Category: Latest News


The bi-annual company tax return season opens on 1 September 2013 and it makes sense for companies to prepare their mandatory information in August to avoid SARS e@syFile rejections and late submission penalties.

All South African companies are required to reconcile and submit PAYE, UIF, SDL contributions for the period of 01 September 2013 – 31 October 2013.

“Companies have about four weeks to prepare their submission information and update their payroll systems before performing their last payroll run in August,” says Philip Meyer, technology director at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR.

“It is critical for companies to ensure that they download and install the latest version of SARS e@syFile before reconciling.  Companies are advised to backup their current information on their computers prior to installing a new version of e@syFile Employer, as the installation may delete the current information.

Another important requirement for companies is to comply with new legislation pertaining to employees making use of company vehicles leased by their employer. Meyer says the fringe benefit value is the rental contract plus the fuel cost for the month. However, the rental contract must be classified as an operating lease.

Income tax reference numbers are another important element in returns. Companies can only submit tax certificates to SARS if each employee has an income tax reference number. Submissions in which one or more tax certificates do not have the mandatory individual income tax reference number specified will not be accepted by SARS.

Companies using an automated payroll software solution can obtain employee tax reference numbers via the bulk ITREG functionality and the e@syFile Employer system to simplify the reconciliation.

Attention should also be paid to new source codes in the event that the employer pays a lump sum to the family of a deceased employee. The first R300 000 of the lump sum is tax free but the portion exceeding R300 000 is taxed  by way of a SARS directive and the lump sum must be reported against code 3922 and the PAYE on the lump sum must be allocated to code 4115.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

Accurate and easily available monthly income statements and balance sheets are critical for the success of any business. Most businesses separate their payroll and accounting departments but for ease of administration it makes good business sense to be able to seamlessly move information from the payroll into the accounting system.

“Instead of having to import and export information, the seamless integration functionality in Sage Pastel My Payroll Online with Sage Pastel My Business Online streamlines and simplifies the process of transferring payroll information to the accounting system. Information is reconciled and despatched with a mouse click.”

“Seamless integration between payroll and accounting systems whereby payroll expenses and liabilities are updated in the accounting system, improves business processes,” says Sage Pastel My Payroll Online business manager Karen Schmikl.

The integration functionality is accessible at no charge to users of the Sage Pastel My Payroll Online  system. It keeps track of any changes to the payroll affecting the journal, notifying users when alterations are made and thereby ensuring that the payroll and accounting systems are always synchronised.

Should users forget to post a processing period they are able to rectify the omission without having to conduct a tedious restore and back-up operation.

Schmickl adds that security functionality ensures that users are valid,  meaning that only users entitled to post journals are able to do so, thus securing access to the information. Back-ups are done every day and with the roll-over of each reporting period.

“With Sage Pastel My Payroll Online accountants don’t have to manually import information and reconcile it, saving time and costs. Companies using the Sage Pastel My Payroll Online system can obtain the online integration at no cost. The time saving and efficiency benefits from this seamless integration are very tangible.”

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR on Twitter (Payroll News), Facebook or LinkedIn.

With the official launch of the Tax season on 01 July 2013, taxpayers once again need to file their tax returns within the SARS deadlines if they are to avoid fines or penalties.

Manual returns must be posted or delivered to local SARS branches by 27 September 2013 while non-provisional taxpayers may use SARS eFiling until 22 November 2013. Provisional taxpayers have more time and may submit electronic returns via eFiling until 31 January 2014.

Philip Meyer, technology director of Sage Pastel Payroll & HR, encourages taxpayers to start getting their tax documentation into order as soon as possible.

“They should start gathering proof of contributions to Retirement Annuities or private pensions and medical schemes, investment income, dividends and lump sum payments as the earlier the return can be finalised and submitted, the better. Rather be well prepared and avoid the stress that accompanies the last-minute rush.”

Taxpayers receiving remuneration of less than R250 000 may choose to not submit an income tax return. However, they need to meet the following criteria: their remuneration must be from a single employer and for a full year of assessment (1 March 2012 to 28 February 2013), no allowance was paid from which employees’ tax was not fully deducted and no further deductions need to be claimed or income declared.

SARS announces its tax season every year and it is during this period that individuals must submit their annual return.

On Monday (01 July 2013) the individual tax filing season was launched by SARS and on the first day,  the SARS eFiling website struggled to handle the volumes of eFilers logging in to file tax returns.

“Thousands of returns were filed on Monday and the volume may have caught SARS by surprise. Traditionally, taxpayers prefer to wait until the last few days of the filing season to get their tax returns done and this is normally the time we expect the eFiling website to start stumbling under the pressure,” said Meyer.

