Sage delays Line 50 2007 shipments to tackle user complaints. By John Stokdyk
Sage has suspended deliveries of the latest version of its star small business accounts package, Line 50 2007.
Answering a number of complaints from AccountingWEB members, Sage Accountants Division managing director Greg Ford, said "I would like to apologise for any inconvenience we may have caused accountants in practice or business customers and assure people we are taking the issue seriously doing everything we can to remedy the situation as quickly as possible."
Nigel Simmons first raised the issue on AccountingWEB last week with an Any Answers posting that asked, "Has anyone else undergone the nightmare that is Sage Line 50 2007?"
John Savage reported that he had installed both software updates released by Sage: "When I try to run a report now my Sage program simply disappears - from screen, memory and seemingly the face of the earth."
Euan MacLennan said that he could get the reporting system to work, but "all the screen reports are so slooooow".
Although Ford was unfamiliar with the disappearing reporting module, the issues raised by AccountingWEB members were similar to those reported by customers to Sage's support lines.
Most of the problems revolved around the performance of the new Report Designer, and some arose from the installation of Microsoft .NET components that underpin the new module. This can take some time, leaving customers to think that the installation may have frozen, Ford explained.
"What we've done is make a conscious decision to concentrate on customers who have been impacted to date. We have contacted those customers proactively and will respond to their situation to get them satisfied with product. Then we will recommence issues in a staged manner," Ford told AccountingWEB.
"The principle is to resolve existing customers' issues and then we will make sure everyone who has placed orders will receive a fully functional product, without patches. We don't want to get more support calls from customers who have not resolved their problems."
Ford said Sage takes on board feedback from customers to determine how to take Line 50 forward. "One of those requirements was around the report generator - to keep the ease of use, but make it more flexible and powerful.
"We've done exactly that, but in this scenario, the product that went out into the field has not performed to our satisfaction, or customers' satisfaction. We had to take that on board immediately and we had to respond. If we identify issues with the product, we correct it. That's what customers would expect."
In defence of Line 50, Ford said, "Historically, it has a fantastic reputation as being a good product that delivers a high level of functionality. We have made some fantastic changes. Once we get customers to where they're satisfied with the new version, they're pleased with the improved reporting."
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One of the issues identified by AccountingWEB member Sue Leech was that the software updates posted on Sage's website made the problems worse. "JC" complained that Sage looked like it was following the "completely unnacceptable" Microsoft heavy patch route. "If it doesn't work, then withdraw the product," he commented.
The temporary suspension of Line 50 2007 deliveries is how Sage has dealt with this suggestion, but Ford commented, "It is not our intention to deal with patches. We have a responsibility to ensure the product we take to market meets customers' requirements. Our intention is to deliver good quality products in a repeatable fashion, year in and year out. We dont' want to have planned service packs."
Both Nigel Simmons and JC called on Sage to compensate Line 50 2007 users financially for the time they have wasted wrestling with the upgrade.
"Compensation has not been considered at this time," Ford replied. "We think we took reasonable action to prevent further disruption to customers once we identified the issue by concentrating on getting people up and running."
Ford said Sage does take quality very seriously and that usually its quality assurance processes do work. " The product is evaluated internally and through a pilot process where we send the product out to be evaluated by existing customers, business partners and accountants.
"We did a lot to improve Line 50 2007, but something got through that process."
It was too early to diagnose why the initial release was substandard, he added. "We need to reflect on that to ensure that in the future we meet the quality standards people have come to expect from us."