Thank You

Posted in Conference Update on November 18, 2009 by Monisha

Thank you to our customers, partners, and exhibitors who attended Sage Summit in 2009.  Your participation made it a great success.  We will be sending out an e-mail survey to all attendees and look forward to hearing your feedback on Sage Summit 2009.

Please also note that the Sage Summit session presentations and handouts from the 2009 event will be available mid-December. Watch for the e-mail in your inbox soon.

Customer Interview: GEI Consultants

Posted in Customer Interviews on November 12, 2009 by aimeeertley

GEI Consultants is a leading geotechnical consulting firm providing innovative solutions to complex geotechnical issues, with strong national presence in the environmental and water resources engineering consulting sectors. An employee-owned corporation founded in 1970, GEI has participated in over 25,000 projects in all 50 states, across Canada, and in more than 20 countries.

GEI previously used a payroll module from their ERP vendor.  When the ERP vendor stopped supporting their payroll, GEI made a switch to Sage Abra in 2001, and haven’t looked back:

Q: In your experience as a Sage customer, has anything really ‘wowed’ you, over the years?

A:  Our Sage Abra reseller, Dresser and Associates, is always there if we ever have a question or an issue.  We always get the answers we need quickly, and appreciate our relationship with them and with Sage.  Having that vendor interest is really important.

Q: What do you expect from Sage?

A:  What we’ve gotten:  a partner that helps us, provides assistance to employees to get what they need and help fulfill their obligations.

Q: Any memorable experiences with Sage?

A: When we first installed Sage Abra payroll, several people on staff were skeptics; they were convinced that Sage Abra wouldn’t be able to talk with our other software, and that we would be scrambling to make the first payroll.  Sage went the extra mile when we were getting set up- really, all the support we received during the set up was great, very instrumental in making it such a positive experience.  When we got that first payroll out on time, it was a huge victory!

Q: Anything else on customer service?

A:  Really, the customer support we receive, both from Sage and from Dresser and Associates, is absolutely amazing.  We are never left in the lurch, and always get what we need in a timely fashion.

Absence/PTO and Benefits Management: Keeping Costs in Check

Posted in Session Summaries on November 12, 2009 by Monisha

The SMB Employer’s Agenda track wrapped up this afternoon with a session on “Taxable and Non-Taxable Fringe Benefits,” presented by Hope Williams, CPP, from the American Payroll Association (APA).

Tom Tillman, director of product management for Sage Employer Solutions, says, “A good example of the value of this year’s HR/payroll-focused agenda for Summit comes from today’s peer-to-peer roundtable with several of the third-party industry experts who served as session speakers. Customers discussed several cases encompassing benefits, absence, wage and hour compliance, and payroll. Many typical employer challenges involve multiple HR and payroll aspects such as these.”

Speaking of absence, Liz Hickok, a director of HR for Sage, presented “Boosting Productivity & Profits with Effective Absence Management & PTO Reporting” to Sage Summit attendees this morning.

 She discussed a seven-step process for effectively managing absence, plus offered tips and tricks for keeping PTO (paid-time-off) liability as low as possible. One tip: Employ vacation caps to keep liability in check

 Liz also showed attendees how to create an action plan to efficiently manage absence and associated costs.

On Tuesday morning, Michael McKenna, president of Partners Benefit Group Inc., presented “Strategically Controlling Employee Benefit Costs.” He first explained the reality employers are facing:

  • There have been more than eight years of double-digit increases in regular medical benefit costs due to such factors as rising prescription drug costs, aging Baby Boomers, advancements in medical technology, and more.
  • The average traditional dental health plan is marked up more than 70 percent, with ~$480 in collected annual premiums per employee and only ~$280 in actual expense per employee.

Michael then dedicated the session to showing attendees how to create benefit plans that will allow them, as employers, to “gain an advantage on the positive aspects of [their] employee base.” He stressed the importance of employers and employees “sharing the risk.”

Customer Interview with Espie Austria

Posted in Customer Interviews on November 12, 2009 by Monisha

Espie Austria is the assistant comptroller for the Squaxin Island Tribe in Shelton, Wash., one of the first 30 tribes in the nation to enter into the Self Governance Demonstration Project with the federal government. Now, the Tribe establishes its own priorities and budgets for funds previously administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Espie talked with us about being a Sage customer.

Q: What Sage products do you use?

A: We’ve been using Sage MIP Fund Accounting since 2002. The product is easy-to-use, and allows us to pull reports in a timely manner.

Q: How does Sage MIP Fund Accounting help with your business management processes?

A: Sage helps us with our audit trail; we’re able to get information quickly.

Q: What issues do you face in your day-to-day work?

A: We’ve received stimulus funding from the federal government, which means we have to pull a lot of reports in a timely manner. Sage MIP Fund Accounting helps us achieve this goal. We are dependent on submitting timely reports to the government.

