On November 1, 2011 Sage North America announced the launch of Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200 version 4.5. The new release includes:
- customer requested enhancements
- a new option of upgrading to Microsoft SQL Server 2008
- one free user and server license of the fully integrated SageCRM
- one Sage MAS Intelligence Report Manager license
This announcement also coincides with the release of Sage ERP MAS 90 Online, the new cloud-based deployment alternative for Sage ERP MAS 90 and 200. Together these announcements reflect Sage North America’s efforts to keep pace with the growing demand for a fully integrated, expanded footprint of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) while providing more choice.
First of all, for those not familiar with Sage MAS 90 and 200, The Sage MAS product line is one of three offerings in Sage’s ERP portfolio, which also includes Sage ACCPAC and Sage X3. MAS 90 and 200 share a common set of code that forms a fully integrated business management solution for small to mid-size businesses (SMBs) managing a local operation. While MAS 90 runs on a single computer, MAS 200 uses a client server structure. As part of a re-branding exercise, in January, these two products will become Sage 100. The numbers loosely relate to the number of employees and annual revenues in its target market. So in this case, Sage 100 is well suited to SMBs, often with up to 100 employees or $100 million in revenue. However, these are only guidelines and fit is primarily based on complexity of accounting and financial needs.
Why is this announcement significant? My research shows World Class ERP implementations (the top 15% in terms of results, progress against goals and current performance) are 44% more likely to be operating on the latest release of ERP. Yet companies also rate the challenge presented by the cost and effort of upgrades as 3.4 on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is extremely challenging). While not a show-stopper, most companies will not upgrade unless there is significant benefit in doing so. Therefore it is important to provide enough value in the release to help customers build a business case for that cost and effort.
What’s new in 4.5 that can help Sage MAS 90 or 200 customers build that business case? Here are some highlights:
- National account management: Even SMBs sell to large corporations with subsidiaries and branches and MAS customers have been asking for a more streamlined way of managing those relationships. Version 4.5 introduces a new type of customer, a National Account whereby a parent company can be billed for goods and services while still keeping a unique customer account for each entity.
- Handling payroll complexities: Five new methods of calculations have been added to handle a variety of specialized deductions and benefit accrual has been enhanced to reflect conditions and minimums.
- Sales Order enhancements: These include new pricing options, new capabilities for split commissions and the ability to automatically generate purchase orders from sales orders. Also added is the ability to allocate by lot and serial number and provide better integration with job costing.
The 4.5 release also incorporates 37 enhancements provided through downloadable Product Updates since the 4.4 version shipped last year. These updates touched Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Bank Reconciliation, Inventory Management, Job Cost, Paperless Office, Payroll, Sales Order and system-wide features.
In addition to these enhancements to the core ERP solution, customers upgrading to version 4.5 will also receive one free SageCRM 7.1 user and server license and one Sage ERP MAS Intelligence Report Manager license.
SageCRM is really all about automating sales, marketing and service processes to improve communication and internal collaboration. SageCRM is available for iPhone and also allows companies to monitor and track customer communications on Twitter. SageCRM also integrates with Sage eMarketing, one of several Sage cloud-based connected services. A 60-day trial of Sage eMarketing is also included so that SMBs can experiment with executing marketing campaigns.
MAS Intelligence in version 4.5 extends General Ledger reporting allowing customers to attach Reporting Trees to Report Designer layouts to model reporting structures and let customers view their organizations in different ways. Report distribution can be set up to be fully unattended and allows distribution through a variety of formats, including Excel, sending reports to a file, publishing to an FTP site or sent via email.
Obviously Sage is hoping one free license of each will lead to the purchase of more licenses, but this is a good way for customers to kick the tires of both prior to making a purchase decision.