Sage readies Accpac version 5.6 for late 2009 release

As Sage prepares for the version 5.6 of its Accpac ERP business management software solution, the company is working to simplify the product and its pricing to more effectively address customer pain points.

During this year's Sage Insights Partner conference, Laurie Schultz, senior vice-president and general manager of Sage Accpac and Simply Accounting for Sage North America, said there are still plenty of opportunities for the channel to acquire new customers while still servicing their current installed base. To date, she said the company has more than 1,000 partners doing business across North America.

Accpac version 5.6 is scheduled for release sometime during the November to December timeframe this year, but Schultz said, until then, there's still more work to be done.

"Over the next 90 days, we need to focus on our mid-market ERP portfolio and balance out new customers with our existing ones," Schultz said.

Scott Zandbergen, vice-president of product management for Accpac with Sage North America, said when Accpac version 5.5 was released last year, the solution's release date was synchronized into just one day.

"We synchronized the release date and within 90 days, all of the additional bits and pieces were also made available," he said. "We also simplified pricing and introduced bundled options, some of which were being sold separately before."

Accpac 5.6 will also see even more simplification and enhancements to reporting capabilities, Zandbergen said. In the new version, for instance, he said the installation and activation of the solution can also be done in just one step. Accpac 5.6 will also come with a new product called Sage Accpac Intelligence, which is a tool to help customers analyze their data and have quick access to it via Sage Accpac and CRM. Sage Accpac Intelligence will be easy for customers to learn and use since it's also based on Excel, he added.

"With Sage Accpac Intelligence, users can quickly filter and sort pre-formatted reports or they can create new ones," he said.

Sage is now in the midst of working on its next generation version of Sage Accpac, which will be delivered as a phased-in solution approach beginning next year. In 2011, the second generation phase of the solution will be made available, Zandbergen said.

Paul Johnson, the enterprise vice-president of sales for Sage North America's Sage business solutions division, said especially in Canada, he'd like to see more partners get "involved" in the company's CRM product-lines and Accpac solutions.

"We want to see better penetration," Johnson said. "In Canada, distribution, manufacturing and services are critical areas for us right now. Our products are well structured and they'll continue to grow effectively, I think, over the next 18 months."