PeachFuzz

Using a Modern General Ledger

modern general ledgerIn a recent white paper “The 10 Essentials of an Effective Financial Solution”, the first point identified as essential in the paper is a “modern general ledger”. Let’s see how Sage 50 meets this criteria.

Premise: The modern general ledger (G/L) is the core of every accounting system and must be dynamic, flexible, scalable and unconstrained by rigid code-block structures.

  1. A modern G/L system must allow for a predefined chart of accounts for a wide range of industries.
    The flexible nature of the Sage 50 chart of accounts allows the use of numerical, alphabetical and alpha-numeric assignment of account codes, as well as segmentation of those codes as discussed below. Sage 50 also provides embedded, industry-specific charts of accounts, if needed. Sage 50 has the added feature of being able to change a G/L account code and have all transaction using that code changed to the new account code automatically. This feature also changes any default information for customer and vendor specific G/L account assignments.
  2. The G/L should be transformative; not a static, one size fits all structure but a dynamic asset that enables companies to tailor G/L processes to meet their unique business needs and changing conditions.
    Sage 50 provides a 15 character chart of accounts code, which can include up to five segments. Financial statements and other reports can be produced using any of the five segments, to enable management to hone in on  specific areas of importance
  3. The G/L must be capable of handling an unlimited number of accounts to power a company’s innovation and growth.
    In our more than 20 years experience working with Sage 50, and Peachtree before that, with all different sizes and types of companies, we have never had a problem with the number of accounts in the G/L.
  4. The G/L must allow the user to define their own starting and ending points for accounting periods.
    We have seen Sage 50 clients with companies using”normal” calendar periods, off calendar periods – such as 52-53 week years – and quarterly periods. The periods in a Sage 50 year can vary from 1 to 13. The starting and ending dates of a year are totally customizable by the user.
  5. The G/L must have the ability to build automated processes.
    This criteria is handled via memorized transactions, recurring entries, copying of entries, and a totally flexible general journal functionality.

Based on the above, we believe that Sage 50 meets all the requirements of a “Modern General Ledger”.

Sage 50Our typical starting point for any new Sage 50 project, either a company new to Sage50, one converting from an earlier edition of Sage 50, or one converting from another software product, is a review of the General Ledger chart of accounts, and a redesign of the chart to meet the specific needs of financial management. Our approach typically is to “start at the end”, determine the company’s reporting requirements, and then work backward to design a chart of accounts that meets those reporting requirements, while also allowing ample room for growth and change.

Do you have reporting issues with your own Sage 50 system? Perhaps a “wish list” of reports you would like to produce more easily? Give the Sage 50 Wizards at TriStar Data Systems a call at 610-941-2116, or email us at info@tristardatasystems.com, to see how we can help you improve your reporting capabilities.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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