Everybody loves FREE software

Of course only if the software has some real use. We are proud to be releasing a series of free software that works out of the box with your installation of Sage 300 products. If you are not aware of what Sage 300 is, they are a popular full suite accounting software for the small and midsize businesses.

Today, we are announcing the first of a number of free add-on to Sage 300 that we think will improve efficiency and reduce redundancy for your business. This add-on can run as a shortcut inside Sage 300 desktop or as a standalone program outside of Sage 300.

Whichever way you choose to use it, it will adhere to security settings that you have set in place in your installation. In fact, it uses the same API that is used to develop Sage 300. So, you are assured of data integrity and adherence to good protocols when working with your accounting data.

The add-on is called Sage 300 Post. This utility program aids in the month-end process by allowing the accountant a full view of the status of all Open and Ready to Post batches in General Ledger, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable. You simply check the batches off for each module and for each transaction type. Then, you initiate the sequential posting of all selected batches.

Once initiated, its time for that cuppa while the product does all the work of chaining each batch in turn for posting.

As mentioned earlier, it respects the security settings that you may have already put in place for your installation. This add-on will check users access rights for the privilege to Post the various transaction types before proceeding.

The product is generally intuitive and does not need any training, However, if you encounter difficulties or you have a question on this, please feel free to email us at info@apptalics.com.

Of course, if you appreciate our work, you are welcome to send us your thanks by email too. After all, we are humans and we could do with some encouragement.

We are not stopping at this. Even as we speak we are working on the next Free add-on. If you have suggestions that you would like us to consider please feel free to drop us an email. 

Until next time. Cheers.

 

Download a copy from our Download section. The link is as below: 

https://www.apptalics.com/download/sage-300-post/

The Best Report Writer for Accounting Software

In my opinion, it has to be the Statement Designer in Sage 300, also known as ACCPAC. I don’t think any other accounting product provides for a better tool. Now, before you brand me as bias, here take a look at what it can do.

Uses Industry Standard tools

Everyone uses Microsoft Excel. It is easy to use and is powerful and complete in features. So, being able to use this instead of learning a new tool is not only convenient but means you get productive immediately.

Statement Designer inside Microsoft Excel

Embedded within General Ledger, users can be assured that the integration of the data in General Ledger is both automatic and trouble-free.

Where you can find the function in Sage 300

There are a number of products in the market that uses Microsoft Excel directly and indirectly but none come close to the way Sage 300 does it.

Using it

Once you initialized the program, you have access to the General Ledger data by entering functions in cells, just like what you will do when you want to use a built-in function in Microsoft Excel. There is even a function utility to help you format the function like in Microsoft Excel. This is how convenient it is.

Formula function called FR Paste

And, if you think you are already an expert in this, you can even type in the whole formula with any of the Statement Designer’s built-in functions together with any standard functions in Microsoft Excel in the Microsoft Excel’s formula bar. This is how tight the integration is with Microsoft Excel.

Furthermore, to automate the layout of the report, the utility comes with the concept of template lines. What this means is that you can layout the report using special codes and some of these codes perform tasks such as replicating the formula in a certain column to all rows beneath it until another column formula is encountered.

Statement Designer with a standard report created using Template-style

Templates can allow for filtering of rows and perform groupings. So, if a range of accounts is to be retrieved and printed as rows, you can determine to filter by a single or range of accounts or use an Account Group for the purpose. This can be further refined with a simple code to determine if they are printed as a row or summarized and printed as a group.

The tool is so flexible and intuitive, you can even code cell by cell in the worksheet when any of the template rules cannot do what you intended.

As this utility is an add-in for Microsoft Excel, it means you can do whatever is provided for by Microsoft Excel. So, you can craft charting dashboards with it besides just standard financial reports.

Charting with Statement Designer layout

When all else fails

Learning to use this is a breeze. You can actually learn how to do this in a couple of hours. This is not bragging but a fact.

Of course, financial reports are quite a standard thing in an accounting system. So, instead of expecting you to create your own Balance Sheet and Income Statement reports, the application comes with a number of different layouts of these. You get Current Month, Current Month and Year-to-Date, compared against budget, 12-month rolling, etc.

All these are written in a generic manner. So, you can pass it around and use it with any company’s data* and with any financial reporting period. Even if the version of your General Ledger changes, these reports still work without changes*.