Q: What do you expect from Sage?

A: We expect Sage to fill the gaps between our needs; to reduce our [administrative] processes; and to shorten the time it takes to produce reports.

Q: What does Sage do really well?

A: Sage has developed a really good product that is flexible and fits our needs.

Q: What could Sage do differently?

A: I’d like to see more web training being offered. When I come to Summit, I can’t go to all the sessions. It would be good if you had more online classes, because they’re cost-effective.

FLSA, ADAA, and ARRA, Oh My!: Staying in Compliance

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2009 by Monisha

People are an organization’s greatest asset.

Sage is a firm believer in this notion, so Sage Summit 2009 featured a special learning track devoted entirely to human resources (HR) and payroll issues. The SMB Employer’s Agenda consisted of seven information-packed sessions covering recruiting and retention, benefits, compliance, payroll and tax, and technology. Two highly experienced employment attorneys delivered the compliance sessions.

Paul DeCamp, partner with Jackson Lewis LLP, presented on “Wage & Hour Compliance in Today’s Economy.” He says the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 80 percent of employers are not in compliance with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations, and that acting ethically does not ensure compliance. Furthermore, DeCamp says, “Potential legislative and regulatory changes may make it even more challenging to be an employer.”

He offered this advice to Sage Summit attendees.

  • Tackle wage and hour concerns aggressively;
  • Know your policies, practices, and systems;
  • Watch out for incentives that can lead to off-the-clock work;
  • Be strategic about documents; and
  • Train everyone regularly.

Audrey Mross, partner at Munck Carter, and leader of the firm’s Labor and Employment section, talked about the “Top Workplace Legal Risks of the 21st Century.” She presented an excellent overview of recently passed and proposed federal laws, as well as some key state and local laws. She left attendees with a final to-do list:

  • Stay on top of current law and changes;
  • Take a fresh look at all policies, procedures and forms;
  • Evaluate job descriptions and compensation information;
  • Scrutinize employee vs. contractor designations;
  • Review HR processes administration;
  • Properly secure data; and
  • Don’t forget to breathe – there’s more to come.

Check back soon for key takeaways from some of the other SMB Employer’s Agenda sessions.

Sage Healthcare customers wrap successful week of education, networking

Posted in Session Summaries on November 11, 2009 by Monisha

This morning’s closing session for the Sage Healthcare general attendees featured Mike Mosquito, Christopher Kunney, and Denise Hines from HealthNovations, and James Mathews, a vice president of business development from Sage. The popular topic was “Economic Stimulus: The Path to Meaningful Use.” The capacity crowd learned more about the steps a practice will need to take to achieve meaningful use.

After the session, winners were drawn for two paintings created during the opening general session, as well as a variety of valuable prizes from Sage and our partners. Prizes included a Wii and Wii Fit combo prize, a $100 AmEx gift card from Stratus, an iHome from Fujitsu, and a Motorola Flip camera from Alpha II.

Social CRM Session Highlights

Posted in Session Summaries with tags , , , on November 11, 2009 by ryanzuk

Brent Leary presented Social CRM trends during his morning session at Sage Summit today. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author and blogger. His presentation covered a variety of useful advice for small and mid-sized businesses looking to incorporate social media into their marketing and sales strategies.

Brent discussed a logical way to think about social networking: create compelling content that, through sharing, sparks conversations on the social Web – these conversations create friends, and some of these friendships over time can turn into meaningful business relationships based on common interests, needs and goals.

He also explained that communities – and how they openly share and benefit from information – are what drive Social CRM. These communities help give traditional CRM a Social LIFT – Lift being his acronym for Listening, Inspiring, Facilitating and Transforming. You participate in such activities to create and retain long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers, regardless of what social media tools or technologies you are using. (“Social networking isn’t about the technologies, it’s about people connecting and conversing.”)

Then Brent compared the Obama and McCain presidential campaigns’ uses of social media. The Obama campaign, as many are aware, exhibited the most thorough and innovative uses of social media. For example, Obama’s campaign officially made about 2,000 YouTube videos for sharing which encouraged an additional 442,000 citizen-generated You Tube videos. The campaign also developed an iPhone app which guided users to contact and influence their voting friends in the most heavily contested battleground states. And the rest, as they say, is history. Brent co-authored a book, Barack 2.0, with more specific details about how social media participation played a key role during the 2008 presidential voting season.

“If you want to improve customer experience, facilitate a great community experience” was the key theme resonating throughout Brent’s presentation. He talks about this and other social media concepts regularly on his Social CRM Blog and Sage will have a replay link from the live Webcast of today’s presentation available soon on the Sage SalesLogix Community at http://community.sagesaleslogix.com/.