Sage Software Update

Posted by Admin on July 25, 2013 under Budgeting and Business Intelligence, CRM Software, ERP Software | Be the First to Comment

Sage recently held their annual conference for partners and users this week. While we were not able to attend, we have been monitoring the conference and also recently spoke with a Sage VAR to get the latest on what is happening at Sage.

1. Sage is continuing with the re-branding marketing push. Because Sage grew through acquisition of many different products, the product names (MAS 90, Accpac, etc.) are more recognizable than the Sage corporate name. Therefore, Sage re-named all of the products in their portfolio. (MAS 90 = Sage 100, Accpac = Sage 300, etc.) The point is to make the Sage brand more recognizable.

2. After many years of acquisitions, the sale of the non-profit solutions demonstrates that Sage is trying to consolidate and focus more on their core products.

3. Sage is working on getting to the cloud. The only pure multi-tenant cloud solution is Sage One – which is their entry level accounting system for about $25/month. The traditional ERP solutions will be available as a hosted (single tenant) solutions using Microsoft Azure.

4. While they continue to maintain and upgrade all of their products, the ERP product that has really become their flagship is Sage X3 (formerly Adonix). Sage is currently doing a very large update to X3 that will be released soon. Due to the robust functionality of the X3 product, Sage is pushing into a higher market than they traditionally have played and will be competing with Dynamics AX, JD Edwards and others that are just below SAP.

5. They are developing mobile solutions to enable access to Sage solutions through multiple devices.

We continue to monitor Sage as they move their initiatives forward. In particular we are watching to see if the re-branding initiative will help with name recognition and how the X3 product develops and competes in the future.

Sage Sells CRM and Non-Profit Solutions

Posted by Admin on April 8, 2013 under CRM Software, ERP Software, Non-Profit Software | Be the First to Comment

Last month, Sage announced the sale of the Saleslogix and ACT! CRM solutions and their Sage 100 Fund Accounting solution for about $100M. This is an interesting development as it appears that Sage is beginning to streamline their product lines. Sage, along with Infor, Oracle, and others have traditionally been an accumulator of software solutions. Over the years, they have purchased a number of business software systems including acquiring and developing CRM solutions.

Sage is now starting to focus on their core accounting/ERP software. Based on our interactions with them, the X3 product seems to be evolving into their flagship product for the mid to upper market. The Accpac product (now called Sage 300) has a lot of installs, particularly in Canada, and the MAS 90 product (now called Sage 100) also has many installs in the smaller market. At the lower market, the Peachtree solution (now called Sage 50) has a significant install base as it competes against Quickbooks.

We will watch with interest how their strategy evolves!

Oracle Fusion Applications Update

Posted by Admin on November 19, 2012 under CRM Software, ERP Software, HCM Software | Be the First to Comment

We recently got an update on Oracle Fusion Applications and this post will give you an idea of what is happening with this product. But first it is important to define the distinction between Fusion Middleware – which is the underlying connectivity software and has been out for a number of years, and Fusion Applications – which is a whole new ERP software solution built on top of the Fusion architecture that was released September 2011 after a six year development effort. This post is focused on Fusion Applications.

Oracle now has 100+ customers on the new Fusion Applications ERP software as they slowly engage new customers. Like their other ERP products, Fusion is focused on large companies and is a Tier 1 application (see SoftResources’ Tier Chart), but there is no specific target industry right now as they are building their install base in general ERP situations. One of the challenges of building a Tier 1 software solution is the depth of functionality required to handle the complex needs of large companies – which requires a long development cycle. Oracle has been methodically building out the functional footprint and they now have the core functionality built including the following current modules: Sales and Marketing, Customer Service and Support, Human Capital Management, Talent Management (including functionality from the Taleo acquisition), Financial Management, Procurement Sourcing and Inventory, Project Portfolio Management, Governance Risk and Compliance, and Planning and Budgeting.

With regard to selling the Fusion Application, Oracle is being very careful not to cannibalize sales for their other ERP products (e-Business Suite, Peoplesoft, and JD Edwards). In fact they are actually trying to leverage their install base by offering new Fusion modules to run with their existing ERP solutions using the Fusion Middleware to link the products together. In this way, current customers can leverage new functionality available from Fusion without having to take out their investment in their current ERP solutions. (It is important to note that Oracle will continue to upgrade and develop their current ERP solutions under Oracle’s Applications Unlimited program that states that Peoplesoft, JD Edwards, and e-Business Suite will be continually upgraded for many years to come.)

With regard to deployment strategies – Fusion Applications can be installed either on-premises, in a hosted or vendor managed instance (where Oracle manages the system even if installed on-site), or in a true cloud scenario. Pricing can be either traditional software license, or a monthly/annual subscription model in a cloud implementation.

