Talking Sage 200 2013
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It’s always great to have a new toy to play with, so as one of TSG’s Sage implementation team leaders, the new release of Sage 200 2013 felt a bit like Christmas.
What makes this launch different from previous versions of Sage is that it is available as both a Cloud-based or On-Premise deployment.
And though to me the new release was a bit like queuing up at midnight outside the Apple store, for customers I know it’s more about gaining an understanding of what the software can do, before immediately plugging it into your system.
Being an early adopter in the consumer world is one thing, but in the business world you need to make sure new technology fits into your business strategy, rather than buy the new technology and working out how to run your business around it.
Cloud has certainly been the big talking point with this release and whilst choice can be a good thing, knowing whether it’s right for your business can be tricky given the sea of hype and confusion surrounding the whole area of Cloud solutions.
I’m delighted to say that our team have recently kicked off our first implementation of the new Sage 200 2013 release, with our customer choosing to host their ERP system in the Cloud.
I thought it might be useful to cover a few things they needed (and for others who follow in their footsteps) to think about when considering a hosted version of Sage 200 2013.
As mentioned in one of Steve’s previous blog posts (see Trains, Planes and Auto-Mobiles), accessing data that is held in the Cloud is always going to be reliant on your connectivity. If your system isn’t reliable, then you can guarantee that in this world of irony, your connectivity will fail right when you need access to your data most, such as payroll time or when your business is having a major event.
So, try to see connectivity and the Cloud as going hand in hand when making the decision.
Availability is high on the list of priorities where business critical applications are concerned - and Sage 200 2013 is absolutely no exception.
With this release, Sage promises that there will be 99.95% availability rate to your data, but that’s of little consequence if your broadband goes down or is just not sufficient to cope with the increased level of traffic that results from working with a hosted solution.
There has been some concern from users with regards to the online option around security and access to business critical data. Security is always an important thing to consider for any new IT solution however, in truth, Cloud solutions generally have better security than many businesses implement internally.
The system and data for Sage 200 online is hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform which is an industry leading cloud computing platform. It’s robust and redundant to a level that is way beyond almost any on-premise system that you could imagine.
Your data is secure and backed up for you automatically and regularly.
When it comes to security, you just need to be comfortable and make the right decision for your business.
Types of company who would most benefit from the Cloud option
As a rapid start-up business, the customer for whom we are installing Sage 200 2013 at the moment are ideally suited to the Cloud option. There are no upfront expenses for hardware - just a single monthly subscription fee. You pay for what you use and there is more flexibility than before to add and remove users or modules.
Others that might consider the hosted version of Sage 200 2013, are those currently on Sage Line 100 which is due to come to the end of its life in April 2014.
Sage 200 online offers more companies an affordable upgrade option, without the loss of key functionality. There is an upgrade option for Sage 200 without the added costs of new servers and other required components such as Microsoft SQL server.
The most important thing to do is to take a good look at your business in general – where are you going and what is going to most benefit your drive forwards? Do this before even thinking about whether Cloud or On Premise is right for you.
Adoption can be a cause for major headaches in any new IT system. However, the deployment of Sage 200 online is relatively simple due to the ‘Sage ERP Online Services’ management portal. Initially managed by Sage, this will become accessible to Business Partners and Customers to manage their own solutions.
Through this portal, smart clients are deployed to create a shortcut on user desktops. No more DVDs! These shortcuts use Microsoft’s ClickOnce technology to run the Sage 200 Online but give the feel of an on premise solution.
With the deployment being relatively simple to manage, what you need to consider for strong adoption in your business is that your staff are educated and engaged.
Access on the move
Sage 200 online is not the only functionality to be excited about. Visibility and accessibility of data is key to any system. The addition of a Web User licence means that access is available anytime and anyplace (with an internet connection!) which is ideal for those out on the road.
The Web user licence is available regardless of whether you have an On-premise or On-line deployment. Data is at your fingertips and can be accessed by a number of browser types including Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari. Which means Sage 200 can be accessed from a range of devices.
The main emphasis is on retrieving data for enquiry by giving users access to Workspaces, but crucially, there is the ability to run reports. Users are also able to perform some lightweight functions such as entering memos against Accounts and Transactions; entry of Timesheets and Expenses; as well as authorising Purchase Orders.
Can you imagine visiting a key customer to talk about their account and being able to pull out your tablet to show the outstanding transactions on their account? Being able to show how much of a product they want to order is currently in Stock, or when that product is next due to be received in? Or that order they placed recently, when is it due for delivery?
With the Web user, this and more is possible.
So, the Cloud version of Sage 200 2013 will be right for some but not all, and the good news is you now have a choice which we can work with you to explore.