If you are a Sage BusinessVision user, by now you've probably have been hearing that Sage have decreased their investment in BusinessVision, and you've seen no major new features or capabilities in several years, despite steady increases in Sage Business Care charges each year. For the BusinessVision 2015 release in October 2014, there are only a very small number of tiny changes, all of which are minor bug fixes or small report changes.
You may even have heard from certain unscrupulous resellers of competing applications that BusinessVision has already been killed, but that part is simply not true, and they know it.
What we do know, though, is that BusinessVision does not allow a login date after December 31, 2020.
According to Sage, this is "the result of an architectural decision that was made many years ago" (that is,
when BusinessVision was patched to be Y2K-compliant).
As of October, 2014, Sage has no plans to fix it, but have agreed
to look at what it will take to fix.
Update: As of September, 2015, Sage have told Partners that "we'll probably fix it [the 2020 limitation], but only if we have enough users left to bother" - but they won't commit to when they'll do it, or even that will do it for sure.
So, we have to proceed on the assumption that there appears to be no case where BusinessVision will be a useable solution after 2020. That seems far away now, but six years will actually pass pretty quickly. This is not grounds for panic, but rather for planning and preparation.
That said, you and other BusinessVision users are justifiably concerned about what all this means for your businesses.
Well, the time has come to face facts. While Sage insists (as of September 2015) that they will no longer use the term "end of life" regarding BusinessVision, and that they are "committed to BusinessVision", it is clear that they also do not intend to invest in its future in any meaningful way. Any future updates will continue to be very limited in scope, and they will continue to try very hard to convince BusinessVision users to switch to other Sage products. They no longer even include BusinessVision on the Sage Canada website.
Therefore, it is definitely time for BusinessVision users to start considering their options.
What Sage are doing on this is something new: Since October, 2014, any Sage Business Care (annual maintenance) plan renewals were upgraded to the Gold package for the same price as the existing Bronze package. This upgrade adds free phone support from Sage and a few other benefits.
Key among these other benefits is that they will be adding in a subscription to Sage 300 Online (see more on this below) for the same number of users you have in BusinessVision.
The idea is to get BusinessVision users to migrate to Sage 300 Online, and pay the same annual fees as they're paying now. In other words, they're positioning Sage 300 as the future evolution for BusinessVision users, unless you want to pay additional fees and move to Sage 300 installed on-premises (on your own network).
Despite what Sage thinks, and despite what they and some of their resellers will try to tell you, though, it's not at all clear that Sage 300 (Online or on-premises) is in fact a suitable replacement for BusinessVision at all - certainly not for all users. However, they think the uncertainty will lead you to move to a bigger, more-expensive solution from them instead, just because they're Sage and you'll think they're the only game in town. They're not.
The good news: There is a simple, cost-effective way forward that lets you keep all the things you like about BusinessVision and move ahead to the future at the same time.
Sage will tell you (probably energetically so) that if you use BusinessVision or were thinking of using it, your only choices are the few options that they offer:
None of these options is going to be the right one for the vast majority of BusinessVision users. (Want to know why? Look below for the section "why use...")
The great news is that there are three better paths available for existing BusinessVision users as well as companies that were considering BusinessVision for the first time.
There may actually be no reason to change. If you go this way, get everything current on BusinessVision, stay there, but stop paying for Sage Business Care (annual maintenance).
BVEssentials is a third-party application that integrates closely with your BusinessVision data and adds a wide range of additional functionality, all while keeping a workflow that's familiar to BusinessVision users.
Here's what that means today and going forward:
Now, BVEssentials has evolved to its next generation, called Spire.
In summary, Spire is designed to be easier, faster and more robust than BusinessVision; it's more flexible, more capable and far, far better-maintained. It does everything BusinessVision does and a LOT more.
Start looking into other third-party accounting / business management solutions from Sage or other vendors. Certainly, there's lots of good software out there, at various price points.
However, you can assume that to get something better than BusinessVision, you'll likely pay a lot more, and the odds of migrating all your historical data are slim to none.
Your most secure way forward to the future is to move to Spire, or add BVEssentials now and seamlessly move to Spire when you're ready.
We've explained above why the BVEssentials / Spire path makes a lot of sense for a lot of users. But what about the Sage options they'll be pitching?
