Archive for August, 2009

Sage annual upgrades for Sage 50.

August 22, 2009

For a number of years Sage have released a new version of Sage 50 every summer.  Each new version is chargeable (unless you have Sagecover Extra) and this can be a cause of, shall we say, disquiet for some users.

Some users, and their advisers, see the annual upgrades as evidence that Sage don’t listen to their customers.  For example eleansa  commenting on an Accounting Web blog says

If Sage really listened to its customers, who include my clients, then they would stop producing so many “upgrades” and merely enhance existing versions under their already expensive annual maintenance contracts.

Yet stripping this down to essentials, it is only a request for Sage to provide more for less, and so just another price discussion between a supplier and its customers.  My concern is how much discernment Sage exercise, not how many customers they listen to!

This “disquiet” is fundamentally unfounded.  The annual upgrades are optional, and Sage continue to support Sage 50 for a good number of years after their release.  For example Sage 50 version 11 will be supported until the end of April 2011, so by the time that support is withdrawn it will have been out for the best part of 7 years.

Sage 50 users can, then, take a pragmatic view of each new version.  The two obvious questions are:

  • Are the additional features of value to my business?
  • Does staying current reduce my IT risk?

We are relatively cautious.  For example our Sage 50 support team’s default recommendation is that clients wait until the first service pack  is released before implementing a new Sage 50 version.  Indeed, except for busy and sophisticated users, we tend to advise against annual upgrades.  Not on cost grounds, but because change without significant benefits bring risks.

Sage 200 aged debtors.

August 22, 2009

While Sage 200 includes aged debtor reports as standard, we prefer to work with the aged debtor reports in Excel though, and we prefer to grab the data directly, so that we can manipulate it at will

This poss includes a series of ‘SQL Server views’ that together give an aged debt, grab the most recent memo (which we use for recording credit control conversations) from the customer account, and show basic contact information.

Provided you or a colleague have basis SQL Server skills, it is straight-forward to create the necessary views in your Sage 200 SQL Server database.  You can choose your own name for the first view, and this is the one that you should link to from Excel, but the other views will need to use the names indicated.

This version doesn’t support foreign currency accounts, and it also can’t be used to produce retrospective aged debtors.  There are other ways of achieving much the same end, including the use of pivot tables which has the advantage of letting you drill down to transactions. 

The views don’t format particularly well as created via our blog software I’m afraid, but you should be able to cut and paste directly.  Also the views were put together by someone relatively inexperienced, so we know they’re not as tidy as they might be!

If you need help implementing this or similar Sage 200 aged debt reports please contact our Sage 200 support service.

Heat but no light, SaaS security questions.

August 22, 2009

Things have got excitable if not exciting in the world of SaaS finance applications recently.

It would be easy to join in with some cheap shots at Duane Jackson, who after all has previously used security issues with Sage’s entry level Sage Live product to generate free publicity.  Wouldn’t be fair though. 

First the issue reported by Dennis Howlett is actually very different, as it is really a feature choice (and yes I do know that security is a fundamental aspect of a software application’s architecture) not a flaw as such. 

Secondly the guys at Accounting Web  have apparently checked (haven’t they noticed the sun has been out this week) how much has been written about it and, at more then 12 000 words, too much has already been said about an issue which just isn’t core to the customers that Kashflow target.

SaaS does raise questions.  Security is one of them.  It is appropriate to ask who can access your data, but actually it’s far more pertinent to ask whether secure (as in continuing) access to your own data given all likely futures for your SaaS supplier.  Sorry, aside over.

The real issue though, is that (some of) the SaaS boys (and yes it does seem to be gender specific!), are more interested in the whys and wherefores of SaaS in the abstract than what it actually does for the customer. 

Kashflow is the result of a whole series of compromises.  Duane Jackson’s fortunes will wax or wane according to how well those compromises match his target audience needs (and the success or otherwise of his trumpet blowing).  That’s as it should be.  Dennis Howlett’s invective is entertaining, but ultimately empty.

I could go further.  Risk and security are not cost free.  It’s easy to promote a stance that more security and less risk is better, but it’s far more complex than that.  Who in business wants to be frightened and risk adverse?