What’s really new about Sage ERP X3 version 7?

At its annual global convention in Lisbon last week, business software innovator Sage announced the overhaul of its popular mid-market ERP solution, Sage ERP X3, to produce the next generation of enterprise resource planning – Sage ERP X3 version 7.

The natural question many have been asking since is: what’s really new in version 7? What does this latest version of the software have that its predecessors didn’t?

Firstly, it’s been said that it will feature a completely new web interface based on HTML5 and will offer mobile access, web apps, MS Office integration and a powerful search functionality.

Also on the side of design, version 7 will feature a dashboard with insights and intelligence on demand.

The major highlights of X3 v7 are:

  • Extended traceability: quote to cash, order to payment.
  • Sales document personalisation (delivery & returns)
  • Flexible definition of sales kits (options and variants)
  • Additional purchasing costs: import tracking
  • Flexible settings per legislation
  • Increased control over inter-company transactions
  • Flexible management of warehouse locations
  • Enhanced automation (recurring invoices)

For detailed specifications on version 7, click here.

Businesses with better data grow 35% faster year-on-year…

Recent research undertaken by IDG Research on midsized companies in a number of countries shows that businesses with accurate and actionable data consistently outperform enterprises without sufficient or usable business intelligence. This is a result of the better decision-making ability that intelligence gives decision-makers, and the effect that these more informed decisions on business outcomes. Click on the infographic above to see the findings of the research.

Are you ready for a business boom?

E-commerce is fast becoming a standard requirement for retailers worldwide as they bustle to harness markets that are increasingly online. From electronic goods to clothing and gifts, it’s now possible to order just about anything online. In the US, the trend has coupled with a growing manufacturing market to result in an unprecedented expansion of the logistics sector. To get a sense of the actual figures involved, one needs only take a look at Fortune’s recent report that states that domestic logistics delivers roughly 48 million tonnes of freight worth nearly $48 billion on a daily basis and employs roughly 6 million people. This accounts for approximately 8.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and comes up to a value of $1.3 trillion.

The rise of manufacturing in Africa

A quiet boom in manufacturing is also taking place in Africa. While farming and services are still dominant, backed by the export of commodities, new industries are now emerging in many African countries. Manufacturing’s share of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa has held steady at 10-14% in recent years. Industrial output in what is now the world’s fastest-growing continent is expanding as quickly as the rest of the economy. The evidence, big and small, is everywhere.

As South Africa’s National Infrastructure Plan enters the delivery phase of transport and roads infrastructure throughout the country, the hope is that this will stimulate the economy with manufacturing and logistics as direct beneficiaries. Already, Seemhale Telecoms of South Africa is planning to make cheap mobile phones for the African market. Angola says it is to build its own arms industry, with help from Brazil. Craftsmen across the continent are also making inroads in fashion.

The growing need for Business Intelligence

Manufacturing on the whole is one of the world’s largest industries and the economic demand for manufacturing is on a steady rise, especially in Africa. And while it may be easy to keep an eye on a manufacturing operation when it is still small or medium-sized, what happens when a boom in the industry forces growth of double or triple your capacity?

Across several different sectors, supply chain enterprises are beginning to implement the latest and most advanced technologies in order to keep pace with rising consumer demand. There are business intelligence tools that are robust solutions for manufacturers looking to increase output and maximise productivity in the hope of creating a better customer experience overall.

In both an e-commerce or a normal setting, consumers are generally unaware of what takes place between the point of purchase and the point of delivery at their doorsteps. Most consumers actually imagine supply chain warehouses as men driving forklifts – an image that is quickly becoming a thing of the past as newer technologies begin to infiltrate the market.

Retailers are now promising quicker delivery times in response to market demands, which has resulted in manufacturers and supply chain companies needing to keep pace.

Modern-day enterprise resource planning software enables these businesses to keep track of increased order volumes to improve output so that consumers can open their packages sooner than expected. A study of the US market shows that rises in the use of e-commerce and increases in manufacturing are followed by a high demand for jobs. In that market, logistics businesses will be looking to fill about 1.4 million jobs by 2018, which translates to roughly 270,000 jobs per year. This growing need for personnel within an industry most likely leads to an increased desire by supply chain managers to invest in robust ERP systems that enable enterprises to increase both visibility and output on a regular basis.