* Reports are simply definitions of layout and formulas. Data is automatically determined based on the Company that you are logged into. Layouts are generally version agnostic, however recent releases of General Ledger provided for more Account Groupings and these require changes to existing reports. This is not really a bad thing as the small and easy amendment will make reporting even more dynamic, with more granular groupings.

Printing Reports

A special print program is provided that allow substitution of your report definition at runtime. So, if you have intentionally left out telling the report the year and period or even a range or type of accounts, you can do this at printing time by specifying them then.

Print dialog in Statement Designer

Doing so means you can aid in automating the report production since substitution of values can be performed outside of the report definition.

Automation

Sage 300 has a good macro tool embedded in it. It is probably one of the rare accounting products in the market place that uses Microsoft Visual Basic for Application (VBA) as the macro language. It is just not simply embedded but they took the extra effort to make macro recording possible.

What this means is that you can use the recorder to record actions taken. Then, you can replay the recorded steps whenever you want the same actions repeated. Being a macro language means you can actually edit the macro code generated and add in friendly prompt dialogs or provide for additional behaviors that are not catered for in the original action.

Visual Basic for Application (VBA) for macro recording

Some useful ideas for this include, grouping a number of reports together to be processed at one go. This is great if you want some automation for month end reporting. Link it to Microsoft Scheduler and you have one hell of a power tool, and it’s free!

Not forgetting that you can always choose to print reports to Screen, File, Printer or Email. And, you can choose a variety of popular formats such as CSV, TXT, PDF, etc. This is not only convenient but it means you can even automate the distribution of reports.

Where do you go from here

Sage 300 current releases offer this tool as the financial reporting tool of choice. There were attempts to replace this with Sage Business Intelligence and later Sage 300cloud intelligence. Try them and I am sure you will come back to this tool because it is not only easy to learn but because it has powers beyond your needs for financial reporting.

Imagine a tool released in October 1994, for the first release of the predecessor of today’s version, and it is still unbeatable 24 years later. Not forgetting that this tool is a remake of the ACCPAC Plus Financial Reporter that first introduces the concept of “Spec Code” and reporting templates.

Today, of course the world is slowly evolving to take advantage of the internet. This means you may be tempted to switch to Sage 300cloud*. However, this means you need to change the way you create and print reports. The amount of investment of time and effort spent on creating the existing reports is wasted, with no particular gain in performance or capability.

* Sage 300cloud is a web layer for the current Microsoft Windows version of Sage 300. It requires the use of Sage 300 for it to work. This is being offered to users of Sage 300 so they can take advantage of the benefits of Cloud deployment with no change in processing or data.

APPtalics came out with a simple solution for this. It wraps the printing function in the core product and makes it a web application. This product is called GLFS for Sage 300cloud where GLFS stands for General Ledger Financial Statement. And, this happens to be the first Sage 300cloud add-on product in the world! Not bad for a startup company when so many Sage 300 third-party developers in the world could not roll out native Sage 300cloud applications.

Screenshots from GLFS for Sage 300cloud

With the deployment of the Sage 300cloud version, you can now still run and print your Statement Designer reports, with no change and no loss of capability. What this really means is that you can continue to tap the power of Microsoft Excel for your reports with Statement Designer and still leverage on the new technology offered with Sage 300cloud.

This is truly the best of both worlds!

So, what do you think? Are you hampered by the tool that comes with your choice of accounting software? After all, choosing accounting software is more than just data entry. It is very often driven by the need of powerful reporting capabilities. This tool not only offers a solution but it allows the accountant the power to create reports on their own, without having to explain the requirements to a programmer. This is efficiency and time and cost savings for your company.

To experience this today, please email us at info@apptalics.com.

About the Author

Charles Cheng was formerly from Sage Software Asia in Singapore. He was with them for nearly 30 years, working as a Regional Technical Support Manager and Customer Service Director. He started back in the days when the product is an MS-DOS product called ACCPAC Plus and has seen the product transition to Microsoft Windows and now the Cloud. He can be contacted at Charles.Cheng@apptalics.com.

Cloud Accounting Software, the Next BIG Fail How to avoid it

Did it happen?

First, this sounds ominous. Surely, you have heard of how and why Cloud Accounting will be the way of the future. And, businesses not moving to the Cloud will be like the dinosaurs. Guess what. Fast forward to 2019 and we still see Cloud Accounting struggling to get market acceptance.

Companies that were pure Cloud play went away like the Dodo bird. A good example is the buyout of NetSuite by Oracle.  You also see that SAP is still very much dependent on their traditional licensing model which is based on their classic non-Cloud products.

