria

Every company is different and will need different accounting features. Below is a list of the key features, an assessment of how important they really are, and some points to watch out for. Use this to build your own check-list when assessing any accounting solution.

Accounts Receivable (Sales) & Accounts Payable (Purchases)


Bank Reconciliation & Bank feeds










Recognition (Subscriptions & Professional Services)




Fixed Assets


Stock Control


Purchase Orders & Procurement


Document customisation




Data volumes




Salesforce – get out of jail free card

These assessment criteria my seem bewildering, but you do need to decide which are absolute requirements for you and which are ‘nice to have’. Then you have to measure any competing systems against this criteria and it is unlikely you will find the perfect match.

And this is where Salesforce provides a ‘get out of gaol free’ card for the native Salesforce applications. The full programming language APEX, together with the open architecture of Salesforce means it is possible to solve any of the shortcomings you may find with your best-match solution. This is the route we chose to ‘improve’ Sage Financials, enabling us to provide expenses handling (using Expensify), fx re-valuation, improved budget handling, BACS payment selection, automated journal processing and much, much more.

Sage Financials knowhow evaluation

If you want to see the full shortlist of accounting solutions and the Sage Financials knowhow evaluation, please follow this link.

Sage Financials knowhow shortlist evaluation