Sage Unveils New Small Business Accounting Lineup

by Thor Olavsrud

Sage says Sage Peachtree 2012 features new tools that make it easier than ever to set up and use the small business software.

Business management software specialist Sage raised the curtain on its Sage Peachtree 2012 line of small business accounting software today, promising small businesses instant, customizable access to the critical information that drives them.

"Small businesses contend with a host of issues, from increased compliance requirements and rising costs to staying competitive, in many cases with reduced staff," said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager, small business accounting solutions, Sage North America.

"They need a business management system that is easy to use but brings them the rich insight they need to manage effectively," she said. "Sage Peachtree 2012 easily delivers that insight they need so they can focus on what they do best: running their businesses."

Shari Willman, product marketing manager with Sage Peachtree, explained that the new additions to the small business accounting software are based on the company's intensive interaction with its customers.

"When we get ready to decide what the next features to build into Peachtree are, we talk to our customers," she said. "We have a very active usability lab. We go out to their places of business, because there's nothing like watching how customers use the product in their place of business."

New Small Business Accounting Features in Peachtree 2012

One of the big new things in this iteration of the small business software is the Sage Advisor, Willman noted. The Sage Advisor is intended to help small businesses get the most out of their investment in the accounting software. It follows customers' usage patterns and intuitively offers short, personalized demos, guided tips and tricks.

"We really want customers to use everything the software has to offer," Willman explained. "The Sage Advisor is like a personalized trainer. We want to get help for you when you need it, right at the point of your need. We want to help you do something in the most efficient way."

She noted that Sage did a lot of usability testing on the feature to make it useful without being intrusive. The Sage Advisor can even lead the customer to a video about the subject or to live customer support. Additionally, customers can choose to save a tip for later or dismiss them altogether.

The Sage Peachtree 2012 accounting software also includes System Check, a new feature intended to make it easier for small business technology managers and owners to better manage data backup and other system processes. Sage said System Check monitors system health and resolves potential issues before they affect productivity or compromise data. Sage said System Check gives helpful advice around last backup, system memory, database size and other key indicators.

The new version of the small business accounting software also includes a customized Vendor Management Center dashboard, intended to help small businesses process information about a single vendor at a glance. The dashboard gives customers the ability to perform quick research, comparisons and decision making by analyzing past transactions.

Sage said the vendor information makes it easy to make informed decisions, negotiate better rates and even determine when it's the right time to switch vendors. "It takes your Peachtree data, and -- without having to run a report -- it's all right here," Willman said. "I can export it to Excel or send it to email or even send it to PDF."

Business Intelligence Meets Small Business Accounting

Sage also offers the new Sage Peachtree Business Intelligence as an add-on to the small business accounting software, providing reporting and analysis that integrates directly with the software. Stacy Petrea, also a product marketing manager with Sage Peachtree, explained that the add-on to the small business software uses the familiar Microsoft Excel interface and enables better reporting and easier access to Sage Peachtree data.

"Reporting is consistently a pain point," Petrea explained. "About 20 percent of our enhancement requests are report related. The market told us: 'I need to be able to get the right information out of Peachtree to the right person at the right time, and I need it in an easy format.' This is the first module that we've offered as an add-on. We are going to include Business Intelligence with our Sage Business Care plan."

Business Intelligence has built-in templates for sales, purchasing and financial reporting to help small businesses get up and running quickly. Customers also have the capability to design their own reports as well, Petrea said. She noted that because it pulls data directly from the system without the need for export or other manipulation, the reports always provide the latest data.

Other new features vary across the Sage Peachtree 2012 product line, but include the capability to copy transactions, enhancements to the management centers for added customization and expanded payroll fields.

Starting today, the following versions are available direct from Sage:

  • Sage Peachtree Premium Accounting 2012 ($499.99)
  • Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting 2012 ($349.99)
  • Sage Peachtree Pro Accounting 2012 ($229.99)
  • Sage Peachtree First Accounting 2012 ($129.99)

Sage said the small business accounting software will be available from most computer retailers and office supply stores beginning in mid-June.

The Multi-User Edition (five seat license) of Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting retails for $699.99, while the Sage Peachtree Premium Accounting 2012 Multi-User Edition (five seat license) can be ordered direct from Sage for $1,199.99.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to SmallBusinessComputing.com and a former senior editor at InternetNews.com. He covers operating systems, standards and security, among other technologies.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday May 18th 2011
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