The Changing Face of Supply Chain Management

As production, processing, distribution, retail and online technologies continue to advance aggressively and redefine the very meaning of operational efficiency, we are constantly seeing the very nature and structure of Supply Chain Management (SCM) as an operational function also having to change in order to place enterprises in a good stead competitively. Looking around, one can see that SCM actually seems to be gaining increasing interest as a competitive tool to gain market share, as indicated by spending and activity in the area.

Supply chain excellence is becoming more widely accepted as an element of overall business strategy.

In actual fact, the technology and process upgrades that can be seen taking place at forward-thinking companies shows that supply chain excellence is becoming more widely accepted as an element of overall business strategy and that increasing value to customers is not just management’s, but everyone’s business.
The nature of the present day business environment and the changing expectations of clients have forced many CIOs to take a deeper look at how they view and manage their supply chains, with an emphasis being placed on specific areas and drivers of change.

Six Key Trends Driving Change

According to research done in food and beverage, consumer products, high tech and industrial manufacturing companies, there are six key trends causing significant impact and change to supply chain design and performance:
1.    Demand planning
2.    Globalisation
3.    Increased competition and price pressures
4.    Outsourcing
5.    Shortened and more complex product life cycles
6.    Closer integration and collaboration with suppliers

2 Questions You Should Ask Yourself:

  • Does leadership at your organisation view your supply chain as a strategic competitive advantage?                                                                If not, are you considering outsourcing your supply chain management?
  • Are the capacity strengths of your supply chain commonly known and understood by leadership of the company?                                     If so, how do they impact growth, profitability and customer service?

For more information on how Mucheki Consulting can help make your Supply Chain Management more efficient and competitive, contact us.

Sage ERP breaks into East African mining sector

Kenyan mineral exploration company Mayfox Mining recently announced its adoption of Sage ERP X3 to become the first East African mining company to adopt Sage’s dedicated resource planning solution. The timing of the move to implement the software couldn’t have been better timed as the company prepares to list on the Nairobi Stock Exchange’s ‘Growth Enterprise Market Segment’ (GEMS) by the end of the year.

“We are excited to have clinched this important deal with our first mining customer in East Africa,” said Keith Fenner, senior vice president sales for Sage ERP X3 AAMEA (Africa, Australia, the Middle East and Asia).

In a statement, Sage said: “The solution demonstrates Mayfox’s commitment to accountability and tight cost control to future shareholders and investors. It will also provide management with critical real-time information for fast and responsive decision-making,” says the Sage statement.

What to look out for at the 2014 Sage ERP X3 Global Convention

Sage ERP X3 recently announced its annual global convention to be held in Portugal from the 12-15th May 2014 at the Conrinthia Hotel in Lisbon. The global event attracts droves of people from the worldwide Sage network every year and is this year expected to draw well over 700 attendants.

The conference is designed to support business development and knowledge sharing, and to give customers, prospects and business partners the opportunity to learn and share through keynote speeches, workshops and breakout sessions. But what can delegates specifically expect from this year’s event?

According to Sage ERP X3 CEO, Christophe Letellier, “The 2014 conference is especially exciting as I will be making a major announcement about the next generation of Sage ERP X3…which will be a key ‘moment in time’ for Sage. We would like to invite all our customers, prospects and business partners from around the world to join us in Lisbon to be the first to find out about this exciting news and be part of the action.”

Letellier explains that Sage believes in providing users with solutions that put them in control of their business. “If your people can access and share the information they need easily and effectively, they can start to dramatically impact the company’s ability to win new customers and grow a profitable business,” he says. Today’s mid-market business is faced with two major challenges in the current, competitive market: growing sales and eliminating inefficiencies.

The Sage ERP X3 Global Convention allows current and prospective clients the opportunity to share their challenges and expectations from the ERP for future development consideration. This year’s event will also feature a full exhibition area that will provide delegates with an ideal platform for face-to-face international networking.

