Growing Pains – Accommodating Business Growth Beyond Sage 50
By Sinéad Hayes Sales & Marketing Manager, Advent
I recently met up with a Sage 50 user, Tom who runs a medium sized distribution business. Tom has been using the software for many years. His company just loves the software – in his opinion it is so easy to use and has really helped the business to get to where it is today.
So, we chatted more about the business, the challenges they face and the opportunities that lie ahead. Tom has worked in the business a long time (although he would not give me any specific number!) and it is apparent that he along with his team is driven, focused and passionate about the business.
As we evolved the conversation into looking ahead to the future, it became apparent that Sage 50 really wasn’t going to be a long term solution. Cracks are beginning to appear and although it is all working fine at the moment, Tom was concerned about a few areas in particular. What if I add another 1, 2 or 3 users? Tom’s Sage 50 is already at 9 users, so adding a few more licenses will mean he will soon reach a cul-de-sac as 10 is the maximum.
My Sage 50 slows down occasionally, what is the solution? As you reach higher user numbers and transaction volumes, Sage 50 customers may experience performance issues. We suggested as a short term measure that Tom reviews his hardware/network, but ultimately the Sage 50 database is not designed for large volumes of transactions, so this is something that Tom will need to take into consideration in the short term.
Expanding Into New Markets
What if I expand into new markets – can my system manage all of the complexities with foreign currency transactions? Tom was looking to buy and sell in different currencies without necessarily having a bank account in that currency. There are some limitations with Sage 50 that we discussed in more detail.
What if the result of my expansion results in a significant increase in transaction volumes – I am already processing quite a large volume – what impact will this have? Tom is already putting through more than double the recommended transaction volume level in Sage 50. Sage 50 was not designed to handle high transaction volumes, so this is certainly something to take into account.
I am looking at setting up a few new divisions and some other levels of analysis that I need to report on – what are my options? The key point is for Tom to take a close look at what information he will need to see at the end of the day, week, month and then decide how that information gets into the system. I suggested that Tom should review his chart of accounts – although it is likely that he will require further levels of analysis than his Sage 50 system will allow.
With new product lines coming on board, Tom has decided to open up a separate warehouse in Galway. How will I manage this in Sage 50? Ideally, Sage 50 only works in a single stock location environment. When it comes to moving stock between locations, receiving stock into particular bin numbers, stock taking by bin, then Sage 50 will not be the ideal solution.
With these new product lines, Tom will be required to implement batch controls, so that he has full traceability on goods coming in and out. This will pose some difficulties for Sage 50 as it is not designed to track batches.
More and more, my department managers are looking for specific reports.
Writing and customizing reports is beginning to take longer as the demand grows from both Management and Customers. Can Sage 50 do more for me in this regard? We looked at Tom’s reporting requirements and although the requirements are not complex, the complexity comes with the volume of reports and variations required. We concluded that perhaps a Business Intelligence tool would be more beneficial for Tom.
Before leaving Tom to get on with his job, Tom finally posed a question on integration. How can I tie up some of the different databases I have to make our processes more efficient? Tom is using a separate e-marketing tool, sales database and purchase order authorization system. None of these systems link back to Sage. Tom was concerned that as the business grows, managing all of these separate systems will get out of control.
All in all, we covered a lot of ground. It is great to see that a growing family business has used Sage 50 for so long and it has served its purpose very well. As Tom now looks ahead, it is very clear that he will need to plan for the future. He will need to take stock of where he wants to go, so that he will not find the business being held back because the software is not capable of expansion.
I reassured Tom that in looking ahead, he can move quite easily from his Sage 50 system to Sage 200. Staying with Sage means that the data can be migrated (retaining historic transactions) and the users will already be familiar with the “look and feel” as both Sage 50 and 200 look very similar.
Tom has a great insight into the opportunities that exist for his business. He is determined to succeed and is convinced that having the right systems in place will bring him to the next level.