Sage Insights 2010: Ten Announcements You Missed If You Blinked

Sage North America’s Insights 2010 conference was held last week in Denver Colorado.

While the total numbers of conference goers was never officially disclosed (at least not to me) – it appears there were in the neighborhood of 1,000 Sage partners who attended based on interviews given by Sage leading up to the conference.

Conferences can be great big distracting events. It’s nearly impossible to notice all the news that is released during the event.

Some of the news is released quietly and unless you’re paying close attention – and follow up with questions it can be easy to miss. I think there were at least ten important announcements that went relatively unnoticed at this years’ Insights 2010.

Here are the 10 announcement that I caught which I’m not sure if everyone noticed.

They Announced That? 10 Things You Might Have Missed (If You Blinked)

1. Elimination of MAS 90 & MAS 200 EES

Here’s a doozy that Sage skimmed through. Several people at the conference claim this was already announced on prior roadmaps. The Sage EES bundle which was Sage MAS 90 or MAS 200 plus Sage FAS (Fixed Assets) plus Sage CRM (CRM) is no longer.

First announced at Insights 2008, the suite of products which – first referred to as Project Diamond and then rebadged as Sage Extended Enterprise Suite – was most notable for a fixed cost pricing for a large bundle of modules.

Additionally Sage seemingly hoped to see widespread adoption of the SageCRM component bundled with the suite.

After a little over a year Sage announced they are retiring Sage EES and  intend to bundle in a license for SageCRM (Single) with new sales of MAS 90.

No announced plans on whether Sage FAS, which was a component of Sage EES, will also be provided as a free license.

Not much other detail announced though I think the innovative EES bundled price will give way to new overall MAS 90 and MAS 200 pricing (as barely announced in #3 below) while simultaneously removing another product Sage has to wrestle with continuously upgrading and marketing.

2. Elimination of 24 more kept Sage MAS 90 Extended Solutions

About 6 months ago Sage announced they’d be doing away with their Extended Solutions offerings. Instead Sage said the plan was that 56 of these add-ins would be included at no charge in the product while the rest (about 600) would be given to developers to continue enhancing and selling.

There were some concerns with this plan – namely that the MAS90 product roadmap showed some of the 56 enhancements would not be added to the core product for two years – leaving existing users of some enhancements stranded at version 4.3.

At Insights Sage announced that due to feedback from customers – who thought the 2 year rollout planned for incorporating all the 56 solutions into MAS was too long – another 24 solutions would be opened sourced (aka – not rolled into the product as previously planned).

Now there are 32 solutions Sage is working to incorporate into the core MAS 90 and MAS 200. Expect this announcement to go to the channel, partners and customers in June. Change takes effect in October for new sales and maintenance.

Inside scoop is that the Sage PAC (Product Advisory Council) was pissed and livid lively with discussion over this change. Not terribly sure why this issue of lengthy rollout times wasn’t caught in the planning phase.

3. Introduction of easy pay pricing for new MAS licenses (unsure what terminology may be used for the actual announcement) – not only can you pay over time for maintenance you now can do this for new MAS 90 and MAS 200 licenses.

This was announced at the MME keynote by Laurie Schultz.

Unfortunately it was only one line item on a Powerpoint slide.

In the future expect Sage to disclose new ways to pay for MAS 90 and MAS 200 licenses. Instead of one up-front payment you may have an option to pay in monthly subscription based payments (both product and maintenance).

You’ve always been able to pay for maintenance on a monthly basis. The  ability to pay for the product on a subscription basis is new.

Verified this information after the keynote. No details. Strange that it was one line on a keynote . I’m assuming Sage wasn’t ready enough for the actual pricing details.

Expect to hear more on this.

4. That Sage MAS 90 & MAS 200 will have two Excel based report writers -Alchemex aka Sage MAS Intelligence and then in 2 years (eta) Sage FR which is Excel based and a port from Accpac.

Logical question is why two report writers (I get that one incorporates data other than GL)  and in two year is Alchemex aka Sage MAS Insights going to be orphaned less loved in favor of a Sage product (Sage FR – ported from Accpac and also Excel based – though only integrated to GL) that they own presumably don’t pay royalties on?

One conference-goer thinks there will be room for both reporting tools since Sage FR won’t dive into non-general ledger details while Sage MAS Insights will.

Pricing still seems like it’s being determined. Also uncertain is what happens to BIE (aka Business Insights Explorer) which is presently included in all Sage MAS 90 and MAS 200 sales and is Sage’s somewhat canned equivalent to Sage MAS Intelligence.

5. Payroll for MAS 200 SQL will almost certainly be the Accpac Payroll ported to MAS 200 SQL — aka most likely a different payroll than current MAS 90/200 legacy users which may present concerns for migration/upgrades to SQL in the future.