For more information on the conference, you may visit http://convention.sageerpx3.com

"Be disruptive or be disrupted"

The recent Sage Insights 2014 conference held at the Champagne Sports Resort in the Drakensberg and attended by more than 250 Sage ERP Africa business partners – including numerous partners from Southern, East, West Africa and the Middle East, has injected new inspiration to Sage partners across Africa.

“The key to being a successful business player in the ERP sector is realising the existence of major disruptive trends and ensuring solutions adapt accordingly. Whether you are a business owner, software developer, or a sales person, disruptive technologies, such as cloud, mobile and connected services are a reality and applying its principles will make you one step ahead of the competition. You need to find a way to be disruptive or you will be disrupted.” This was the opening address given by Jeremy Waterman, Managing Director of Sage ERP Africa and the Middle East.

Sage becomes the brand leader

Waterman noted that 2013 had been a very busy year during which Sage had rebranded from Softline and established itself as the brand leader in the supply of effective business solutions to small and medium size businesses throughout the African continent. Their presence in East Africa is on the increase and they have established a significant foothold in West Africa with the opening of a Sage office in Lagos, Nigeria. Further to this, Sage ERP Africa has also assumed the management of the Middle East region during 2013.

The arrival of new disruptions

Himanshu Palsule, Chief Technology Officer at Sage North America, focused in his keynote address on the impact of mobility and cloud as disruptive forces to the Sage 300 ERP product and highlighted the exciting new roadmap that customers can expect. “Our markets are transforming, the web and social media has disrupted the value chain and we need to react responsibly to the disruption by investing in purposeful innovation. We need to give customers flexibility and choice and therefore our roadmap for the future will include a total reimagining of the product, focusing not only on mobility and cloud but also modernising the user interface for an improved customer experience. Sage ERP 300 has been chosen as one of four small to medium business (SMB) products worldwide that Sage is investing in to effectively position it as a competitive force in the cloud.”

In the keynote delivered by Amanda Jobbins, Chief Marketing Officer for Sage, highlights of Sage’s Global Brand strategy, were shared. “At Sage we are on a new and exciting journey with the development of our brand in the minds of customers. We want to ensure consistency in our visual identity and ensure that customers recognise us a global leader and a partner that will give them the freedom and confidence to succeed.

Keynotes were also delivered by Christophe Vanackere, Director of international operations at Sage ERP X3, on the seven exciting new strategies for Sage ERP X3 V7 to be released June 2014 and Tom Nolan, Head of Sage CRM, focused on the road ahead for Sage CRM and the integration with Sage 300 ERP as well as Sage ERP X3.

A strategic sales summary was delivered by Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President for Sales at Sage ERP Africa and Middle East. “Our excellent growth figures show that as a company we are disruptive and contribute in building the economy in Africa by being innovation partners for businesses. In going forward and ensuring that we keep a customer for life, it will be important to accelerate disruption by ensuring the development of relevant and modern solutions.”

Waterman concluded by saying, “Sage Insights 2014 was the most exciting conference in many years because it focussed on what was actually being delivered now. The conference in 2013 defined the way forward for our three core products – Sage 300 ERP, Sage ERP X3 and Sage CRM in terms of meeting the challenges of cloud and mobility. This year it was all about the actual execution of these strategies. There are particularly exciting times lying ahead for us, our business partners and Industry Solution Vendors (ISV’s) as we work together to deliver disruptive solutions to the customer. The conference was an excellent opportunity for us to network, share information and very importantly, have some fun.”

Sage ERP X3 – 6.5 Released

The newest release of Sage ERP X3 , version 6.5, was announced at the close of 2012. Sage ERP X3 is the most powerful and flexible ERP solution by Sage for mid-sized and larger companies looking to grow a competitive business in a cost-effective way, with limited resources.

Sage ERP X3 6.5 improves productivity, simplifies installation, and offers you new specialized features through cloud services. Enhancements include Electronic Document Management (EDM) extended Fixed Asset functionality, and improved efficiencies for your financial, sales and inventory modules. To streamline your upgrades, many features that were previously provided as North American add-ons are now incorporated into the core product. The 6.5 release introduces new Cloud Services for Sage Sales Tax and Sage ERP X3 Shipping.

