A Guide to QuickBooks vs. Sage: Which is Better?

While you work toward building up or growing your business, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed by all of the weeds you have to sort through, especially those relating to your financial-related practices.

Luckily, there are different types of financial and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software options out there to help streamline your bookkeeping, accounting and overall business management processes. But, which is right for you? Which will help support you in the areas you need?

Although we can’t answer those questions for you, we can give insight into the most popular software options: QuickBooks and Sage. (FYI: the answer is no if you find yourself asking, “are QuickBooks and Sage the same?”).

In this QuickBooks vs. Sage guide, we provide information on:

  • -What both solutions are
  • -Similarities and differences between the two
  • -The pros and cons of QuickBooks and Sage
  • -What businesses and industries use QuickBooks or Sage
  • -Tips on how to perform an analysis that will help you decide which is right for your business
  • -A list of QuickBooks and Sage products
  • -And more

By the end of this guide, we hope you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision on which option is the best for you. With that – let’s go ahead and dive in!

What is QuickBooks?

Intuit QuickBooks is a business accounting platform that has ruled the financial management software industry over the 20 years – it’s been a go-to classic for keeping books straight and businesses organized since the turn of the New Millennium.

So… How does QuickBooks work? QuickBooks takes your financial records, reports, business data etc. and organizes them for you so all of this information is easier-to-digest, study and manage. It also allows you to easily keep up with payroll and other financial aspects of your business, like sales, expenses and purchases. This software is an ideal solution for people who need a management tool to help them run their small to mid-sized businesses more easily and efficiently.

There are numerous advantages to choosing QuickBooks as your go-to accounting software. As you’d guess, the features and benefits you’ll experience vary depending on the edition of QuickBooks you choose to work in. However, no matter the version you go with it, you’ll discover it’s easy-to-use and there are a few universal perks, like financial reporting, money management, billing and invoicing capabilities and more.

What is a Sage System?

Sage is an accounting software that facilitates, organizes and simplifies a variety of accounting tasks. Over the last 20+ years, Sage has become the third largest accounting software worldwide for financial management, and boasts over six million users today.

Generally, Sage is a superb tool for creating financial reports, record keeping and overall business management. Sage offers a little something for every company, no matter the size or industry, which are available at a variety of price points. After you move past Sage 50, other products in its extensive catalogue differ greatly in their capabilities since these solutions are more customized. Depending on which version of this software you choose, Sage can be used for virtually anything – from handling easy jobs to managing more complicated financial systems and practices.

Sage vs. QuickBooks

TL;DR: In short, QuickBooks is generally better for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) who use bookkeepers. Sage, on the other hand, is typically suited for larger companies with a Controller or CFO who need more industry-tailored features.

QuickBooks vs. Sage: Which is Better?

Similarities

QuickBooks and Sage both offer entry level solutions for small businesses that are affordable and easy-to-use.

The most comparable solution to QuickBooks in Sage’s portfolio is Sage 50cloud, formerly known as Peachtree. Retail pricing for the most affordable option, Sage 50cloud Pro Accounting, currently starts just under $500/year, making it the most similar price point to QuickBooks that Sage offers.

Like most of the QuickBooks editions, the majority of the Sage ERP products are not inherently cloud-based, but can be run from the cloud in a hosted environment through third party hosting.

Both have large ecosystems of third-party integrated solutions such as Expense Management, AP Automation, and Payments, to name just a few.

Differences

There are significant differences between Sage and QuickBooks. Beyond Sage 50cloud, that’s where many of the similarities stop. That’s where you see the products being a better fit for established, growing organizations. Many of the companies using Sage products 100 and up have a dedicated Controller or CFO (as opposed to a bookkeeper, which is more common for QuickBooks users).

Also, unlike QuickBooks, Sage offers more tailored industry-specific business management options, like Construction and Real Estate, Manufacturing, Wholesale Distribution, etc.

QuickBooks Pros and Cons

As with any other management tool, QuickBooks has its pros and cons. According to a user survey, people reported the following advantages and disadvantages to using QuickBooks:

QuickBooks Pros

  • 1. Efficient
  • 2. Easy-to-use
  • 3. Flexible with third-party applications
  • 4. Good accounting options
  • 5. Affordable price
  • 6. Money management and financial reporting features
  • 7. Automatic synchronization with bank accounts
  • 8. Full suite of bookkeeping tools
  • 9. Cloud support options

QuickBooks Cons

  • 1. System occasionally crashes
  • 2. Lacks certain key reports for outside accounting
  • 3. Lacks some business and industry-specific features, such as barcode scanning, eCommerce and lot tracking
  • 4. File-size issues
  • 5. Limited number of users allowed
  • 6. Limited personalization options

Bottom Line: What You Need to Know About QuickBooks

If you are considering leasing or purchasing QuickBooks, you can feel assured that the program is user friendly and comes with many options for small business owners. However, inventory management can be a weakness, which is problematic for businesses with robust inventory management needs. Users are also limited in the degree of personalization options for invoices, and project management is lacking. Therefore, if your business requires a program with collaboration options between employees, other programs may work better. If you prioritize a program that offers simple ease-of-use, QuickBooks is a great option.

