Category: Sage Business Index (SBI)


Some of the major challenges facing small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa are limited sales, access to finance, managing cashflow and competition from large businesses.

Laurica Kok, general manager of Sage Pastel Payroll and HR, says the business arena is increasingly going mobile with Cloud computing and big data both structured and unstructured. This is driving payroll and HR industries to provide affordable and online solutions as well as self service and connected services offerings to businesses and business partners alike.

“Users will buy if they are given what they need. As business increasingly embraces mobile technology we endeavour to stimulate our business partners and their vendors to change their mindset and meet the mobility challenge head-on. Mobile solutions are in demand in the South African market.”

Kok adds that mobility, affordability and accessibility any time anywhere for business-to-business or business–to-consumer are the future and futurist applications are the way to make your personal and business life easy.

Connected Services enables SME companies to extend their desktop payroll with an online solution that eases the growing burden of HR managers and payroll administrators.

The solution includes a web-based self-service tool that enables employees to manage and maintain their own information online, thereby carrying some of the overall HR administration responsibility. They are able to make online applications for leave, loans, bursaries, travel claims, view their payslips and update personal information no matter where they are so long as they have an internet or smartphone connection.

At the click of a button the online applications of employees can be updated to the desktop application, providing a beneficial application for employees and business owners, payroll administrators and HR managers.

With connected services, the payroll desktop solution provides users with the best of both worlds (desktop and online), by making use of frictionless automated update technology. Frictionless updates enable traditional desktop applications to seamlessly update over the internet with minimal intervention from the end-user. Businesses no longer need to download and install updates from a website or use CD versions to manually update their software. The software now does it all for them, directly from their payroll software – as long as businesses have an active internet connection.

Another component of connected services is RSS Feeds. Payroll administrators, HR managers, business owners and business partners can view RSS Feeds directly on their desktop payroll system. This allows the business to receive information, notifying it of legislative and tax changes as well as new system software releases, ensuring the business stays on the right side of the law.

Sumay Dippenaar, marketing manager at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR, said a company’s logo is no longer its brand. “According to futurist Pieter Geldenhuys, customers and employees are the brand. It is all about credible recommendations. Consumers know an advertising message may not be accurate and is purely aimed at encouraging people to buy a product. Traditional media are likely to be seen as less credible advertising mediums. In a recent survey only 3% of respondents said the advertising message is seen as very accurate.”

It is important that business partners build their personal brand and use it as a vehicle to generate more sales. An affordable marketing discipline to build a business partner’s personal brand is public relations, complemented by general online visibility such as suitable social media platforms, to name but a few.”

Connect with us:

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

View a short video on leave and bonus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGQ-mIHBHGk

Local and globally aligned provider of secure online transaction processing services, Sage Pay, says the industry faces an “interesting period” over the next five to 10 years.

“A new set of entrepreneurs is emerging in South Africa,” says Sage Pay managing director Charles Pittaway. “People are moving online and younger businesses are more inclined to make use of the internet for their business solutions. It is a mindset and reflects what users are comfortable with.”

Pittaway adds that SMME businesses have limited resources for complex systems and seek to have all their business, payroll and accounting systems integrated to conduct their business through multiple platforms. He contends that Cloud computing and connected services have broadened the capability of standalone vertical products and are interacting with other services.

The new set of entrepreneurs seeks Cloud accessibility and Web mobility on the basis of cost effective subscription and ‘pay for what you use services’. “The new generation in business wants mobility, flexibility, time and cost savings. While SMEs tend to accept recommendations via word of mouth (for example, their accountants) they don’t really know how to differentiate between what will and won’t work for them.”

Pittaway sees the Cloud as the way forward, a fundamental shift that will see the Cloud becoming the absolute norm. “It is a natural movement as young entrepreneurs want their lives to be fully automated. There is a five to 10 year adaption gap between the average age of social media users and senior business people, however in the next few years there will be a major shift in that ratio.”

