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Sage Software, Inc. — Sage MAS 500 ERP 7.0

the Dec. 2006 Review of High-End Accounting Systems

Sage Software MAS 500 ERP targets the upper mid-market space and represents
the most powerful member of Sage Software’s strong lineup of mid-market
accounting solutions, which also includes Sage Accpac ERP, Sage Pro ERP, Sage
MAS 90 and MAS 200 ERP, and Sage PFW ERP. First released in 1997, the system
has grown to a full suite of modules that includes distribution, manufacturing
and project accounting. MAS 500 was developed from the ground up, exclusively
using Microsoft tools (Visual Basic, Visual and Microsoft SQL Server)
and is optimized to take advantage of the Microsoft platform in ways that competing
multi-platform products cannot.

Version 7.0 introduced significant enhancements to the Sage MAS 500 distribution
suite that included streamlined distribution workflow, warehouse management
and automation (pick, pack and ship from radio frequency devices), Accounts
Payable – Accounts Receivable invoice settlement, support for phantom
routings in manufacturing, enhanced expense tracking and project approval within
their TimeSheet module, and Business Insights Explorer — a powerful, integrated
business intelligence tool that leverages Microsoft’s .NET technology.

Modules/Scalability — 5 Stars
Generally speaking, Sage MAS 500 is ideally suited for companies with 50 to
over 1,000 employees, high transaction volume environments, or complex environments
that require extensive customization or integration with a specialized vertical
application. Sage MAS 500 is available in three editions: Small Business (10
or fewer concurrent users), Standard Edition (up to 50 users) and Enterprise
Edition (50 plus users for the SQL Enterprise Environment). Sage MAS 500 can
be separated into a number of functional categories including the following:
core accounting and advanced financials, wholesale distribution, discrete manufacturing,
project accounting, customer relationship management, e-Business, human resources
and payroll, and business intelligence. Core accounting includes GL, AR, AP,
Cash Management, Fixed Asset Accounting, Advanced Consolidations and Multicurrency.
GL includes built-in capabilities to handle Intercompany Transactions, which
typically requires an additional module in most other systems. One of the other
features that sets Sage MAS 500 apart from the competition is the ability to
provide a secondary tag for all transactions, thus allowing the user to analyze
GL transactions by codes that could represent a salesperson, employee, project,

Manufacturing options include Light Manufacturing (back flush only capability),
Advanced Manufacturing (full work order processing with labor, material and
outside processing entry), MRP, Advanced Scheduling, Product Configurator, Estimating,
and Engineering Change Management modules. The wholesale distribution suite
includes Purchase Order, Sales Order, Inventory Management, RMA, and Advanced
Kitting. The 7.0 release added modules for warehouse automation and warehouse
management, including support for handheld barcode scanners. Inventory also
includes a very robust demand replenishment module that factors in user-defined
demand, safety stock and lead time formulas to forecast demand. Sage Software
consulted directly with inventory management guru John Schreibfeder in developing
this module. Project Accounting includes remote time and expense capture and
built-in integration to Microsoft Project.

Sage MAS 500 business intelligence tools include an executive dashboard and
robust analysis tools, including eExecutive and Business Insights Analyzer (BIA).
Business Insights Explorer (BIE) extends BIA to include ad hoc inquiry, drilldown
and drill-around functionality. The BIA and BIE tools can be used to analyze
data in pivot and chart views; export data to Excel, Word and XML formats; and
easily create reports using the Business Objects report creation wizard.

Usability/User Experience/Security — 5 Stars
Data-entry screens are well-organized, intuitive and easy to use. Multiple tabs
are used in a number of cases to prevent screens from becoming too crowded.
Using the Customizer module, screens can be modified for users, groups or specific
companies to hide or disable fields and add or remove tab stops. A right mouse-click
yields context-sensitive Help for any field as well as contextual menus for
accounts, vendors, customers, orders, transaction numbers, and inventory items.
All of these options provide extensive drilldown and drill-around capability
with context-sensitive access to BIE or BIA. For instance, a user might start
by viewing a GL transaction for a sales entry, drill back to the source invoice,
drill to that particular customer’s information or ledger, and finally
navigate to sales history for that customer for a specified period of time —
all without ever using the menu tree.

Ample lookups are provided on all screens using the Sage MAS 500 Navigator
that allow the user to easily search using simple strings or advanced filters
involving multiple fields and criteria. The Navigator can be customized to add
or remove columns and to save specific filters. Search results obtained from
a Navigator query can be exported to Excel. Tasks are organized by module in
a consistent manner from module to module, and users may define their own personal
task list coinciding with their workflow. Task menus can also be designed and
saved for specific users or roles. Sage MAS 500 Office allows users to easily
attach documents to just about any record.

As mentioned above, Sage MAS 500 version 7.0 introduced significant workflow
enhancements to the Sales Order module including a personalized grid interface
that provides for efficient line entry based on individual user preferences.
As with any grid in Sage MAS 500, the user can easily export contents to Excel
with a simple right-click. Security is role-based and is easily set up using
a grid entry checklist to define security for each task. Supervisor, Normal,
Display and Exclude permission levels can be assigned for each task. Permission
for security events such as price override or credit limit override can also
be assigned to a role. Optionally, users can have a unified login that allows
Sage MAS 500 to authenticate using a Windows logon.

