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Sage 50 2017 New Features for Sage 50c

Sage 50cWith the release of Sage 50 2017.1, some interesting new features have been added to the software. Most of these features, however, are exclusive to the so-called “c” version of Sage 50, which is available only on a subscription basis. This may be a harbinger of things to come from Sage.

Common to all releases of 2017.1 is the ability to use web-based email services (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Comcast, etc.) to send documents and reports. While emailing of documents and reports has long been a feature of Sage 50, it required installation of either Outlook or another supported email client on the machine sending the email. This has posed problems for some users that choose not to use a local email client but manage all email directly from the web. All that is required to configure this new feature is the SMTP address for the service being used for email, along with the specific port number the provider uses for outgoing email. Another small step toward workstation independence.

The other new features in 2017.1 – available exclusively to Sage 50c subscribers – are:

  • A no-charge link to Sage One, Sage’s online-only small business accounting application, to allow Sage 50 users to invoice customers online and then download the invoices from Sage One to Sage 50. This invoicing method also offers invoice recipients the opportunity to pay the invoice directly by clicking on a “pay now” button embedded in the online invoice.
  • Sage Drive, initially released with very limited capabilities in the 2017 edition of Sage 50, has been expanded. Sage Drive now allows up to the maximum number of licensed users to log in to the synchronized online database, in read-only mode. Previously the online database was limited to a single login at a time. This can prove handy for mobile users who need to periodically check balances, order and shipment details, etc., while away from the office.
  • Sage 50c users with an active subscription for Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium can now configure Sage 50 to make automated, unattended backups of one or more company databases directly to Microsoft OneDrive. With virtually unlimited storage space available with a OneDrive subscription, this can prove to be a handy way to store off-site backups without filling up an internal or external hard drive.

We are not yet ready to fully endorse Sage50c as a suitable replacement for the “on premises” perpetual licensing model that has long been the distribution method for the Sage 50 product line. Our principal hesitation with this new model is the difficulty of retrieving data from a Sage 50c system when a subscription is terminated; Sage “locks” the user’s company data in read-only mode as soon as a subscription expires. This strikes us as egregious and unnecessary, given the continued availability of “on-premise” licensing for virtually the same product.

We recognize that “subscription only” software is the future direction of the software industry, and that – eventually – this will be the only method for acquiring accounting software. For now, however, we think that only companies that have adopted a complete “virtual business” model, with no centralized IT capability, would truly benefit from switching to the Sage 50c product.

That opinion could change with subsequent Sage 50 releases, however. We will monitor this development closely and keep our clients informed as new information becomes available.

 

Posted in Features

Manage Credit Card Payments in Sage 50

Many of our clients have asked if they can manage credit card payments directly in their Sage 50 accounting program. The good news is, once you upgrade to Sage 50 2017, the answer is “yes”.

Sage Payment Solutions works with Sage 50 2017 to provide a seamless solution for accepting debit and credit cards such as Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB and debit/ATM cards. Payments can be accepted through a POS device, online, or directly through the Sage 50 program.

If you wish to take advantage of collecting payments using Sage 50 2017, begin by signing up with Sage Payment Solutions. It can be as easy as going to the Services menu inside Sage 50 and selecting Credit Card Processing.

Sage Payment Solutions

 

You may also call 877-902-0599 for assistance, or visit the Sage Payments Solutions website directly.

 

Once your account is set up, it’s easy to record a transaction for a credit card payment.

  •  Open the window to Receive PaymentReceive Money
  •  Enter the details of the transaction
  •  Click on the Process button
  •  You will receive a message that the program is contacting Sage Payment SolutionsCC Message
  • The following window will then appear –CC Window
  • You may either manually enter credit card information here, or use a device to swipe and electronically collect the data
  • Click on the Submit button to accept the data
  • You will receive immediate notification that the card was accepted or rejected
  • You will also have the option to print a receipt for the customer

Sage Payment Solutions for credit and debit cards is PCI Compliant, which means it meets data security standards that handle branded credit cards from major card issuers like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB. As part of these standards, companies that provide this compliance, like Sage, enable a secure network, protect cardholder data, monitor and perform quality, and more. For example, if you want to store credit card information for your customers, you may do so in Sage 50 and it will be stored in the Cloud, not in your company database or on your machine, which violates those PCI compliance standards.

You can learn more about Sage Payment Solutions at their website by clicking here.

 

Want to know more about how to grow your business? The Wizards at TriStar Data Systems are here to help. We know how to make individual software applications work together to provide a complete solution. We can also help you and your staff get the most from your software through training and consulting services. Please call us at 610-941-2116 or email us at info@tristardatasystems.com for more information.

