Sage One Gets Enhancements to Appeal to More Small Businesses

Sage One small business

Annual customer conferences are typically a time to announce new products and enhancements to existing products. And the 2013 Sage Summit is no exception.

The software company announced this week that Sage One, its cloud-based accounting, project management and invoicing solution for small businesses, is getting enhancements.

According to Mike Savory, Sage One Product Manager for Sage North America, an iPhone app is coming in August. The mobile app is something business owners asked for so that they can perform work on the go, no matter where they are.

Then the fourth quarter of 2013 will see the introduction of Sage One Accountants Edition.  This is a module that will allow a business owner’s accountant or outside bookkeeper to log in securely to the business’s financial records on the Sage One cloud platform.  There will be no charge for an accountant to use the Accountants Edition. It will make the product more efficient for small businesses so that they don’t have to manually pass accounting records back and forth with their outside accountants.

A Canadian version of Sage One is also coming in the fourth quarter of 2013.  It will have bilingual (French and English) support, as well as integration with Canadian banks.

Adding High End and Low End Editions

In addition, two new levels of the product will be launched. This autumn will see the launch of Sage One Basics in the United States.  Sage One Basics will consist of a streamlined, online invoicing and payments application.  It will carry a lower price point than the existing product, which is priced at $24 per month.

In 2014 a higher-end level is coming, called Sage One Extra.  Sage One Extra will be a “true multi-user system” says Savory, and will add additional features.

According to Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Small Business Solutions for Sage North America, Sage One Extra will be more attractive to somewhat larger small businesses.  Currently the sweet spot for Sage One  is for a small business with under 10 employees, although businesses up to 20 employees may also use it today.  Sage One Extra edition will include more inventory management capability and other features appealing to the larger end of that range, up to around the 25-employee business, Certusi said.  The addition of Sage One Payroll in 2014 will also increase the appeal to small businesses that have a number of employees.

Sage One small business accounting booth at Sage Summit

Sage One at Sage Summit 2013

 Sage One: A Young Product

Sage One was launched in the United States in the spring of 2012.  Since then it has seen several enhancements. Among the added enhancements is the ability to accept mobile payments and electronic payments  on invoices, as we reported in February.

The company also added bank integration this year.  Customers can now download transactions from over 10,000 banks in the United States and import them into the Sage One online system (avoiding manual keying of data for each banking transaction).

Behind the scenes the product was also completely reworked to use a common global technology platform. Savory told us in an interview, “That’s not something customers see, but it’s important because it will allow us to speed up product enhancements going forward.”  Sage has a presence globally. In the past each Sage country unit more or less created its own technology – now they will share common technology on the back end.  “On the front end there will always be product differences because of differences in the way business is conducted in different countries, different languages, different tax jurisdictions and different currencies,” Savory said.

Enhancing the product is something that goes on continually, Savory added.  “We employ ‘agile development’ and make a regular stream of product improvements every two weeks, based on customer feedback.”

Analysts and small business experts we talked with at the conference generally were positive on Sage One and the product direction.  However, they see Sage North America as having work ahead of it to increase market adoption.

Said Laurie McCabe, an analyst and Partner in the SMB Group, “CEO Pascal Houillon has been proven right in his strategy of unifying under one brand name [Sage] in order for Sage North America to gain market awareness and grow.  One of Sage’s challenges is how to get new customers.  Sage One is one of several answers. With that product they’re drawing in the small business that today is using paper or spreadsheets.”

But, she adds, Sage One’s current situation demonstrates how much work is left, as well as how much opportunity is available.  Out of Sage’s six million customers worldwide, about 10,000 use the Sage One product — “a small number when you think of how many millions of very small businesses are in the United States.  It demonstrates a market opportunity. But to capture that opportunity the company needs to increase awareness. They also need to be found in every app marketplace out there — the Google Apps Marketplace, and more.”

Expert Barry Moltz agrees that Sage North America needs to “get the name out there” more.  “Awareness among really small businesses is the key.”

Sanjeev Aggarwal, Founder of the SMB Group, suggests that one avenue toward expanding awareness could be developer partners. Sage One is now poised for developer partners to “add value to the product.” He adds, “Sage has created the building blocks for developers to step up and extend Sage One by adding features and integrating with other products.”

Image: Sage NA, Sage One at Sage Summit 2013 (full sign reads “Gain the freedom to achieve your ambitions”)  

Editor’s correction:  updated to reflect accurate customer numbers worldwide. 

17 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

17 Reactions

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Anita: How would you compare and contrast Sage One with other applications on the market? I like Sage’s web presence and activities in the blogosphere. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial test / infographics on Sage Ireland’s blog.

    • Anita Campbell

      Hi Martin,

      Sage One today is ideal for service providers such as graphics designers, consultants and similar businesses. For instance, it has built-in time tracking and project management, in addition to accounting and invoicing. It can be useful for a solo entrepreneur or a business with a handful of employees — especially if you supplement it with an outside payroll service such as SurePayroll and other services.