Oracle is following the same implementation model that it has with their other ERP solutions, offering Oracle Consulting, or implementation services through implementation partners like Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, KPMG, PWC and others. This means that if you are considering Oracle Fusion Applications, make sure you do an Implementation Partner Selection to find a partner with experience and the resources to fit your industry.

In summary, after a long development cycle and careful initial rollout, Oracle Fusion Applications ERP is beginning to make traction in the market. Companies that are considering Tier 1 solutions should include Fusion in their long list and conduct a proper evaluation to determine if it meets their needs.

Netsuite Adds Value Added Reseller (VAR) Partners

Posted by Admin on November 7, 2012 under CRM Software, ERP Software | Be the First to Comment

We recently read an article in Accounting Today that highlights Value Added Reseller (VAR) partners that have recently picked up the Netsuite product. These VAR’s include: Oasis Solutions Group, BCS ProSoft, Accordant Co., RKL eSolutions, Kraft Enterprise Systems, and Mibar Computer Services. Also, McGladrey recently acquired one of the largest Netsuite VARs – Forward Hindsight.

This is a very interesting development and not only shows momentum for Netsuite software, but also shows the increasing interest in cloud-based ERP. All of these VARs are currently resellers of traditional on-premises ERP solutions including Microsoft Dynamics, Epicor, Sage, Deltek, and Accountmate. None of them are abandoning their traditional solutions, but they are looking to expand their offerings to include a cloud based ERP solution.

While the traditional ERP software vendors are working on developing cloud ERP (whether they are looking to modify their traditional solutions like Microsoft, or developing a Cloud solution from the ground up like SAP); and there are other cloud ERP vendors (such as Plex, Intacct, Financial Force, and Workday); for right now, Netsuite is probably the most mature true cloud ERP offering available. Therefore, these VARs are adding Netsuite to diversify their portfolio to include a cloud solution for potential clients.

Looking at this development from Netsuite’s perspective is interesting and may have an impact on their sales model. In our interactions with Netsuite in the past, they have traditionally focused on implementing the software solution directly with more of a minimalist approach to implementation. This means that their implementation cost is lower, but also requires more effort from their clients and process change is limited to adopting the standard Netsuite built-in processes. This model works well for smaller companies, but many larger companies are looking for client-specific modifications and business process assistance in addition to simply implementing the new software.

On the other hand, traditional vendors that sell through a VAR channel like Microsoft, Sage, Epicor, etc. rely on the VAR partner to sell and implement the solution. While the VAR gets a commission for the sale, their main source of income is the services generated by the implementation through helping with configuration and assisting with the client’s processes. By picking up the Netsuite product, these VARs feel they can add value to the implementation by offering more services. The benefit to Netsuite is that they now have more salespeople to sell their product without adding internal resources.

The bottom line is that if you considering the Netsuite product, you now have more viable implementation options available. This means that an important part of your selection process should include an implementation partner/VAR selection for Netsuite. This includes evaluating the resources available from multiple VAR options as well as Netsuite’s direct implementation team. The key is to find a VAR partner that has experience in your industry that can implement efficiently with the right level of service for your needs.

IFS Profile – ERP Software for Project Manufacturers

Posted by Admin on October 29, 2012 under CRM Software, ERP Software | Be the First to Comment

IFS is a Tier 2 ERP software solution (See SoftResources Tier Chart) that was originally formed in 1983 in Sweden. IFS is publically traded with $400M in annual sales and consistent revenue and profitability. They have 2800 employees worldwide with 2200 customers in 50 countries. In the US, IFS has 350 customers with 150 employees. IFS competes with Microsoft Dynamics AX, SAP, Oracle, Epicor, Infor Lawson M3, Infor Syteline, and others.

IFS targets mid to large manufacturing companies with special focus on project manufacturing companies with $100M+ in revenues that require multi-company, multi-currency, multi-country, and multi-site capability. The product is functionally complete and mature with a suite of modules that range from CRM, to engineering, to manufacturing, all the way through service management (field service, Depot Repair, MRO). This includes Engineer to Order, Make to Order, and Build to Design companies like aerospace and defense and complex machinery.

It is important to note that IFS runs on the Oracle database only – which limits their market as many companies in the mid-market are looking for MS SQL Server database solutions. To minimize this impact, in Q1 of 2012, they began offering Managed Hosting services to their clients. In other words, IFS now offers outsourced support so companies do not have to maintain their own infrastructure (including maintaining the Oracle database). Users have the option of accessing the system through both a .NET based user client or a web interface. They are hoping that the addition of Managed Services will enable them to penetrate companies that do not want to implement or support an Oracle based solution.

In the latest release (Version 8) IFS released mobile apps for various functionality including timecard, expense reports, procurement items, invoices, CRM, etc. for the iphone and Android.

