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Sage delays Line 50 2007 shipments to tackle user complaints. By John Stokdyk

25th Oct 2006
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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."

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."


Replies (18)

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By dahowlett
02nd Nov 2006 03:28

No free lunch
Hate to disabuse you but what do you think that annual charge called 'maintenance and support' is about?

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By Anonymous
27th Oct 2006 14:21

'A Shambles'
Its nice to see Sage fully utitlising its 25 yrs of experience to produce inept software which offers little more than V12 of the product. My job is to sell line 50 and as such i am appauled at Sage's so called 'quality control' processes. How am i supposed to wax lyrical about a product Sage clearly have little faith in themselves. This really is farcical.

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By John Savage
25th Oct 2006 21:31

Seems OK now
Following on from my less than complimentary comment reported above concerning my own problem with Line 50 2007, over the week-end I uninstalled it completely from my computer, reinstalled the original version (, and then used 'Update 1' downloaded from the Sage website, and it does now seem to be all working OK.

Haven't yet used it 'in combat' with real accounts figures, but will keep my fingers crossed. I also must state here that this is the first time I've ever had an installation problem with Sage Line 50, and I've been a Sage customer for 20 years.

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By John Savage
27th Oct 2006 08:50

Feeling unwell??
:-)) Hi Nick
Yes, feeling well now, was a trifle irritable last week though!!

Seems it is Sage Users' turn now for a little blustery weather. Last April I was watching all the problems that you IRIS payroll users were experiencing, and feeling quite guilty that my Sage Payroll was whisking in end of year payroll returns with no problems whatsoever.

Very glad that the good folks at Digita test their products well before releasing them on we hapless accountants.

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By AnonymousUser
27th Oct 2006 15:33

Sage are no different to every other Software vendor
Fair is fair.

Sage have had many problems with this. But how many times have other software vendors failed to deliver the expected. Microsoft, Lotus, SAP (and i could go on for days) all have had their fair share of problems - but when you are one of the "big boys" you are always prone to the greater criticism.

Sage Line 50 it must be said is still a great product and many of the 250,000 companies using it would agree. 95% i think the stat was in a survey.

Atr least they have recalled it, but they need to learn from the smables all the same.

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By andyhopkins
27th Oct 2006 13:24

(Unfortunately) Typical Sage
Having had to wrestle with a number of problems when they last updated their accounts production software (SAPA) it seems, in my perception at least , that Sage either have really bad product development and testing staff or they're rush-releasing software (for the £'s?) without proper testing.

Does anyone know if there's currently an IT skilled staff shortage or do Sage have bad staff turnover?. Failing those explanations (which don't justify the products failings) it can only really be down to Sage internal controls & procedures.

Our practice approach towards their products is that we now never upgrade until absolutely necessary as (bitter) experience has shown it to be such frustrating & time-consuming affair.

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By Richardrussell
27th Oct 2006 14:00

Agree with previous posts
It is extremely irritating that Sage seem ever more intent on upgrading. I am an accountant club's member and the amount of emails/mailings I get from Sage is mind boggling. Unfortunately I have several large clients who are Line 50 users and any change would be out of the question, otherwise I would quite happily leave Sage.

Sage apporached one of my clients with a view to upgrading from v12 to 2007 (why???), luckily they asked my advice first.

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By Bert Clayton
26th Oct 2006 13:04

Sage Support - or lack of it
the Sage 2007 problems are also having an enormouse impact on customers who were lucky/wise enough not to install the upgrade to 2007 as response times to all sage support have been massively affected.
When it takes an hour to try (unsuccessfully) to get the right on version 12 problems help first thing in the morning something is seriously wrong

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By carnmores
26th Oct 2006 14:56

using SAGE, are you unwell?

have they managed to get a reasonable bank reconciliation routine yet?

this looks like a rerun of the IRIS payroll disaster, simply failing to check the software FULLY before despatching.


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By dahowlett
30th Oct 2006 06:18

I was talking with Sage CTO around the time this came out. There will be opportunity to meet with Sage execs at the upcoming Connections conference. I'll be there as a blogger (yes one of those).

On the alternatives front, it depends on what you want to do. If the time is right for your clients to upgrade from Line 50 because it is not really meeting their needs, then there's a slew of products to choose from. SquareSum, Access-Accounts, OpenAccounts, Microsoft Dynamics Navision, IRIS Exchequer are the obvious ones. SAP BusinessOne is looking surprisingly strong and affordable.

If your clients are SMBs, then it might be worth looking at the new breed of SaaS offerings. These are hosted applications where the client pays a subscription. The beauty of these apps is that you can share information in real time with clients so you can monitor what they do as time passes. It might even give you ideas about how you could take your practice forward.

The two most complete offerings are NetSuite and Twinfield. If you like the idea of being able to keep tabs on small clients while helping them to grow their business then WinWeb is a definite must look see. It's an 'all you can eat' offering that includes free accounting plus a bunch of 'office' style services. Most are free, some have to be paid for.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of articles you can peruse in and around the topic by clicking here.