Sage Pros and Cons

Sage is a more advanced form of accounting software than QuickBooks, and it goes beyond basic bookkeeping features. The following are the notable pros and cons of using this program:

Sage Pros

  • 1. Expense tracking
  • 2. Cloud-based project management
  • 3. Personalized invoices and quotes
  • 4. Collaboration between multiple users on a single project
  • 5. A variety of plans, addressing basic accounting needs to advanced project management services

Sage Cons

  • 1. Not as user friendly as other accounting programs
  • 2. Difficult to set up and not as easy to incorporate into your business as other programs

Bottom Line: What You Need to Know About Sage

Sage is an advanced accounting program that gives users more choices when it comes to personalization and job estimations. It is also suited for project management, allowing collaboration between users. It may not be as easy to master as other programs, but it can grow with your business better than more basic software. 

Types of Businesses and Industries That Use QuickBooks

QuickBooks is suited for new and small businesses, offering basic inventory management and introductory accounting solutions. Be prepared to upgrade your system, though, as your business expands or requires inventory management. However, if you don’t have a large inventory or plan to keep your business small, QuickBooks can be ideal. The following are just a few examples of the industries that would benefit greatly from QuickBooks:

  • -Legal services
  • -Medical services
  • -Accounting
  • -Retail
  • -Self-employed freelancers
  • -Small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs)

Types of Businesses and Industries That Use Sage

When you have a large business or a robust inventory to manage, Sage is a better option than QuickBooks. It offers more options for greater inventory needs and provides an array of project management tools. Although it is not as user friendly to master, it provides greater options for a growing business. The following are the industries that would best benefit from using Sage software:

  • -Wholesale distribution
  • -Construction
  • -Non-profits
  • -Manufacturing
  • -Mid- to large-sized businesses (MLBs) with large inventory

Q&A: How to Decide If QuickBooks or Sage is Right for My Business

Sage is a cloud-based program that specializes in project management, offering an array of invoicing features. QuickBooks is easier to use and is best classified as a bookkeeping program that provides several automatic syncing features between your business and your bank accounts. Therefore, they are both applicable for business use, so deciding which one you should purchase depends on your business needs.

When deciding between QuickBooks and Sage, there are multiple things to consider. We recommend that you answer the following questions as you make a decision between the two:

Q: Do you have more than one employee collaborate on a project?
A: If you answer yes, Sage is better suited for you.

Q: Do you carry a large inventory and need to track many products?
A: If you answer yes, Sage is better suited to handle a robust inventory.

Q: Do you want your invoices and estimates personalized with your business logo?
A: If you answer yes, then Sage offers more options for you.

Q: Do you need a program that can easily be learned by your employees?
A: If you answer yes, then QuickBooks is best suited as its user-friendly style and synchronization with bank accounts make using and picking this system up easier than more advanced programs.

Q: Do you have a small business?
A: If you answer yes, then QuickBooks is likely best suited for your needs but Sage 50 may also do.

All in all, both QuickBooks and Sage are wonderful options, and which is right for you depends on your needs. To decide which program is better for your business, you must determine what you need your accounting software to do. If you need basic bookkeeping services, QuickBooks usually wins. If you need more advanced project management options, Sage pushes ahead.

QuickBooks and Sage Products

A List of QuickBooks Products

Over the years, Intuit has fine-tuned their software and has released multiple versions with more specialized tools and reporting depending on the needs for most growing businesses.

  • 1. QuickBooks Pro: An affordable software that offers features that assist in managing day-to-day accounting tasks, like payroll, accounts payable, financial reporting.
  • 2. QuickBooks Premier: One step higher than Pro, QuickBooks Premier provides the basic features you’ll experience in Pro with more robust capabilities.
  • 3. QuickBooks Enterprise: The most powerful software in the QuickBooks catalogue, Enterprise holds the tools to manage your business from start to finish.
  • 4. QuickBooks Accountant: Intuit’s software specifically designed for accountants – this version offers the same features / benefits of Premier with an added Accountant’s Toolbox dashboard.
  • 5. QuickBooks Self-Employed: A tax-focused software with simple accounting benefits, primarily used for freelancers who don’t need high caliber accounting or financial management tools.
  • 6. QuickBooks Online: Just as it sounds, QuickBooks Online is a browser-based version of QuickBooks Pro Desktop — however, it lacks some of the features and offers a different user experience.

A List of Sage Products

From start-ups to Enterprise-level organizations and everywhere in between, Sage has a solution for you at any stage in your business.

