Sage Offers the Best-bet for a Unified Systems Approach
One of the big challenges for small and medium businesses is fragmented systems and business processes. Fragmentation makes it difficult to extract crucial business information in a timely manner, increases workload while decreasing efficiency, and creates confusion among your various departments.
The trend is for CIO/CTOs to attempt combining sales, manufacturing and accounting systems into one system. But without a framework that lends itself to that goal, we’re led to either create our whole system from scratch, cobbling together what we can from disparate parts that weren’t meant to work together, or to try and modify platforms that weren’t designed for our business model. And then, for the security-conscious organizations that don’t want to, or can’t, store their data in the cloud, the task is made even harder due to the limited “on-premise” offerings available.
Enter Sage. Over the past couple of years, they’ve positioned themselves to be the go-to solutions provider for C-suite executives who want to create unified systems and “automate the whole business” into one beautiful, efficient entity. While Sage has shifted their focus to the cloud, much as other companies have, they remain one of the few that still offer an on-premise solution. Because of their beginnings as a provider of accounting software, their CRM solution has been designed from the start to “just work” straight out of the box with their various ERP packages. It’s quite easy to get a unified and complete view of customer data right out of the box, whether starting from one of their ERP solutions, or CRM itself. And while the CIO will want their developers to modify the system to dial-in exactly what they want, the system provides an excellent launch point and offers many advantages right out of the box.
With the announcement of their Sage Life product, built on the Salesforce platform, Sage is poised to increase their credibility, while leveraging their SaaS capabilities
Now, getting buy-in for a new system from employees is often very challenging, especially among the older, less tech-savvy ones stuck in their ways. One of the ways I’ve found to speed up this process is by solving nagging problems for those employees as quickly and elegantly as possible, and using that to illustrate what’s possible if they’ll just give the new system a chance. To that end, Sage has several tools that provide a big impact quickly:
Workflow: At my organization, we’ve been developing our system since 2008, and we’ve seen the capabilities with each version of Sage CRM grow tremendously during that time. One of the quickest ways we've made an impact in efficiency was by developing workflows inside Sage CRM. Almost any repetitive task that required sending an email, generating a document, notating the customer record, executing stored procedures or generating reports could be automated quickly and relatively easily. Because the system is designed to integrate with the ERP, we were able to move many of our admin processes into CRM and out of accounting. The advantages to that are huge – from saving on licensing costs, to limiting the “cooks in the kitchen” in accounting world, which allowed us to keep our data clean and accurate, while reducing mistakes overall.
Automate and Measure Effectiveness
Within the workflow tools are escalation rules that allow the developer to trigger actions by the system that will create leads, opportunities, documents or email for your teams, among other actions. And because we tied our phone system into our CRM system, we’ve been able to not only generate those leads, but make sure our sales team has followed up on them as well. Imagine the possibilities of using the system not only to generate appointments, leads and opportunities based on your various business rules, but also to make sure that your teams are following through for you by tying in outbound calls, emails and letters generated by the system into reports to tell you what’s going on with your employees. Now we’re talking!
Due to the clean and logical way that Sage has chosen to set up their back end, it’s also easy to extend the functionality of many 3rd party add-ons to fit the particular business processes one is trying to automate. For example, with our shipping solution, we’re able to not only handle the mundane tasks of notifying the client when something ships, but we can also generate call lists for our sales team to follow up with the client when the product has arrived. This has increased sales for us and increases our customer’s satisfaction, since it helps us stay on top of things. Because of the way the system is designed, extending functionality or finding creative ways to automate tasks within the organization is almost unlimited within Sage CRM and the ERP.
Third Party and Community Support
Because of the large community that Sage has developed over the years, there’s a large and supportive group of vendors and end users that have already solved most problems that CIO/CTOs might run into during their development. Each year, Sage holds “Sage Summit”, which has become the largest small-and-medium business conference in the world. During this event, there are extensive opportunities to get education on most any topic within the ecosystem. In addition to Sage’s own SaaS offerings, they recently announced a strategic partnership with Salesforce. This announcement should dramatically increase Sage’s exposure due to the large adoption rate that Salesforce enjoys. With the announcement of their Sage Life product, built on the Salesforce platform, Sage is poised to increase their credibility, while leveraging their SaaS capabilities.
In conclusion, for the executive who longs to unify systems in order to provide crucial information quickly to the CEO/CFO, increase efficiency, reduce errors, and generally make things more seamless, it’s an exciting time indeed. While the solutions that Sage provides require further development (as much as any other product of this type), the flexibility offered out of the box makes almost anything possible, and that is truly nirvana for the creative type who needs harmony throughout the enterprise.