New 6.5 Enhancements Include:

  • Extend the reach of Sage ERP X3 beyond your system-generated documents with Electronic Document Management (EDM) and Electronic Document Distribution (EDD). Get more control over your document flow, increase your archiving efficiencies, and streamline your document distribution by email or fax.
  • Add an unlimited amount of notes to the items you stock or sell, specify where those notes are displayed and for how long. Designate who sees which note so that on the same item, one note can provide specific handling requirements, and another show information on a buy one get one for ½ price promotion. In addition to notes, add links to associated information such as a specification document or a list of available accessories.
  • Empower your team with meaningful and insightful financial reports using Sage Intelligence – Financial Reporting new reporting trees. With the click of a mouse, model very sophisticated reporting structures, and view your organization in many different ways. Establish fully unattended, convenient report distribution in a variety of standard formats, send reports to a file, publish to an FTP site, and send via email.
  • Reduce risks receiving goods. New Three Way Matching enhancements empower you with more refined control over how much your receipts and invoices can deviate from their original purchase order. Be as precise as desired with the tolerances you establish.
  • Increase customer loyalty leveraging early payment terms discounts. Use the new Accounts Payable (AP) and Accounts Receivable (AR) Terms Discounts functionality to apply early payment discounts, such as 2% 10 Net 30, using a specified date range, or to always apply the discount. Set discounts based on the grace period that you want to continue to allow the discount to be taken.
  • Streamline your tax reporting process using improved sales tax reporting, and 1099 and 1096 processing. Access a professionally maintained sales tax engine over a secure internet connection to automatically apply address, jurisdiction, and rate information to every transaction. Simplify the process of tracking supplier payments that you’ve designated as 1099 reportable, and export your 1099 and 1096 data to Microsoft Excel®.

Common mistakes in implementing ERP systems

In a survey carried out by CIO.com, a number of different ERP experts (IT executives, consultants and ERP vendors) were asked to describe the most common ERP-related mistakes made by organisations and how to avoid or solve them. Thirteen ERP mistakes – as well as their remedies – were named.

ERP Mistake #1: Poor planning

“Planning is absolutely necessary if you want your ERP project to succeed,” says Erik Kaas, vice president of Product Management for Mid-Market ERP products at Sage. “You simply can’t wing ERP.”

Kevin Beasley, CIO of VAI, agrees. “Many organizations do not do enough up-front planning before they begin an ERP software evaluation,” he says. “This often leads to confusion down the road because they might not fully understand their current processes and how to evolve them to maximize business benefits and efficiencies.”

To solve this problem, organisations should conduct an internal audit of all of their processes and policies before choosing an ERP system. In addition, Beasley recommends putting together an ERP evaluation team composed of stakeholders from across the business. And, if you feel you do not have the in-house capability to properly evaluate ERP systems, consider hiring an experienced third-party, vendor-neutral consultant, who has experience implementing ERP solutions at companies in your industry.

ERP Mistake #2: Not properly vetting ERP vendors.

“Many of my best clients are ‘sold’ by the [vendor’s] marketing team; however once the implementation is complete they are surprised by system functionality restrictions, lack of capabilities, and the impact on existing internal best practices,” says Shawn Casemore, president, Casemore & Co..

His advice: Always ask for references. Request the names of at least three companies “who are in your business sector, who you can contact and discuss the software with, then call and discuss features, functionality, and challenges,” he says. If the vendor can’t (or won’t) provide at least three names? “Walk away,” unless you want to be a guinea pig.

ERP Mistake #3: Not understanding or using key features.

“In our annual ERP survey, only 46 percent of respondents reported having a good understanding of which features they were using in their ERP system,” says John Hoebler, managing director, MorganFranklin Corp., a business consulting and technology solutions company. “This is shocking, considering the millions that companies invest in [their ERP systems]. Without knowing features, companies miss opportunities to automate business processes, complete functions faster, and meet business objectives,” he says. In addition, “upgrades, enhancements, and maintenance are more costly, and less likely to succeed.”

