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Sage Software, Inc. — Sage Accpac 500 ERP

the Dec. 2006 Review of High-End Accounting Systems

Sage Accpac 500 ERP (enterprise resource planning) is one of the most powerful
members of Sage Software’s mid-market business management systems portfolio.
The system includes a full suite of modules including core accounting, distribution,
project accounting, and a number of enhancements called “Accpac Options.”
It also provides tight integration with a number of other business management
systems — including CRM (customer relationship management), HR (human
resources), e-commerce, WMS (warehouse management system), EDI (electronic data
interchange) and POS (point-of-sale) — to form a complete “end-to-end”
solution for a medium-sized business or small enterprise.

Version 5.4 was released earlier this year and introduced a cornucopia of
new features (267 by Sage’s count) across the various modules. Some of
the more notable enhancements include multilevel bills of material, customer
refunds, credit checking, more extensive drilldown across the various modules,
and the addition of an RMA (return merchandise authorization) module. Version
5.4 will also run on 64-bit Intel Pentium and AMD processors.

Modules/Scalability — 5 Stars
Similar to other mid-market packages, Sage Accpac 500 ERP has an extensive list
of core accounting and distribution modules. Accounting modules include: GL,
GL Security, GL Consolidations, Multicurrency, Optional Fields, AP, AR, National
Accounts Management, Project and Job Costing and U.S. and Canadian Payroll.
Bank and Tax services are built in to the System Manager module. The distribution
suite includes Purchase Order, Order Entry, Inventory Control and Return Merchandise
Authorization, as well as a number of powerful analysis tools including Item
Inquiry, Ops Inquiry and Sales Analysis. One drawback of the Accpac system is
that serial and lot tracking functionality are not included in the inventory
module and must be purchased as separate enhancements.

While Sage Accpac 500 ERP lacks its own manufacturing modules, Version 5.4
now allows companies doing assembly work to set up multi-level bills of materials
in inventory along with support for sales kits. For the manufacturer, third-party
add-on developer MISys, Inc. offers an advanced suite of modules written using
the Accpac Solution Developer Kit (SDK). The capabilities of these modules rival
any mid-market manufacturing package and include purchasing and multi-level
bill of materials, MRP (manufacturing resource planning), planning and scheduling,
work orders, shop floor control and product configuration.

With an extensive module list and broad feature set, Sage Accpac 500 ERP represents
a great solution for a broad range of industries and companies in the mid-market.
Yet, there are specific modules and features of the program that make it a particularly
good fit in certain environments. International companies with multicurrency
and/or multi-language requirements are one example. Service-based organizations
have always been a strong suit. Another example is businesses needing operating
system or database platform independence and flexibility. Sage Accpac ERP supports
and can be run on both Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems, including
the ability to run Linux and Windows clients in parallel against the same database.
Sage Accpac ERP provides users the freedom to choose from a variety of databases,
including IBM DB2 (a three-user DB2 license is included free of charge with
a license of Sage Accpac ERP), Pervasive.SQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server,
in addition to deploying on either the Microsoft, Linux or IBM OS400 operating
systems. It can also be deployed either on premises, or hosted online (
And if that’s not enough, the entire Sage Accpac ERP product line can
run natively from a web browser (all data-entry screens are actually ActiveX
controls), making it a great solution for the occasional mobile user and branch
office locations without having to deploy additional infrastructure to support
this functionality.

Sage Accpac ERP is quite scalable, as it comes in three different editions:
Accpac 100, which is limited to five concurrent users; Accpac 200, which scales
to 10 concurrent users; and Accpac 500, supporting unlimited users. Advantageous
to the end user is the ability to move from Sage Accpac 100 ERP to 200 to 500
with no data conversion or end-user retraining. Essentially, an upgrade is simply
purchasing the next level of the Sage Accpac ERP family. The bottom line is
that a very small company can begin with Accpac 100 and grow all the way to
a small enterprise without having to undergo the pain and suffering of a single
software conversion, relearning the product or losing any customizations or
enhancements that have been developed and put in place along the way. Talk about
an upgrade path!

Usability/User Experience/Security — 5 Stars
Similar to some other mid-market solutions, Sage Accpac 500 ERP has a Windows
Explorer look and feel. The modules are listed down the left-hand side, with
specific tasks and icons located on the right-hand side of the screen. Tasks
are associated with various icons. Users who wish to simplify their experience
with the program can set up custom folders with user-defined tasks and reports.
The vendor has gone to great lengths to design screens that enable users that
are tasked with more traditional heads-down data entry to enter all required
data from a single screen (i.e., without the need to click on a lot of other
supporting tabs, buttons or drilldown windows).

Information drilldown and drill-around capabilities are extensive, quickly
enabling a user to access transaction details starting from a trial balance,
account inquiry or company financial statement, all the way back to source transactions.
Sage Accpac 500 ERP can also be deployed in a web-browser, which eliminates
the need to install the program on each local workstation. The web interface
is clean and intuitive, especially to users comfortable with web-based applications.
While this appears to be a unique strength of the program, many users report
performance issues running it via a web browser over the Internet, so we recommend
that potential users keep this in mind as they evaluate the potential of this
product in their environment. (Sage Accpac product management notes that it
is aware of these concerns and is working to address them.)