We have evaluated IFS for many manufacturing companies over the years and have recommended them in the right situation. While IFS is a strong player in the manufacturing ERP world, they are frequently overlooked because they don’t have the marketing machine that other ERP vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP have. However, they offer a solid company and product with experienced personnel (most of their people have been with IFS for 15-20 years), and have a customer focused culture. If you are a project based manufacturing company, IFS should at least be on your long list for analysis.

Infor ION Middleware

Posted by Admin on October 12, 2012 under Budgeting and Business Intelligence, CRM Software, ERP Software | Be the First to Comment

We recently attended a web demonstration of Infor’s ION Middleware product. Infor is one of the software vendors (including Epicor, Oracle, Sage, Microsoft, and others) that have acquired a number of business software applications including multiple ERP products and niche solutions such as Enterprise Asset Management, Reporting, etc. All of these products were built on different technologies and databases. The ION Middleware product enables them to link all of those systems together and present a more unified solution set. ION can also connect solutions that are external to Infor such as legacy applications, mobile applications, and other CRM and ERP solutions.

A key component of ION are the Business Object Documents (BOD) that include documents such as Service Requests, Purchase Orders, Requisitions, and others that can cross over multiple systems. For example a sales order that was created in the ERP system can be sent to the Warehouse Management System for development of the pick list. Certain BODs have been pre-developed, while others can be custom built for client needs.

The following summarizes some of the capabilities of the ION product:

1. Connectivity/Integration – ION is a connectivity tool to enable integration between many different systems. It allows you to connect ERP, best of breed applications, mobile technologies, cloud applications, and others without having to build specific integrations between each system. Pre-built connectors are already set up for the Infor products – including Syteline, Adage, LN, Lawson S3, Lawson M3, and others. They have also pre-built connectors for non-Infor products such as SAP, Salesforce.com, and Dynamics CRM. Infor announced that in the next release they will be adding EDI Connectors and Oracle EBS Connectors.

2. Workflow – The ION product has built-in workflow capabilities. While ERP systems typically have built-in workflow it is usually limited to processes within the ERP system. ION enables workflow across multiple systems.

3. Monitoring and Alerts – ION contains alerts within and across systems for both exceptions and events that occur; as well as exceptions and events that do not occur, but are expected.

The advantage ION brings to the table for Infor is that it enables them to cross-sell Infor products to both their install base as well as offer a wider functional footprint to new customers. For example a Syteline ERP customer may be interested in the Lawson S3 HR solution that can be readily plugged together using ION. Because of the development of this Middleware product, we expect Infor to continue to acquire software vendors and use the ION tool to plug together solutions for their customers.

Salesforce.com – Announcements from Dreamforce 2012

Posted by Admin on September 21, 2012 under CRM Software | Be the First to Comment

We attended Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce CEO Keynote Speech via webcast this week to get the latest updates regarding Salesforce. Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO) stated that the latest numbers show they have a $3B revenue forecast for FY 2013. For the Dreamforce conference, they had 90,000 registrants, 800 sessions, and 350 partners. Salesforce has a nice philanthropic strategy in that they give 1% of their equity, 1% of their profit, and 1% of their time to Charity. They offer free licenses of their solution to non-profit organizations. (Although implementation costs are still required.)

While they made many announcements – I will focus on 3 main areas that were interesting: Social Media, Partner Communities, and Salesforce Touch.

Social Media – The focus this year was on enhancing Salesforce.com’s Social Media capabilities. In the words of Marc Benioff they are looking to “Double Down” on Social Media. They demonstrated tighter integration to external Social Media solutions, as well as the development of Social Media tools internal to Salesforce.com’s application.

Partner Communities – Put simply, Partner Communities are like a private Facebook experience in a secure environment with Partners external to an organization. This includes extending the Chatter capabilities so you can collaborate on sales leads, share documents, and enable messaging through Salesforce rather than relying on email or phone communication with partners.

Salesforce Touch – Salesforce Touch is an app that allows you to run Salesforce.com on mobile devices – in particular the Apple iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms.

There is no question that Salesforce.com has been one of the most successful CRM solutions since their founding in 1999. They were one of the pioneers in the cloud and have developed not only a CRM solution, but a platform on which many add-on solutions have been developed on the Force.com platform. They should definitely be one of the vendors to consider if you are looking for a CRM solution.

Infor10 Moving Infor into the Future

Posted by Admin on April 18, 2012 under CRM Software, ERP Software, Government Software | Be the First to Comment

Infor has been acquiring a lot of business applications software vendors and now has a customer base of over 75,000 customers around the world. While some of their acquisitions are “long in the tooth,” they also have a number of best-in-class applications.

Infor is facing a lot of competition from large companies such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and “up and comers” such as Workday. But don’t write them off; a lot hinges on how CEO Charles Phillips leads the company in the next couple of years. On board only since mid-2010, he’s already invested a lot of money in software development and integrating Infor’s portfolio of software applications.

