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Bookkeeping, Accounting and Payroll: What is the difference and how can Sage help?

Bookkeeping, Accounts and Payroll - what is the difference?

Bookkeeping, Accounting and Payroll: What is the difference and how can Sage help?

Sage has several solutions for bookkeeping, accounting and payroll and at NILC we offer training in all three areas.  However, before you can decide which Sage package or training course to pursue it may be worth clarifying the differences between bookkeeping, accounting and payroll.  You may only wish to pursue one of these avenues, but you may also wish to pursue all three.  So, let’s start by explaining what each one is.


Basically, any process for recording financial transactions is a bookkeeping process, including purchasing, sales, receipts and payments.  It is the day-to-day record-keeping aspect of financial accounting that involves the preparing of documents for all transactions and business events.  As such, although it is bookkeeping, it is also a part of the accounting process.

The bookkeeper records the day-to-day financial transactions of a business and summarises them, bringing them to what is known as the ‘trial balance’.  Using the information that the bookkeeper has collated the accountant then creates the financial reports.

The Introduction to Bookkeeping course that we run at NILC will teach you how to facilitate your understanding of manual bookkeeping and help you apply it to computerised accounts systems, such as Sage.  On this course you will learn how to:

  • Apply double entry bookkeeping techniques.
  • Record sales details in the Sales Ledger and Debtors Control Account.
  • Record purchase details in the Purchase Ledger and Creditors Control Account.
  • Record VAT Transactions.
  • Construct a Trial Balance to check the accuracy of your account entries.
  • Create the Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet reports for your Business
  • Deal with and understand Prepayments and Accruals
  • Apply Depreciation to Fixed Assets
  • Deal with Bad Debts and Write Offs
  • Complete a Bank Reconciliation


Accounting or accountancy is the measurement of, the processing of, and the communication of both financial and non-financial information.  Accounting measures the results of an organisation’s financial and economic transactions and then communicates this information to parties such as investors, creditors, managers and regulators.

Several fields of accounting:

  • Financial accounting – focuses on reports of the business’s financial information that is sent to investors, regulators and suppliers 
  • Management accounting – focuses on the measuring, analysing and reporting of information to internal management
  • Accountants also may deal with external auditing as well as tax and cost accounting.

Accounting Solution

As an online accounting solution Sage One (now known as Sage Business Cloud Accounting) is designed for micro businesses of up to a maximum of 10 employees.  Sage 50 (now known as Sage 50 Cloud Accounts), on the other hand is a desktop solution that can be integrated with Microsoft Office 365, but that can handle 50 or more employees.  There is, however, a significant difference in the prices of the monthly subscriptions for each package (See my post on Sage One – v – Sage 50: What is the difference?)

Sage One

The NILC Sage One Accounts training course is suitable for complete beginners to Sage and teaches students how to use Sage One Accounts on a day-to-day basis.  At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Deal with Company Details and access rights
  • Create and maintain nominal records
  • Set up Customer details, defaults, terms and status
  • Set up Supplier details, defaults, and terms
  • Prepare, plan and post opening balances
  • Setting up Products & Services
  • Create Invoices for Customers
  • Post Invoices and credit notes
  • Record customer receipts & Supplier Payments
  • Post Journals
  • Run Reports

Example of Sage One Software Graphical User Interface

Sage 50

Sage 50 Accounts is a market-leading accounts software designed to help you manage your finances according to how large the business might be.  It allows you to keep track of sales, expenses and profit.  With this software you can quickly analyse business performance with a range of reports. It gives you the information you need to stay in control and drive the business forward.  There are 3 levels for this course.  The first is suitable for those completely unfamiliar with Sage Accounts and the latter two build on that knowledge.

Sage 50 Level 1

  • Software navigation
  • Applying company settings
  • About access rights
  • To Configure the chart of accounts
  • How to set up customer, supplier and nominal records
  • How to enter your customer and supplier opening balances
  • How to enter your nominal opening balances

Sage 50 Level 2

  • Create supplier invoices, credits and payments
  • Create customer invoices, credits, receipts and refunds
  • Create journal entries
  • Manage bank, cash and credit card transactions
  • Log recurring items
  • Search
  • Correct transactions
  • Safeguard your data

Sage 50 Level 3

  • Credit control reporting, documentation and management
  • Cash flow
  • Financial reporting
  • Departments and budgeting
  • Microsoft Excel Integration
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Fixed assets
  • Prepayments and accruals
  • VAT Return and year end

Example of Sage 50 Accounts Software Graphical User Interface


A company’s payroll is the list of employees and the amount of pay that each are entitled to receive.  This list will include such things as hours worked, tasks performed, records of previous wages, bonuses, student loan deductions or similar.  Payroll handles timesheets, calculating and producing wages, as well as remitting any tax and NI payments.  The payroll process plays a major role in the internal operations of a business.  From an accounting perspective, payroll and taxes are subject to laws and regulations so you need to be knowledgeable.  From a human resources perspective wages can be a sensitive topic if an employee has been underpaid or paid late, so accuracy is of utmost importance. 

Sage Payroll is a cloud-based solution that caters for small and mid-size businesses.  Again, at NILC we offer 3 levels of training courses for this qualification.

The Sage Payroll Level 1 course is aimed at those who need to process Payroll on a Sage 50 system.  After completing level 1 of this course you will be competent in:

  • Software navigation
  • Legislation settings
  • Configuring the company settings
  • Setting up employee records
  • Creating payments and deductions
  • Setting up basic pension schemes
  • Setting up the nominal link
  • Creating users and access rights

Sage Payroll Level 2

  • Process a payroll run
  • Use Reset Payments
  • Apply the minimum/living wage
  • Correct errors
  • Process starters and leavers
  • Deal with period end routines
  • Process the nominal link to Sage Accounts
  • Process advanced holiday pay

Sage Payroll Level 3

  • Attachment of earnings orders
  • Setting up and process a student loan
  • Processing statutory sick pay
  • Processing statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay
  • Setting up pay reviews
  • Entering holiday details and absences
  • Producing the Employer Payment Summary (EPS)
  • Historical reporting
  • Editing payslips


Example of Sage Payroll Software Graphical User Interface

So, we have looked at the differences between bookkeeping, accounting and payroll and you now know what Sage has to offer in terms of software.  You also know what NILC have to offer in terms of qualifications.  All that is left now is for you to decide which it is to be and for us to wish you all the best in your future career.   


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