Sage 300 ERP (formerly ACCPAC) 2012 Version Notes

I’ve been looking at the 2012 / 6.1 version of Sage 300 ERP, which I still think about as ACCPAC. I think I was expecting some major changes to the user interface in this version, but not yet. Here are the major things I see in the 2013 version What’s New list and in the product:

  • Visual Process flows (click the image below to see the full screen). These are sort of like the “flowchart” start screen on the QuickBooks product. Start here –> here next –> finish here. I’m sure they will help novice users, particularly since you can click the “nodes” in the flowchart to launch the associated program. But I’m hard to impress.
  • Credit card processing integrated into the solution.
  • Numerous tweaks and enhancements, particularly in RMA (Return Material Authorization).
  • The PO, IC, and OE module data has been added to the Inquiry (query) function.

I’ll leave comments on other related products (like credit card processing) for later.

Here are a couple of screen shots:

New Inquiry Options

Visual Process Flows

Changing the Way You Think About Business Software (ERP) and Technology

For 20+ years, DGG has really been in the business of changing the way our customers think about business, accounting, and ERP software. Changing the way you think about business software and technology can make you a lot of money. I’m thinking that perhaps we should have been talking about this for a long time.

Why? Our customers know that we’re different because we’re deep in both business and technology. Being deep in business changes (or should change) the way you think about software and technology in general. Using technology in business is like using a car.Photo of a man looking at the screen of his laptop.

The car is the hardware and infrastructure. The cables and racks and servers and operating systems (for example, Windows Server or Linux). Information Technology (IT) professionals spend a great deal of their time keeping the car working and tuning it up. I was talking to a customer’s IT support a week or so ago. He was lamenting the fact that the previous support person didn’t have individual servers for each piece of software: email on one server, web services on another, and accounting software on yet another. From an infrastructure standpoint, I completely agree with his objective. But polishing and tuning up the car doesn’t get you anywhere. Having the car (or server) running well is a precondition or prerequisite for everything else.

The gas is the application software. I’m not thinking about server software: SQL, email, etc. I’m thinking about Word, Excel, accounting, and business operations software. In order to go anywhere (in business or in a car) you need gas. This is the place many businesses (and IT departments) fall flat. They have new hardware on which they spend thousands of dollars with software that’s 20 years old. Old gas is bad for engines; old software can be equally bad for companies.

The result of old software is that businesses begin to think in terms of the software capability they have. Twenty years ago, we were happy that software worked and was stable. If we started the day with 10 in inventory, invoiced 2, and the computer said we h ad 8 left, we were ecstatic. Today, we expect the features we thought were whiz-bang in 1992. A car with 1992 gas sputters along, wheezing–if it runs at all. A business just creates a huge amount of work and “fights” its software by using Excel, ACCESS, and other tools to do the heavy lifting.

Finally, there’s the driver training. Anyone who’s taught a 15-year-old to drive knows that without training, the best place for the car and the gas is in the garage. Without proper training, you can hurt yourself.

And here’s where the analogy of the car vs. business technology breaks down. If your car doesn’t run, you don’t have gas, or you can’t drive, you find out pretty quickly. You wind up walking, pushing, or having a heart-to-heart conversation with a telephone pole or police officer. If your business technology isn’t optimal, you can run for a long time (harder, with more difficulty) without realizing it.

I’ve seen businesses run into the ground because they didn’t use the right software or didn’t use software right.

There’s more information on business software on the DGG site, and our Profit Tools eBook can provide some ideas.


Keeping Your ERP Software Up To Date

Companies that keep their software up to date seem more satisfied overall with their systems. I’m not sure why this is, but I know that it helps them avoid all kinds of issues. Older versions of software seem to cause more software compatibility problems these days than in the past.

Here’s the pattern I see:

Windows Vista was a major change in operating system for Microsoft and many Windows users. It was also a disaster from a PR standpoint. I never had many problems, but some people did. As a result, many skipped this version. Software publishers didn’t have the mass of customers moving to the new version, so many software bugs weren’t worked out.

Windows 2008 Server, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and Windows 7 used many of the same technologies as Vista. The recession hit just as many of these products were coming out. Businesses (and users) have updated to these technologies as they had to. Many businesses are still updating from Windows XP to Windows 7.

The software products that didn’t get a full test under Vista (because relatively few businesses implemented it) are now getting tested under Windows 2008 Server and Windows 7.

