Stretching Your Software's limits

Sage Advice: Are You Stretching Your Software’s Limits?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is essential for modern businesses. This set of crucial applications assists and automates financial management, inventory, human resources, business intelligence, and beyond. In order to perform its diverse functions, ERP should also easily integrate with other software, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), E-Commerce, and Professional Services Automation (PSA), to name a few. While having an ERP is always better than attempting to run your business without one, utilizing an inflexible ERP can restrain your growth and productivity.

For this reason, it is vital to pick the right ERP for your needs. At SCS Cloud, we are determined to help companies succeed with state-of-the-art software. This often involves helping our clientele select the appropriate software by educating them about which brands are best for their businesses. We recently provided an in-depth guide on the pros and cons of QuickBooks. What follows is the second segment in our series on British-Based software provider Sage’s ERP. In this blog, we explain the pitfalls of Sage ERP’s finite functionality as a standalone software in an increasingly integrated and ever-expanding digital world.

Sage’s Segregated Software

While Sage’s ERP (the latest version is entitled X3) includes the basic features users expect from this set of software applications, it is only an ERP. As we mentioned in last week’s introductory blog, Sage as a company has grown mostly by buying out other, smaller software companies. This constant acquisition activity suggests that the corporation spends its time and effort trying to integrate new software purchases with older systems, rather than designing a comprehensive, cohesive suite.

While Sage X3 includes various applications and modules in and of itself (as all ERPs do), the program is not offered as part of a full suite of business management software. Unlike its competitors, X3 must be supplemented with other programs in order to accomplish the diverse tasks a company faces on a daily bases. These additional programs often perform unnecessary, duplicate functions or are simply completely incompatible with X3.

In response to this common problem, Sage offered an uninspired solution: in 2011, the corporation announced a partnership with another software company, Talend, “to boost Sage ERP X3 interoperability performances.” In layman’s terms, this means that rather than designing customer service, E-commerce, and other programs to run smoothly alongside X3, Sage adjusted the software’s ability to add on third-party programs (which, even if they are technically compatible, come at an extra expense, require additional data entry just to perform, and have different interfaces for employees to spend time learning).

In short, while no man, and certainly no business is an island, X3 is. As an ERP alone, it often does not sufficiently serve the needs of contemporary companies.

What Users Say

The concept of X3 is all well and good to discuss, but what about business’s real experiences? Below are a few comments X3 users made about this ERP:

  • In NetSuite’s recent report on Sage, the company quoted Agam Jain, Managing Director for Jayex Technology in the UK: “We were using three different products – Sage Line 50 for accounting, ACT! for CRM, and Excel for stock control and the rest. With so many systems, things were disjointed and all over the place.” Since Sage ERP is not part of a complete business software suite, Mr. Jain’s business operations became confused. This software was supposed to streamline the company’s functioning, but ended up muddling its management.
  • On the tech review site, Software Advice, “Larry from United Health Group” gave X3 only two-and-a-half out of five stars for “functionality.” The aspect he “likes least” about X3 is the program’s “lack of technical familiarity with the SQL server [a Microsoft product].” As his recommendation to others, he wrote: “consider carefully the full scope of business operations, and how each will be affected” by using X3, likely in relation to X3’s necessary add-ons and compatibility issues with other types of software.
  • The owner of LaptopSchools.com explained his or her time using Sage ERP in NetSuite’s report: “With Sage/SBT we spent a lot of time and money customizing and integrating different modules. It was a nightmare! It took three systems just to make one sale happen and there was no way we could systematically track each laptop that we shipped.” In this case, the need for add-ons and external applications interfered with what should be a basic feature of any ERP: inventory and tracking.

These are but a few of the stories Sage users tell about their struggles with this solitary software. There are many more on Sage City, the company’s community forum for complaints, questions, and support.

Digital Drawbacks

We’ve learned that X3 is a single software system and that the need to pile on add-ons can create chaos for a company, but there are more distinct disadvantages to a program like X3, as well. As a solitary ERP, X3:

  • Is more likely to malfunction. It’s just the truth: glitch happens. Especially when running the complex code required to automate, generate, and project company operations, the occasional bug is to be expected. However, every third-party application, add-on module, and external booster you need to make X3 work for your business exponentially increases your chances for malfunction. The greater the number you run, the higher your chances are for a business-busting breakdown. As you’ve most likely experienced, software defects can be costly, time-wasting, and incredibly frustrating. A particularly bad crash could set your company back days or even weeks.
  • Leaves greater room for human error. Similarly to computer glitches, your employees may also make the occasional mistake. Every third-party application you install must be set up and maintained, leaving greater room for blunders.
  • Necessitate greater hours spent on manual data entry. In many cases, the same numbers must be rekeyed into each external application, over and over and over again. In addition to being mind-numbingly dull, this takes up your team’s valuable time and effort.
  • Often raises company costs. External software to manage your customer relationships, professional services, accounting, E-Commerce, and more don’t come cheap. Each of these has its own expense, and they can add up to quite a hefty bill.
  • Requires more time spent on training. Learning each new interface might take hours, plus the cost of professional tech support and instruction adds even more to your technological tab. Of course, once you and your employees have learned how to use each individual program, you’ll also have to master the particular tricks, keys, codes, and strategies needed to make them work together.
  • Results in serious growing pains. Particularly if your business is booming, it’s likely that a time will come when even a hundred add-ons aren’t enough to operate. Many companies end up outgrowing X3 for this very reason. In its report, NetSuite provides a case study: Rococo Chocolates “was rapidly growing through prestigious retail chains” but couldn’t manage the “constant support” needed for Sage “add-ons and upgrades that didn’t deliver what [they] needed.” Ultimately, they had to make a change.

If you’ve been experiencing these snags in your Sage software, a different ERP might be the answer.

A Wiser Way

Considering all of the above, the truly “sage” way to move forward may be to switch to a different software suite. Since ERP programs have become a virtual necessity, many companies now make this type of software. At SCS Cloud, we encourage our clients to choose a system that seamlessly integrates all of their business needs. Using the same software company for all of your products can simplify your experience and help you achieve the maximum benefit from your system.

We often recommend NetSuite, an extensive package of applications that includes CRM, PSA, E-Commerce, and ERP, all in one. We’ve seen great results from switching. For example, the Rococo Chocolates company that had such a hard time with Sage’s ERP saw its sales “[shoot] up 25 percent…since [they] implemented NetSuite.” Imagine what making this technological transition could do for your business!

Contact SCS Cloud Today

Are you stretching the limits of your Sage ERP? Are you looking to expand beyond X3? Can you relate to the problems discussed above? Our team of experts is here to assist you with a wide variety of services, including consulting to help you determine what you need, implementation support to assist you with set-up, and custom development, so you can refine your software even further. To find out more and schedule your free consultation, contact us today!