Many software vendors report glowing success with their Cloud solutions. Somehow it is hard to believe since it is always phrased in a manner that does not lend credibility. For example, 50% year on year increase. Dissect this and you see that if they are at ground zero, a small number of sales would have been seen as big changes in the percentage. Or, some would offer creative marketing bundles where purchase of their standard products comes with free Cloud versions. They then reported this as Cloud sales. Now, this would have been a great move if they were to provide statistics on the number of customers switching over.

The answer is clear. Businesses are not adopting Cloud Accounting in droves. And, this is not helped with the frequent hacking and leaking of data. Yes, some of these are from on premise deployments but they were plugged to the Internet, directly or indirectly. Somehow this muddled the issue. This fear, uncertainty and doubt prevail and hence detract businesses to switch.

It is true that Cloud Accounting is still on the ground floor. Any hype that it is not is just that, hype.

Why the Hold Back?

The urgency and the justification to switch from what works has to be compelling. All the frequently touted reasons favoring Cloud Accounting fail to take into consideration the most important factor which is cost.

Cost is the biggest holdback. Many software vendors thinking behind Cloud Accounting is that they have a product that customers want. Unfortunately the need is not in the equation.

In the absence of need, the persuasion has to be even more attractive. Therefore, the pricing of Cloud Accounting cannot be the sum of all costs amortized over a given number of years. It has to be revolutionary. It has to be a loss leader.

Once traction takes place and becomes a commodity like telecommunications then pricing can reflect the true cost of the service. Until then, pricing should be like those new breed of internet businesses where the company has to bleed cash to gain market share.

The Magic Pill

If ever there is a magic pill to make Cloud Accounting usage becoming ubiquitous, it has to be a drastic change in pricing strategy. Technology is a given. With a bit of effort, software companies can create solutions that runs faster, runs on any device, boasts of inter-connectivity, even sing and dance. However, to get businesses to take the gamble and make the switch it has to be the “no-brainer” cheaper factor.

To do this, the big players stand a better chance of making a difference. It is unlikely we will see smaller players, even if they are pure Cloud play now, making a dent into the adoption rate of Cloud Accounting. But do the big boys have the foresight and the gumption. Are they willing to eat their own dog food?

In Summary

There will be a consolidation phase in the market once the big players understand that they need to step up their aggressiveness to see success in their Cloud offerings.

 

Until then, the market for Cloud Accounting will be a niche solution for selected businesses.

[Footnote] The author has been involved in computerized accounting software since 1983. He has witnessed the lifecycle of technology, participated in many new paradigm shifts and even promulgated Subscription Pricing which is the heart of Cloud Accounting services. This is an opinion piece based on his observation of the state of Cloud Accounting today. 

New release of PowerLib for Sage 300

Announcing a new release of PowerLib for Sage 300. 

In this release, we have replaced the use of A4WContainer.  This is one of the bugbear when it comes to customizing Sage 300. By replacing it, you are now able to develop programs that is version agnostic. 

What this means is that you do not need to update your program each time Sage releases a new version of Sage 300. This will save you time and effort. 

Your customers will love you for it as they will not be restricted from upgrading their Sage 300 because of your customizations.

Sage 300 e-Invoicing Solution

Author’s Note: There is no official announcement at this moment on whether Sage offers an e-Invoicing solution that works with the PEPPOL standard in their Sage 300 product. We will update this article when we have more to information.

If you have a current requirement to have this ability in your Sage 300 installation, then you have 2 choices available.

The first option is a makeshift temporary solution at best. This is to use one of the Access Point provider’s utility program to retrieve and submit e-Invoices. This should not be a permanent solution as it negates the benefits of using e-Invoicing since it is still a semi-manual procedure. Errors are very likely to occur with any manual effort. 

A better approach would be to use a program that is embedded in your installation. Such an end-to-end solution would offer all the benefits touted by the e-Invoicing initiative. No transposing or re-entering of data occur, hence saving you time and money.

APPtalics in conjunction with their partner can offer such a solution today. Our deep knowledge of Sage 300 together with our pre-built utility program that can generate XML outputs through a scripting engine, provides for a real world solution. Once installed, your invoicing system can submit or retrieve invoices, from your Access Point provider, with no manual editing and directly from your application.

Whether you are a user of Sage 300 or a Sage Business Partner, if you are looking for a ready made solution to e-Invoicing based on PEPPOL or any standards, we have a solution for you. Contact us today at info@apptalics.com.