Bingo! Problem!

Solution: Clients that keep ERP software (and other software, for that matter) up to date are generally more satisfied in the long run.

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!

Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 Accounting Software – YouTube

Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 has been out going on a year now. Version 6.1 is due soon. This overview from YouTube is still worth watching for the direction of the product. As we noted in our review of the product, the new development environment is based on Google Web Toolkit (GWT). The next version is supposed to have more of the environment converted to the new UI. When the UI is fully converted to the new development environment, we’ll review it again. Accounting software selection and industry specific software are our special areas of expertise.

Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 Overview – YouTube.

Peachtree vs. Quickbooks Review — Sort of

Dave Matthew has emailed me a couple of times telling me that I should take a look at his Peachtree vs. QuickBooks review. As per the usual review, there is the list of features with a checkmark in the column indicating whether each package has the feature. And therein lies the problem with all reviews of this type. The list of features is chosen not to be comprehensive, but to reflect whatever bias the review has.
In the products compared, I note quickly the omission of Intuit’s QuickBooks Enterprise Solution–considerably more expensive than the others, but lifting the 5 user limit.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for a review to tell you which product is “best,” you have to define what you mean by “best.” My experience is that “best” is different for every client. Don’t buy software based on reviews, and be very suspicious of any review you see. Ask yourself, does the reviewer have bias? What is it? What economic stake do they have in the outcome of your decision? (As an example, you should know that I work with QuickBooks. I also work with a Sage product and a Microsoft product in the same general space.)
Second bottom line: Most really small businesses (less than 5 users) don’t really need much accounting. They see it as a cost center, and use it to keep records they are required to keep. In this space, you can pretty much choose whatever you want. Most of our clients wind up picking QuickBooks for a simple reason: Most bookkeepers and accountants are familiar with it. Unfortunately, there’s no other software so ubiquitous.
David, I’m not sure that was what you wanted, but it’s the opinion of someone with just over 25 years experience in what is now the ERP space.
Peachtree vs Quickbooks | A Comparison for Small Business Owners

Oracle Believes ERP Market is Recovering

The title of the article below seems a bit misleading to me. It’s not clear to me that there is evidence of SAP’s unravelling, unless the reference is to SAP losing market share. Furthermore, I don’t think at this point that this can be identified as a permanent trend, perhaps the market segments that SAP targets are more affected by the global recession than Oracle’s market segments.
It is, however, encouraging to see one more voice added to the chorus of voices in support of a recovery.
Oracle Says Market’s Recovering But SAP’s Unraveling – Global CIO Blog – InformationWeek

A QuickBooks Blog Entry

Block does a good job of pointing out the advantages of QuickBooks vis-a-vis Peachtree here. If you are thinking of purchasing one or the other, you might want to consider his ideas.
He is correct that there are a large number of QB add-ons, and that the SDK provides an API (application programmer interface) that is very functional. I suspect however, that the number of downloads of the SDK indicates more that it is free and there is interest than that this many products will be built for QuickBooks. One should also know that some of the add-ons will not work together so if you need one, you’re good. If you need two, be sure they are compatible.
The point that is omitted is that almost no one purchases QuickBooks because it has all the features they need. They purchase it because it is (a) very inexpensive (I almost wrote cheap), and (b) many bookkeepers and CPAs know it. These are very important considerations, and are part of the reason that Data Guidance Group supports the product.
However, with any software selection, it is important to understand the needs of the business before purchasing. There are some things that QuickBooks does not do or does not do well which indicate a need for other options. There are also things that SAP or J D Edwards does not do or does not do well. All of these need to be considered.
To put it succinctly, a partner in the CPA firm I worked for 20 years ago once asked me, “What is the best computer?”
My answer (still): “That all depends on what you are trying to do.” QuickBooks vs. Peachtree, QuickBooks add-ons

New Version of Outlook Sync for Dynamics NAV 5.0

When Dynamics NAV 5.0 came out, one of the revisions to the product that I liked the most was the Outlook Sync revision. In the previous version, the Sync was real time, but I had problems with it. It duplicated data in both Contacts and Appointments, and I always wanted to be able to extract data from NAV into Outlook.
5.0 offered me this ability. There’s a new release of the sync product. It’s basically a re-do of some key areas. Take a look at the MS blog entry and tell us what you think.
MSDN Blog Postings サ Outlook Integration Update for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0