      So if you run a business that tends to do “projects”, and invoices customers (instead of selling retail items accepting cash at a cash register) — it will be a good fit.

      Today it would not be a good fit for manufacturing companies or retail businesses or ecommerce businesses, for instance, because it’s really not set up to properly track SKUs and inventory levels and retail sales and activities like that.

      You could probably “force fit” it for small levels of retail sales — such as a consultant selling a book he’s written — but it’s not naturally designed for that sort of business on a large scale.

      But as I mention in the article, some changes coming in the next 6 to 12 months could well expand the appeal to other types of businesses, especially with the addition of Sage One Extra.

      - Anita

  2. Brent Leary

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for update on the new developments with Sage One. Their commitment to making the Sage One line accessible and affordable to real “meat and potatoes” small businesses is great.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I think this service supports good for my job.

  4. Hey Anita,

    Great article, but here’s a Frank movie about how Sage and Quickbooks hold small businesses back and what your readers can do about it…. http://salesorder.wistia.com/medias/ax4i2y1lm9 – I’m hoping you and I can talk…..

    Nick

    • Anita Campbell

      Nick, thank you for your comment.

      However, I have a different viewpoint. For the typical SageOne user, your product would be overkill. A Web designer with 25 customers, who sends out 7 or 10 invoices a month, doesn’t need a complex sales order system. Doesn’t need warehouse management. Doesn’t need to give customers access to price lists and product lists, or the ability to see into their ERP system.

      We’ve done nearly 1,000 reviews on this site in 10 years, and one thing I’ve learned is that you must match the customers’ expectations and needs, with what the product is designed to do. Not every product is right for every small business. Product overkill is as big a problem for a small business as underkill, because it makes a system far too complex and difficult to deal with.

      I stand by what I wrote — Sage One today is a good product for a small business that provides B2B services that they invoice for.

      - Anita

      • Hey Connie,

        “I’ve learned is that you must match the customers’ expectations and needs, with what the product is designed to do.”.. dont dispute that as Salesorder.com was built in careful collaboration with around 60 small businesss of all shapes and sizes who all wanted off of the Sage and Quickbooks mashups…

        Its now used by customers in 23 countries (who love it), the majority being in the US. It’s for growing businesses, in both senses of the statement.

        As our instrumentation shows you didnt watch the video, then I would like to talk to you and show you the product, if its only for you to see we have gone a long way to solving the complex ‘ERP’ problem i.e too complex and difficult to deal with….

        Please ;-)

        Cheers

        Nick

      • Anita Campbell

        Actually, I watched your video twice — all the way through. We never allow a link in a comment to stand unless at least 1 human being looks at it. :)

  5. LOL,

    I take that back…

    So we are going to talk then?

  6. Anita,

    With all the choices out there, it’s all coming back to the feature I really need and – of course – the support.

    I am a user of Mint.com for my personal finance needs and I think Sage One is pretty similar (at least signing up feels quite familiar,) except the fact that Sage one is for small businesses and startups.

    Trying Sage One (they offer free trial,) I think it’s easy to use and fits greatly with the needs of independent businesses and small businesses in general, but perhaps too simple to cater their larger counterparts – which is actually a great news for small business owners :)

    Resources are plentiful – helpful in speeding up the software learning process.

    • Anita Campbell

      Hi Ivan, Sage One is a good fit for services businesses — and it can do a lot for small businesses consisting of a solo entrepreneur or a small team with a handful of people.

      What impresses me the most is that Sage NA is investing in the product. I have to admit I wondered when the product was launched a year ago, and then we didn’t see a stream of enhancements quickly.

      I learned last week at Sage Summit that there actually was a lot of product work going on, and a lot of surveying of customers. But it was happening behind the scenes, on the underlying technology. They took a step back, in order to speed up enhancements in the future. So now, we actually are starting to see those enhancements on the front end.

      I didn’t write much about Sage One in the first year, because the jury was still out, to a degree. I’ve seen many products launched with fanfare, only to be ignored later.

      But after a year, I can see the commitment by Sage.

      - Anita

      • Anita,

        One of the result of Sage’s active customer surveys is the need for a solution to speed up things, such as retrieving customer data. I’m looking forward for their voice recognition app, which enable user to retrieve data using voice.

        What do you think of this app – will it really help user to be more productive?

      • Anita Campbell

        Hi Ivan,

        I think the voice app will help “some” be more productive. When that voice app was demo’ed, as I mention, someone in awe said “that’s how I look up information.” For people like that, it could be a real productivity aid. And it’s exciting to them, just judging from the applause that erupted spontaneously at that point.

        For someone like me, who has to “see” and “write” all information I use, not so much. You see, I’d probably never use that app, except in a rare situation when I was out of the office.

        So it depends on user preference.

        - Anita

      • Anita,

        Wow – so much interest on the app, I suppose…

        It’s probably very useful for business people who are always on the go while juggling with many tasks.

        I wonder about the accuracy, though… especially when the voice app is used in English with different accents than U.S. English.

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