ERP 300 Anyone? Accounting Software by the Number!

Rumor has it that Sage ERP ACCPAC will soon be “rebranded” Sage ERP 300. According to the SAGE ACCPAC group on LinkedIn, we will have Sage ERP 300. What is now Sage ERP ACCPAC 100 will become SAGE ERP 300 Standard. Sage ERP ACCPAC 200 will become Sage ERP 300 Advanced, and Sage ERP ACCPAC 500 will become Sage ERP 300 Premium.

Confused yet?

My question for Sage: Will this branding exercise provide clients and partners any more value? Or is it just another way to make the products seem “generic” so you can kill the products that you don’t want to continue supporting (like Sage ERP Pro or Sage PFW)?

Since I’ve worked with ACCPAC off and on for 25 years, I know it pretty well. The current changes in plumbing and user interface are impressive and important steps forward for the product. This branding? Perhaps I should just stay over here on my side trying to help our clients use whatever software they have to make more money. Basically, I could care less what you call the stuff as long as it works!

Will it work with Windows 7 64bit? ERP and Accounting Software Compatibility

We seem to be getting a lot of questions lately about installing software on new computers. Computer vendors like Dell and HP install Windows 7 64 bit on most machines they ship these days. If the machine is capable of 64 bit, they ship it with 64 bit. Once the machines come in, clients call us and want to install their accounting software.

“Is it compatible?” they want to know.

Generally, if they’re on a top 20 software product like Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, etc., the answer is “Yes,” as long as they’re on a recent version. Lately, however, we’re running into another issue: databases. Sometimes the accounting or ERP software is compatible, but the database isn’t.

To make things more complex, many vendors don’t support products more than one version old. So if the current version is 11 and you have version 9, there may not be any information at all (except for rumor on the web) to tell us whether the products are compatible. Rumor on the web isn’t something that we can rely on, particularly when it means that if something goes wrong, we’re on our own.

Bottom line: call someone who can research compatibility for you before you buy that new machine. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and while you’re at it, be sure they check the compatibility of your printers as well. Some old printers don’t have drivers for Windows 7 32bit or 64bit.

The TRUE Cost of Laser Printing

This is probably nit picking. Too bad. I’m hacked!

DGG has an old Okidata Color Laser Printer (C5150N). It’s a great printer, particularly since I think I paid something like $700 for it, a duplex unit, and an extra tray.

It’s been having some problems lately. Actually, I’ve been having some problems lately. It needed a new drum unit. I thought I’d save some money and do an internet search for a cheaper drum unit. I saved 50%, but the drum I ordered didn’t work. So I ordered another one from a discount dealer. That one didn’t fix the problem either. So now I’ve ordered at twice the price from a vendor that I know will come through for me. Guess that’s a lesson for me on trying to go cheap.

Anyway, all of this caused me to take a look at the cost of a new laser printer. You can buy new color lasers with duplex and a network connection starting around $300. I decided to check out the cost of toner.

The toner cartridges for my Oki are rated at 5,000 pages of output. No one gets that because that rating is at 5% coverage. Why have a color laser if you’re going to print 5% color? My documents are more like 15% to 25% (or more) color. So I get around 2000 pages. The toner cartridges are $25 each. Not bad.

So I looked at a new OKI. Toner cartridges: $48, rated for 1500 pages. Yep, that’s right 1/3 the toner for double the price. Then I started really looking closely. ALL the low priced color printers ($500 – $1000) seemed to follow this pattern. Some of them had toner cartridges that cost OVER $100 with ratings of around 2000 pages. Geez.

Morale of this story: Watch the cost of the toner. Laser printers are like razors. They lose money on the printer and stick it to you on the toner!

Accounting Software Hotfixes: Where do they come from?

We had a client with a problem: a history file had corrupted records in it. The accounting software’s “Data Integrity Check” came back “NOT!!” The database software vendor’s tool just hung after reading about 3,000 records into the file. But…no problem…the database vendor had a tool to remove the corrupt records. And we did.

Instantly, an inquiry that had been getting an error started running all the way through…like cold molasses. For those of you that have no clue what molasses is, let’s just say it was excruciatingly slow. I’m impatient. If my computer takes 2-3 seconds to do something, I’m doing the three-finger salute (Ctrl+Alt+Del). This was taking a good 45 seconds. And the diagnostic utilities from the accounting vendor seemed to be in a loop. One day I let them run for 8 hours…the process still didn’t finish.

I got the bright idea to try loading the data on another database vendor’s product (the accounting software gave me a choice of 3). Low and behold, it was instant. I tried the query on the first database vendor’s SQL query utility. Bang! Instant result.

So–let’s see–the problem is not corrupt data (that problem has gone away). The problem isn’t in the data itself (it works on another database). The problem must be in the software.

Monday I got the result from the vendor: The hotfix will be available on Wed. We’ll see if that fixes the problem.

Note: It was available Tuesday. It fixed the problem!