About Sage Pay

Sage Pay (previously Sage Netcash) provides payment solutions to small and medium-sized companies in South Africa. Salary and creditor payments, debit order collections or credit card gateway transactions are processed from 1 online account. Competitive transaction fees, and an easy to use online platform allows business owners to manage their business transactions from anywhere at any time. A full range of credit check and risk management services are also available from the Sage Pay account.

Sage Pay a wholly owned subsidiary of The Sage Group plc.

The Sage Group plc is a leading global provider of business management software to small and medium sized companies, creating greater freedom for them to succeed. Sage understands how and why each business is unique. We provide products and services that suit varying needs, are a pleasure to use and are secure and efficient. Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and entered the FTSE 100 in 1999. Sage has over 6 million customers and more than 13,500 employees in 24 countries covering the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia, Asia and Brazil. For further information please visit www.sagesouthafrica.co.za and www.sage.com

Spokesperson at the Sage Pastal Payroll Press Launch

Philip Meyer- Sage Pastel Payroll & HR

We live in an era where most individuals, everyday use their smartphone to call, sms, WhatsApp, Facebook you name it.

Many experts in the industry believe that global mobile internet usage is projected to overtake desktop by 2014, meaning that globally individuals will access the internet from their smartphone more than using their desktop.

Philip Meyer, technology director at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR says that the importance of applying mobile technology cannot be overestimated.

According to a South African Network Society project done at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2012, over seven out of ten Internet users use their mobile phones to go online and more people have Internet capable phones than own computers.

“Seeing that more people in South Africa have Internet access from their smartphones and other mobile devices, we first developed an Android application because it is highly popular globally and was clearly the most logical deployment,” says Meyer.

Sage Pastel Payroll & HR developed a hosted, web-based tool enabling employees to manage and maintain their own information online called Self Service.

Self Service enables employees to make applications for leave, salary advances, loans, bursaries or other financial assistance, online, no matter where they are in the world as long as they have an internet connection. Employees can view their previous months’ payslips (Self Service online only), update personal information, submit their travel claims and more.

Due to mobility taking over globally, Sage Pastel Payroll & HR kept up with the technology change by taking the Self Service functionality and making it a mobile application. The application enables employees to apply for leave, submit travel claims and update their personal details online or via their smartphone, anywhere, anytime.

For Payroll Administrators and Business Owners, there is no manual capturing of the employees’ request forms. Once approved on the smartpone, the desktop payroll software is updated automatically.

“The application is unique in that it is the first mobile payroll application developed by a South African company enabling employees to apply for leave, submit travel claims and update personal details anywhere at anytime.”

According to Duncan Alfreds from News24, an international survey by research firm Gartner has revealed that Google’s mobile operating system overtook Microsoft’s Windows as the most common operating system in 2012. Android will soon become the most globally dominant operating system, research has revealed. Gartner adds, “As mobile becomes the growing segment in consumer devices, we see the installed base of devices growing but also a shift toward Android.” (Source – News24, April 2013)

Meyer says the mobile application is available in a mobi site environment and applications for iPhone and Blackberry smartphones and Windows Mobile are now being developed.

“The mobile application eases the pressure on HR departments, allowing them more time to concentrate on important areas such as staff wellness, efficiency and training instead of wasting hours on capturing leave forms, dealing with HR data-related queries or distributing payslips. It also makes services more accessible to sales and services employees who are frequently out of the office visiting clients,” concludes Meyer.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

Most BI thought leadership articles these days include a fairly significant section on mobile data consumption, and how trends are heading in this direction. The predictions from analysts suggest that by 2013, as much as 33% of business intelligence functionality will be consumed via handheld devices.This inherently sets out to challenge the thinking of traditional BI vendors in terms of how their solutions become relevant in the mobile space. It can be tempting to re-invent the wheel in an effort to lead the charge with something really cool, something that demo’s well, without carefully thinking about what device the majority of customers are likely to use, and how they will consume or interact with the data on this device, and of course, what makes practical sense to add value to their day to day operations and decision making. To read more, CLICK HERE

 

