These are raw unadulterated notes I just received from Robert Wood of DDF Consulting who is a Sage Business Partner and MAS 90 consultant from Starke Florida which summarize the popular “Road Ahead” session given yesterday at Sage’s Insights 2009 Business Partner Conference in Nashville.
I may have missed something or misinterpreted something. Since I’m typing this pretty late, I may have mistyped something.
Wayne Note: References to Erika and Roberta are for Erika Jelovsek and Roberta Vigil of Sage who while they may have held different titles through the years have always been there patiently answering the annoying questions of Business Partners like Robert and me. A great amount of thanks goes to Erika and Roberta for putting up with us answering questions like these which I’m sure they are asked thousands of times during the course of Insights.
The information below is preliminary and based on expected features for product(s) that have yet to ship. Therefore all timelines and features are preliminary and tentative — and subject to change without notice.
Use this information as a guideline and not an authoritative list of features. The summarized information is believed accurate but if we’ve missed something or stated it wrong – blame Schulz Consulting – and not Sage – as this is our summary of the session.
Changes in MAS 90/200 4.4:
Customer number will be 20 characters. For existing users there is a setting to convert from seven characters, but once that setting is changed, there is no going back.
All new implementations will have 20 character customer numbers. This is in addition to the two digit division.
Item numbers will be 30 characters. Same deal as customer numbers (once changed there’s no going back). Existing users can choose to move up. New implementations will be 30 characters.
Inventory transactions can now go up to four decimal places to match work orders. If you use the decimal places you no longer lose digits to the left of the decimal. This setting will be in Common Information. Also, CI_Item will be the item table whether inventory items, miscellaneous items, or saved comments.
MAS 90/200 4.4 will be the completion of the Framework.
What will happen to unconverted modules like payroll, work orders, and job cost? Sage is not sure yet. There was some discussion of “replacing” job cost with either a project accounting module or adding project accounting functionality to the core in some form.
WAYNE: I heard the same feedback from walking the trade show floor and talking to developers. In the product planning session for Sage MAS 90 and 200 I was left with the impression that Sage is not indicating that the remaining modules will NEVER be updated to the framework but rather the timeline is undetermined.
The Payroll modules seems like a slam dunk to upgrade since Sage indicated 50% (or slightly more) fo all Sage MAS 90 implementations use Payroll. The issue with a Payroll upgrade (both from stated reasons and behind the scenes chatter) is that it’s complex and the code being updated is from many years ago.
Several other changes with 4.4 are the addition of web services (more on that below), customizer enhancements (also more below), and parallel migrations. Not in the road ahead, but in the 4.4 preview session immediately afterward, Roberta Vigil demonstrated the parallel migration functionality. It’s basically the same steps we went through when converting from 3.71 to 4.x. The wizards all look the same. The logic is the same.
It (version 4.4) is scheduled to be released Q1 of 2010. (This is new release information as the prior date was Q4 2009).
They are adding scripting functionality to specific MAS 90/200 events that no longer require user interactions (no buttons).
You can establish validations on any column and works with the user interface, visual integrator, the business objects, and presumably the new web services.
You will be able to automatically total detail numeric UDFs to the header object and create cumulative calculations on multiple records and save to table or UDT during update. Example given was if you are totaling quantity sold by salesperson, you could have them update to a UDT or to a UDF in the salesperson table when the invoices are updated.
Going forward all VB scripting customizations will survive upgrades.
Small Business Edition will include Payroll as an option and Sage SPS Credit Card will be provided at no charge.
What are web services? Web services are the Business Objects optimized for use with the web. The demonstration was a website developed by ISM Barsa for Moonstruck Chocolatier (thanks Moonstruck for the free samples. No I’m not sharing.). It’s not online yet. The rep from ISM Barsa said the most difficult part of implementing the web services elements of the new website was ripping out the existing Business Objects code so they could implement with the new web services.
WAYNE: The go to person for web services is Angela Goldsmith of ISM Barsa – email@example.com – LinkedIn – ISM Barsa Web Site. I spoke to Angela several times about the web services and her company is providing some assistance to get this all running.
The first phase of web services will include Sales Orders, Contacts, Customers, and Credit Cards. Phase II will include Inventory Items and more. Again the stated purpose was to optimize the Business Objects for the next generation of e-commerce.
Stated benefits of web services: scalability and separate front end from back end. My interpretation was they were further splitting up the programming of the MAS 90/200 interface from the data layer for use in third party applications.
Challenges for implementing web services: knowledge for back end development and data mapping in and out is complex.
The Business Object interface was not designed for direct over the net communication and Web Services is designed for direct over the net communication.
WAYNE: My interpretation of the Web Services is that they’re cool new extensions for linking to third party shopping carts. In the product planning session for Sage MAS 90 and 200 I was left with the impression that while eBusiness will remain for the foreseeable future that these Web Services may become the “going forward” primary e-Business connection.
On the front page to MAS 90/200 Sage is adding links to the new Sage MAS Community forum and to their new hosted feedback solution, Ideascope. When you submit an enhancement request from Ideascope it will try to match your recommendation up with existing recommendations and allow you to say that your request matches one that already exists and add your vote to the tally or you can add yours as a new request. With the link to Ideascope on the front page in MAS 90/200 and not having to log into a website to make requests, it should make it easier for customers to submit their suggestions. Ideascope will be available soon. Erika did not give a date.
Applianz appears to be Sage’s solution for SAAS/Cloud Computing. Applianz appliances are currently available and supported by Sage for MAS 90/200 and MAS 500. EES should be supported with version 1.3 which is supposed to be available this summer. The holdup is apparently an issue with SageCRM’s incompatibility with Terminal Services, which is supposed to be corrected with version 1.3.
