Android Robot Image Credit Pixabay/RonyMichaudSage has launched two new integrated suites in Canada and the UK. These suits will help drive growth for both accountants and small businesses. It has also launched Sage CoPilot, initially only available in the UK within an early adopter program. It provides a generative AI-powered assistant.

Neal Watkins, EVP Small Business Segment, Sage
Neal Watkins, EVP Small Business Segment, Sage

Neal Watkins, EVP, of Accounting and HR, Sage, commented, “With these new suites we are making it easier for data and work to flow between our products, helping accountants, bookkeepers and SMBs to do more, easily and more efficiently than ever before. Our goal is to eliminate complexity and provide essential tools that not only ensure business success but also enhance the value of human work. That is why our suites are designed to reduce administrative burdens and seamlessly integrate, transforming how business and accountants operate.”

Sage for Accountants

Sage for Accountants is an AI-powered accounting solution for bookkeepers and accountants. It provides the tools that will help a firm manage its internal and client-related processes in a flexible and scalable manner. The suite also provides tools that help clients manage their business better.

Sage for Accountants is a flexible solution that allows firms to work not just with clients using Sage solutions. This is useful as some accountants have a preference for other accounting solutions. Or may have identified industry-specific solutions for their organisations. However, the suite also includes some complimentary licenses for Sage Accounting and Sage Payroll.

The components include for practice management include:

  • Client Engagement: GoProposal helps accountants prepare automated, professional proposals with mail merge tools to personalise letters. There are also AML and KYC processes embedded for customer onboarding.
  • Client Management: enables firms to manage clients from within a single application. Included within Sage for Accountants, it also provides access to live client data taken from multiple products in one list.
  • Data Automation and Processing: With the help of Autoentry, many of the manual tasks associated with bookkeeping can be automated. Powered by AI, data capture turned information on documents into data within systems whether receipts, invoices or other documents.
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll: Enhanced with AI Sage Accounting will help manage their business. It is integrated with Sage for Accountants and deliver a suite where accountants and clients work together seamlessly.
  • Final Accounts and Tax: Sage tools include support for the preparation of final accounts as well as personal and corporation tax returns to help deliver client services effectively.

The suite also includes tools that accountants can use alongside their clients including:

  • Bookkeeping and digital record keeping: Sage Accounting provides a wealth of automated and intelligent features to capture data and simplify business processes.
  • Payroll: Automates many of the payroll processes. Includes the automation of RTI submissions, pension auto-enrolments, and payslips as well as a flexible solution to run client payroll.
  • Cash Flow Forecasting: Futrli by Sage enhances financial advisory services, offering cash flow forecasting three years ahead with comprehensive budgeting and planning capabilities.

Ultimately, Sage believes that using this suite will deliver three significant benefits to accounting and bookkeeping firms:

  • Win and onboard more profitable clients
  • Boost productivity with efficient compliance services
  • Deliver an expert and trusted advisory service

The new suite is available in three plans: Free, Standard and Premium. Each level provides different usage levels of the different features. Full pricing details are available here.

Andrew Dick, Chartered Accountant, G W Dick & Co, commented, “Sage has always been at the forefront of supporting both accountancy practices and their clients with solutions that meet their evolving needs and challenges. Sage for Accountants reaffirms and demonstrates Sage is all about making the process easier for accountants like us, meaning we can focus on spending more time with our customers. This coupled with Sage for Small Business, means we can add even more value in real-time, and ultimately, this will help all our businesses grow.”

Sage for Small Businesses

The Sage for Small Businesses includes tools to help organisations manage accounting,  payroll and HR. It is focused on supporting sole traders and small businesses. It provides a scalable platform to help them grow their business. The suite includes features that will help business owners automate many of the processes that for many are time-consuming and take away from revenue generating or personal time.

Sage has combined solutions and made them available from a single homepage. It enables business owners to manage financial processes, people and business processes from a single page. Employees can also benefit from a self-service portal. They can view payslips and P60s, submit timesheets and manage their workplace pension schemes. Thus removing much of the ad-hoc administration burden from business leaders.

