Sage drops the Line on new accounting suites. By John Stokdyk

Sage announced major changes to its product families and their underlying technology at its Connections conference in Manchester this week.

The "Line" branding will be dropped. Instead, Line 50 will now be known as 50, Sage MMS becomes 200 and the Line 200/500 enterprise suite will be subsumed into the new Sage 1000 family.

Line 100, the mid-market application that has stubbornly survived several attempts to kill it off, will come to the end of its official life.

Continued...

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Comments
jacp400's picture

Seems Sage cause naming confusions themselves

jacp400 | | Permalink

I read the same on Dennis Howletts site yesterday. Seems like a recipe for confusion to me.

So, Sage Line 50 becomes Sage 50. Fair enough, but payroll becomes Sage 50 Payroll. What if you then upgrade to MMS (or Sage 200 as it will now be called). It's the same payroll so do you need Sage 200 payroll which is actually exactly the same as Sage 50 payroll or is there a variation which makes Sage 200 payroll different?

Moreover MMS (previously Line 100 previously Sovereign) becomes Sage 200, not to be confused with the current Sage Line 200 (previously Sage Enterprise previously Tetra CS/3 previously Tetra Chameleon).

As a secondary point, this does go to show that Sage still spend an awful lot of time on the branding of their products. Pegasus Opera, was upgraded to 32bit Windows and called Opera II so one major upgrade and a minor name change in 12 years.

Ditto Access Dimensions which has had one name change in a similar time.

Sage 200 is now on it's 4th completely new name with only one major upgrade.

Meanwhile Sage Line 50 has stopped shipping because of all the bugs.

So what does that say about their priorities?

Regards

John Clough
BDO Stoy Hayward LLP

John Stokdyk's picture

Background info

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

John,

Since you posted your comment, I have updated this article with comments from my interview with Paul Stobart. It's always interesting to hear about software company strategies from the horse's mouth and Stobart was quite coherent on the technology choices Sage has been making of late - for example with the decision to migrate Sage 50, as it will be called, to MySQL.

Sage has basically mapped its users into three camps (low-end, mid-range and corporate) and aside from price, one of the defining characteristics Sage is applying to its software ranges is around the underlying databases - MySQL for low end, versus SQL Server for mid-range and Oracle, DB/2, MySQL or SQL Server for the corporate market.

But in the transcript of his comments to business partners at the conference on Tuesday, Sage chief technology officer Klaus-Michael Vogelberg was very clear about where his priorities lay: "Many of these [database and product] initiatives are important to ensure we keep up with the competition. Yet none of these product innovations will give us a competitive edge in the long term. The suite strategy is quite different, and has the potential to redefine our market, as well as the way we serve it, completely."

He went on to explain that the focus on suites (and business processes) turned around the traditional feature-based software development model, but essentially the Sage executives would agree with your final point.

They have run unashamedly run Sage for years as a market-led rather than technology-led company. Since Sage is still managing to hold on to its spot in the FTSE 100, the strategy appears to work (in spite of the occasional technical glitch).

John Stokdyk
Technology editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk

dahowlett's picture

Not easy

dahowlett | | Permalink

The branding thing has been an issue for years. This is a first step to resolving the issue.

No-one at Sage is going to pretend the latest bug-o-rama is anything short of disastrous. And to be fair, both Greg Ford and Paul Stobart came perilously close to an outright apology.

They know they're in a comms mess but are thrashing around trying to solve the problem. Some of us believe there is a much simpler way but will KISS beat out complex research and positioning (CRAP)? You figure it.

Ummm ....

Anonymous | | Permalink

Dennis has hit the nail on the head '.. both Greg Ford and Paul Stobart came perilously close to an outright apology ..'

More R&D expenditure - frankly Sage have never been interested in what they can do for the customer, rather what the customer can do for them. Historically they have always squeezed the pips out of their software by running it well past its sell by date before upgrading; so why should the leopard change its spots, because they currently happen to need customer goodwill?