WAYNE: John Shaver – LinkedIn – Twitter – @john_shaver – over at Aries Technology Group goes through a local hosting company for those clients who don’t want to setup Sage MAS 90 on their servers. He likes this due to the benefits of having the software securely hosted off-site.
Other attendees discussed a standalone web enabled server such as Applianz which is another solution that allows for some remote configuration and might be thought of as “Sage MAS90 in a box”.
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What’s happening with FRx?
Sage hasn’t made a decision on a replacement and appears to be early on in their search for a replacement. Most customers prefer using Excel and want drill down, wizards, real time data, and simple conversions. While development has discontinued, Microsoft will continue to support FRx until December 2011, so Sage doesn’t feel huge pressure to make a decision.
WAYNE: General feedback was that FRX hasn’t broken in the last 5 years and probably will continue to work another 5 years – so there’s not a huge sense of urgency to move existing FRX users though certainly after 2010 (when FRX new sales end) there will need to be a different financial reporting solution bundled with General Ledger. We’ve received no indication on what the replacement for FRX will be though F9 or Biznet BizExcelarator are two leading candidates in my opinion.
Another big issue is PA-DSS compliance or Payment Application Data Security Standards. These are the rules that require credit numbers to be stored only in encrypted form and standards designed to protect consumers from credit card fraud. Sage has engaged an audit firm to get them certified by later this year.
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) compliance is something Sage is looking into and has in the works, but they are looking for feedback.
Some new features with MAS 90/200 EES (Extended Enterprise Suite) version 1.3 are:
- salesperson mapping to allow for divisions
- one salesperson in CRM can be mapped to the different required salespeople in MAS 90/200
- opportunities can be entered on the fly from CRM
- copying of orders from selected company will be allowed in CRM
- FAS will be updated to reflect the changes in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
- Fixed Asset Snapshots; Terminal Services support for SageCRM
- based on the MAS 90/200 4.3 code.
Planned features for MAS 90/200 EES 2.0 are:
- MAS 90/200 info in CRM User Interface
- Opportunities on the fly from MAS
- copy orders to/from any customer in CRM
- Fixed Assets 2010.1
- Role Based landing page in CRM
- CRM to support IE 8
- based on the MAS 90/200 4.4 code.
- scheduled to be released Spring 2010 or about a year from now.
- order entry screens in CRM will be the JavX screens from MAS 90/200, so they will have the dual entry lines in order entry and customizations from MAS 90/200 can be added to the JavX screens.
After MAS 90/200 EES 2.0: additional roles supported including purchasing agent and customer service (RMA); Multiple company support (one SageCRM database can update to multiple MAS 90/200 companies); and mobile solutions (Blackberry and iPhone), and business intelligence.
Future requests from customers for Sage MAS 90 and 200 enhancements are:
- electronic payments
- electronic bank reconciliations
- sales history for drop ships (ROBERT: which I thought they also said would be in 4.4)
- one click journal entry reversals.
Sage MAS 90/200 from 2010 and beyond:
- multi bin
- expand other IDs (Vendor Numbers, etc)
- positive pay
- include other Extended Solutions when/where appropriate,
- vertical functionality
- more business intelligence
- DB upgraded to SQL (undetermined as of Insights 2009 whether this will be MYSQL or MS SQL)
SQL was seen as very important to partners, existing customers, and new prospects. The biggest reasons were reporting and easier data transportation/warehousing/extracting. Why now? The Business Framework makes it possible. What about modules not being brought up to the Framework? SQL is projected to be in beta three to six months after MAS 90/200 4.4 is released.
Erika: Next question. Sage is probably moving to more of a project accounting model than job cost. Suggestion from the audience was Sage should survey existing job cost customers to see what they thought.
Payroll? No decision has been made yet.
With EES having three different databases, could we see some consolidation toward a single platform (i.e.: move FAS to SQL instead of Sybase).
Afterwards I asked Erika what was the migration path for existing MAS 200 SQL users. Her answer was none. They would either have to convert from MAS 200 SQL to current 4.4 or use a tool like the DSD SQL to MAS 3.71 conversion utility and then upgrade.
WAYNE: During Insights 2009 we learned that Sage is in negotiations with DSD Business Systems to purchase their MAS200 SQL Migration Utility. The game plan appears to be that Sage will discuss migration with each MAS 200 SQL 3.74 customer on an individual basis to get them to the MAS 90 4.x platform. There likely will not be one broad migration announcement for thos customers still using MAS 200 SQL 3.74.
There were several inventory features covered in the MAS 90/200 4.4 preview that was immediately after the Road Ahead session. Standard cost adjustment register and update. This will be patterned after automatic cost/price change and includes adjustments to GL. Removed ability to change from Inventory Maintenance unless quantity on hand is zero. System Activity Log will indicate the start, finish, and number of items updated. There will be no more having to enter a journal entry after standard cost is changed.
In physical count you can have the current quantity print on the worksheets and have it prepopulate current quantity on hand in physical count entry. Print current or historical standard cost on inventory valuation report. Because of this change, the Inventory Valuation by Period works. The Inventory Detail Transaction Report, Inventory Valuation Report by Period, and Inventory Trial Balance can be printed either portrait or landscape.
Standard cost items can be valued at zero. They will be relieved from inventory at zero cost. IM account will be untouched while standard cost is zero. The purchase cost will be offset in GL at the time of receipt.
Reminder: All planned features that we’ve discussed (as well as shipping deadlines) are preliminary and tentative. Until the product ships you should not assume that the feature will be included. While we strive to maintain this information so that it is as accurate as possible we cannot be responsible for features that are (or aren’t) added but which we’ve discussed here.