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The Future of Sage BusinessVision:
F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions

Separate fact from fiction, and understand your options

On our introductory page on The Future of BusinessVision, we gave an overview of:

  • What's going on with Sage BusinessVision
  • Why BusinessVision is slowly dying, and why Sage is letting that happen
  • What Sage wants you to do about that
  • Why we think you should consider something different, better, and more cost-effective than what Sage wants you to do
  • Why Spire is the ultimate path to the future for users of Sage BusinessVision

Still reading? OK, then let's get right to the questions you likely have, and the answers to go with them.

Frequently Asked Questions - The Future of Sage BusinessVision

Following are some of the typical questions clients have been asking in light of recent comments, rumours and speculation about the future of Sage BusinessVision.

Q:   I've heard rumours that Sage BusinessVision has been discontinued. Is this true?

A:   No, this is NOT true. Some less-scrupulous resellers looking to displace BusinessVision have been telling prospects this, but Sage insists they do not have any specific plan to discontinue BusinessVision.

Update: As of September 2015, Sage have decided and announced that they "will no longer use the term End of Life" with respect to BusinessVision, and that they are "committed to BusinessVision". However, they admit that any future updates will be small in scope. They haven't hired anyone to replace all the developers they've let go. They won't commit to any time frame to fix the hard limit of not allowing logins past Dec 31, 2020. They're not reducing their annunal fees (which continue to skyrocket). So, their new position is really the same as their old position.

Update #2: As of October 2015, Sage have communicated the following to Partners: "Migration is a KEY strategic initiative for Sage, and we are continuing to recognize Partners for their efforts in encouraging their customers to migrate to our strategic Sage Solutions. Qualifying migration products include BusinessVision and Businessworks...". In other words, they keep saying they're committed to BV, but their whole emphasis is actually to move clients OFF BV.

Q:   Is Sage still actively developing BusinessVision?

A:   Not really. They are still producing one or two minor updates per year, plus Payroll Updates. However, there really is no significant development being done, and there likely never will be in the future.

Sage have also reconfirmed (as of September, 2015) that they currently have no firm plan to fix the known issue that BusinessVision will not accept a login date past December 31, 2020.

Q:   It seems like that means the only thing I get for my Sage Business Care fees is payroll updates then. Is that true?

A:   Yes, this is pretty much true. To keep getting payroll updates, you need to be on a current Sage Business Care plan. If you don't require payroll, or are willing to get payroll outside of BusinessVision, there's really little reason to continue paying for Sage Business Care.

Since fall 2014, Sage now also include a license for Sage 300 Online with your Sage Business Care, for "free". However, that has little to no value to most, since it's not actually a decent replacement for BusinessVision in the longer term.

Q:   But I really need payroll. What else can I do?

A:   You have several excellent options: get a payroll service; buy a third-party payroll application that can send data to BusinessVision; buy BVEssentials (and later, Spire - see below) and move payroll to that. Any of these options will likely cost less than you pay Sage for Sage Business Care and Payroll Updates now.

Q:   Should I keep using BusinessVision, then?

A:   Sure, if it continues to meet all your needs, there's no reason to change in the immediate future. BusinessVision works on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and with the current versions of Office. This means in all likelihood you could keep using it for at least 5 years, at least as far as compatibility goes (though the December 31, 2020 login limit is a large concern as noted above. Sage have indicated they feel no absolute obligation to fix this).

Really, the only thing you will lose by staying with BusinessVision but stopping your payments to Sage is access to payroll updates, and there are ways around that (see previous item).

Q:   If BusinessVision isn't really meeting my needs, do I need to buy a higher-priced Sage option?

A:   No, not at all. Sage wants you to buy one of their solutions, of course, and will tell you they're the only credible game in town. However, for most BusinessVision users, we don't think Sage really does have what you need. We have better options that will work far better for BusinessVision users.

Q:   OK, so what are my options, then?

A:   We think there's a simple, three-step plan to move forward:

  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 to maximize BVEssentials by sometime in 2015
  3. Once you are ready to make the leap, you can seamlessly upgrade from BusinessVision and BVEssentials to Spire
Q:   What are BVEssentials and Spire?

A:   BVEssentials (now just called Essentials) is a long-standing BusinessVision add-on. It started as a tool to add flexibility in Order Entry, but has grown far beyond that. It now allows most (but not all) functions to be completed outside of BusinessVision, but in a far more flexible manner - all the while using mostly your existing BusinessVision data files.

Spire is the next generation of BVEssentials. Released in early 2015, Spire will be a complete BusinessVision replacement.

