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Sage Software, Inc. — Sage BusinessWorks Accounting

From the September 2005 Review of Mid-Range
Accounting Software

Sage BusinessWorks Accounting (formerly BusinessWorks Gold) is a mid-sized
business accounting option that bundles general financial management modules
for GL, AP and AR along with cash management, inventory, order entry, payroll,
job costing and utility functions. The system uses the Pervasive SQL database
engine and supports up to 20 concurrent users. The CPA Technology Advisor reviewed
the new version 6 of the product. In addition to the re-branded name, several
new features and enhancements have been added to this latest version. New features
and enhancements include additional options for record lookup; enhanced drill
down capabilities; the ability to create POs from sales orders; and incorporation
of the Sage Software Information Center into the interface, which provides news
about the software as well as tips and tricks, product alerts and training and
support information.

Each of the system modules is available individually, with the exception of
the System Manager and GL, which are required for use of any of the other modules.
Sage Software also offers bundled packages that include one of the vendor’s
annual software maintenance plans. The Core Bundle, which includes the GL, AP
and AR modules plus the basic maintenance plan costs $1,195 for a single user;
$3,495 for five users. Other modules cost $595 each, regardless of user licenses,
with the exception of the Cash Management system, which is currently free to
BusinessWorks users, and the Custom Office solution, which is $395. After the
first year, annual maintenance plans start at $575.

Sage BusinessWorks uses a browser-like interface for its primary navigation
screen (called the Launcher), which provides browser-like navigation buttons
along with a few icons for accessing tasks within the various modules. However,
the icons can be turned off in favor of a “menu bar” by selecting
the View menu and choosing Menu Bar. Tasks can also be launched from the HTML
Task List. To access the HTML style menu, select the “Task List”
link from the Start Page. From there, you can choose to see all tasks for a
module or just the most frequent tasks. The screen also provides a URL address
bar with history function, and a left-hand vertical menu of utilities, user
shortcuts, help and reference materials and other items. For clarification,
the interface actually is a browser (not just browser-like), but it is a little
awkward in its appearance, and the browser attributes do not necessarily lend
(or subtract) value to the system. On the other hand, the quick access to the
various items in the vertical menu adds definite value.

The system takes a more traditional approach to data entry, with subwindow
screens that provide data lookup for fields such as customer and vendor, invoice
numbers, account numbers and other items, along with calendar-based date selection.
Screens remain generally consistent through various types of data entry and
provide additional assistance through buttons specific to the task at hand,
such as customizing invoice headers, entering notes or looking up customer historical
data. Data is recorded in real-time across pertinent areas of the system as
soon as the user posts a transaction. Additional customization options further
ease use of Sage BusinessWorks, and sortable/searchable/filterable lists for
customers, vendors and inventory items simplify finding specific information.

Sage BusinessWorks includes system security functions that can restrict user
access at multiple levels, from broad restrictions at the company
or module level to specific tasks. A complete audit trail is also maintained,
tracking all transactions and adjustments. The program can support multiple
companies and can consolidate data for multiple entities. Account descriptions
can hold up to 50 characters, with support for up to 999 departments. The GL
maintains nine years’ worth of financial history per company, and the
AP and AR modules maintain up to five years’
history for vendors and customers, respectively. The flexible receivables module
also allows users to set up automatic posting of recurring invoices and can
automatically factor taxes for multiple jurisdictions.

The inventory module can store up to 500,000 parts/items, including substitutes,
and allows FIFO, LIFO, average and standard costing. It offers up to 25 price
levels per item, including price breaks and other discount methods. The system
can be set to accommodate up to 99 warehouse locations. The free Cash Management
module provides bank reconciliation features, cash flow reports and forecasting

Sage BusinessWorks’ internal integration is smooth, and the system also
offers integration capabilities with ACT! It can import data from text and ASCII
files through a mapping protocol, and can export documents into Word and Excel.
Additionally, the system’s Custom Office module includes a mail-merge
function and access to Excel-based reporting and analysis tools. The Attachment
Manager aids in paper quantity management (paperless endeavors) by allowing
users to attach images, audio files, and Word and Excel documents directly to
account records, customers, items, jobs or employees.

REPORTING — 4.5 Stars
Sage BusinessWorks includes more than 200 customizable reports that can include
graphical elements such as graphs and charts using the system’s built-in
report writer or through integration with Crystal Reports or F9. Reports are
easily accessed within the system because of links within the modules that go
directly to reports related to that module’s functions. For example, the
GL’s report menu contains detailed financials, the audit trail and other
fiscal reports; and AR has aging, sales analyses and client histories, among
others. All reports can be output to Excel, Word, HTML, *.CSV or plain text,
or directly e-mailed from within the system.

BusinessWorks includes numerous assistance features throughout the program,
most notably help and “How do I” buttons on all transaction screens.
An online support site offers further assistance, and user guides are available
as well. Sage Software offers three support/maintenance plans that include payroll
tables and program updates.

Sage BusinessWorks is a very capable program, particularly for manufacturing,
construction and inventory-centric businesses. The system’s modules provide
simple transaction entry while maintaining sufficient managerial reporting and

2005 Overall Rating — 4.5 Stars