|Written by Barry Snashall|
Sage Accounts Production Advanced – SAPA Review
When first joining a medium sized chartered accountant in Canterbury Kent back in 1995 I was unaware of how important software and Sage would become to my career. After my initial accounting training and knowing how important presentation was to the firm, I decided to delve behind the programming code of their accounts production software to make some changes, which I successfully achieved.
This was some 16 years ago and even before Sage purchased the software back in 1999. I was concerned that Sage would put SAPA on the software shelf and considered alternatives. I could not find one which compared so I have continued to champion SAPA and I am glad I did as Sage is now on-developing the system and further enhancing its capabilities.
I now run an accounting and software company. My ethos is to empower my clients with detailed knowledge of their business. This involves consulting, training and coaching in Sage and Microsoft Excel, together with my accounting expertise. I also work with accountancy practices of all sizes, plus Charities and commercial clients, implementing software solution devised by myself and a colleague, The Analyser, a Sage add-in, for Excel for financial reporting.
How easy is SAPA to use in practice
In simple terms and with the information to hand, a new client can be setup in minutes and within a very short thereafter time their draft accounts are prepared. SAPA is of course a database, full of the essential data for your clients business. The database is structured so that both financial and non-financial information is easily identified and updateable.
SAPA now has the Sage look and feel and therefore is easy to integrate within their other accounting software. The comfort of this consistency is a tangible asset to the user. The ability to import data from Sage 50 directly into SAPA is a huge timesaver.
What are the limitations
Like most products and software the initial training an implementation is extremely important. SAPA is no different, the time saving and efficiency benefits will be accelerated following appropriate implementation and training. Whilst this comes as a price the return on investment will be worthwhile.
What are the key benefits
SAPA allows practicing accountants and financial accountants to produces Statutory Accounts which meet the latest financial, Charity and Pension reporting requirements. Furthermore it produces iXBRL compliant software enabling communication with HMRC.
As Accounting standards and regulatory framework are amended, the peace of mind knowing that Sage are supporting the product is also an essential benefit when selecting professional software such as SAPA.
SAPA can output to Microsoft word and therefore this gives me greater flexibility when presenting the final output to clients. Embedding graphics and client branding can make such a difference when presenting to its shareholders.
The knock on effect of a seemingly minor accounting adjustment significantly increases when typing accounts manually, however SAPA can draft accounts in seconds eliminating this time consuming and laborious activity.
The ability to prepare accounts for business of all sizes and legal types from Ltd., Plc. LLP, Pension Schemes, Charities, Farmers, Doctors etc. speak for itself.
Functionality vs usability
The statutory framework is such that SAPA has to present the user with the appropriate variables and options. These options allow you to personalise the output to “your standard” without having to become a software programmer.
SAPA is a very versatile application which allows much freedom for customisation. Whilst all accounts have to meet the standards the presentation is also important and SAPA accommodates this well, once you know how. Therefore, understanding the software’s functionality is essential in order for the user to benefit from its flexibility and use it to its full capacity. Once this practice standard has been achieved it is very easy to roll out to future accounts production.
The success of any software is it longevity. SAPA has been around now for many many years but it is not standing still. Sage do listen, the wish list works and I can take credit for some of the product development over the years with ideas which are now common features. Users are encouraged to make suggestions and Sage also requests that practices become Beta testers for future releases. Sage get the software tested by those that use it every day and you get to have your say too. This truly makes the software a partnership between Sage, the accountant and the end user.
Practice dashboards and links to third part application is ever increasing and establishes SAPA at the forefront of accounts production software.
I can’t charge any more fees for producing iXBRL accounts as this is now how HMRC expects to receive it. Therefore from a practice perspective I want to just “push the button” and with SAPA this process could not have been made easier. I have the confidence knowing that the software will deliver the results I need.
Robust (how much can it handle)
SAPA is a robust software package and can handle as much as you need it to. From sole practitioner to larger firms SAPA is a scalable solution. Furthermore, I have now taken the software to my own clients. Traditionally clients have outsourced the production of their accounts to their accountants. Today customers want that added value and therefore accountants should not be adverse to “selling SAPA” to their clients as part of their practice, to both parties benefit.
Recently I has specified and sold SAPA to a couple of my larger clients. One of these is one of the UK’s largest Pension Schemes who previously has been producing their accounts manually. The second is an international film company, with Limited companies, groups and Limited Liability Partnerships, they are now better prepared with their Statutory accounts production.
I use SAPA on a daily basis to prepare the statutory accounts for clients. Together with Sage 50 and my own Analyser Sage and Excel add-in we are very well placed in preparing management accounts, financial analysis and statutory accounts. All of this can only add the benefit to our clients.