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Sage MAS 500 System Review

I'm barely five weeks into an implementation of the new Sage Software MAS 500 version 7 product. The scope of the implementation includes the following:

  • Financials: general ledger, accounts receivable, cash management, accounts payable, FAS asset accounting, FAS asset inventory, multicurrency, allocations and advanced consolidations
  • Distribution: sales order, purchase order, inventory, kiting, eOrder, RMA and warehouse management
  • Project Accounting: job cost / project accounting with eTimesheets
  • Manufacturing: advanced manufacturing, material requirements planning (MRP), shop floor control, estimating, project management, engineering change management and shop floor control
  • CRM: SalesLogix sales, support, eSalesforce and eCustomer
  • HR and Payroll: Abra HR and Abra Payroll

As you can see, this is a comprehensive implementation. Fortunately, my client has assembled an outstanding executive sponsor and project team. Not so fortunately, we were pretty much forced to engage with two VARs (value added resellers) instead of a single VAR as neither VAR had expertise in all of the software purchased. We're already seeing the VARs jockey for the professional services work, but that's a minor issue that will be quickly remedied.

I'm going to create two blog posts regarding this engagement. This first will focus on the new capabilities in the just released version 7 product as well as an informal review of the solution. Some months from now I'll post a blog entry on the implementation lessons learned from this CRM and ERP software engagement.

The most interesting new feature in MAS 500 version 7.0x is the Business Insights Explorer (BIE) query and data analysis tool. This tool is a step up from the prior version Business Insights Analyzer (BIA) module and now merges inquiry, drill-around and data analysis in a single view. The BIE Preview option permits a user to view master/card records along with performance statistics and related transactions (e.g. a customer record with related quotes, sales orders, invoices or a vendor record with associated vouchers and payments). BIE views are largely user defined so that a user can designate which columns to view, choose the primary column and sort order, and insert column sums or calculated results. Sage has positioned BIE and BIA as complimentary, however, dual licensing for this overlapping products can get a bit pricey.

The Order Entry module has finally received a much needed new user interface (UI). The UI is more intuitive and better accommodates heads-down data entry clerks who process higher transaction volumes. Users can also now place their most utilized fields in the grid entry page and leave less used fields in the "more" area. It's also helpful from a workflow perspective that users can now take sales orders, assign serial and lot numbers, issue pick tickets, receive shipments and generate invoices all from the same screen. The drop shipment function has been enhanced to both permit this selection at order entry as well as receive notification from the third party when the drop shipment has occurred.

Picking and shipping sales orders has been upgraded to permit automated shipments from item picking, more flexible product substitutions and modifiable business rules which prioritize sales orders and back orders by lot (expiration date), oldest inventory picked first, priority, date and other variables. Shipping documents such as the Bill of Lading and packing sheets have been upgraded and are more closely tied to the StarShip manifest system.

A new warehousing management module delivers new functions such as zones in warehouses, three step inventory transfers and wave and zone picking (to track quantity by bin). Warehouse automation also supports a (Windows Mobile 2003 or CE.NET) wireless solution for using handheld devices and scanning during order picking and physical cycle counts.

From the technology perspective, this product is built using SQL and a Visual Basic front-end. VB isn't exactly cutting edge technology and does little to facilitate thin client computing over the Internet, however, this implementation resides in a single facility and the client's IT department didn't want to consider a hosted solution so the technology isn't really a problem.

While largely focused on information access and enhanced warehousing, version 7 is a solid upgrade and the MAS 500 product is a solid ERP system. Sage MASĀ 500 modules have won several awards, including three Microsoft "Best Technology Integration" awards as well as five consecutive Software Technical Assistance Recognition (STAR) awards for outstanding customer service.

crm blog
SAP Posted: Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Sage

Comments: kelly[at]crmgal.com
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