Sage has announced a new implementation methodology for Sage Business Cloud (SBC) Enterprise Management (Sage X3). The new methodology, called Fast Start aims to complete implementation of an ERP solution within two months. The news came at the end of the channel partner convention in Sevilla.
The program is delivered via a channel partners. Initially available in France, Portugal and South Africa it seems that Sage is determined to set a new mark for the delivery of ERP solutions. However, all may not be as it seems.
The deployment is available on all delivery options, one assumes that this means on-premises, cloud and hosted. The caveat appears to be that only a few modules are implemented and these are implemented in a standard way. These include as standard: Finance, Purchasing, Inventory and Sales. In order to achieve the short deployment times companies must be willing to adopt the standard processes that Fast Start program has defined. What isn’t clear from the press release is whether these standard processes are generic or vary per industry.
For companies willing and able to go through the change management programs to undertake the changes it is already proven. Lutramart Oils successfully deployed the solution in only three weeks. Themba Mtombeni, Owner, Lutramart Oils, commented: “The entire implementation experience of Sage Enterprise Management using Fast Start was efficient and professional, leaving us with a great business solution that will assist us in remaining as effective and competitive as possible. Taking only 21 days to implement, Parity, our implementation partner provided excellent service and an end-product we can all be proud of.”
Once deployed the customer can elect to install and implement other modules to enhance or in some cases complete the implementation. This is unlikely to work for every company. Sage and its partners will probably need to ensure that certain conditions are met before committing. It will only suit those companies willing to adopt standard processes and pre-configured settings. The project must be business led with executive sponsorship and the preparation, such as data cleansing, should be minimal to hit the target dates.
The press release states that the process is completed “in a timely and cost-effective manner”. However, there is no indication of the actual cost for implementation nor, for that matter, what effort the customer needs to expend to make it a success.
Speed – the new currency of ERP
Sage are not the only ones to launch methodology to reduce implementation times for customers. NetSuite launched SuiteSuccess last year and added new vertical solutions at SuiteWorld recently. Infor also has several industry accelerators. Both of these programs aim to deliver a working system in under 100 days.
Sage is upping the ante by committing to an even shorter timescale. Warren Williams, Managing Director, Parity the platinum Sage Business Partner that supported Lutramart Oils with their implementation said: “One of the many strengths of the Sage Enterprise Management Fast Start solution is the speed at which it can be implemented. By choosing this solution, Lutramart Oils now have a faster, simpler and more flexible way to manage their business, allowing them to focus on building customer relationships, include local communities within their value chain.”
This methodology is unlikely to appeal or work with larger organisations. Lutramart Oil is a small organisation in South Africa providing oils, greases and coolants to a range of industries. Organisations that have complex processes in place or those with a larger or dispersed workforce are likely to need a bigger change management program.
Pascal Gaude, VP Professional Services, said: “Implementing a Businesses Management solution is a huge decision for growing businesses. At Sage, working with our partners, we understand that customers want to see visible return on investment within the shortest amount of time possible. The Fast Start implementation methodology is a commitment to supporting smart companies to begin their business transformation quickly and painlessly. We are positive of the value Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management brings to our customers and are proud to be able to demonstrate this within two months.”
What does this mean
This might signal a shift in the focus for Sage towards smaller simpler companies. Gaude indicates he is also hoping to attract growing companies, a target that will pitch SBC Enterprise Management directly against NetSuite in the cloud software arena. The methodology will “soon” be made available to customers in Australia, UK & Eire and Spain. The press release makes no mention of the US market, although Sage Intacct already has a fairly fast process for implementation.
Until more detail is available about this program it is difficult to judge its efficacy in the wider market. It will suit some companies but is unlikely to suit everyone. Organisations in every territory want to move faster and spend less time on IT projects. They want to focus on delivering value as quickly as possible. This program appears to achieve that for new customers.
What Sage need to do is identify what verticals (if any) the software is preconfigured for. It has a vast experience of working in many SME markets. If it can bring that best practise knowledge into a flexible implementation process it might return Sage to the revenue targets that they had hoped for.