SARS has acknowledged via their website that they are aware of the technical difficulties being experienced by eFiling and that their technicians and service providers are investigating the network issues.

If you want to confirm whether you are one of the individuals exempt from filing this year, access the following link from the SARS website, http://bit.ly/15a37Gp

SARS has adopted a more user-friendly approach and has published a Tax Season 2013 electronic guide that can be easily accessed on the SARS website www.sars.gov.za enabling an electronic version to be quickly downloaded.

Taxpayers are being offered SARS assistance with their returns through a number of channels to ensure that tax returns are submitted accurately and on time with minimal effort. A Help-You-eFile service has also been launched by SARS.

“The Help-You-eFile service provides taxpayers with access to contact the call centre agents while the taxpayer is online. Agents are able to see what taxpayers are doing and can assist with the completion of the tax return,” says Meyer.

SARS also caters for mobile technology, enabling individuals with mobile devices to file their returns from their smartphones and tablets.

“Taxpayers will also be able to view eFiling videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to register for eFiling, complete and submit the IRT12 tax form, accompanied by supporting documents if these are required. SARS has said that eFilers will receive their ITA34 assessment and statement of account within a few minutes of submitting the return.”

Finally, taxpayers who may have forgotten their eFiling login or password will be able to request their login name and reset their password.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR. on Twitter (Payroll News), LinkedIn, Facebook.

Philip Meyer

Philip Meyer

By Phillip Meyer, Technology director Sage Pastel Payroll & HR

Connected Services enables SME companies to extend their desktop payroll with an online solution that eases the growing burden of HR managers and payroll administrators.

Connected Services includes a web-based self-service tool that enables employees to manage and maintain their own information online, thereby carrying some of the overall HR administration responsibility. They are able to make online applications for leave, loans, bursaries, travel claims, view their payslips and update personal information no matter where they are so long as they have an internet connection.

The adoption rate of online business software for new entrants into the market is increasing, posing the question of how to bridge the gap between the growing trend towards online software adoption and the traditional desktop application users in the same market segments.

The advantages and conveniences of connected services assist with expediting the many benefits of dual-deployment business software models such as client-side hosted applications with significant connected services capabilities and functionality, together with a seamless upgrade path to ultimately complete cloud-based models facilitated by vendors.

Connected Services has workflow capabilities based on the organisation chart or specific workflow orders per online form. Once an employee applies for leave online and it is management approved, the payroll & HR systems are automatically updated. The software also provides for leave scheduling, particularly practical over traditional December holidays when “skeleton staff” is required. The programme helps to manage minimum staff levels by providing system warnings.

When applying a connected services solution such as Self Service, companies should consider a hosted solution.  This guarantees quick deployment at low implementation cost, meaning companies do not have to invest in additional infrastructure to host the online application. All a company needs is an internet connection and a computer.

Frictionless (automated) payroll legislative updates
Frictionless updates are another example of connected services. This functionality enables traditional desktop applications to seamlessly update over the internet with minimal intervention from the end-user of the software.

Users no longer need to visit a website to download and install updates or CD versions manually as the connected services functionality does it all for them, directly from their payroll software. The days of CD-based updates and disruptive installation and implementation cycles are over.

RSS Feeds within payroll software
Another component of Connected Services allows HR managers and payroll administrators to receive RSS feeds to their desktops notifying them of legislative and tax changes as well as new system software releases so that the company is always on track and up to date.

The internet and, more specifically, cloud-based and online business applications constitute some of the most compelling opportunities for streamlining the way business is now conducted. It is reassuring that the optimisation of internet capabilities will almost certainly not amount to a one-size fits all model.

It is rather the incremental evolution of traditional desktop software, leveraging the internet where it is appropriate and business enhancing, that is playing an important role in the evolutionary shift to complete cloud-based business software provisioning, billing and deployment. This is providing a flexible and extensible migration path to the cloud, taking into account preferences of individual business requirements, as will pure cloud-only offerings.

Reduce payroll fraud and bank rejections with automated payroll software
Opt for a payroll vendor that can offerID number and bank account validations, as well as Employee Credit Checks and the delivery of secure salary EFT payments directly from the payroll software.

Companies need to take steps to avoid paying fake employees and can reduce payroll fraud and bank rejections, ensuring that they avoid stalling when processing salary payments. By combining monthly employee ID Number validation and verification with monthly bank account validation and verification together with secure payment services, companies  ensure that not only are they paying the correct employee through the correct bank account, but also that the payment is expedited in the most secure manner possible.