 

Posted in Features Tagged with: ,

Sage 50 2017 to be Released Mid-July

Sage 50 2017 (and its companion 2017c) will appear in the “Check for Updates” window within the existing version of Sage 50, on or about Tuesday, July 12, 2016, for all users who have an active Sage BusinessCare plan.  

 Sage will no longer send download links and activation keys to existing Sage 50 users, choosing instead to distribute all new releases “in application”, whether service release or completely new version. 

As with all new releases, this one must be installed first on the server, and then on all workstations that have Sage 50 installed now. Once the new version is installed on the server, workstations will be unable to connect to Sage 50 until they are also upgraded with the new release. 

As always, we counsel clients to refrain from immediately installing an upgrade until 3-4 weeks following the initial release. We suggest this both because you should take the time to carefully plan for the upgrade (staff downtime, changes to server install paths, new hardware, etc.) and because software companies have – occasionally  -been known to release “buggy” versions prematurely (No, really??!!!). These usually get fixed with a supplemental release within a day or two of discovery. 

So, what is new in Sage 50 2017? Actually, not too much as far as features visible to most typical users. The biggest change is the ability to process credit card, debit card, and ACH (electronic bank transfer) transactions directly in Sage 50, and review your merchant account transactions from within the new Payment Center dashboard in Sage 50.  

This capability requires the user to contract with Sage Payment Solutions as the user’s merchant account processing service. Sage Payment Solutions (SPS) is a very price-competitive merchant account service offering a range of processing services focused on the customer’s specific needs. If you are not now accepting credit cards in payment for products and services, or you are interested in exploring an alternative to the service you use now, we can help you obtain an account analysis and price quote for the SPS service.  

Users of Sage Intelligence reporting will be pleased to learn that, effective with the 2017 release, Sage Intelligence Reporting will be activated automatically, without needing to enter a separate activation key (as has been the case in the past). Some steps have also been taken with the 2017 release to further streamline the overall Sage 50 installation process, and simplify the application of product updates released from time to time. 

The WebSync Wizard embedded in Sage 50, used for Payroll Direct Deposit and various other synchronization tasks, has been “modernized” such that it no longer requires certain browser-based COM technology (which Microsoft no longer supports). The WebSync app now uses native components embedded in the Sage 50 code itself, minimizing problems with conflicting browser applications. 

In our view, unless you make extensive use of credit card transactions for customer payments, this release is not a “must have” for most users. We believe it is important to stay current with your accounting software, however, and with the Sage BusinessCare plan in place there is little or no cost to doing so (depending on who does the installation). Plan your upgrade, however, at a time when it will be least disruptive to your daily operations.

 

If you need help deploying this latest release of Sage 50, give us a call at 610-941-2116 so we can put you on our schedule for onsite installation services. And if you are at all interested in exploring a new merchant account for processing credit card transactions, do give us a call. We will put you in touch with the right people to bundle credit card processing with your Sage 50 software.

 

Posted in Features, Technical Tagged with: , ,

Sage 50’s Latest Service Release – Proceed Carefully

so16point2-noSage Software has recently released a service release (2016.2) for the Sage 50 product line (all editions). Users logging out of Sage 50 will likely see an announcement that a new update is available, and should be installed on the server first.

We are advising our clients to proceed cautiously with this update.

Almost immediately after its release we were made aware of a potential problem with the integration between this service release and users of Crystal Reports. Some reports, using certain specific Crystal functions, will fail to generate properly once the 2016.2 update is applied to your Sage 50 license.

One of our colleagues, Tammi Ermerins of PCO Consulting Services, Inc., has tested a fix for this issue and has reported that it has worked successfully for her reports.  She advises as follows:

 “Any time a Sage 50 update is installed, which requires a conversion of the database, make sure that in addition to resetting your Crystal Reports User Security Settings, that you also click on the “Install Sage 50 Data Functions” link to the right of the screen. This will update the u2lpeach.dll file with the new Sage 50 Data Functions, which directly impacts Crystal Reports. After doing this, any Crystal Reports which use the GETPEACH function (this accesses the u2lpeach.dll file), should operate correctly.”

A few other Sage 50 consultants have reported isolated instances where some users have been unable to access the application following the update, requiring someone who does have access to modify some Global Settings in the app.

From our perspective, the point of this – somewhat unexpected – release was to pave the way for Sage to start selling subscriptions to their “2016c” product, which allows synchronization with a remote user and introduces “Sage Drive.” That capability appears to be extremely limited at this time, and we have also learned that the capability is NOT part of the normal Sage BusinessCare plan, as we had originally reportd, but requires an additional monthly subscription payment.

