Like many of its customers, Sage is undergoing a reinvention.
For a variety of reasons, most small businesses balk at turning over control of their applications and data to the cloud; they happily run accounting software suites like Sage's on-premises. Yet, the software industry has clearly set course on a cloud-based trajectory.
With the release of Sage 300c and 100c, Sage aims to bridge both worlds, particularly for the company's longtime customers, according to Diane Haines, vice president of product marketing at Sage. "We're modernizing our accounting software portfolio," she told Small Business Computing. "It's a multi-year journey for us."
"These products have been around for 30 years" and have built both a loyal following and a broad customer base, she added. Bringing small business accounting software into the modern era of mobile work styles and cloud connectivity requires a deft touch.
With 300c and 100c, Haines believes Sage strikes just the right balance.
Accounting Software Balances On-premises with Cloud Benefits
Gauging the attitudes of its on-premises accounting software customers, Sage found that "the majority aren't sure [about transitioning to the cloud], but they see the benefits of mobility," Haines said. "Server-huggers are going to be last to move to the cloud."
Sage adds many of the benefits of the cloud computing experience—namely focused user experiences and mobile connectivity—to its customers. "We provide them choice," Haines said. "People will move to the cloud in larger and larger quantities, but it doesn't mean you have to choose one or the other."
Sage 300c, a financial and business-process software suite for small businesses with multiple locations or complex operations, now features a mobile-friendly financial module that works with any device with an Internet browser. And it won't stop there. Haines revealed that Sage will revamp the software's user interface "over the next few months.
Inventory or warehouse managers will no longer have to rush back to their desks or crack open a laptop to access reports and manage stock. A wirelessly-connected iPad is all they need.
Whether employees access Sage 300c from a mobile device or from a full-blown desktop PC, they'll notice a welcome change in terms of the application's look and usability. A new, streamlined homepage displays customizable key performance indicators (KPI).
Updated general-ledger and accounts-payable screens are uncluttered and intuitive. Sage traded its decidedly old-school, Windows 95-era look and feel for fields, tabs, and menus that support mobile workflows.
Another benefit: IT simplification. When delivering a desktop experience via Citrix or over a virtual private network (VPN), "performance has always been a problem," said Haines, not to mention the complexity it adds to a small business network. Sage 300c's secure, built-in mobile-access support lets small business owners sidestep those concerns.
Sage focused on an all-new, customizable interface for Sage 100c—a program designed for SMBs that want to unite their accounting with their business processes. Similar to 300c, the software sports new streamlined screens that customers can adapt to fit their needs.
Sage 100c also sets the stage for more automated processes, including sales tax management, tax reporting, and monthly bank reconciliation. The software's general ledger uses the company's dual-grid data entry model for increased accuracy and improved efficiency.
If and when Sage's so-called "server huggers" make the move to the cloud, Haines said her company stands ready to help small businesses capitalize on its many benefits. For example, Sage 50c's cloud-based data-storage capabilities let a small business to better "collaborate with their bookkeeper and accountant." This eliminates the need to cart around a stack of printouts. "Your accountant can access the data in the cloud."
Sage 300c and 100c are available now. Prices start at $75 per month and $45 per month, respectively.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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