A few of the benefits of Spire:

  • keep ALL of your BusinessVision data intact
  • familiar workflows, but faster, more robust, easier to use, and built on a modern platform
  • simple migration from Essentials to Spire - what the user sees in Spire will be identical to Essentials, so there will be little learning curve
  • Spire is being very actively developed, based on extensive feedback from users just like you
  • they're in it for the long haul
  • BVEssentials (paid version) users get a free upgrade to Spire, and BusinessVision-only users get a discounted upgrade.
Q:   A reseller I talked to called Spire 'an upstart', and not a credible developer

A:   This is another attempt by certain resellers to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). They're trying to scare people into spending their money with Sage, regardless of whether they actually have a suitable replacement for BusinessVision or not (and we don't believe they do).

In fact Sage have made a point of trying very hard to convince resellers like us to avoid BVEssentials / Spire. That tells us they're actually worried Spire will take over the part of the market they want for themselves (but they won't maintain the right product to keep it).

So is Spire credible? Yes, absolutely, they are. The reality is that the folks behind Spire have been developing the basis of this exact software for well over 10 years. Their software is based on a more modern platform than anything Sage is doing. They actually listen to users, and they develop good software based on what customers tell them they need. They are NOT an upstart, and they are highly credible.

Q:   Sage are offering licenses for Sage 300 / Sage 300 Online for similar pricing to what I pay now. Isn't that a great deal?

A:   Maybe, but probably not. It can be a great idea if you need the functionality, but remember that the main cost of moving to Sage 300 or Sage 300 Online will be implementation, learning curve, and monthly fees (forever) to retain access.

  • Ongoing fees will eventually be based on the regular price of the software, so those fees will be much higher than you're used to
  • Sage estimates that a Sage 300 implementation will net the reseller over $20,000 per converted client - that money would have to come from you
  • Sage 300 (online or in-house) will require a large learning curve and new workflows, which will take your staff quite some time
  • Neither version will keep your BusinessVision data, at least not yet, and likely not all of it (see comments on this above)

As well, keep in mind that Sage 300 (what used to be called Sage ACCPAC) is built on a very old platform - much of it is still developed in Visual Basic 6, which Microsoft discontinued years ago. We don't think that's setting you up for the future.

Conclusion? Even if the licenses for Sage 300 were going to be free, it'll still be a lot more expensive than BVEssentials / Spire, and you will give up a lot.

Q:   Sage also talk a lot about their "cloud" offering - Sage 300 Online. What about that?

A:   Sage now include a Sage 300 Online subscription in the annual fees paid by BusinessVision users at 'no extra cost'. The idea of running apps in "the cloud" appeals to a lot of people, but there are a number of key things you need to think about before you go down that road (especially with Sage 300 Online).

For example:

  • where is it hosted? In the US. How secure does that make you feel these days?
  • what happens if your Internet connection goes down?
  • what happens if it doesn't meet your needs or the price gets out of hand? Will you ever have full access to your data again? Certainly not in the way you're used to, you won't
  • what happens when Sage decides they want to discontinue this offering?
  • how well is the data secured? The connection may be encrypted, but the data itself is not. They're only now 'thinking' about encrypting backups - but not the data. If there's a breach, or any government body wants a peek, your security is gone in an instant
  • the Online offering is based on the exact same codebase as Sage 300 (formerly Sage ACCPAC), just with a web-i-fying wrapper, so it's still actually really old technology. They say that's changing, but no-one really seems to be clear to what degree or at what speed
  • this is hardly a tried-and-true offering; as of Spring 2014, Sage had very, very few actual users (reportedly under 20). That makes it more of an unknown quantity than almost any other option
  • the implementation and data conversion costs will be significant - similar to those outlined above for Sage 300 - in the tens of thousands of dollars
Q:   So how do I really decide what to do?

A:   A great question, and an important one. The answer is that we should sit down and discuss what you're doing now, as well as what things you would like to see improved and what new capabilities you'll need over the next few years. Based on that, we will put together a recommended plan of action, a budget, and a timetable.

Our recommendation will be whatever we believe is in your best interest. If the progression from BusinessVision BVEssentials Spire route isn't the best choice, we'll tell you that. We'll only recommend it if we are confident it's your best choice.

We will never follow Sage's recent aggressive "SELL! SELL! SELL!" approach.

We will offer what we genuinely think are the best options for your business. It's what we've always done, and it's what we'll always do.

Q:   Additional questions we should be answering here?

A:   Please contact us if there are other questions you think we need to answer here. We want to make sure clients have as much information as they need to make the right decisions for their businesses.

Additional Resources

Read more about these issues:

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.

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