It also suffers from the same aging platform issues as BusinessVision has. Sage will offer some compelling price points to try to get BusinessVision users to move to it, but don't forget: implementation will be complex and expensive, and annual maintenance charges will eventually be based on the list price of the software, so your annual costs would go way up, as would your total cost of ownership (TCO)
No comprehensive conversion tool is currently available. Apparently a third-party company was in the process of developing one that they planned to offer on a service basis; expected price point was reported to approach $10,000 per company data set just for the conversion. However, since Sage is now working on a conversion tool of their own, this is all now an open question. Quality, completeness of conversions and cost will be anyone's guess until it's out and available for testing
Sage has not demonstrated loyalty to the users who have made their business possible, nor to the Business Partners like us who have been in the field keeping our clients happy for all these years. Why would anyone assume that they'll be more loyal to you in the future?
We've mentioned Spire above, but maybe you've never even heard of it. What is it, and why should you care?
Spire software was initially developed as BVEssentials. In its earliest form, it was a BusinessVision add-on to handle more flexible order management. From there, it expanded functionality - slowly at first, then much more quickly since about 2011, once it started to become clear that Sage was no longer putting any significant development resources into BusinessVision.
Over the course of 2013 and 2014, BVEssentials has become very close to a full-on BusinessVision replacement, but still relies on certain functions being done within BusinessVision.
Spire retains the same user interface as BVEssentials — so your BVEssentials users will have virtually no learning curve — but will contain all your data. No more need for the legacy BusinessVision data — all your data will be moved to a modern and robust database (PostgreSQL) and will get other major under-the-hood improvements as well.
Spire will literally handle all the functions from BusinessVision. Most of them are easier to use in Spire than they were in BusinessVision. But wait, there's more ... Spire has loads of functionality that goes miles past BusinessVision.
Importantly, Spire is the next generation of real software built for real businesses. It is not designed to be all things to all people, but it completely fills that niche of businesses with needs beyond a Simply Accounting level, and not anywhere near the Sage 300 / ACCPAC level (or budget).
Spire is being very actively developed. It's so active that they routinely issue multiple updates in a month, and these updates can be managed quite easily. They routinely add features and functions based on requests from even a single user of the system. Their quality control of this development is excellent.
Spire LISTENS, both to end users and to their reseller partners. I have personally seen an off-hand suggestion to the folks at Spire filter into their development cycle within a matter of weeks. They listen, they say "yes, that sounds like a feature our users can use, and it would be simple - let's do it!". I have also seen bugs reported and fixed in under a week.
Spire is determined to completely replace BusinessVision over the next few years. Since Sage is no longer actively developing BusinessVision, it will go by the wayside eventually. Something needs to replace it, because it has always filled an important market niche, but that niche becomes unfilled with its retirement. Spire can fill that niche.
First, start by embracing BVEssentials now - you can buy Spire licenses but install BVEssentials alongside BusinessVision until you're ready for Spire. With BVEssentials, you can start enjoying all the benefits of easier use, expanded functionality, and no need to renew your Sage Business Care (annual maintenance plan). Once you're ready to move up to Spire, your licenses are already in place, so there's no extra license cost.
You can migrate to Spire all at once, or over time, by migrating some functions to BVEssentials now, then more over time as users are ready. For example, many companies are migrating order entry / order management to BVEssentials initially, and then moving AR, AP, and GL there as they get more comfortable. That way, once you're ready to move to Spire, you can flip the switch and have very little incremental change.
And remember: with BVEssentials / Spire, you get to keep ALL of your historical BusinessVision data.
If you would like to look at your options to move forward with Spire to ultimately replace BusinessVision, please give me a call. We can discuss your current situation, your current pain points, and some options for a smooth transition away from BusinessVision at a pace that makes sense for you. Maybe that means you'll be off BusinessVision in a year, or maybe it means 5 years. It totally depends on what's best for your company.
Spire is the future of BusinessVision. The folks at Sage may not like that much, but their efforts to keep the users of BusinessVision in the Sage family (ultimately at a much higher price point) are simply not in the best interests of the vast majority of those users.
1. Keep BusinessVision, and add BVEssentials now, and of course, stop paying Sage.
2. Get more and more of your accounting functions off BusinessVision and into BVEssentials over time, with the goal of maximizing BVEssentials by the end of this year.
3. Once you are ready to make the leap, upgrade from BusinessVision and BVEssentials to Spire.
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Please call us today if you want to discuss how you can move forward to the future in a smart, cost-effective way. You don't need pressure from Sage, you need advice that makes sense for your business, which is our commitment.