It appears that Phillips is rolling out a strategy that is similar to what Oracle did when he was Oracle’s president. In late 2011, Infor unveiled Infor10 ION Suite, a middleware technology that will be built into applications with open standards and used to make integrations easier, simpler and more reliable. It will enable new and existing Infor and non-Infor applications to work as an integrated solution.

Infor also unveiled Infor10 suites targeting specific industry applications: Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Chemicals, Distribution, Equipment Services, Maintenance and Rental, fashion, Food and Beverage, General Manufacturing, Healthcare, High Tech, Hospitality, Industrial Equipment and Machinery, and Public Sector.

Infor10 Workspace is designed to deliver a new user experience incorporating relevant information, workflow, tasks and alerts, business intelligence, social media, event management, and business activity on a user’s screen.

Sage North America – New ERP Software Names

Posted by Admin on January 13, 2012 under CRM Software, ERP Software | Be the First to Comment

Sage North America recently announced that they are renaming many of their software products in order to increase awareness of the Sage brand. Although one of the largest software companies in the world, they found that when they did surveys, the individual software product names Sage sold were more recognizable than the general Sage brand. Like almost all of the other major mid-market ERP software vendors, Sage has acquired a number of software products over the past 15 years, but each solution has remained somewhat autonomous.

This move in North America now more closely parallels the Sage naming conventions in Europe. The goal of the changes is really twofold: 1) They want to increase awareness of the Sage name, and 2) They want to show scalability and where each product fits in the market – The lower the number, the less complex and geared to smaller companies – the higher the number the more sophisticated and focused on larger companies. They are also increasing integration of their general ERP products to their niche and stand-alone CRM, Fixed Assets, HR and Payroll solutions.

The following is a high-level guide to the new names for some of their major products:

Peachtree = Sage 50 US Edition (with various industry specific templates)
Simply Accounting = Sage 50 Canadian Edition (with various industry specific templates)
MAS 90 = Sage 100 Standard ERP
MAS 200 = Sage 100 Advanced ERP
Master Builder = Sage 100 Contractor
Accpac = Sage 300 ERP
Timberline = Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate
MAS 500 = Sage 500 ERP
Sage ERP X3 = Sage ERP X3
FAS = Sage Fixed Assets

The complete list can be found here: http://www.sagenorthamerica.com/Company/Brand/Sage-Product-Name-Grid

The bottom line is that until these new names become more recognized in the market, if you are considering a Sage solution you should be very careful to identify the specific product you are looking at. While it is helpful to see scalability of the software solutions more clearly with the 50, 100, 300, and 500 levels, the name changes make the products appear to be the same, when in reality they are completely different products with different code bases. In fact, some completely different products now have the same name. (Peachtree and Simply Accounting are both now known as Sage 50 and there is another Sage 50 software product in Europe). So make sure that you clearly understand which product you are talking about with the Sage salesperson or Sage Partner that you are working with.

SAGE

Posted by Admin on June 9, 2011 under CRM Software, ERP Software, Government Software, Non-Profit Software, Retail Software | Be the First to Comment

SAGE is a major ERP global player and one of the largest ERP vendors in the world. While it is a major player, SAGE has struggled with marketing their products and brand and is not as well known in the US. They have also struggled with product direction and focus as they have many different products both in the US and Europe. The SAGE software products are mostly sold through a Value Added Reseller channel, although they do sell direct depending on the product and situation. In the past they have taken more of a regional approach – with certain products focused on the North American market and other products in Europe. They are squarely focused on the mid to lower market for software solutions.

SAGE has acquired many software solutions over the years – including State of the Art in the US in 1998 (MAS 90 and MAS 500). Here is a partial listing of the products that SAGE sells in the US. You will probably recognize the names and may be surprised that they are owned by SAGE:

X3 (Formerly Adonix) – ERP
Accpac – ERP
MAS 90 – ERP
MAS 500 – ERP
Timberline – Construction/Property Management
MIP – Non-Profit
Peachtree – Small Office Accounting
ABRA – HR
BEST FAS – Fixed Assets
Saleslogix – CRM
Many others…

One product that has reached a couple of Short List’s recently in our software selection projects is the SAGE X3 product. This is a multi-national manufacturing focused software solution and is the former Adonix product that was acquired by SAGE in 2005. Adonix was originally developed in France and offers a robust accounting/manufacturing solution. It is interesting to note that the CEO of SAGE is Guy Berruyer who led the French SAGE operation. They also recently installed Pascal Houillon as the CEO of SAGE North America – who also came from the French operation. We think these moves point to a future emphasis on the X3 product at SAGE, and may even lead to X3 becoming the flagship product for SAGE on a worldwide basis.