Small and medium businesses (SMBs, defined as companies with 1-1000 employees) comprise 99% of employer firms in the United States and account more than 50% of total IT spending (Source: SMB Group estimates and U.S. Census Bureau Data). The SMB Group’s 2012 Small and Medium Business Routes to Market Study will help technology and telecom product, software and services vendors and service providers deepen their understanding of how businesses in this extraordinarily market discover and gain awareness of technology solutions; the sources that influence them to consider, evaluate and purchase them; the purchasing process; and channels that they buy technology solutions from. The study will also provide trending insights based on year-over-year data comparisons with the SMB Group’s 2011 Small and Medium Business Routes to Market Study Study results and analysis will help vendors make well-informed marketing, product development, media and channel decisions to successfully reach, influence and market to North American SMBs with one to 1,000 employees… Read more : Click Here

Microsoft Excel is the universal language of business and accountants and most decision-makers in small to mid-sized businesses use ‘the king of spreadsheets’ in some way for reporting. In fact, research analyst Gartner has conceded that “Excel is still the number one reporting tool”[1]. Why then, would you want or need to use Sage Intelligence, a Business Intelligence (BI) tool, and not just Excel for your business reporting?

Let’s begin by answering this question with some more questions: Can you say with conviction that you have a clear view of your company’s performance? Do you have visibility of MTD and YTD sales year on year? Can you see, whenever you want to, how your profitability or cash flow is tracking? How about top 5 customers, expenses, or salespeople

To read more: Click here

Bold Context was in need of a hosted solution that could also support detailed financial reporting to their customers.  Sage ERP X3 presented itself as the perfect solution to address the company’s needs.

Bold Context simplifies financial management for small and medium-sized businesses through the provision of skilled advisory personnel and robust, scalable and cost-efficient back-office services in a shared service centre format, (referred to as a hosted solution). The hosted services include accounting, debtors, creditors, sales, purchasing, stock, manufacturing, reporting and business intelligence. In essence, SMEs have access to large company systems at small company prices.

Sage ERP X3 enables Bold Context to provide the hosted solution to companies with limited internal IT skills and capabilities. The solution is affordable and manageable. “The Sage ERP X3 application is hosted in a professional environment with full backup procedures and database administration which is taken care of on behalf of our clients.  There is no large capital outlay and businesses can now enjoy the benefits of large enterprise systems without breaking the bank”, says Graham McGregor, CEO for Bold Context.

“The cloud-based ERP offers many advantages, especially for start-up businesses,” says Keith Fenner, senior vice president for sales at Sage ERP Africa. “Businesses are able to benefit from lower infrastructure costs, easy software deployment and seamless scalability.”

Accounting and business management software solutions specialist Lorge was contracted by Bold Context to implement, service, support and maintain the Sage ERP X3 software. The hosted ERP X3 solution offers Bold Context and its customers a full suite of modules to fully support its needs and drive the business. Developments per customer are made easy with the SAFE (Sage Application Framework for the Enterprise) architecture, and data is securely housed in the respective customer’s folder,” says Jonty Katz, Operations Manager of Lorge’s Sage ERP X3 division.

In the past the clients of Bold Context also experienced difficulties with the level of detail available in the reports delivered from their various systems and they had to start to purchase and develop 3rd party applications to fill the gaps their current systems could not cover. This created a complicated IT environment which increased the costs of servicing.  Businesses started to become reliant on certain key individuals and were exposed to large amounts of risk should this individual depart the business,” says McGregor.

However, with the hosted Sage ERP X3 solution Bold Context can simplify the creation of reports dramatically.  Once the customer has transferred key financial accounting information, Bold Context starts a systematic system improvement & development process. This can be broken into phases to support rapid initial system setup and then focused development thereafter to achieve high levels of ROI for the ERP take on.

The companies utilizing Bold Context hosted Sage ERP X3 solution now have access to more detailed financial information supporting business analytics through the extension of multiple dimensions.  The customers can also map a long term system development strategy knowing full well that they will not outgrow the system.

One of Bold Context’s hosted clients is CSS Tactical, a professional security services company, providing mainly armed response and dedicated proactive patrols as well as the installation of burglar alarms and CCTV cameras.