To solve this problem, Hoebler suggests creating a master list with all features, tracking usage, and periodically reviewing the list to determine which features are being used and which are the most helpful. “This knowledge catalogue can [then] be used to train new employees, write test scripts, and assist with audit, compliance, and reporting requirements,” he says.

ERP Mistake #4: Underestimating the time and resources required.

“All companies grossly underestimate the time and resources required to implement a new ERP system,” argues James Mallory, marketing director,e2b teknologies. How can you calculate the necessary time involved? “The time involved can be estimated by dividing the cost of the software by 100,” he explains. “For example, $20,000 for software will take approximately 200 man-hours or five weeks to implement using a certified consultant. Double that number if you plan to self-implement with minimal professional assistance.” In addition, Mallory stresses the importance of assigning a dedicated project manager.

ERP Mistake #5: Not having the right people on the team from the start.

“Often times, organisations do not bring the right people together from the very start of an ERP implementation,” says Beasley. “ERP implementation is one of the biggest projects an organisation can undertake, and consequently, mistakes can be made and plans might get derailed if the right stakeholders are not involved in every aspect of the decision-making process,” he points out. For example, many organisations focus on getting executive approval, instead of gathering key participants from across the organisation, from finance, operations, manufacturing, purchasing, and the warehouse, in addition to IT. The benefit: employees who are actively engaged with the ERP implementation, who have an investment in getting it right, right from the start.

ERP Mistake #6: Not setting priorities.

“When implementing an ERP system, the single most important thing one can do to minimise delays and accelerate time to completion is to reduce multitasking,” says Yoav Ziv, vice president, Realization, a project management specialist. “People work much slower when they are juggling multiple tasks and constantly switching gears,” he argues. Therefore, creating a priority system should be a top priority for IT managers. “The priority system should not only indicate when to do which tasks, but should also provide managers with the issues they need to resolve, per priority,” he says. In addition, “ERP implementation managers need to implement a rigorous issue resolution process to act upon those signals and remove issues immediately in order to avoid delays.”

ERP Mistake #7: Not investing in training and change management.

“A lack of proper training is one of the most common reasons that ERP projects fail, and it can also result in employees resenting the new system because they don’t understand it,” explains Kaas. “Making sure employees have a chance to become comfortable with the new system before it goes live will do wonders for your chances at ERP success.” Adds Kevin Herrig, president and CEO of GSI, an ERP software specialist with a primary focus on Oracle’s JD Edwards products: “If you don’t make training and frequent communication with users a top priority, you will end up owning a very expensive version of Excel.”

ERP Mistake #8: Underestimating the importance of accurate data.

Your ERP system is only as good as the data that is in it. So, if you want your ERP implementation to succeed, “it is imperative that proper programming and procedural parameters are put in place [right from the start] to minimise the likelihood of errors,” argues Martin Levesque, director of Professional Services, iDatix, a document management and workflow solutions provider.

ERP Mistake #9: Taking the kitchen sink approach.

“No matter how powerful or flexible an ERP system is, it will not be able to absorb all business logic,” explains Akan Iza, software architect, NetFoliage, a website development firm. “One of the most common mistakes made during ERP implementations is to assume that ERP can be used to run a business end to end,” he points out. “To avoid this costly mistake, companies should focus on implementing ERP to optimise value chain and to trace costs. Everything else should be a secondary goal.”

ERP Mistake #10: Not decommissioning legacy applications.

“If [organisations] do not actively work to decommission applications during the implementation, the end result is an ERP with all of the original legacy applications hanging off of it,” argues John Picciotto, principal, Application Modernization & Optimization at Accenture. “The end result is another piece of software that [you] are paying maintenance and support on, paying for hardware and upgrades, and paying for interfaces back into the core ERP,” when the point of getting an ERP system was to streamline workflow and reduce costs and waste.

ERP Mistake #11: Not having an active load testing environment.

“You won’t be able to see the true results of your changes based on a couple of test users,” points out Herrig. “You must be able to simulate your user load in order to see the real-world effects of changes and avoid costly unplanned downtime.”

