Sage UK Ltd is moving into the mainstream with the latest release of its flagship mid-market accounting and ERP product, MMS (Mid Market Solution) Version 3, which is built on the Microsoft .NET platform with support for SQL Server instead of being restricted to a legacy proprietary database.
MMS is the Sage application that is aimed at the lower mid-market and replaced the old Line 100 product. As far as the portfolio is concerned, it sits between Line 50 at the low end of the market and the higher end Line 500 products.
We started replacing the Line 100 product before the .NET platform was available, but as soon at .NET and SQL Server was available we said we would finish the development on them and eventually port the whole product to it and move from a legacy database and onto SQL Server, said David Karlin, managing director of Sage UK’s mid-market division. MMS is the first whole product to be written in C# and SQL, and possibly the first comprehensive ERP product to be written wholly in that technology.
Sage prides itself on the depth and quality of its business processes, so as well as rearchitecting, it has re-analyzed and reworked all the business processes within the application in order to provide the user base with additional value. It is difficult to define but [what matters] is functional depth and the quality of the business processes, said Karlin. Everyone says they can enter a sales order or arrange a shipment but there are hundreds of different ways of taking an order or allocating stock or generating the paperwork.
The Line 100 product was in need of a major overhaul. Prior to the MMS platform users would not have been able to build other offerings such as Sage’s CRM software or vertical solutions around the accounting platform.
MMS v3 is a major upgrade, but beyond the functionality level it also illustrates that Sage is becoming a more dynamic force in the mid-market. Already the largest player in the sector, it has long had the potential to become a high-profile leader in this fragmented market. The move to embrace .NET and the pervasive SQL platform across its entire mid-market range broadens its addressable customer base, and the company said it has already attracted new partners who were not interested when Line 100 or MMS ran on a proprietary database. [SQL support] has broadened the scope where MMS sells, said David Pinches, director of accounts and ERP, Sage UK.
Although Version 3 only supports SQL Server at the moment, it was written in a database-independent way so it can be ported to other database platforms. It has been tested with other databases although there are no plans to roll out support alternatives as yet. SQL is pervasive at that end of the market. It was first on the list, If we do another [the debate is] will there be enough interest and channel partners able to support it, said Karlin.
There are no plans to tie MMS to a particular CRM product because the requirements for an individual business might dictate a high-end accounts package coupled with a low-end CRM product, for instance, but the company is building integration packages for Sage-to-Sage integration. Nor are there plans to offer a hosted version of MMS on the grounds that there is no immediate demand. There are specific reasons why hosted CRM works well. CRM is under the control of the sales and marketing team, and hosting allows them to get the system without IT being empowered to complain about it. It enables them to jump the IT queue. That does not apply to ERP. IT is involved and hands-on and that will not change, said Pinches.