“Sage ERP X3 has allowed us to manage our key customer billing information and customer master file data in a controlled and efficient manner. We have also managed to improve our business profitability analytics through the dimension levels supported in Sage. We have also been able to map a long term ERP strategy involving all the benefits of Sage including CRM & EDM module utilization,” says Ricky Croock, CEO of CSS Tactical.

By Keith Fennersenior vice president for sales at Sage ERP Africa.

Companies need to be efficient, save time and costs, when it comes to the production and distribution of documents, such as invoices, remittances, statements, quotes and order confirmations

Sage ERP Africa’s electronic document distribution solution, Spindle Professional, now makes being efficient as a business so much easier because it enables business users to improve their practices and to streamline and automate all communications. It also helps the organisation to reduce their carbon footprint by going paperless.

The Spindle Professional software helps the small and medium sized business to instantly distribute multiple documents via email and to automatically print, fax and archive it as PDF documents. It is versatile, can be utilised by a number of departments across an organisation including Accounts, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service functions and it integrates with accounting, CRM and other systems. The software also enables organisations to create professional-looking documents, including the company’s logo and branding.”

How does it work? – A practical example:

Angela raises a sales order and prints it to Spindle Professional. John (the customer) gets an order confirmation as a PDF, via email. It includes corporate branding, terms and conditions and special offers, as well as a digital signature to assure its validity. Steve (in the sales department) also gets the order confirmation and checks it against quotations. At the same time a copy is saved in CRM, giving a single location for all communications and documents.

In the accounts department, Susan’s local printer prints a copy for filing with Terms and Conditions. A copy is also created and indexed into Microsoft SharePoint for easy access by multiple teams. Angela’s sales order is at the same time printed directly to the warehouse printer with bar codes added for easy item picking. A copy gets emailed to Bob in the warehouse, in case a reprint of the paperwork is required.

Key Features

·         Email – The most cost effective way to send documents. Complete with company branding and messages, finished documents are sent as PDF files.

  • Print – When an organisation simply can’t email or fax. Copies can be printed on different stationery Prints to multiple printers simultaneously

·         Barcode Generation – Create and insert barcodes to documents.

·         CRM – Automatically links outgoing documents with a customer or company and saves a record of the communication for reference.

·         Fax – Quick document delivery from one business to another.

·         PDF Digital signatures – Digitally signing documents gives you improved security and protects against invoice fraud.

Key Benefits

·         Reduce costs – documents are automatically delivered via email and fax and remove the need for pre-printed stationery.

·         Reduce environmental impact - sending documents by email and fax dramatically reduces the amount of paper used by a business and can help reduce environmental impact.

·         Automated Archiving – Spindle Professional automatically archives all documents as PDF files to a predefined location.

·         Intelligent Delivery – Spindle knows which documents to print, email or fax based on client and supplier preferences.

·         Intelligent documents - Terms and Conditions or promotional offers are automatically attached to relevant documents.

·         Seamless Integration – Spindle professional integrates with existing systems e.g. Sage 300 ERP (formerly Accpac), Sage ERP X3 and Sage CRM.

Spindle Professional is a document distribution solution that many of our Sage 300 ERP and Sage ERP X3 users in Africa have been looking for. It has been developed in partnership with Draycir International and offers us a real opportunity to deliver greater business value to our distributors and offer even more functionality from our Sage platforms.

Sage Business Index by Softline shows local confidence in business prospects remain stable, but confidence in SA economic prospects dips

8th November 2012, Johannesburg: Softline, part of the Sage Group PLC, today released the results of The Sage Business Index – Local and International Business Insights.

The Index is a global measure of confidence across small and medium sized businesses. Nearly 11,000 small and medium sized companies in 15 countries across Europe, North America, Brazil, South Africa and Asia responded to the survey. The Index shows that whilst there is a general decline in confidence in global and local economies, businesses remain cautiously optimistic in their own growth prospects.