Our advice is to sit tight on applying this service release to your existing system. We expect to be notified about a 2017 edition of Sage 50 over the next 60 to 90 days, and think it prudent to wait for that announcement before planning an update to your system.

Posted in Errors & Alerts, Technical Tagged with: , ,

Sage 50 Sticks its Toe in the Cloud

Sage50c-to-cloudSage 50 (the product formerly known as Peachtree) has long been seen as the orphan stepchild of the 800 pound gorilla in the small business accounting software market that is Intuit QuickBooks. With the release of Sage50c in February of this year, Sage 50 has finally emerged from its “on-premises only” obscurity, to offer a feature that is demanded by many businesses and virtually all accountants – synchronized access to the accounting database when off-site.

Termed Sage 50c, this latest upgrade to the Sage 50 product line – available for Pro, Premium and Quantum editions – offers the ability to synch one or more Sage 50 company databases (up to a maximum of 50 databases) to “Sage Drive”, a new Cloud-based storage space now included with a Sage 50 BusinessCare subscription. Via Sage Drive, off-premises users can access a Sage 50 company database from any computer that has Sage 50 installed on it, even when not physically connected to the network where the database natively resides.

At this time the Sage Drive synchronization is intended for “occasional” off-premise use; for a bookkeeper or accountant to make entries, or for a business owner to run reports or enter transactions when off-site. Once a “remote” users connects to the synchronized database, that database becomes “read only’ for everyone else accessing that company on-premises. When the remote user exits the system, the database again becomes available in multi-user mode for everyone on-premises with a valid license. We expect this limitation to disappear in future releases as users become comfortable with the power and versatility of this new feature.

The Sage 50c system administrator (someone in the company with full rights to the database) needs to initially activate the Sage Drive synchronization service, and can then designate up to five users for off-site access; only one off-premises user at a time can access the Sage Drive-synchronized database, however.

This new capability very closely parallels what QuickBooks has offered to accountants for years, which has made that product into the behemoth it is for many accountants.

We believe that Sage 50 is a superior product to QuickBooks in a few specific areas (inventory, job costing, integration with its sister Sage product Timeslips, etc.). With this new capability accountant-generated adjustments should become much easier to manage, perhaps making Sage 50 a more popular – and accessible – choice for both accountants and small business owners.

Click here to read the FAQ document released to all Sage 50 Business Partners this past week, which answers many of the common questions voiced by users.

Want to better understand Sage 50’s strengths and weaknesses? Interested in learning how you can take advantage of this new Cloud-synched data capability? Give us a call  at 610-941-2116 to discuss your interests and needs. And let’s see what we can do to put you on the right track to the Cloud.

Posted in Features

Sage 50 2016 Now Available

The Sage 50 2016 Edition is now available to any company with a currently active Sage BusinessCare subscription. If you are not presently on a BusinessCare subscription, you will need to subscribe – for at least the first year – to obtain the upgrade.

The distribution method for the 2016 release changed this year, which caught all of us a bit by surprise. Where in the past Sage delivered an email to all active subscribers with the Activation Key and the download link (which many users never saw), for this year Sage has “bundled” the upgrade right into the product itself (called an “in-product upgrade”).

This approach has its pros and cons. It is much easier to obtain the upgrade (no download link required from an email) and enter the activation key (it reads your key directly into the new version, based on your current subscription). However, you are still required to first run the upgrade on your server, and then upgrade the workstations, which many unwary users will miss. Not a disaster, but annoying. Also, unless you know how to find the file at a later date (hint: it is stored in [drive]\Company\Updates), as soon as you complete the download it will commence with the installation, unless you say “no” to the “Ready to Install?” prompt. This can be inconvenient.

For those unused to checking for updates in Sage 50, here is where you can go to check:Sage 50 menu

2016 download

 

You should see a window like this one, listing the 2016 upgrade, with the word “Entitled” listed at the far right, if your BusinessCare subscription is current. Clicking the Download button will commence the installation unless you decline to install once the download is complete (which we recommend).

 

 

We recommend declining because, in most instances, you will be downloading the upgrade from your workstation, and Sage requires that you install the2016 update message upgrade on the server first, then on the workstation (a bit of a gotcha!). If you attempt to install on the workstation without first installing on the server, you will receive an error message of sorts, advising that you must first install on the server.

 

 

Or you can just call us to take care of all of this for you if you prefer to leave it in the hands of experts who have performed upgrades innumerably times in the past, and know all of the little tricks and tips that can hang up folks who don’t do this for a living.

Give us a call at 610-941-2116, or drop us a message at info@tristardatasystems.com, if you would like to discuss your upgrade options.

 

 

 

Posted in Features