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Hello Again Sage 500 Customers,

I’ve got my traveling shoes on, my bags are packed, and I’m ready to go.  No, it’s not vacation that’s got me stocking upLindaCade on mobile novels and airplane snacks …  It’s the Sage Inspire Tour! … and we’re coming to a city near you!

What’s that?  You don’t know about the Sage Inspire Tour?  Can’t imagine what you could possibly get Inspired about that has to do with Sage?  Well, funny you should ask!

The Sage Inspire Tour is your opportunity to:

  • Meet one on one with Sage staff
  • Network with your peers
  • Get a day out of the office
  • Learn about potential solutions to key business priorities as identified by companies like yours
  • Get a look at what’s coming in Sage 500 ERP 2014
  • Drink too much coffee
  • Learn one thing you didn’t know
  • Meet one person you haven’t met before
  • Catch up with an acquaintance you haven’t seen in a while
  • Check out connected / complementary solutions to enhance your Sage experience
  • Win fun Prizes!

Sound interesting?  Come join me!  Oh, and did I mention it’s all for free?

Here are the dates and links for December:travel

Dallas, TX        Dec 4, 2013

Phoenix, AZ   Dec  10, 2013  

Irvine, CA       Dec 12, 2013 

Stay tuned for additional dates later this year.  Hope to see your soon!

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Hello Again Sage 500 Customers,LindaCade

The Holidays are Upon Us …

This week’s blog heralds the beginning of the “Holiday Season”.  Yes, it’s true.  The malls are already making announcements about tree lighting ceremonies.  The ads are gearing up for gift giving.  Holiday decorations are already appearing on store shelves.  And, as they tear down the local pumpkin GreatPumpkinpatch they are simultaneously building Santa’s Tree Lot.  No wonder Linus gets confused.  The Great Pumpkin, Santa Claus … they all just run together anymore.

Busy Season

For many, this also means the onslaught of “busy season”.  Whether your business is retail, wholesale, manufacture, or services … if it has ties to the holidays you are already gearing up.  I even saw a guy on television the other day who delivers home baked pies (holiday or not) on his bicycle.  (I can’t imagine what his holiday rush looks like.)  Maybe your organization is like many I’ve spoken with this year who are trying to find ways to grow their business and their bottom line without having to add more staff to accomplish the work.  When it comes to getting shipments out and money in, Sage 500 ERP has some solutions to help you achieve those goals … especially in our last couple of releases.

Packing and Shipments and Tracking

The pick/pack/ship process in Sage 500 ERP is an area we have devoted a lot of time to in recent releases … refining the process, simplifying where possible, providing alternate workflows.  The packing part is likely the part that wasbox-1-icon largely overlooked for the most part until the 2013 release.  As part of that release, we announced the availability of Sage 500 ERP Shipping by SmartLinc.  Depending on the edition of Sage Shipping purchased, the solution can either automatically upload the package information from Sage 500 ERP to SmartLinc or even let your shipper do all of the packing on the SmartLinc website and have that information write back to Sage 500 ERP.  Either way, you get detailed information about the shipment and the packages … including package level tracking numbers to provide the best possible customer experience.  Your customer service staff get full visibility to the tracking information.  Even better, your customer will get an e-mail with the tracking information when the shipment goes out the door so they can track it themselves.

customerportalThe only way it gets any better than that is with a customer self-service portal.  I bet over half of you forgot or didn’t know that you could use eBusiness Suite Web Services from RKL eSolutions to set up your own customer self-service site.   Just think, with a small investment of time and some creativity you could eliminate a number of calls and get closer to that “Amazon-like” customer experience.

In the 2014 release, we added a screen in Generate Shipments that displays the shipment number if it’s a single shipment to reduce steps and make it easier for the staff preparing the shipments.  And lest I be remiss, I must point out the introduction of Visual Process Workflows in the 2013 release so that you can map out this whole process and make it easy for anyone to follow.

Billing and Payments

Of course, getting the shipments out is only half the battle.  It does us no good to ship the merchandise if we don’t get paid.  We didn’t forget that side of the equation either.  Electronic billing is obviously faster (not to mention friendlier to the ecology) than paper bills and “snail mail”.  But you pointed out, and rightly so, that there was room for some improvement here as well.  In ourinvoice-icon space, it is not uncommon to have the need to send multiple copies of the bill to multiple contacts in an organization.  Document Transmittals only allow one e-mail address, the cover e-mail is pretty generic, and the e-mail address field is just too short for today’s longer addresses.

We can fix that … oh wait, we already did!

  • In the 2013 release, we added the ability to have multiple recipients for document transmittals, and while we were there we added key word replacement fields so that you can personalize the cover e-mail with information pulled directly from the database.
  • In the 2014 release, we’ve extended the e-mail address field to accommodate those longer addresses … for any contact record … no matter where it appears.

But we’re not done yet!  We also heard you say that not every customer and not every transaction lends itself to payment by credit card.  Credit card payments are good, but they just don’t cover really large transactions (due to card limits or the fees associated with the transaction).  So, in the 2014 release we’ve also added the availability of Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT or ACH) as a electroniccheckpayment method.  Now your customers can provide you with a bank routing number and their bank account number so that you can accept what amounts to an electronic check through Sage Payment Solutions.  No more waiting for the “check in the mail”.  No more running to the bank to make a deposit.  You can now leverage the electronic age to its maximum benefit for your business.  There’s minimal additional setup … simply have Sage Payments enable your account for electronic checks, and add a payment type … and Sage 500 ERP is ready to accept those payments.