Digitalizing Your Business

Any business today who believes that going digital is hype and that they can sit and wait it out will be in for surprises. A good example is the surge in eCommerce sites and businesses. It is mind boggling when one reads about the success of eCommerce sites such as Alibaba and Tencent. A single sale event can involve billions of dollars!

On a smaller scale, we have seen how transport providers such as Uber and regional players like Grab and GoJek cornering the online booking of taxis.  Some can argue that traditional taxi service is still mainstream, just like shopping malls and retail outlets. We can see how wrong they are now. Everyone is scrambling to see how they can tap the online world. Even F&B businesses are not spared as not tying up with food delivery service providers is a major mistake. The new generation of consumers will not hesitate to pick up their phone and order a meal, or a dress or a book a cab. This is the segment of consumers that digitalizing is squarely aimed at.

Digitalization is not necessary always about customers directly. It can also be about your internal processes and staff. The new generation of workers is enticed by a totally different set of work values. Heavy paper based work will find little interest with them. Businesses need to review their job descriptions and work processes and incorporate digital solutions that not only improve efficiencies but excite staff to stay.

We at APPtalics is focused on helping small and mid-size businesses (SMEs) to take the digital route through our small and SME-centric approach to go digital. At the core of the approach are our business friendly arrangements.

Subscription Arrangements

Have an idea but not sure it can work or you can afford it? Choose this option and we can help you allay your investments over a 3 year period. Mind you this is not a leasing scheme. It is our way to work with you and grow with your business, for the long term.

Ad-hoc Projects

It is sometimes difficult to engage software companies to work on small projects. Need a report created, a process automated, data extracted, a mobile app developed and so on? This is where our “no project is too small” approach helps. But do note that whatever we do it has to be in relation with your backend systems, whether it is an ERP/Accounting or CRM application. Our expertise lies with our nearly 30 years of experience with ERP/Accounting and CRM products.

Simply put, we are not a sweatshop that offers cheap rates and nothing more. Come to us only if you see a need to have someone that understands business applications.

Any business today who believes that going digital is hype and that they can sit and wait it out will be in for surprises. A good example is the surge in eCommerce sites and businesses. It is mind boggling when one reads about the success of eCommerce sites such as Alibaba and Tencent. A single sale event can involve billions of dollars!

On a smaller scale, we have seen how transport providers such as Uber and regional players like Grab and GoJek cornering the online booking of taxis.  Some can argue that traditional taxi service is still mainstream, just like shopping malls and retail outlets. We can see how wrong they are now. Everyone is scrambling to see how they can tap the online world. Even F&B businesses are not spared as not tying up with food delivery service providers is a major mistake. The new generation of consumers will not hesitate to pick up their phone and order a meal, or a dress or a book a cab. This is the segment of consumers that digitalizing is squarely aimed at.

Digitalization is not necessary always about customers directly. It can also be about your internal processes and staff. The new generation of workers is enticed by a totally different set of work values. Heavy paper based work will find little interest amongst them. Businesses need to review their job descriptions and work processes and incorporate digital solutions that not only improve efficiencies but excite staff to stay.

We at APPtalics is focused on helping SMEs to take the digital route through our small and mid-size business-centric approach to go digital. At the core of the approach are our business friendly arrangements.

Subscription Arrangements

Have an idea but not sure it can work or you can afford it? Choose this option and we can help you allay your investments over a 3 year period. Mind you this is not a leasing scheme. It is our way to work with you and grow with your business, for the long term.

Ad-hoc Projects

It is sometimes difficult to engage software companies to work on small projects. Need a report created, a processes automated, data extracted, a mobile app developed and so on? This is where our “no project is too small” approach helps. But do note that whatever we do it has to be in relation with your backend systems, whether it is an ERP/Accounting or CRM application. Our expertise lies with our nearly 30 years of experience with ERP/Accounting and CRM products.

Simply put, we are not a sweatshop that offers cheap rates and nothing more. Come to us only if you see a need to have someone that understands business applications.

 Contact Us Today

For more information, contact us at info@apptalics.com.

 

 

The Headache of Managing Employee Expense Claims

Every company faces the same challenges when it comes to managing expense claims. So, whether your challenge is about compliance or about ensuring the reimbursements are done correctly or on a timely basis, you see this as time consuming effort that repeats itself each month,

Automation is the way to go

Automating this properly can save the company money and also improve employee relations. When the number of employees affected is few and expenses are limited, using a spreadsheet template designed for this is cheap and practical. But as soon as the effort increases, there is a need for a better solution to manage this.

