SOFTWARE NEWS: SME accounting heavyweights roll out latest versions. By John Stokdyk

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It's upgrade season in the market for small business accounting systems, as both Sage and Pegasus have introduced new versions of their flagship applications.

Sage confessed to a spot of superstition regarding the latest edition of Line 50. Rather than continuing the sequence and calling it version 13, Sage has branded the new product Sage Line 50 2007 - echoing the style Microsoft has adopted for the next release of Office.

The main enhancements to Sage Line 50 2007 address management reporting issues, plus new features to make it easier for accountants and auditors to link into the user company's accounts system.

Pegasus Opera II is a broader mid-market suite providing manufacturing and distribution modules, but the two packages will often compete for the same customers. To differentiate Op...

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Sage Client Manager
I think you are missing the main selling point of Client Manager, as did Sage when they launched the product.

It is not the fancy Accountant Link (didn't QuickBooks have this years ago?) which only works if the client is running Line 50 V11 upwards - that is fine if a client is buying Sage now, but the product is overpriced in the first place and the annual maintenance cost is so expensive that most clients never update the original version which they bought.

The great benefit of Client Manager (silly name - sounds like a CRM product) to accountants is that it is a 50 company 2 user bureau version at a realistic price - one which reflects that accountants generally do not work on a clients books for a whole year, but just for one week a year for each client. Clients' data from any version of Line 50 (for Windows) or Instant can be restored as a separate company and updated to the current version, so that the accountant can work on it.

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Agree with Euan
I agree with Euan, client manager is a way to get a multi-company version at a realistic price but I feel even that is still badly flawed.

Firstly because to take us for example as a small office, a two user version is no use as most of the accounting staff use Sage for a variety of clients and we would need a 10 -15 user, multi-company version which is prohibitively expensive. There does not seem to be any cost-effective way to have access to multiple versions on a multi-user, multi-company basis. Especially as Euan pointed out as for the majority of the time you are only looking at a specific client’s data for a week or two a year.

Secondly being able to put any client’s data on the current version is only of use if you are not going to give that data back to the client. If you are you have to make sure you are using compatible versions. Sage is not backward compatible.

End result is ideally you need multicompany, multi-version, multi-user set-ups.

I’d agree for many users, especially smaller businesses, there is little point in upgrading especially as we know many clients see Sage's annual new version as little more than a marketing exercise. There are lots of new features but the basic principles of bookkeeping do not change. If you specifically want or like the new features that is fine. But for many it is upgrading for upgradings sake.

Our experience is that you end up with lots of clients on different versions. So as pointed out Client Manager only works if you and the clients are on the same one. We find many clients have support on Payroll but few on Line 50 because the cost is seen as far too expensive. I guess it may be different in other parts of the country, in cities, perhaps more companies are prepared to upgrade each year. Does anyone know if you move on to the new Client Manager but your clients are still on Version 12 if that is compatible or is it strictly like for like? The problem is each year as Sage release another Version it effectively adds another one to the list we need access too.

I welcome the improved report designer, as most clients never look at it at the moment as it looks incomprehensible to them.

The departmental budgeting and reporting is long overdue. I’ve nagged Sage for ages on that one.


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If ever there was a case for...
You just know what I'm going to say - software as a service.

You don't get ANY of these problems when software is delivered in this way.

End game for Sage and others?

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