Why Sage 50? Here’s Why

Written by Shayna Chapman

What’s in a name? You might be asking this question when presented with the many solutions Sage offers. Why?Sage 50 Because several years ago Sage went through a significant rebranding, changing product names such as MAS 90 to Sage 100, Timberline to Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (CRE), and—the name you’re probably most familiar with—Peachtree to Sage 50 Accounting (not to mention, in Canada, Simply Accounting to Sage 50 Accounting).

Again, I’ll be talking about Sage 50, which many of you (and especially your clients) probably still refer to as Peachtree Accounting or Simply Accounting. I’ve already covered some of this ground in a prior article.

Before I get into talking about how to determine whether Sage 50 is right for a client, I want to let you know how it is that I’ve become what I feel is a pretty knowledgeable expert on all things Sage 50. It’s because of my membership in the Sage Accountants Network.

The Sage Accountants Network Has Made Me a Sage 50 Expert

I’ve been a member of the Sage Accountants Network (SAN) for over five years. As a SAN member, I receive free access to Sage 50 Accountant Edition, which I use to connect to all of my Sage 50 clients. Combined with years of hands-on experience, getting this level of access to all things Sage 50 as a result of being a SAN member makes me, I feel, something of a Sage 50 expert.

How did I learn so much about Sage 50? Mostly through one of the cooler features of being a SAN member, which is having access to the online forums. From there, I get to access detailed product information and technical papers on Sage 50 and can also download new releases and payroll updates. I’m able to ask and answer questions in conversations with Sage staff and other SAN members.

By logging into these forums on a regular basis, I’ll often find ways to use Sage 50 in unique ways I hadn’t thought of through tips and ideas shared by others. There’s also a ton of information on third-party products that extend the functionality of Sage 50. For example, one of my clients needed a time clock system and, after posing the question in the forums, I was able to get the answer I was looking for and make an informed recommendation to my client.

How to Tell If Sage 50 Accounting Is the Right Fit for a Client

There are lots of accounting solutions available. This is something we’re all keenly aware of. They all have their strengths, and they all have their weaknesses. Many of these strengths and weaknesses help define which solution is best for a particular client.

There are times when, based on what a client of mine is looking for, I recommend an accounting solution other than Sage 50. However, for the most part I find that Sage 50 is the easiest solution to use when it comes to not only meeting the needs of my clients but also making my work that much easier to accomplish, based on the many features Sage 50 offers.

Let me give you three of the most compelling reasons why I like Sage 50 so much.

Reason #1: Use of Account Numbers

Sage 50 requires the use of account numbers when setting up the chart of accounts. This may sound minor, but I find it stops a lot of occurrences of clients posting to incorrect accounts. For example, where payroll is concerned, there is Accrued FICA, Withheld FICA, and FICA Expense—three different accounts.

Two of these accounts, while similar, still need to have their transactions booked into the proper account. Now this is payroll, so in a perfect world with a perfect client, payroll accounts should always be perfect and never need any adjustments. But most of us don’t live in a perfect world or have perfect clients; sometimes payroll accounts need to be adjusted. If I tell my client to debit account 2304 Accrued FICA and credit 5304 FICA Expense, there is no mistaking what I am telling them to do, nor can they make the mistake in the adjusting journal entries.

But without account numbers, I find clients haphazardly type in the word “FICA” (or even just the “F”), select the first option that comes up, and move on. They are in a hurry and they don’t do it right. This is just an example to illustrate that account numbers help to remove confusion and prevent mistakes before they happen.

Reason #2: Professional Looking Reports and Simple Dashboards

I prepare compilation reports that go to board members, banks, bonding companies, and other important people. Every report that goes out of my office reflects on the image of not only the client, but of my CPA firm. Sage 50’s reports are professional looking without me needing to do any additional work. I can get a proper looking Income Statement and Balance Sheet in a professional font.

If I need to change a report’s footer (say from “Management use only” to “See accountant’s compilation report—and notes to financial statements”), it’s very easy to change and save the report for future use. In products where the reports aren’t as professional, I have extra work to do using Word or another program to make the reports look professional before I will release them.

In addition to the reports my clients need for external use, the Trial Balance, Chart of Accounts, General Journal, Payroll Registers, Adjusting Journal Entries, and other reports are clean, easy to look at, and nice to use. Below is a partial Balance Sheet using Sage 50’s sample company, Bellwether Garden Supply.

Sage 50 Balance Sheet Sample


To take this one step further, the entire look of Sage 50, including its dashboards and drop down menus, are very easy on the eyes. Since there isn’t a lot of clutter, it is easy to locate items. The less I have to look through clutter to get where I want to go, the happier I am.

Dashboard Example:

Sage 50 Dashborad example

Reason #3: The Flexibility and Masking of Account Numbers

I have clients with multiple locations, divisions, departments, rental properties, etc. Sage 50 allows you the flexibility to set up your chart of accounts into segments. You can then run reports based on segments, or “roll-up” the accounts into one master account.

While accountants often think of this in terms of large ERP systems, this can be useful for the smallest of tracking items, like locations. I have a client with two locations. I can make Operating Supplies, Location 1 account 5200.01, and Operating Supplies, Location 2 account 5200.02. I can divide all accounts on the income Statement this way. Then, I can tell my reports to run a Location 1 Income Statement only. This will pull all XXXX.01 accounts. I can do the same for Location 2 (XXXX.02). I can then run an Income Statement for the whole company in which I “roll-up” the accounts into just the one account, Operating Supplies as a whole.

Below is the chart of accounts from the same Sage 50 example company, Bellwether Garden Supply. It’s not my favorite chart of accounts, but you’ll get the point. You will see how they used letters to mask the accounts into different types of products.