Ready to Grow?

So, consider the possibilities.  Your business is poised to grow, but you need it to be more efficient to meet the growing demands without adding additional resources.  Perhaps it’s time for that upgrade you’ve been putting off.  If you are struggling with an older version, you could be missing out on some great improvements and features that could create greater freedom for you to succeed.  Watch for the coming announcements about the Sage 500 ERP 2014 Release availability and contact your Sage channel partner to set up a time for that upgrade!

Thanks for listening,

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Hello Again Sage 500 Customers,

HalloweenAs I write this week, I find that we are preparing for Halloween.  Everywhere you look there are pumpkins and cobwebs with giant spiders, skeletons and pointy hats, black cats and friendly ghosts. Yep, it’s that time of year again.  For the most part, we don’t really find these things scary anymore.  Little children dress as ghouls and super heroes, princesses and fairies, cowboys and aliens, astronauts and monsters.

The other part of this time of year that we just can’t seem to avoid is the reappearance of scary movies.  Every kind of monster or thing that goes bump in the night or unknown danger that makes that teenage girl scream appears on a movie or television screen.

So, where am I going with this train of thought?  It occurs to me that there are some things in business that can in fact creep up on us and cause real problems.  Let’s take a look at a few of them … specifically those related to Cash Management policies and procedures … and how Sage 500 ERP can help you address them.

In the Dark

In those spooky movies we spoke of earlier, nothing good ever happens in the dark.  When the flashlight fails or the candleinthedark blows out, when the power goes out and the storm rages outside … that’s when you know something bad is about to happen.  Yet, businesses operate in the dark all the time.  You’re in a growth mode.  Times are looking good.  Then next thing you know, you’re having trouble making payroll.

Turn the lights back on.  Use either the standard Financial Reports or Sage Intelligence Reporting to generate a simple 12 rolling month Cash Flow Projection.  That way you can see the potential ebb and flow of cash.  Once you see the patterns, you can then adjust and resist the temptation to make expenditures during the “flush” part of the year that will leave you scrambling during the “lean” times.

Payment Terms Quagmire

quicksandThe next scene I want you to imagine is set in the jungle.  You can hear the call of exotic birds, the chatter of primates in the trees, and the blast of a distant elephant.  As we trudge along, one of our party steps into a patch of earth that seems to suck them under with each step they try to take.  They are doomed. You just know it.  The harder they try, the deeper they sink.

Believe it or not, we can find ourselves in a similar place in business.  We can end up providing “float” to our customers while we sink deeper and deeper.  When it comes to payments, we need to look at the average days to pay for our suppliers and customers.  If our average days to pay supplier invoices is say 21 days, but our customer’s average days to pay is at 45 – that means we are providing 24 days of “float”.  We’ve paid for goods we’ve delivered and invoiced but not collected the cash.  Which leaves us with a couple of choices – Delay our payments to suppliers, or decrease the average days to pay for our customers.

There are a couple of ways to decrease the average days to pay for our customers.  Certainly, using the alerts and MS Office templates in Sage 500 ERP to generate collection letters are a step in the right direction.  If that’s not enough, it’s time to consider promoting the use of document transmittals for invoicing and credit card or (as of the 2014 release) Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) to collect funds electronically.  As of this release, you can collect cash up front through Sage Payment Solutions using the method that best suits the customer.  The side benefit is, customers are happier as well.  COMING SOON, we will have the ability to process invoices and payments in Sage Billing and Payment, a new on-line service provided through the Sage Data Cloud.  Imagine reducing your Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) from 45 to 1 … now that would get you out of the quagmire!

Behind the Mask

Ah, the mask!  Whether it’s the Phantom of the Opera or a Hockey Mask, a nylon stocking or a ski mask – something sinistermask is often hiding behind the mask.  There are times when appearances can mask reality in business as well.  An inventory item that is flying off the shelf may in fact be costing you money.  The customer who appears on all of the sales reports with the highest overall sales month after month may not actually be making you any money.

There is a tool to help unmask these pretenders – and it’s available to you today – Sage Inventory Advisor.  This dashboard view of your inventory will identify those items that have high turnover but low profit margins.  Another view identifies customers with high order amounts but profit margins below expectations.  Armed with this information, you can then make the necessary adjustments.  Perhaps that item really is a great product but just needs a price adjustment.  Or, you may need to renegotiate the terms extended to your top customer.  In either case, seeing behind the mask removes the mystery – making it possible to deal with the realities and move forward.

Nothing to Fear

When my oldest was age two, we went trick or treating for the first time.  She was petrified!  I feared I might have scarred her for life.  But, in the resilient manner of children – once she understood what was really going on, the fear went away.  In business too there are scary things to be aware of.  But, if we use the tools available to us and demystify the seemingly unaccountable ebb and flow, we learn that knowledge is control and we can achieve success and growth.

Thanks for listening,

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