The platform can also help automate receipt capture. It includes a bank import to simplify reconciliation. On the sales side, users can create quotes and convert them to invoices or even recurring invoices for subscription business models. The invoices also support online payments using Stripe to further improve cash flows.

Cash projections are also available to ensure that business leaders understand the status of their business. They can also track VAT, with the ability to check and submit VAT returns to HMRC. With access to Sage Accountant your accountants can also help with the preparation of the final accounts and any corporation tax submission.

The Sage for Small Business comes in three pricing plan levels:

  • Accounting Start: £14 per month
  • Accounting Standard: £28 per month
  • Accounting Plus £36 per month

Sage summarised three benefits that Sage for Small Business:

  • Streamline repetitive tasks
  • Gain enhanced business insights
  • Remain confident with compliance

Dr Christian Sadler, SR Veterinary Group, said, “Having accounting, payroll and HR all in one package which is easily accessible from a single location has meant that we don’t have the complexity of learning different systems and makes our lives easier in the long term by ensuring that we are using the same products as our accountant. As we look to grow our practice, the insights we get from Sage for Small Business helps us make good decisions.”

Sage CoPilot

First announced in February 2024, Sage CoPilot has now moved into its beta phase. Integrated with both Sage for Small Business and Sage for Accountants, Sage CoPilot will provide an AI-powered assistant for clients and accountants.

Sage CoPilot provides a natural language interface that enables users to initiate actions on the platform and receive insights direct to a chat window. A user might want to prepare a payroll run. The CoPilot would validate the available data and respond with details of which employees had not yet completed their timesheet, asking whether the CoPilot should send out reminders.

Sage has built-in human oversight to ensure that the automation is not a black box but that the user authorises changes. However, this potentially cuts out a lot of manual effort from business processes and helps manage exceptions much easier.

The CoPilot can also provide suggestions to solve business problems. For example, if the business has a cash flow issue short term, it might suggest seeking funding. It can then contact the accountant to ask for options around further funding. CoPilot can integrate with other applications, such as the calendar, to book appointments, which will help prepare emails and documents. Questions that might once have been asked of the business owner or accountants about the business can be answered quickly by the CoPilot.

The solution is still in beta, and customers within the UK can request early access to the beta version. Sage intends to make CoPilot generally available in the UK in 2024 and then later in Canada.

Sage conducted a study into the benefits that CoPilot will offer and initially focused on four areas of benefits:

  1. Invoicing: Speeds up communication and creates engaging business emails for sending invoices, credit notes, quotes or invoice reminders. Response: Average 2.1 hours per week / 9 hours per month / 1.14 days per month
  2. Reports: Automates your reporting builds, schedules, and sends reports based on the information you need without manual intervention. Response: Average 1.9 hours per week /8.23 hours per month / 1.03 days per month
  3. Chasing payment: Helps manage late payers, reviews customer compliance with payment terms, and identifies and chases overdue invoices. Response: Average 2.1 hours per week /9 hours per month / 1.14 days per month
  4. Admin: Automates accounts payable automatically creates and assigns Purchase Orders, uploads invoices from and pays suppliers. Helps manage late payers, reviews customer compliance with payment terms, and identifies and chases overdue invoices. Speeds up communication and creates engaging business emails for sending invoices, credit notes, quotes, or invoice reminders. Response: 6.1 hours per week / 27.28 hours per month / 3.41 days per month

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

In this announcement, Sage has brought together some of the solutions that it has acquired over the last few years into an integrated suite. Firms will need to consider the cost benefits that the transformative solutions will bring to them. This may be an easier decision for accountants than small businesses as it will be a significant commitment. However, business owners must consider the opportunity cost and the time they will save from automating their processes. That time is better spent on generating revenue rather than administrative processes.

Sage CoPilot is not new and the devil is in the detail of this announcement. What is important is that this is the next step on the journey for CoPilot, one that seems to meeting the timescales that Watkins revealed to Enterprise Times earlier this year.

Sage has not yet revealed the technology behind CoPilot. Nor whether it will carry an additional cost. It may not. More and more companies are building generative AI functionality within their core platform. It is becoming an expected component of the core solution, not an add-on. This is a major announcement by Sage, but customers in the US and other regions will still be wondering when they can benefit.


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