New Sage BMS to hit Africa market next month
Built-in business intelligence, flexible reporting and the ability to integrate a company's key business areas - these are some of the benefits expected from the latest version of SageLine 500, set to be launched here early next month.
Line 500 is the primary business management solution (BMS) from Sage Enterprise Solutions, the pan-African enterprise division of the UK FTSE-listed Sage Group. And according to the local management, the new version will do more than offer enhanced functionality to mid-market companies across the continent.
"The main focus of version 5.5 is to provide a system that integrates the core finance, sales and administration functions of a business. To that end, we've enhanced many of the 60 or so modules that make up the BMS," explains Ashley Ellington, the divisional director for Africa at Sage Enterprise Solutions.
"However, given that the target market is large SMEs, we've looked more closely at lowering the cost of owning the solution. Certain modules in Version 5.5 will be licensed according to the number of named users per module [as opposed to concurrent users, thereby lowering the entry cost]. It will also allow several different application servers to communicate with a single database server."
In addition to enhanced security and an updated user interface, Line 500's business intelligence (BI), enquiries and 'paperless' applications are expected to be of particular interest.
On the BI side, an application that integrates with the Line 500 framework has been developed. It is of particular importance because, for the first time, Line 500 users will have direct access to integrated OLAP (online analytical processing) functionality.
"OLAP is a category of software technology previously confined to high end, expensive, niche BI tools. It enables analysts, managers and executives to gain insight into data through fast, consistent, interactive access to a wide variety of possible views of raw information," explains Ellington.
Accessed via a Microsoft Excel client or a browser, the BI application allows users to extract, transform and manipulate data from the Sage database - other databases are also supported. It's also possible to drill down to transactional data.
In addition, a customised development tool is provided, allowing users to build their own data cubes - types of multidimensional matrices that lets users explore and analyse data from many different perspectives. Pre-built cubes and templates are included.
"Even though this kind of functionality has been available in the past through third-party solutions, customers have been slow to embrace it, given the complexity surrounding the creation of the OLAP data cubes. The Sage BI solution comes pre-configured with its own OLAP cubes, making it simpler for customers to put them to use," adds Ellington.
For enquiries, a new reporting module simplifies the process of building customised, user-defined data enquiries; it combines the flexibility and power of the traditional Report Writer with Sage's extensive online drill down capabilities.
On the 'paperless' side, an application has been developed that allows users to design and print system-originated invoices and statements on plain paper, eliminating the need for costly pre-printed stationery. It also enables users to e-mail and fax Sage documents, or save copies in PDF format.
Sage Line 500 v5.5 will be sold through Sage's network of accredited and authorised resellers in SA, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria and some of the SADC countries.
"We're currently in the process of training our partners on the new solution - demonstrating just how it enables existing and potential customers to maintain and manage their business information even more effectively," says Ellington.
"The intention is to build on the growth seen in the BMS market over the last 18 months or so ... to cater for the increasingly-sophisticated user who's aware of the need to integrate different areas of the business through common technology processes."
For more information on Sage Enterprise Solutions, visit www.sageafrica.com.