Ross Brinsdon (BKN Technical Director) meets Nick Goode (Head of Online and Micro Business for Sage) to discuss Sage’s new online offering SageOne and what’s in it for the bookkeeper.
Can you provide our members with a brief resume of what makes you qualified to be the head of Online Marketing for Sage?
Sure. I joined Sage in April 2010 as head of marketing for the Accountants Division. Prior to that I spent over 15 years in the software business, in product management, marketing and general management. I have worked all over the world including as Vice President of Product Management at Business Objects, now an SAP company. I am passionate about defining the right software products and services that customers need, and getting these to the market via the best channels.
Why has it taken Sage so long to release their first software to the online market?
The market for online solutions especially in the micro (0-4 employees) and small business sectors is growing rapidly. I was not at Sage when the very first vendors came to market with their solutions so I am not able to comment on the past.
Today, we have SageOne Cashbook, SageOne Accounts and SageOne Payroll (http://www.sageone.com) and a rapidly expanding online customer base. We have smartphone and iPad apps for Sage50, and Sage50 online, providing customers with access to their business data and their clients’ data too, 24/7. SagePay, our online ecommerce payment solution, has been in the market for several years. People like to perpetuate myths about Sage – the reality is that we have a broad online and mobile offering that suits the needs of different types and size of customer.
Can you briefly explain what makes Sage One different to the other Sage products offered and also other online offerings?
SageOne is designed, built and supported in the UK, mainly at Sage’s global headquarters in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. SageOne customers enjoy 24/7 telephone support for free. Yes, some bookkeepers call us at 4am on a Saturday!
The SageOne team worked with customers, one of whom was a small accountancy firm, to define their exact needs for the online product. Usability is crucial as people start up their business, so they are effective immediately without training. I personally am in contact with customers every day and encourage my team to do the same so that we deliver what you and your clients need. For example, one bookkeeper told us that they needed to be able to make a client "dormant" if that client stopped paying, or put their business on hold. That feature is going live in the product this week.
Another difference is our commercial model for bookkeepers and accountants: the Sage Online Accounting Programme or SOAP for short. It’s extremely simple. We create a login for the bookkeeper on the phone with our dedicated business consultant, Francesca Holmes. The bookkeeper then signs up clients online. These clients are typically new businesses or people using Excel or other "by-hand" means of doing their accounts.
Sage only bills the bookkeeper once his or clients are using SageOne. There is nothing to pay upfront. We also provide excellent customer service, for example we will do a webinar with you, all sorted out by Sage, with your clients, at a time convenient to you, to walk you and your clients through the different SageOne products. We provide marketing such as email templates and social media tips to help you grow your customer base with SageOne.
Why is SageOne a must for Book-keepers and Accountants – isn’t it aimed at small business owners?
It’s aimed at both. Many customers just sign up on their own, without their bookkeeper or accountant. However, it’s much better for them to work with you directly. SageOne enables you to view all your clients’ data online, which means that you can see whether they are doing their accounts correctly or not. No more shopping bag full of receipts and keying in client data! Working with a bookkeeper online with SageOne enables clients to avoid fines. You submit their data to HMRC directly from the product. Plus, you can manage your work/life balance better when all the data is online.
What are the costs of SageOne to clients and Book-keepers & Accountants?
SageOne is as affordable as it is easy-to-use. Cashbook, ideal for sole traders, is £5 a month. Accounts, ideal for limited companies, is £10 a month and Payroll is free until July 2012. SageOne Accountants Edition is £10 a month, or free for Sage Accountants’ Club members, enables you to manage unlimited numbers of clients. There is no minimum term. These prices are there to help bookkeepers get online and gain in efficiency, whilst offering their clients the best customer experience.
Do you have any news of upcoming software releases that BKN members should expect to see in the next twelve months?
All the existing products are updated regularly and of course, BKN members get the benefits immediately as the software is all online. As mentioned, a lot of the improvements come directly from customers so we encourage you to get involved.
Obviously I am not going to share our product roadmap in a public forum. However, the general trend is towards supporting growing companies. Sage is investing heavily in the online area of the business. Sage online solutions are growing and are here to stay.
To find out more about SageOne for your practice and clients, contact Fran Holmes on 0800 092 8091, via email Francesca.firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @franholmesSage. Nick also welcomes your input via email email@example.com