ERP Mistake #12: Ignoring third-party support alternatives.

“Many companies insist on premium vendor support, despite the fact that maintenance rates are at an all-time high and they can get the same level of service from a third-party support provider,” says Jon Winsett, CEO of NPI, an IT spend management consultancy that works with Fortune 1000 enterprises. “Companies should explore all options for support, ranging from hybrid support providers that work directly with their vendor to deliver service, as well as providers that work independent of their vendor’s partner program,” he says. “A third-party support alternative can easily reduce support costs by 30 to 50 percent.”

ERP Mistake #13: Not having a maintenance strategy.

“Customers not conducting preventative maintenance are not taking full advantage of their ERP investment and their maintenance dollars,” states Marco Valencia, vice president, Upgrade Office, North America & Latin America, SAP America, Inc. “By not applying maintenance, their systems will quickly become obsolete (from a technical perspective) as will their business processes.” Moreover, he says, it is important to “keep the kernel up-to-date, with the right legal changes applied to prevent potential problems,” and with improvements in installation technology, customers now experience only limited disruption when implementing support packs.

7 reasons to adopt Sage ERP X3

1. Functionality, not complexity

When engaging in your ERP selection process, looking for less complexity does not mean that you need less functionality. Sage ERP X3 provides your company with deep and broad first-class functionality, while remaining simple to implement and to use. Put together a list of your key requirements and do research on what systems are able to support them all within a simple, integrated design.

2. Integration, not interfaced

As you start you ERP selection process, you’ll realise software integration does not mean just applications that work together. It also means that they exchange real-time information, share a common database and user interface and, more importantly, they evolve together. Many ERP systems are hiding functional gaps by offering a ‘modular design’, which often requires custom interfaces and complex maintenance. Only Sage ERP X3 gives you both rich and fully-integrated functionality in all areas of your business for accounting and financial management, purchasing, inventory, sales, customer relationship management AND manufacturing.

3. Scalability

Evolution means the ability for your ERP system to grow with your business. Sage ERP X3’s integrated design provides your company with all the functions it needs now and in the future. You can simply activate the functions as you need them. It’s all there from the beginning. It is also a flexible system that can be easily parameterized to fit your organisation’s changes, scaling up to more than 2,000 users. After your ERP selection process you’ll find you can rely on Sage ERP X3 to help you grow.

4. Web-native, not web-enabled

Web-native means that your system can be accessed the same way in both client/server and Web mode. Some ERP software systems may offer a customised web connection to dedicated functions, but few can provide your company with the ability to operate the system locally or through the web in the exact same fashion. Think of the advantage you could have with this advanced communicative architecture when expanding your business over multiple sites, or considering developing relationships with premier suppliers, partners or customers.

5. Multi-country by design

Global trade requires global tools. Not only is Sage ERP X3 available in ten languages and legislations – including China – allowing users to access the system in their own language wherever they are, but country-specific parameters, such as legal and market requirements, are centralised to offer a single global solution. Sage ERP X3 makes it easy to share common data and processes between different foreign sites or subsidiaries, while respecting their own specific usages and business rules. During your ERP selection process, keep in mind that more than 3,000 companies worldwide are using Sage ERP X3 in more than 53 countries – approximately 165,000 users.

6. Low cost of ownership

With functionality and ease of use, cost of ownership might be among your first selection criteria. And of course, all ERP vendors claim to provide their customers with the best possible return on investment. But when it comes to the total cost of YOUR project, the cost might not be as low as you thought, as your company certainly will require more services to customise its solution! Sage ERP X3 was built to dramatically reduce the time of implementation and customisation, while providing most of the advanced features you need as a standard, because reducing the cost from the implementation on is the best way to guarantee a faster return on investment.

7. Commitment to success, not loyalty programs

How much time have you spent arguing to get some support from well-known software vendors? With a business unit entirely dedicated to Sage ERP X3 operations, Sage offers you the best of two worlds: a reactive mid-sized organisation committed to our customers’ success, backed by a world leading business software provider and its first-class R&D centers.