back to article Bean-counting outfit Sage appoints bean-counter as new CEO

With its year-end results looming, Sage Group has confirmed the ascension of chief bean-counter, Steve Hare, to the lofty heights of chief executive officer. Hare, who joined Sage Group in 2014 - the same year as recently departed CEO Stephen Kelly - was previously at investment outfit Apax Partners as well as putting in a few …

  1. Dwarf Silver badge

    Perhaps

    Their poor financial results are an effect of their poor customer service and constant forced upgrades treadmill

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps

      What Sage product are you using, not had what I would class as a forced updates on Line 500 (Which is named Line 1000 in newer versions after the addition of a CRM module).

      1. Dwarf Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps

        @Captain

        Personally I don't use any of their products - took that decision a long time ago, however of those that I know that do, the story is always the same. Forced upgrades, the push to their cloudy product and generally not a lot of added value as the current product does what they need.

        Some of my customers are on the far end of a wet piece of string (in rural locations), so working locally makes a lot more sense than trying to work on-line.

        As to the annual changes in thresholds etc, you would expect that this is handled as parameters in the product that could be downloaded from the vendor or simply typed into the app, rather than needing a product upgrade every time, but hey, perhaps that's because of its heritage and use of old coding frameworks that are visible when you go poking around under the hood.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps

      With tax law changes, I can understand annual upgrades for accounting software to get the taxes right, very important if you wish to avoid some nasty fines/jail time. As far as customer service and product quality I have no experience, not a bean counter.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps

        Sage are fairly determined to get people onto a subscription model for their software, because they like the "pay and keep paying" model, over the one preferred by people like me, which is to pay once and then just keep using it until it actually *needs* to be upgraded. And you can still get Sage's main products on a perpetual licence - but for one thing.

        For day to day work accounts and bookkeeping work, tax law changes are irrelevant - it's down to the person using the software. There is one change coming RSN, however, that does force an upgrade: Making Tax Digital.

        If you're using a Sage product that you have on a perpetual licence, unless Sage have changed their minds since I last commented on this, if you want to be able to submit VAT returns under MTD, you have to *subscribe* to the MTD module.

        HMRC don't charge for access to the API.

        The API, once finalised (and I believe it now is), shouldn't be a constantly changing, moving target. It's possible that it might change occasionally, but as a general rule it should remain fixed.

        Therefore, in my opinion, there is no justification for a subscription model for the module. Sure, they may update and improve the software over time, but if people want a version with a better bloody UI or whatever, they can buy an upgrade - and similar if and when the API does change.

        But to insist on only selling it on a subscription model is, in effect, to tax businesses for being able to pay a tax.

        1. Roger Greenwood

          Re: Perhaps

          @ VinceH

          Agree. The trouble is there is nothing better for many small/medium businesses - lots of the competition is pretty micky mouse* according to my colleague (we tried a few). We just moved from 2008 version to current (subscription) and not a lot changed. This was entirely forced on us because of MTD.

          * not casting aspersions at MM - just a phrase that means "cheap and nasty" around here.

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Perhaps

            Indeed; I have a multi-company Sage 50 (2013 version IIRC - wrong machine to check) which I use for a few companies. One (my own) I could do in something else, but nothing I've looked at comes close to being good enough for my clients' data, in some cases due to mickey mouse inputting methods, or in others lack of adequate reports.

        2. a pressbutton

          Re: Perhaps

          I work with colleagues who maintain an XML based interface to HMRC that is used to pass payroll information (RTI)

          It changes every year.

          The changes are not well documented

          Edge cases are not properly thought through (not all payrolls are weekly or monthly), so there are often late-breaking changes.

          In short, you are largely correct, there is no real reason for the API to change,

          but it does, and keeping in step costs.

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Perhaps

            Payroll does change every year, yes - but I was talking about VAT, which doesn't.

            To illustrate how much it doesn't, as I said I've been using Sage 50 Accounts Plus 2013 since it came out - which was probably in 2012 - and using it to submit VAT returns. It was only at the end of the first quarter this year that I could no longer do that, because HMRC changed the log-in process. So that's five years at least with no change.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beancounter

    Sage's issues have nothing to do with the software's ability to count beans. Their issues have to do with their software being shit. They need to put some more focus on programmers, engineers, and database admins.

    (time to stop whining, and get back to my "migrate our shit off of Sage" project).

  3. GeezaGaz

    800lb Gorilla

    As others have said its simply a lack of innovation/progress.

    Line 50 has changed very little in the last 20 years, its been a great cash cow for Sage. In fact ever since the 90s when their greatest success was 'accountants in practice' promotion ensured all accountants got a nice little 25% for every referral. What do you do when you start a buisiness? Go to an accountant ask what 'What do I need?'

    That took Sage from just an accounting software vendor to massive scale, I was working at Pegasus in the early 90s and they were pretty equal up to this point but Sage left them in the dust. Not a better product just better marketing.

    I actually wrote software that migrated data from Line 50 other formats for SaaS providers to eat some of Sage's lunch (Kashflow being most notable) but hey being the incumbent with huge market share still hasn't really threatened their dominance. Even doing an appaling job with Sage One didn't hurt them that much,

    Don't even talk about Line 500, the original Tetra CS/3 product from 80s where all the database table names are still 8 characters long because of the old DOS naming restriction when the data was stored using Btrieve!

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Maddox

    Kelly's departure and SaaS pricing

    Donald Brydon, Sage Chairman intimated that a lack of progress towards SaaS pricing was a reason for Stephen Kelly's departure. One wonders whether Sage will now be more assertive?

    Whilst Sage's new customers have little alternative to SaaS pricing (X3 apart) they have stated previously that existing customers will not be forced to change to SaaS. Whereas, Sage customers switching to a competitor will only have the option of a SaaS deal. So in practice small and SME businesses have no alternative to SaaS contracts unless they stay 'off-plan' with Sage.

    However, in the UK with HMRC's 'Making Tax Digital' initiative making mandatory digital submission of tax returns the impetus to switch to a fully featured, on-plan supported SaaS contracts will be compelling.

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