In South Africa, confidence in both individual business prospects and the outlook for the global economy remain largely unchanged, down slightly from March 2012 (Index scores: 64.44 to 64.19 and 44.71 to 44.54 respectively). Confidence in South Africa’s own economic prospects has fallen slightly further from 46.11 in March 2012 to 43.03 in September 2012.

South African Index Scores* September 2012 March 2012 September 2011
Global economic confidence 44.54 44.71 45.92
SA’s Country economic confidence 43.03 46.11 44.10
Own business confidence SA 64.19 64.44 62.58

(Below 50 is decline/less confident above 50 is improvement/more confident, 50 is no different)*

The research, which included 1 879 South African small to medium size businesses, was carried out by Populus, a UK based opinion and research consultancy firm.

Economic confidence – local concerns in line with macro-economic trends

All countries, with the exception of Brazil, registered an index score below 50 showing that respondents generally feel that the global economy is continuing to decline. Unsurprisingly, the Eurozone countries feel the most negative, with fears of a “double dip” recession having risen sharply.

In South Africa, businesses surveyed are feeling less confident about the prospects for the local economy, with the index declining from 46.11 to 43.03 over the past 6 months. This, however, is in sharp contrast with how they feel about their own business prospects which scored positively at 64.19.

Commenting at the official results presentation in Johannesburg today, Ivan Epstein, CEO (and co-founder) of Softline and Sage AAMEA (Asia, Australia, Middle East and Africa) said, “Looking at the results against an international backdrop, South Africa scored the second highest index rating of all the countries polled in terms of individual business confidence. Entrepreneurial spirit and business culture is identified by businesses as one of the most important aspects for doing business successfully in South Africa. This endorses my strong belief that South Africa is a fertile environment for successful entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

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Business performance and challenges – revenues maintained, cost challenges

There are some positive signs in the global survey with 63 percent of respondents saying that over the past 6 months revenue has either increased or held steady whilst 82 percent have either increased or maintained employee numbers.

South Africa achieved a similar score with 65 percent of businesses polled showing either steady or increasing revenue and 84 percent of businesses either increasing or maintaining employee numbers.

Rob Wilkie, CFO of Softline and Sage AAMEA commented that “72 percent of South African businesses said that they have adapted to the challenges of the current economic climate. The agility and resilience of businesses in South Africa is testament to a strong entrepreneurial business culture and strength of South Africa as a place to do business”.

Increasing costs are the number one concern of businesses surveyed in South Africa. Wilkie commented that “this was expected given that CPI is on an upward trend with the main drivers being food prices, fuel and electricity. In addition, an inevitable consequence of the recent high wage increases seen in the mining and transport sectors is going to be higher inflation, particularly when decoupled from increased productivity”.

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Government – businesses call on government to do more

All countries participating in the global survey feel that their governments don’t provide sufficient support for business, with the exception of Singapore where 54% of respondents indicated that their Government provides adequate support.

In South Africa businesses are calling for skills development and education (46%), the reduction of bureaucracy and legislation (40%), a reduction in business tax (34%) and currency stability (28%).  Wilkie commented, “in order to enhance its competitiveness, government must address the quality of primary education, particularly in view of a very high unemployment rate. Over-regulation and red tape is a further obstacle, specifically firing and hiring practices, wage determination, public sector tender procedures and enforcement of contracts”.

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Investment for growth – future prospects

In considering the year ahead, 29 percent of South African businesses surveyed said they were looking to diversify into new markets, 28 percent would invest further in marketing and sales within their existing markets and 27 percent would invest in skills development and training.

According to Epstein, “economic and political reforms in Africa have resulted in an improved business environment and offer an attractive opportunity for South African businesses to diversify and expand across their border.”

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In conclusion Epstein said, “ We’ve seen evidence in this research report and others, that small and medium sized business in South Africa require more focused attention from our leaders. The future of the South African economy, and most importantly, the ability to create employment in this country will be dependent the stimulation of more businesses that are sustainable over the long term. Private business and Government have a pivotal role to play in the economic growth and development of small business in South Africa.”

To view the full article, please visit http://businessindex.sage.com/

For more, please follow Softline on Twitter http://twitter.com/SageGroupZA