Extensibility — 4.5 Stars
The Sage MAS 500 Application Framework (essentially a software development kit)
and its extensive library of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) allows
companies that have in-house Microsoft Visual Basic and SQL programming resources
to easily extend the functionality of Sage MAS 500 or integrate third-party
applications. This capability is important since the relative youth of the Sage
MAS 500 product means that the population of third-party enhancements available
remains somewhat limited. However, robust third-party integrated applications
for process manufacturing, direct mail order, and service management have been
developed using the Sage MAS 500 Application Framework. Sage MAS 500 e-Business
modules also provide solutions for customer self service, order entry and sales
force automation over the web. While integration to Sage Software’s Payroll
and Fixed Asset solutions are included in Sage MAS 500, integration to its two
mid-market CRM solutions is not as robust as what may be found in a few other
competing products. Sage recently acquired DynaLink, which provides Sage MAS
500 integration to Sage CRM SalesLogix, and integration to Sage CRM is available
through a third-party developer called Greytrix.

Integration/Customization — 5 Stars
With source code and a software development kit available to purchase along
with an extensive list of APIs, Sage MAS 500 may arguably be the product of
choice for any company looking to replace a highly customized legacy system
or develop a unique vertical solution that must be integrated to an accounting
solution. Database schema and documentation is included with every copy of Sage
MAS 500. For those with only moderate customization requirements, the Customizer
module facilitates almost any change to the appearance of Sage MAS 500 screens
to improve data-entry speed and accuracy. It also provides the ability to add
an unlimited number of user-defined fields to any screen, though some programming
experience is required to accomplish the task. Custom controls that launch third-party
applications or execute additional programming code can also be added.

For those who need to import data into Sage MAS 500, a number of tools are
available to successfully accomplish the easiest and most difficult type of
import. Master files (customers, vendors, inventory items and GL accounts) can
be imported from ASCII or *.CSV files using import utilities included with each
module. Data Porter allows users to easily create and import data from an Excel
template. And finally, the Data Migrator module provides an import solution
for companies that are migrating from legacy or other accounting systems or
those that have sophisticated integration requirements. Exporting data from
Sage MAS 500 is easily done using BIA or BIE.

Reporting — 5 Stars
Sage MAS 500 offers a wide selection of reports for each module all developed
using Business Objects Crystal Reports Version 10. The report generation option
within the Business Insights tool lets the end user design the report and then
select specific fields, sort and selection criteria, and report grouping. Once
created, custom reports are easily added to the Sage MAS 500 menu tree. As with
any Crystal Report, all Sage MAS 500 reports can be easily printed, e-mailed,
previewed or exported to Excel, Word, *.PDF and a variety of other file formats.
The Business Insights tool also allows the user to easily create mail merges
using Microsoft Word.

Sage MAS 500 has built-in standard financial statements and also includes
Microsoft’s FRx Financial Report Writer to create and publish user-defined
financial statements and reports. Unique to Sage MAS 500 is its common report
interface that not only allows the user to specify multiple sort and selection
criteria, but also allows the user to define multiple non-contiguous selections
using “and/or” logic. For instance, a user may define a report that
includes account 4000, 5525 and 6650 and thereby exclude all accounts in between.

ITA Survey Feedback for Sage MAS 500 ERP
Competitive Advantages:
• Good vertical fit for distribution
• SQL database designed for high volume of activity
• Great inventory replenishment
• Very strong manufacturing functionality

Competitive Disadvantages:
• Relatively small installed base
• Fat client will require Citrix in large environments
• Not multi-lingual

Support, Training & Help — 4.5 Stars
Sage MAS 500 has readily available support, training, online context-sensitive
Help and online manuals. Three annual ClientCare support plans let the user
choose the service level they desire. The Subscription Plan includes all program
updates for one year and access to the Sage Online Knowledgebase that provides
24-hour-per-day access to solutions for thousands of common and not-so-common
technical questions. The Silver Plan provides unlimited telephone support for
the first 90 days and 20 additional cases after the first 90 days. The Gold
Plan provides unlimited phone support and discounts on classroom training sessions.

Overall Assessment
Though an excellent product overall, Sage MAS 500 does have certain gaps in
functionality and integration with other Sage Software products. The manufacturing
modules are missing a few features such as demand pegging and work order splitting
that are commonly found in other competing mid-market manufacturing solutions.
Third-party alternatives written using the Application Framework have plugged
some of these holes. Integration with Sage Software’s CRM applications
is weak and needs some real attention from the vendor’s development resources.
Sage MAS 500 also lacks any multi-lingual capabilities, and, as a result, may
not represent the best fit for multi-national companies.

Notwithstanding minor weaknesses, Sage MAS 500 should be on the short list
of any company that is looking for a mid-market ERP solution that will adapt
to and grow with their business for years to come. Sage MAS 500 offers a complete,
robust, highly adaptable enterprise management solution. Particularly, it represents
an excellent fit for distributors and discrete manufacturers as well as other
high-transaction volume businesses that demand a good deal of customization
to meet their business requirements. The product is well engineered and easy
to install, and maintenance does not require a full-time database administrator.
Core accounting and distribution modules contain rich functionality, some of
which is difficult to find in some of the larger tier-one ERP systems.

2006 Overall Rating: 5 Stars