COA Masking example

This is a fairly simple example of masking of account numbers. As you can imagine, the possibilities are quite large if you want to get into detail. And you can, indeed, get into detail. You have the ability to use numbers and letters and go up to 15 digits with or without space identifiers. If each of the locations in my first example had various departments listed in the Bellwether example, I could further segment the chart of accounts to give me information by location and department.

It is best to really think through your account masking thoroughly. In the end, you will help your client be able to examine each aspect of their business in the smallest detail in order to make the best business decisions going forward.

More Sage 50 Information

If you’re looking for more information on Sage 50 beyond my blog posts, I’ve found that the videos that Sage puts out to show how a different feature works or to showcase something new are super helpful, so be sure to check these out.

I also recommend becoming a Sage Accountants Network member, as it will pay off in no time. If you want to access some of the forums without being a SAN member, you can go to the Sage City online community where there are blogs, forums, and other areas for product specific questions, as well as a dedicated area for accountant and bookkeepers.

I’m looking forward to getting into more specifics about Sage and Sage 50 in the future!


About the author

Shayna Chapman

Shayna Chapman, CPA, CITP (Certified Information Technology Professional), and CGMA (Certified Global Management Accountant), is Member and Owner of Shaynaco LLC ( Based in Gallipolis, Ohio, Shaynaco LLC provides not only tax management and accounting type services to clients, but also provides advisory services, accounting technology, and consulting services. Small business tax, accounting, accounting technology, and helping the individuals who own and run these businesses with their tax issues is the main focus of Shayna’s team. Shayna is a 2012 and 2014 CPA Practice Advisor Magazine Top 40 Under 40, as well as recognized by CPA Practice Advisor in 2014 as one of the twenty-seven Most Powerful Women in Accounting. She contributes to articles regarding tax, accounting, technology, and small business issues regularly and also blogs regarding these issues.


  • Great article! Thank you! There’s so much written about Quickbooks out there for small business, but very little about Sage 50. It’d be terrific if in the future you might expand on your comment about most often recommending Sage 50 to small business clients, but sometimes recommending other products in specific circumstances (I assume you mean Quickbooks or Xero since they’re listed at the top of your site). Understanding which product is best under which circumstance would certainly be useful. Also info on concerns about converting from one to another would be great too. Thanks!

    • Thank you for you comments! I generally put people on Sage 50. There are times when a solutions like Sage One or QBOnline would be better based on the type of business/business model, whether they need thrid-party integration, and mobility to name a few contributing factors. I don’t perform a lot of conversions. With our small-business clients, we have gnerally tried to stop their old books at a good point and pick up in the next software. This gives us an opportunity to set up their information correctly from the start and clean out any old information. The products mentioned at the top of this site are because this is the Sleeter Group’s Blog and they have many great people who contribute on other accounting products.

      Thank you again for your comments!

  • Good article, Shayna. I have to confess that I have not used Xero, but I have used Quickbooks and Sage (nee Peachtree) for years. One thing that I find interesting is that I have not seen the same number of negative comments about how Sage treats its professionals (SAN) as I have seen about Intuit. Sometimes the discussions come to online blows. And I am not aware of any movement with Sage to establish a major push for an online system. Intuit has done that with Quickbooks and it has everyone in a tizzy because the desktop system is so capable and the online system, while it might be getting there, is a long way from having the same capabilities. Do you have any insights on this?

    • Sage has released many cloud programs lately. The cloud was their big push at Sage Summit this year. I wrote about it in my previous blog ( I think you may find this blog has some insight for you.
      In short – there is no “Sage 50” online. But they are developing many Sage Cloud products including: SageOne, SageLive, and Sage300 accounting programs. One thing to note (and is mentioned in that blog): Although Sage appears very focused on the cloud, Sage is not forcing anyone to migrate to the cloud. Your desktop program is safe. As an alternative, they do have third-party hosted Sage50 and Sage Drive should be available soon in the US.

      Hope I’ve helped you! Thank you for your comments!

  • Hi Shayna,

    Nice to see an article on Sage 50, or Simply Accounting and Peachtree to most clients. Thanks.

    Sage’s commitment to it’s legacy, purchased products, and Industry specific apps. is very interesting. Too bad, Sage did not take the same tack with Sage Pro, the purchased SBT Pro Series, Pro Customers, and Pro VAR’s. Pro Customers did have unique requirements and many modifications to their environments. Most are still using their legacy apps. It is a real market opportunity for Sage 100 ERP, MAS 90, and other app. Vendors, too.

    It will be very interesting to see how new CEO, Stephen Kelly’s efforts have an affect on Sage. It will be a year in November 2015 at SleeterCon since he took the reins. There is a lot to work with at Sage. SAN Partners are just the beginning.

    Sage globally is strong and growing. Sage recognizes this and expounded on it at Dreamforce.

    Hope you will contribute more articles on Sage, Sage products, etc. and others will too.



    Tamra Groff, Senior Consultant, GASC/GHFG

    • I liked the feeling at Sage Summit that the employees were genuinely excited for the future. There is no doubt that SageLive and all of the announced cloud products contributed to that feeling. Hoping Mr. Kelly’s leadership continues to excite the employees and the users!

      Thank you for your comments. I looking forward to writing more about Sage.

  • Hi Shayna,

    Thank you for your article. I actually learned a few things. Like masking account numbers.

    I am a member SAN, but I am looking for additional resources. Do you know if there are any books that are written for the US version of Sage50? I can find some for the Canadian version.


  • […] Sage 50 is a globally accepted accounting software by the small and medium sized industries. It comprise of advanced features, tools and modules that helps the businesses to accelerate quick growth. The features automates the functioning of the financial and accounting tasks and saves plenty of time. Although Sage 50 is incorporated with potential features like other software but it also encounter errors. One such error is Sage 50 Cannot Open The Database. […]