(Note: Initial sales of MAS 200 SQL will be to new users–  though Sage expects to have some type of upgrade/conversion in the future).

Lots of discussion about this on LinkedIn MAS90 Group. You didn’t hear it from me but I’m repeatedly told that the reason modules like Payroll and Job Cost aren’t in the Business Framework is that they’re tough to upgrade (that’s polite terminology for spaghetti code).

6. New going forward authorization requirements for MAS business partners will require CRM training/testing – similar to the EES authorizations.

No idea on the new authorization costs (if any) – all details around this seemed sketchy. Expect that all MAS partners will have to certify with SageCRM since it appears that SageCRM will be an included component of MAS 90 and MAS 200.

No details on what (if any) changes will occur to the going forward cost for partners to be authorized for SageCRM. Given that Sage has touted adoption rates as low as 1% on the Sage MAS 90 / 200 side for SageCRM integration it seems to me Sage needs to start incenting VARS to sell this versus charging them more and potentially raising certification barriers (namely cost).

7. Extraordinary Customer Experience partner sessions will tour the country. These will be partner sessions and feature a Sage Executive. Most like hosted by Ed Kless/Rob Johnson/ETC though details seem sketchy. There will be a Sage executive in attendance to work the flipcharts.

Doug Meyer did a nice preview of the Customer Experience session at the IT Alliance this Spring in Atlanta. Apparently this (or some flavor) will be rolled out nationwide. No idea on schedule or locations. It’s a great course though the VARS who need help the most in this area are probably least likely to attend if it’s only a voluntary class.

Also watch for Sage MAS 90 and MAS 200 to continue collecting net promoter data on partners. This information will be provided as part of a “scorecard” which VARS and view online.

Perhaps the low scoring VARS will be counseled into this session as an alternative to outright de-authorization.

Update from Ed Kless:
The Sage Executive will deliver a 3 hour Extraordinary Customer Experience Workshop in the morning. This is a slightly expanded version of the one they delivered at Insights. If you (not just Wayne) missed it I highly recommend it. BTW – I will be the one running the flip charts.

In the afternoon, I will deliver material on improving the customer experience from a tactical point of view. Similar to the Consulting Workshop my intention is to provide the attendee of each workshop with a choice of topics. They will vote to select the ones to be presented.

8. No decision on MAS 90 Payroll moving to SQL. There’s been quite an uproar in favor of this though the current consensus seems to be that the MAS 90 /200 payroll would eventually be the same as that used on MAS 200 SQL (Accpac).

My gut say’s the decisions already made and both MAS 200 SQL and MAS 90/200 will share the Accpac Payroll going forward. Sage say’s they’re still studying this – however with the SQL release of MAS 200 due for beta in Summer 2010 I think the decision has almost certainly been made on the SQL side in favor of a Payroll SQL package port from Accpac. The only remaining question in my mind is does Sage do the same thing on the MAS 90 and MAS 200 (non-SQL) side?

9. Project Atlas aka Sage Portal: This is the new (long time in coming and often spoken about) Sage internal ERP upgrade. The Sage Portal is the partner facing portion. The rollout is starting with the Accpac folks. Lots of concerns around functionality including requests of rolling back the portal.

Sage is so concerned that they’re hiring someone full time to manage the portal rollout.

A question was asked about Atlas at the closing Q&A – which Sage answered but provided no elaboration on exactly what it was. For a period of time I thought Sage bought another product – that is until I started asking around and found that Atlas was really the code name for the internal ERP system.

Like all new internal systems, this one seems pretty unpopular at the moment. Let’s hope that Sage irons out the kinks before moving the portal adoption to any other product groups.

10. 2010 was the last Insights. Next year the conference will be in Washington DC, will include customers and be renamed Summit 2011.

Next year’s conference will run an entire week (starting on Sunday) with the first half being partner focussed and the second half being customer focussed.

The Gaylord National will again be the host.

Did I miss (or mis-state) anything? Post your thoughts in the comments. Don’t panic if you don’t see your comment appear immediately – nothing gets censored but the spam filters hold most comments for moderation.

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  1. Re #7 – The Sage Executive will deliver a 3 hour Extraordinary Customer Experience Workshop in the morning. This is a slightly expanded version of the one they delivered at Insights. If you (not just Wayne) missed it I highly recommend it. BTW – I will be the one running the flip charts. 😉

    In the afternoon, I will deliver material on improving the customer experience from a tactical point of view. Similar to the Consulting Workshop my intention is to provide the attendee of each workshop with a choice of topics. They will vote to select the ones to be presented.