Sage H1 2010 Earnings: North America Subscriptions Decline 2% Against Growth Elsewhere

Sage UK just reported H1 2010 earnings for the period ended March 2010.

There seems to be some improvement overall, and earnings exceeded analyst expectations, but the company fell short of predicting a return to revenue growth in North America (which now is second to Mainland Europe as Sage’s top revenue provider).

North America appeared to suffered as the region with what appeared to be the only decline in subscription revenue (see the full Sage slide deck below for details).

Maintenance is the ever important recurring revenue item that customers pay for ongoing support, new releases and upgrades of their existing software.

In a perfect world maintenance would continue to grow (Sage North America reported an addition of 17,000 support contracts) as new subscribers are added and continue to renew their contracts.

Here’s what Sage reported for subscription growth (see chart below for details):

North America: – 2%
UK: +5%
Mainland Europe:  +2%
Rest of World: +13%

I’ve long said that maintenance (subscription) renewals and growth are what I gauge to be the key indicators of customer happiness. Within the past year Sage North America has modified subscription margins for many of their business partners (raising sales performance requirements as well as outright margin change).  It’s tough to say what the results would have been without those modifications.

Full earnings slide deck after the jump

Continue reading “Sage H1 2010 Earnings: North America Subscriptions Decline 2% Against Growth Elsewhere”

Sue Swenson Considered To Lead Sage UK?

News broke over the weekend that Paul Walker, chief executive for the last 16 years at Sage UK, would be leaving the company. There’s no announced time period during which he will depart, however FT. com indicates that it could come as early as this year.

UPDATE: December 1, 2010 – Sue Swenson announced her retirement from Sage North America effective mid 2011.

Three possible replacements were mentioned by analysts in an FT.COM article – with one of them being Sue Swenson, currently the President of Sage North America.

There will undoubtedly be more candidates than the three above  as other publications have reported that executive placement firms will be retained to locate additional candidates.

Continue reading “Sue Swenson Considered To Lead Sage UK?”

Sage Business Management Blog Launches

The Sage BM Blog has launched with a roll of 16 bloggers each contributing one or more articles a month on their favorite aspect of BM.

It’s a pretty fair bet that the topics will stay close to ERP and consulting services – especially centered around the mid-marketing software packages offered by Sage.

The site just went live today and promises to bring a non-stop stream of interesting business topics.

Sage Business Management Blog

Breaking News: Discounted Cheap Services and Lower TCO Aren’t The Same Thing

This morning I was reading a post by Seth Fineberg on WebCPA. He apparently picked up on the press release issued by Accession Technology promising that they will be offering a 0% financing option and free consultation services to all companies interested in upgrading or converting to Sage Software’s MAS 90 and MAS 200 4.4, the latest version of MAS 90 and MAS 200.

This post from WebCPA elicited some excellent discussion on the Sage LinkedIN group about reducing software implementation and support Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

The only problem is that a lower service fee (or discounted software) – isn’t the same thing as a lower TCO (total cost of ownership). Not by a long shot. Continue reading “Breaking News: Discounted Cheap Services and Lower TCO Aren’t The Same Thing”

Sage Presidents Circle 2009 Wrapup

For three days – from January 25 to 27, 2010 – I had the honor of mingling with the elite Sage Business Partners who earned awards for sales achievements. My reason for being there was to pick up a Sage Spirit Award (not a sales award) that Sage awarded this year to two Business Partners.

This award was being given for the first time this year to two partners who best exemplified the characteristics of being a diverse, vibrant and constant contributor to the Sage business partner community

Here’s my wrap-up of the event – containing the good and bad – but mostly good. Continue reading “Sage Presidents Circle 2009 Wrapup”

10 Predictions for 2010

The new year is here and with it is the hope and anticipation of an even better year than 2009!

With that in mind I have 10 predictions for 2010. Because I work primarily with Sage MAS 90 and MAS 200 accounting software you’ll find that most of the predictions have to do with Sage or MAS90/200.

My predictions are based only on my gut hunches and careful observation at public seminars – in other words I don’t have any inside confidential information.

Score a win for any of these predictions if they’re announced in 2010. Most of the changes that I predict will be multi-year efforts meaning that I don’t expect them to be both announced and completed in 2010.

Continue reading “10 Predictions for 2010”

If you’re not offering support plans then your clients are stealing your time

bank robberThe best way to assure that you never make any money on support is to promise  you’ll create a prepaid annual support plan for your clients — some day.

That mythical  “some day” never seems to arrive for most of us.

Because we’re busy putting out other client forest fires. Then for a while the “pay as you go” support works pretty well.  Since you’re busy – no need to worry about changing the way you bill.

Suddenly as the economy ebbs and flows your billable support calls trail off. Clients stop calling. Without incoming phone calls you have no reliable source of income. Yet you still have the expense of paying staff to sit by the phone and wait for calls.

Think of how crazy the pay-as-you-go support model is.

For absolutely no money (unless a client calls) you staff a call center with people who will respond to a client call on a moment’s notice. If you’re not offering a support plan – clients pay you nothing for setting up this support center.

See a problem yet?

Continue reading “If you’re not offering support plans then your clients are stealing your time”

Tips: Now is the time to plan for your busy season – adjust rates and billing practices

planningThe approaching end of the year represents a time when we should all start to come into the busier time of our business.

The last half of the year is traditionally when companies are upgrading their accounting systems or thinking of starting projects that are intended to improve their reporting.

Now is the  time when you should review the rates you’re charging to clients and consider changes – in advance of the busier and hopefully more billable year end. Since all of our costs tend to rise from year to year – it is only fair that your rates should rise as well.

With that in mind, I have several suggestions about billing that have worked exceptionally well for me (aka clients don’t complain or question).

Implement these today and I’d be surprised if you could not start increasing your bottom line $20,000 or more next year.  I’ve implemented these tips myself each of the last several years. I don’t recommend you make a big deal out of it or spend days writing an apologetic letter about how the economy sucks and you’re “forced” to make a “small” adjustment to rates.

Just “man or woman up” and get in there and adjust your billing practices. In this economy there’s no room for bashful billers. Here’s my four tips that will work for you – because they’ve worked for me! Continue reading “Tips: Now is the time to plan for your busy season – adjust rates and billing practices”

Dear Wayne – I am interested in learning more about how you use social media

wayne schulz bhWayne,

I really enjoy reading your posts and observing how you are leveraging social media. You have presented yourself as an expert on many topics–good for you!

I am interested in learning more about how you are using social media in your business. Do you currently promote products through Facebook, twitter and other forums? If so, I would really like to talk with you about the metrics you watch and time you dedicate to contributing and responding in these forums.

Thanks again for sharing your articles. Continue reading “Dear Wayne – I am interested in learning more about how you use social media”