It is safe to say that almost every business today uses some kind of accounting software. But a common question that business owners ask themselves is: Am I using the most suitable software for my business, or is there something else out there that I should be considering? Willis & Jurasek has helped many of our clients with this question in the past, and have provided support and training with specific products such as QuickBooks and Peachtree.
With our recent addition of the Grand Rapids office, which is certified as a MAS90 business partner, we now have an additional resource in this area. To provide some idea of who can benefit from this additional resource, this article will try to address questions such as, what is MAS90 software, what type of entity is a good candidate for it, what are the pros and cons of it, and what level of investment would it require?
For convenience of discussion, accounting software today can be categorized into four broad categories; low end, midrange, vertically integrated, and high end software. We will compare the low end and midrange categories in this article. Some aspects of each of the above questions can be answered by seeing where your company and MAS90 fit into these categories:
- For small businesses, in the low end software category the most common programs are QuickBooks and Peachtree. These products are characterized by a low price, generally under $1,000, are easy to use without much training, offer a fixed feature set with no access to the source code to make modifications to the program, and were initially developed for only a single or several users. These products are generally purchased in retail stores, and have a very large customer base, measured in the millions of copies sold.
- For midsized business, in the midrange software category the most common programs are MAS 90 and Great Plains Dynamics. These products offer a broad feature set, extensive internal non-programing type customization capabilities, access to source code for program modification, and a higher price range, in the $5,000 – $50,000 range for software alone, plus implementation. These products were originally developed to support companies with 5 – 100 users, and are generally purchased from value added resellers, which are independent firms that both sell the software and provide implementation and support. These products have customer bases approaching or in the hundreds of thousands.
A trend over time has been for products to strive to migrate upward as technology improves. For example, both QuickBooks and Peachtree have created versions which support larger user counts as high as 30 users. Another trend is cloud based computing, where the complete product or portions of the product are available as web based software that is hosted remotely and available anywhere. QuickBooks is also an example of this, with a web based version available, and this can blur the above categorization by allowing multi-office companies access to a common QuickBooks database.
What is MAS 90 Software?
MAS 90 and 200 Enterprise Resource Planning (MAS 90) is software published by Sage Software, Inc. Sage is one of the largest accounting software publishing companies in the world, with 2.9 million customers in North America alone. MAS 90 has very strong core applications such as accounting (general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll), human resources management, customer resource management, fixed assets management, and internet e-business manager. It also has a very broad range of applications for more specific areas such as distribution (inventory, sales order, purchase order) manufacturing (bill of material, work order, material requirements planning), and project management (job cost, timesheet).
Who is MAS90 a good fit for?
MAS 90 would be a good fit for many midsized profit motivated companies that have outgrown low end software, and need from 5 – 100 ERP users or have 1M – 100Million of sales. MAS90 has been designed with the needs of these companies in mind, such as strong financial reporting, high transaction volume capability, multi-location options, a strong audit trail, deep functionality, and is customizable. Smaller companies may find the audit trail and batch processing capacities cumbersome if they have no need for them, and the breadth of capabilities offered by the MAS90 may require more training than a simpler product would require. However, as a company grows, the need for such features grows, and their omission may result in poor financial decisions due to lack of financial reporting, or in fraud and confusion due to lack of transaction integrity, so the true ongoing cost of missing these capabilities could become many times greater than cost of the additional investment to obtain them.
Bill of Materials processing and inventory management seems to be an area where MAS90 has developed a particularly good reputation. With good support for multiple warehouses, serial numbers, substitute items, bar codes, split cases, fractional selling, effective dates for price changes, physical counts, picking lists, shipping weights, alias names, and more, MAS 90 is well suited for many tough inventory/distribution/light manufacturing needs. These capabilities are often weak or unavailable in lower end products, but are mission critical to many midsized businesses. If the omission of these capabilities costs an additional employee, reduces customer service, or requires additional third party software, the true ongoing cost of the missing pieces could be many times greater than the initial upfront software investment of an integrated solution.
What are the Pros and Cons of MAS 90?
- Market leading product that is well tested, well proven and well designed, backed by one of the largest accounting software publishers in the world.
- Exceptionally strong support network of independent resellers and accountants developed over a 30 year period, including Willis & Jurasek, PC.
- Breadth of capabilities and robust developer network require less external add-ons, and many industry specific features are already included or available as integrated third party applications. External integration capabilities with validation of inputs make it a good foundation for integration with industry specific solutions or web sites.
- Product is developed for mid-market businesses, so supports higher transaction volumes, audit trail, etc. required by midsized businesses.
- Supports comprehensive financial reporting, inquiry, and general ledger segments with expanded chart of accounts, features missing in low end and many vertical products.
- Makes the company more likely to attract the type of employees with the experience, educational requirements, and work philosophy suitable to a midsized company.
- Customizable user screens, reports and forms.
- Greater software integrity than most industry-specific products which have less users and therefore a smaller development budget and less product testing.
- Generally better accounting capabilities than industry-specific products. Many of these products will be strong in the unique requirements of a specific industry but weak in most other areas, including core accounting capabilities and overall product design.
- Requires greater initial upfront investment than low end products.
- Batch processing and inability to edit posted transactions (for audit trail and integrity purposes) can be cumbersome and require more training than low end products.
- Less potential employees available experienced in midrange software than for low end products.
- May not natively support certain industry specific functionality of an industry-specific or high end product.
What level of investment is required for MAS 90?
Midrange accounting software requires a significant initial investment in terms of money, staff training, implementation time and disruption of daily processes as you move up the learning curve. There is a wide range of pricing dependent on the number of modules and users, and the amount of training and conversion assistance required, but the software and implementation for a $10 million distributor needing 10 users might be around $40,000. We fully understand this is not a commitment to be taken lightly, but we believe that a strong enterprise resource planning system is an essential asset for a mid-sized business and are willing to provide a needs analysis, software demonstration and detailed proposal if your company may be a good fit for MAS90.