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By Snappy
27th Oct 2006 18:17

Had enough of Sage
Totally fed up with Sage and looking for alternatives. Their attitude seems to be let's get the products out there so we can charge more money and we'll worry about the problems later. They use the customer as the live 'guinea pig', well I really hope it starts to backfire on them at last.

There are far too many chargeable 'upgrades' - a nice little earner for them.
About time we charged back our time for sorting out client problems as a result.

What they also failed to tell people in launching Sage Line 50 2007 and encouraging early ordering was the significant extra memory resources it requires. This slows down performance significantly and offsets any benefit of the extra 'bells and whistles ' which most people don't use or need.

Sage also issued Financial Forecasting full of bugs and relied on people like us to feed back the problems. They should have developed the superior Winforecast instead - no doubt saw another better revenue opportunity.

Time that Sage were taught a lesson - I will certainly be reluctant to recommend to clients and will be looking into alternatives - anybody recommend anything?

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By Moonbeam
27th Oct 2006 19:13

Sage quality issues on software upgrades
The Sage payroll bureau "upgrade" sent out in March this year comprehensively wrecked my computer. I had to have the operating program completely restored as no other program functioned properly after the installation.

One of the many problems was that a program instruction used the same name used by many of us golden oldies for the directory where we stored our data files, and because that bit of programming was so poor I have now had to rename the place I store my data files. This is the sort of error made by a trainee and I have heard stories over the years that indicate that the quality of programming is not high.

Sage did not bother to send me a Line 50 upgrade this year (although I'm a member of the Accountant's club and put in a request several months ago). Boy am I grateful.

I also am tied into at least Line 50 because all my clients use it. I am already seriously looking at other payroll options.

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By Anonymous
30th Oct 2006 10:46

No quality control
I concur with the majority of the comments printed below but i do not think that just because other software manufacturers have made similar mistakes in the past that Sage can be excused for using its clients as its quality control mechanism. They pride themselves (having been to the business school training) on producing market leading software with ease of use as a top priority and yet i feel the 23,000 customers unlucky enough to have already upgraded to 2007 would agree with this analysis!!

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By workhow
01st Nov 2006 10:37

Sage sells well though
We were largely persuaded by the inclusion of "Free upgrades" for the next two versions of Sage (2007 and 2008) to extend our Sage Cover to "Extra"

We can now see why they are "free" - the 2007 version (still called, interestingly, V13 under its bonnet) was abysmal and has taken considerable person/days to come to terms with (and still counting)

It is transaparantly clear that this release was all about keeping up with the treadmill of beating last year's sales and had nothing to do with presenting an improved product.

Mr Ford says they are not considering compensation. Well, we may well seek solace elsewhere.

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By axw001
31st Oct 2006 16:49

What a waste
If each of those 23,000 users spent 2 hours at a charge-out rate of £50 p/h dealing with the upgrade; install, call Sage support, uninstall, reinstall old version, that works out at £2,300,000 that Sage has removed frm the bottom line of some of its customers.

Shame they didn't see fit to spend that sort of money on QA processes.

Alan Wright

Liberty Accounts - Let us take care of the technology while you take care of your clients...

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By AnonymousUser
02nd Nov 2006 18:43

Sage Line50 version 2007
I am also a great believer in using the version behind the current version, but unfortunately two of my newer clients wanted the 2007 version (because they read the writing on the tin in the sage software shop), so I had to upgrade as well. I have spent nearly 6 full days sorting out the problems caused by the "rogue software" both on my own multi company system and my clients software (needless to say - clients no longer tin readers).

Glad to say, after re-installing software into new folders, all seems to be okay both at the practice and clients' offices. Forget the upgrades, as previous posts have advised, these aggravate the situation.

More worryingly, I have received various e-mails from Sage, stating that the serial numbers and activation keys sent out with the various software packages are all wrong, and they have sent out new ones.

I have now received an e-mail stating that the 2007 Payroll version sent to me also has the wrong authentity codes in the box - these were supposed to be for my accounting software codes.

Does anyone at Sage know what is going on?

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By aebeaumont
02nd Nov 2006 23:08

Report Generator
Sage has previously used new report generation to force users to upgrade.

Version 5.02 worked extremely well with several Microsoft operating systems. Suddenly with XP it was completely useless, reports were blank, and the user felt completely undermined.

Sage business strategy involves users paying over and over for basicly the same programme, and paying a monthly fee for support. The original programme was about £300, and the last I checked it was £1600. Upgrades cost more than the original, and if you want to keep using it, you need to budget for £1500 a year.

For small businesses, it seems that Iris does the same job, perhaps with a little less functionality. But for me, I have no sympathy with Sage, they have been caught out by their own upgrade startegy. In many years use, I have never lost a single entry on a Sage system. It is rediculous that they should fail in the reporting.

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By Ketchup
02nd Nov 2006 16:56

Why the rush
No excuse for launching problematic software into the market but one question intrigues me, why were 23,000 existing Sage users in such a rush to upgrade to V 2007.

With Sage Line 50 I have always advised my clients to work at least one version behind the latest release and by doing so none of them have been exposed to rogue elements in early release versions of new Sage LIne 50 accounts software.

Many are still happily getting on with V8 and V9 and a number of those who have upgraded to V12 have wondered why they bothered.

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