Security in the system is very strong with the ability to restrict activity
by function. A nice security feature is the ability to remove modules, tasks,
reports, etc., from the screen if a user is not authorized. This removes clutter
from the screen and potential user confusion.

ITA Survey Feedback for Sage Accpac 500 ERP
Competitive Advantages:
• Mature product with robust feature set
• Deep expertise and experience in the reseller channel
• Flexible deployment options (on-premise, web, hosted)
• Ease of integration with other source solutions
• Ease of development of customizations

Competitive Disadvantages:
• No manufacturing module (only available as an add-on from third parties)
• Brand recognition is weak despite the strength and popularity of the
product in many markets
• No workflow; no dashboard

Areas for Improvement:
• Improve project job costing to appeal to the masses
• Introduce better not-for-profit vertical solutions

Extensibility — 5 Stars
The Sage Accpac SDK and APIs enable developers to write applications to extend
the functionality of Sage Accpac 500 ERP. Since the program is such an international
product, developers from all corners of the globe have created a number of very
impressive enhancements for manufacturing, service management, credit card processing,
PO workflow, fixed asset management, warehouse management and more. As mentioned
earlier, a number of products and services are available directly from Sage
Software that integrate with Sage Accpac 500 ERP and provide solutions for almost
any aspect of a business. These include the following: Sage CRM (Customer Relationship
Management), Sage Accpac HR Series (Human Resource Management), Sage Accpac
ePOS (Point of Sale), Sage Accpac WMS (Warehouse Management and Automation),
Sage Accpac Exchange (EDI), Sage Payroll Services, Sage Accpac Insight (business
intelligence tool), Sage Accpac FAS (fixed asset management), and eCommerce
for Sage Accpac ERP.

Integration/Customization — 5 Stars
Sage Accpac 500 ERP does a very nice job of “playing well” with
other systems. It enables end users to import or export data from virtually
any data-entry screen in various formats including Excel, *.CSV, Access, XML
and ODBC. Unlike most other products, this functionality is included with the
system and does not require the purchase of an additional module. In addition,
Sage Software has exposed the Accpac business logic to Visual Basic for Applications
(VBA), enabling users or developers to call the functionality of the Accpac
product from within their own applications, thereby eliminating the need to
untangle and reverse engineer through complex table schema and program logic
in order to create high-quality integrations. Native Accpac screens can be modified
to include buttons that launch third-party applications or execute additional
VBA code. Using the Transaction Analysis and Optional Fields module, Sage Accpac
500 ERP provides for an unlimited number of user-defined fields across the product,
both at the master (customer, vendor, item, etc.) level, as well as the transaction
header and/or detail distribution level.

Reporting — 5 Stars
Sage Accpac 500 ERP offers a number of exceptional reporting options. Included
in every module is a bevy of standard reports. Custom reports can be created
using Crystal Reports (not included in the system) and then exported to various
formats including *.PDF, *.CSV, Word Excel, XML, etc. Financial reporting is
accomplished via a Microsoft Excel DLL (Dynamic Link Library) that’s included
with the GL module, enabling users to link an Excel spreadsheet directly to
underlying Accpac data. Cells can be linked to the GL accounts and then formatted
using traditional Excel commands, providing users with the ability to quickly
produce professional looking financial statements. Drilldown from the financial
statements into source transaction data was previously added in Version 5.3B.

Other reporting options available for an additional fee include the following:
Accpac Query (a free form inquiry and reporting tool), Sage Accpac Insight (a
business intelligence tool that provides sophisticated reporting, budgeting
and consolidations capabilities for Sage Accpac ERP and other databases), and
Financial Link Professional (an advanced GL reporting tool that allows for more
flexible reporting and consolidation across multiple company data sets). And
of course, Sage Accpac 500 ERP can use any of the traditional Microsoft Office
modules (Word, Excel, Access, etc.) or any other ODBC capable product for reporting
and analysis since all Accpac data is accessible via ODBC.

Support, Training & Help — 5 Stars
Sage Accpac 500 ERP has a number of support, training and Help options available
for end users. The Help screens are thorough and provide traditional assistance
with indexing and a full glossary. The software assurance program (available
to all customers for 18 percent of the total cost of the software) provides
an online know-ledgebase with answers to various technical questions. Sage Software
offers unlimited telephone technical support to Accpac users for $1,500 per
year. Training is available in a variety of formats through Sage Software University
(, which offers classroom or online training
for Sage Accpac users of all skill levels.
Finally, an extensive network of resellers and consultants provide technical
support, troubleshooting and training to Accpac users.

Overall Assessment
Sage Accpac 500 ERP is a full-featured, technologically advanced product for
mid-market companies in a wide variety of industries. For professional service
companies, international companies, and those who desire flexibility with operating
systems and/or databases, it should be considered as one of the primary products
of choice. While previously lacking selected features found in other systems
in the core distribution modules, Sage Accpac 500 ERP has done a terrific job
of closing the gaps in recent versions. With an advanced technology platform,
a strong internal development team and a host of fine development partners worldwide,
Sage Accpac 500 ERP should remain one of the premier ERP solutions available
to mid-market companies.

2006 Overall Rating: 5 Stars