So integrated business suites are the way forward for Sage. The recent Line 50 disaster was on a single 'non integrated' product; how do they expect to keep an integrated suite in step. How will upgrades cater for different versions of their integrated components to co-exist without forcing the users to upgrade every component just to ensure system integrity? (yum..eeeee.. opportunity for more upgrade revenue)

To have an application that has still (25 later) not mastered the file locking issues is quite disgraceful. They need to address the 'stateless' environment with dynamic record locking; and to have maximum user limits on a software product such as this is just complete nonsense and demonstrates just how out their depth Sage are in this arena

Although it is the way forward, adopting MySQL may well trip them up on reporting & data analysis which SQL Server includes by default.

Whilst Sage have an enviable Marketing Department, and a CEO Paul Stobart with that background, has he ever personally developed any code/systems? Are the comments at the Connections Conference '.. The advent of Web 2.0 tools allow you to do some very sexy, deep-rooted integration ..' a reflection of his true knowledge and understanding or rhetoric fed by the Marketing Department?

On current performance, technically I would not trust them to install batteries in a torch!

Ultimately it is not about ability and a good product but marketing hype, which is disappointing

jacp400's picture

Multi-user locking

jacp400 | | Permalink

To pick up JC's point, I wonder if the fact that Sage havent addressed this issue is more a lack of will than a lack of skills.

Stobbart says; "Over the past few years, Sage focused heavily on migrating Line 50 users up to Sage MMS"

Historically it's always been the case that Line 50 has been a good feeder market for Line 100/MMS, and while there have been other drivers, primarily it's companies that need additional users.

Regards

John Clough
BDO Stoy Hayward

Sage Product Strategy

hansskeat | | Permalink

As regards forceasting, Sage have done half a job with replacing Winforecast but have not gone the whole way and replaced the consolidation version. The release date keeps going back and I believe now is Q1 2008. Although a great product, users will have been living with all its bugs for at least five years as they no longer fix them but just tell you about them when you contact support.

A poor strategy I fear, will someone else get there first?

John Stokdyk's picture

A minor correction for Dennis

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

Just to set the record straight Dennis, Greg Ford has unambiguously apologised to the AccountingWEB community and he continued to grovel with some frequency at the Connections conference.

The terminology he and Paul Stobart used at the event was that users had "suffered inconvience" from the upgrade difficulties "and obviously this is something we regret". As you mentioned to me in Manchester, The New Masochism is a refreshing change for the software industry.

I always enjoy and learn from JC's contributions on Aweb and it's here that I think he's really nailed the main problem Sage faces - changing the names will cost a lot in design fees and new packaging, but actually engineering the products to fulfill the brand promise is a big, big challenge which people like Dennis & I have been pestering Sage for years.

By way of illustration, I had a conversation with Greg Ford about how the MySQL migration would work with the Sage Practice Solution. Where, when and how would they start?

Over the next three years, the Accountants Division will have to move its tax, time & fees, accounts production and company secretarial systems from the databases they're on now (SQL Server and possibly some older ones) to MySQL. Sage Practice Hub will be the starting point but then users could be faced with a situation where the core records are in one database and their working modules are on another.

"For the transition, you can integrate technically data from one database to the other," Ford said. " We have to make sure that the transition we provide for that customer will be as smooth as possible."

When pressed further on how this was likely to work in practice, he replied, "Technically I can't comment on that."

It's a fascinating and important scenario, particularly since Sage is one of the signatories to the xPS data exchange standard for practice software. This is the vehicle Digita is using to integrate its practice management suite. Sage has been decidedly cool about xPS for the past year or so, but the XML schema is exactly the sort of Web 2.0 protocol that Sage is now endorsing. How sincere will Sage be in its commitment to open standards - and who out of Sage, IRIS, Digita or AN Other will achieve the highest level of integration first?

John Stokdyk
Technology editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk