Version 2018 of Sage 50 U.S. Edition (formerly Peachtree Accounting) released on July 12th. As usual, notification to users of the update will be staggered to spread out the load on Sage’s servers. There are several updates, some big and some small, including the first significant update to the user interface in about 10 years. So here’s my take on what’s new in Sage 50 2018.

This first group of new features apply to everyone, whether you have a Sage 50c subscription or have stayed on a traditional plan (click here for an explanation of the differences)

  • User Interface Modernization – This will definitely be the most noticeable change in version 2018. Software trends change and software publishers have to keep up or risk being labeled as out of date (a very bad thing in the tech world). The main Sage 50 window has been given a very modern look with a mostly monochrome color scheme, plenty of white space, and flat appearance for all icons and menus. It is designed to work better with today’s high resolution monitors and adapt better to different window sizes. For example, if the window is too small to display all the buttons on the toolbar, an arrow will appear allowing access to the remaining buttons.

    Other changes that affect the appearance include updated Icons, pie charts have been replaced by doughnut charts, the customize link in the shortcuts area has been replaced by a gear icon, and your Sage 50 version (Pro, Premium, or Quantum) is shown in the bottom right corner. Your first impression will be that the main window with the Business Status/My Dashboard, the navigation centers, and the management centers, has changed a lot. But the good news is you won’t have to relearn how to use the program. The changes are just to the look and feel. The layout and functionality of the menus and navigation centers are unchanged. I’ve always thought that Sage 50’s interface was well organized and made the program easy to navigate. So I was glad to discover that the familiar structure is still in place.

    The strange part is that, so far, only the main window has been updated; when you open a task or maintenance window that window will look like it did in version 2017. This makes the program feel like it has a split personality. I assume other screens will be updated later, but Sage hasn’t released any information about their plans.

  • Inactivate Inventory Items Based on Last Activity Date – You can now select inventory items by last activity date and mark the whole group as inactive, just like you can do for customers and vendors. This saves having to mark obsolete items as inactive one at a time.
  • Cleared Column on Check Register – You can now add a column to show Cleared Date on the Check Register and Cash Disbursements Journal reports. Just click the Column button in the report window and check Cleared Date to show the date the transaction was cleared in account reconciliation.
  • Improved Options for Click To Pay – The 2017.2 update gave users of Sage Payment Solutions to option to include a payment link in emailed invoices so customers can pay online by credit/debit card or e-check (ACH). But they made the very poor decision of universally turning on the option to display the “Pay Now” link in all emailed invoices. You had to manually turn it off for each customer. Fortunately version 2018 gives you the choice to turn that option off for all customers.

The remaining new features apply only to Sage 50c subscribers.

  • Sage Capture – This new app allows you to snap a picture of a receipt and enter the details for the transaction on your iPhone/iPad (sorry, no Android version yet). Later the transactions can be imported into Sage 50. The photo will added to the transaction as an attachment and will be stored in your OneDrive account. This feature requires MS-Office 365 Business Premium.
  • Sage Intelligence Reporting Cloud – This takes advantage of the new Office 365 integration by making Sage Intelligence Reporting financial reports available from your Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium dashboard. Several balance sheet and income statement formats are included and can be customized, or reports can be built from scratch. These reports can be generated in a web page (HTML) or exported to the online or desktop versions of Excel.
  • Office 365 User Roles & Permissions – Five new security groups have been added in Office 365 to give you more detailed control of how Office 365 users can access the Sage 50 integrations, such as Sage Contact, Sage Capture, and Sage Intelligence.
  • AP Automation – Sage 50 will be able to integrate with Beanworks, a service that provides accounts payable automation. It can automate the process of entering/coding invoices, approving invoices, and making electronic payments.

I do have one warning about the 2018 upgrade. There have been reports of drop down lists (customer ID, item ID, etc.) being very slow on large data sets. If your customer, vendor, inventory, or other maintenance items are limited to a few hundred items each, you probably won’t notice a difference. But in an extreme example (I’ve not had the opportunity to confirm this), one user with 55,000 customers reported the customer ID drop-down taking 15 minutes to open. So if you have a very large data set, you should wait until this problem is resolved before upgrading.