It should be noted that the products listed below with the word “cloud” in them are not cloud-based. Rather they are “hybrid” solutions that can be hosted in the cloud by a third party such as Summit Hosting. The “cloud” in the names references the fact that they are “cloud connected”, meaning that they can be installed locally (or in a hosted environment) but can be connected to other applications that are cloud-based.

Financial Management & ERP software:

  • 1. Sage 50cloud Pro: Simple accounting solution that covers invoicing, receipts, expenses, and payments.
  • 2. Sage 50cloud Premium: More advanced than Pro, but still designed for small businesses. Premium also includes job costing, audit trail, advanced budgeting, serialized inventory, and more.
  • 3. Sage 50 Quantum: A step up from Premium, Quantum has faster processing, more advanced security, and industry specific functionality for construction, manufacturing, and distribution.
Sage 50: Pro vs Premium vs Quantum comparison chart
  • 4. Sage 100cloud: More sophisticated than Sage 50cloud, Sage 100cloud is classified by Sage as being design for medium sized businesses. Formerly known as MAS 90/MAS 200, Sage 100cloud includes deeper industry specific functionality for manufacturing, distribution, and service industries.
  • 5. Sage 300cloud: Formerly known as ACCPAC, Sage 300cloud is also classified by Sage as being for mid-sized businesses, Sage 300cloud includes functionality for multiple languages and currencies. Sage 300cloud is best suited for (but not restricted to) manufacturing, distribution, and retail businesses.
  • 6. Sage 100 Contractor: Originally known as Master Builder, Sage 100 Contractor is Sage’s construction solution for construction companies who have outgrown Sage 50cloud or QuickBooks, but don’t need an enterprise level construction management solution.
  • 7. Sage 300 Construction & Real Estate: Formerly known as Timberline Software, Sage 300 Construction & Real Estate offers more complex accounting, project management, and service management functionality than Sage 100 Contractor. As Sage’s higher end of the two construction solutions, it is a larger investment with a longer implementation, but has very powerful functionality for medium to large construction businesses.
  • 8. Sage 500: No, we didn’t accidentally leave off the “cloud” on this one. Unlike Sage 100 and Sage 300, Sage has not added the “cloud-connected” designation to Sage 500 (formerly called Sage MAS 500). Sage calls it “large business management software”, but it is not considered to be a flagship product for Sage when it comes to enterprise level businesses.
  • 9. Sage X3: Also temporarily known as Enterprise Management, X3 is Sage’s offering for enterprise level financial management, supply chain management, and production management. This is a global product designed for a number of industries with complex needs in these areas such as process manufacturing, discrete manufacturing, food & beverage, chemicals, and more.
  • 10. Sage Intacct: Purchased by Sage in 2017, Sage Intacct is Sage’s only financial / accounting package that is natively cloud-based. It is being offered as a true cloud alternative to Sage’s on-premises products, but it hasn’t yet achieved the depth of industry-specific functionality required by many of these businesses, particularly in manufacturing, distribution, and construction.

Other popular Sage system products:

Benefits of Cloud Hosted QuickBooks and Sage

No matter the version of Sage Desktop or QuickBooks Desktop you choose, cloud hosting is an excellent way to enjoy more perks and features, such as..

Decreased IT and Hardware Costs: You’ll be able to significantly reduce IT and hardware costs when you when you host your Sage or QuickBooks software off-premise with a cloud hosting provider. How? They take over the maintenance, updates and upgrades – more than likely, these costs are all bundled into your service – so you don’t have to worry about it.

Remote Access: In a traditional setting, QuickBooks Desktop and Sage are typically installed onto a desktop or laptop that stays at the office – this means your ease of remote access is severely limited. When you host your accounting software in the cloud with Summit Hosting, you’ll have 100% secure remote access to Sage or QuickBooks from anywhere using any device, and you will be able to use your software just like you would normally from your computer in the office.

Custom-Built Dedicated Servers: At Summit Hosting, we only use dedicated server environments! You’ll never share resources with others in a shared environment here and you’ll be able to customize your server with the resources you need, when you need them.

Integrated Hosted Applications: When you choose a cloud hosted environment for your software, depending on the hosting provider, you’ll be able to integrate the 3rd-party applications you need so you can get the most out of your QuickBooks or Sage accounting software.

For more info, check out our e-guide Bookkeepers, Accountants and the Cloud: 7 Reasons Why You Need to Move to the Cloud Today

So… Which is Right For My Business?

Just like each employee has unique skills and interests, each business is equally as different. So, ultimately it’s up to you to browse through each catalogue of products, consider what tools you need to run your business more efficiently and see which options will be the best fit to help you reach your goals.

If you have any QuickBooks or Sage product-specific questions, we recommend speaking with a representative at Intuit (QuickBooks) or contacting Sage directly.

You can also always reach out to a cloud hosting specialist at Summit Hosting with any questions you have about our cloud hosted Sage and QuickBooks solutions – contact us here or give us a call today: 888-244-6559.