Key Features to look out for

There are many software solutions available that can handle the needs. Here are some key features you should look out for when sourcing for such software:

  • It should be a web-based solution. This is important as the intention is to reduce duplication of efforts. Employees incurring the expense should be able to create claim entries on their own, preferably using a device that they are comfortable with, and have it immediately routed for review and approval. This would also mean having native mobile apps as a tool for employees to use.
  • A good user interface is paramount when it comes to adoption. Systems should be usable with little to no training. Complex systems will only lead to errors and negate the very reason for automation in the first place.
  • Approval and rejection of claims by Managers should also be possible using the same device that they use for entry of their claims. This one single point of use will make the product easier to use and acceptable. Additionally, look out for solutions that have innovative ways of notifying Managers and Employees of actions needed.
  • Often companies have strict policies and limits when it comes to expenditures. Such requirements should be configurable in the software together with any routing settings for approvals and rejections. Having this means you can improve on your HR practices as needs changes and not have to face replacement of software. More importantly, it means you now have the ability to change and improve employee sentiments.
  • In more sophisticated solutions, ability to do Trip planning is a benefit not to be overlooked. This mean, instead of recording expenses after the fact, such solutions can provide companies the ability to approve trips against budgets set aside for them. Rules and Policies can be defined to ensure capping and limits are adhered to.
  • As the use of such solutions matures in a company, there should be abilities for the company to tap into additional services offered by affiliated third-party suppliers. For example, accessing and using Transport, Hotel, Restaurants and many other services within the application where the use of such services offer additional savings for the company.

Having said all these, companies must also take note that with an introduction of new systems for automation, there is also a need to review and revise existing policies and procedures before the switch. There is no better time to correct what does not work in the past before introducing a new system. Failing which could be detrimental to the smooth operation of the company.

Financial Reporting

One of the strongest reason why Sage 300cloud is a good solution for businesses of any size is their financial reporting tool. 

The Statement Designer has withstood the test of time. Introduced into the product since version 1.0, it is still the tool to beat. I have yet to come across an end-user reporting tool that actually lived up to its name, even if I was to take off my Sage partisanship.

Its use of Microsoft Excel through an add-in is innovation at its best. To date, no other tools out there can beat it without infringing on its classic design.

However, as the march towards web based technologies takes hold, its ability to move along has been thwarted, unless similar add-in capabilities can be introduced in a web based version of Microsoft Excel. Until then, fans of Statement Designer has to rely on the desktop interface to craft their reports.

The only bright spot on this is APPtalics’ offering of GLFS for Sage 300cloud. Although this is not true 100% web, it is a innovative way for users to run their financial reports created in Statement Designer in the new web interface offered by Sage 300cloud. This is done without a need to change the report or to re-write the report. 

We have creatively called the original COM service to process the report on the server. And, then we serve the output to the web client. With this method, just a single copy of Microsoft Excel is needed on the server. 

Until a better mousetrap is offered, users of Statement Designer moving to Sage 300cloud, can find relief that their reports can continue to be used.

To learn more about this please visit our Resources section to download a Trial Copy. 

How Best to Use Sage 300cloud

The web interface offered in Sage 300cloud may not be right for everyone. There is still a lot of room for improvements if it is to become a mainstream interface to replace the classic Microsoft Windows interface.

But there are some very useful ways you can deploy and take advantage of in the Sage 300cloud interface. The most obvious one is the use of the interface for casual users of the system.

Continue reading How Best to Use Sage 300cloud

Automatically starting your favorite programs when Sage 300 starts

Let us say you want to save some time each morning when you start your work-day. And, it would be nice to be able to have your favorite programs that you normally use automatically started while you make a cup of coffee or make some quick calls. Having to double-click on all the programs to start them would mean you cannot do other things.

With this trick, you need only to start Sage 300 and the rest of the programs can be automatically started. Let us say you wish to have your email and your order entry function started automatically. This is what you need to do.
First, start-up Sage 300 and click on the company name shown in the left pane of your Sage 300 desktop. Then, right mouse-click on any empty space in the right pane. In the pop-up menu shown when you right-mouse click, choose New and in the sub-menu choose Folder. Give it a name called “Startup”. The spelling of this is important. Click Finish once done. This will give you a folder called Startup as shown.