Sage Accounts 50
Whilst Sage Accounts 50 continues to deliver a strong performance for accounting purposes the needs of businesses that use Sage 50 to meet manufacturing and contact management requirements cannot be met easily.
Previous articles have detailed how Sage 50 Manufacturing is no longer being developed by Sage UK but for those that purchased Sage Manufacturing in the past, the software can still be used in a constructive way to support their business.
Contact relationship management or CRM has historically been considered a software type used only by businesses that run large marketing campaigns or have a large sales team.
In our experience, this is no longer the case. Many SME’s already have a contact management system deployed or are reviewing the best option for their business to enable them to deploy one.
We don’t need a CRM system
Every business needs to ‘sell’ their products. Enquiries, quotations, communications and orders need to have a clear audit trail on a central system. Whether there is a dedicated internal or external sales team or ‘selling’ is achieved through great customer service and advice, information around a ‘sale’ either pre or post delivery needs to be documented accurately, promoting efficiency but most importantly providing the best customer experience possible.
During a recent analysis for one of our customers there was at least one hour per central team member (accounts, customer service and technical), per day that was spent on looking in various silos for different information to get the ‘full’ picture to be able to do their job. If there are 7 central team members – that is one man hour a day that lost to digging around for information or asking colleagues ‘what the latest’ is regarding a customer interaction.
OK – We now accept we need CRM
Users of Sage 50 who rely on CRM to manage their customer and supplier communication history have to rely on a third-party software that interfaces with Sage 50 Accounts. As is the way of the software industry – CRM applications are now commonly only offered on a cloud-based subscription.
Customers that may have made an historic purchase of CRM software – ACT for example (which was owned by Sage for a number of years) are now facing the need to move to the subscription model to ensure that the integration with current versions of Sage Accounts 50 that are installed remain intact.
If you are using Sage Accounts 50 and Sage Manufacturing
Customers who use Sage Manufacturing and Sage 50 Accounts have a further conundrum of not being able to move their IT infrastructure to the Cloud as Sage Manufacturing is not available as a software as a service model, which then forces Azure hosting to achieve ‘Cloud’ status which is another additional cost.
Third party contact management tools carry a great deal of functionality. Often – unless you are the big business with the big sales team and dedicated marketing department – you will not need anything as comprehensive as a market leader such as Salesforce provides in their licensing. Often – it is just overspend and overkill.
We must also consider the issue of ‘synchronisation’. If there is more than one data base being used, they need to synchronise with each other. It is true to say that software providers have built in ‘automatic updating’ to improve the issue but the fact remains – interfaced software solutions are not looking at the same information at the same time.
But your business still needs CRM to:
- RECORD – Log calls or incidental customer intelligence
- ADVISE– Raise quotations
- SELL – Convert quotations to orders
- INFORM – Attach emails to the customer contact
- ORGANISE – Link drawings and documents to the contact card to support quotes and provide clarity
- MANAGE – Set tasks for yourself or a relevant colleague to provide excellent customer service
- TARGET – Run segmented marketing campaigns to announce new product launches or to target the sale of consumables
- SAVE TIME – Allow the team to have a real time view of a customer’s activity across communications, quotes, invoices and credit control activity.
- PLAN – Arrange and track site visits by sales or technical team members and link visit reports
- MONITOR – Every manager needs to understand how effective customer interactions are and thus identify where improvements can be made.
The benefits of a single SaaS system
Businesses are increasingly reviewing the availability of SaaS software so that a single database integrated solution can be used to service Accounting, Manufacturing and Contact Management requirements.
Dynamics 365 Business Central in both its Essentials (Accounts, BOM and Assembly Orders) and Premium (+Service Management and full MRP) are automatically provisioned with CRM. The fact that this solution runs from a single database means that information is stored centrally, real time. The fact that this solution is accessed via a web browser means that off site sales and technical staff can view and add information from any device that has an internet connection. A Microsoft SaaS solution is also customisable via extensions technology so not only do you have the benefit of avoiding the upgrade installation and future upgrades costs of on premise, server installed software – you have the benefits of tailoring the software for your business.
How do the costs stack up against investment already made in existing Sage software?
When working with customers to identify what is the best next move for them, we consider together:
- Current costs for Sage Accounting software and how the software meets their needs
- Current costs for Sage Manufacturing software and contingencies for improving performance as development as now ceased
- Current or future costs of CRM licensing and potential interface performance issues
- Current server and infrastructure costs of hosting software on premise (replacement server costs, server support, firewall, on-line back-ups)
Thought for the Day
If you are a current Sage 50 Accounts and Manufacturing user and are using a third party CRM or have identified the need to deploy one for the first time, upgrading your use of disparate or even interfaced solutions to a single integrated one has got to be worth exploring some time soon.
An integrated ERP for accounting and operations that provides you with the CRM you need will not just save you money it will make you money by increasing productivity and providing the best customer service possible.
Call Qi to understand how all your Sage data can be comprehensively moved to Dynamics 365 Business Central and how your particular return on investment stacks up.