By validating and verifying the ID Numbers on the payroll, companies create complete peace of mind in the knowledge that not only has their employee provided a valid ID Number but also that the ID Number has been verified as belonging to the associated employee and is recorded on the Department of Home Affairs list of official ID Numbers. This eliminates both fake ID Numbers as well as ID Numbers not associated with the given employee.

With secure salary EFT payments, payment batches can be created automatically within a payroll system without creating the infamous “text files” which on some payroll systems needed to be stored on the hard drive of the Payroll Administrator’s computer and then forwarded or transferred to the authorised user of the banking software for transmission to the relevant bank. Avoiding editable payment  text files improves efficiency and eliminates yet another potential area for payroll fraud, ensuring a tamperproof payment is imported into the banking software.

By performing credit checks on employees, companies and Human Resource managers are provided with valuable information on existing and potential employees including judgments, defaults, notices / alerts, fraud listings / indicators, marital status spouse details and all residential address details. Reports can sourced from the three main credit bureaus in South Africa, namely TransUnion, Experian and XDS.

For more information on in-payroll software ID Number and Bank Account validation and verification services, contact Sage Pastel Payroll & HR and enquire about their Sage Pastel Connect Module.

For the latest legislative news, connect with Sage Pastel Payroll & HR. on Twitter (Payroll News), LinkedIn, Facebook.

Anja Hartman-Weitz, HR Director at Sage VIP

Anja Hartman-Weitz, HR Director at Sage VIP

 

- By Anja Hartman, HR Director at Sage VIP

Talent management adds strategic value to a business and if implemented correctly will help a company to achieve its business goals. In a nutshell it is all about placing the ‘right people in the right role’ for current and future business plans.

A company’s talent management strategy should form part of the overall HR strategy and in the end align with the company’s overall business plan. For example, if the company is building a brand of confidence for the external customers; this confidence will have to be demonstrated by the leaders inside the business. Creating a leadership brand is therefore central in supporting the brand internally. This will help the leaders to focus not only on achieving financial targets but also think of how to motivate and engage employees to achieve these financial goals.

Company culture, forms an integral part of talent management and will attract the right talent for future success. For instance, if you work towards being an employer of choice, your employees are more likely to be loyal, and in the end this will make you as a company a favourable option for the people you want to attract. A company’s culture is not established overnight and links in strongly with the behaviours of the business leaders, the way decisions are taken, the processes and the day to day running of a business.

In Sage VIP, we have found great value in conducting anonymous employee surveys. In these surveys, employees had the opportunity to tell us how they rate certain dimensions in the business, but more importantly indicate which dimensions will make them more loyal towards the company. This formed the foundation in our journey on becoming an employer of choice and we are fortunate to be in a position where talented graduates approach us and want to work at our company.

Building a talent pipeline

One of the main responsibilities for any manager is to ensure a strong talent pipeline.  They have to identify critical skills and competencies required for current and future business goals. In addition to this, the manager also has to identify critical positions and determine which individuals will be capable of taking up these key positions in future.

An analysis of your current talent can be based on discussions with individuals, the output from assessment tools and evaluating the performance of employees over the last few years.

The following should be taken into consideration when determining an employee’s potential:

  • The ability to easily progress to higher and more complex levels
  • Displaying learning agility and is readily adaptable
  • The ability to perform cross-functional assignments and not be limited to geographical or functional discipline
  • Personal aspiration and commitment to succeed

This evaluation process is followed by developing people according to a structured plan, based on the gaps identified between the business plan and the current talent available. It is also referred to as a succession plan.

In any organisation, there will always be employees with a specific talent or critical ‘know how’, on which the company relies heavily. If these employees should exit the business, the impact is usually huge because the skill is not always easy to replace. Managers should aim to reduce the dependency on these critical workers as far as possible.

The succession plan will help to reduce the business risk and the company should have a supply of talent ready to fill this role or be capable of doing broader roles. Replacement plans should be reviewed annually and action plans followed up rigorously – particularly in areas where there are critical gaps.

Talent management and confidentiality

A question regularly asked is, is whether an employee should know if they have been identified as “high potential?” It is important to encourage an open and honest approach with the employee at all times and to communicate with employees where they are in the talent pipeline and what it means to them.

Talent management is not just another HR process. It is important to the survival of any business and managers have a responsibility to ensure talent is managed, effectively and continuously.

Jenny Venter

Jenny Venter – Consulting Manager for Organisational Development at Sage VIP

Jenny Venter – Consulting Manager for Organisational Development at Sage VIP

Sage VIP recently hosted the p2t HR Conference for HR and Organisation Development (OD) practitioners. The conference was a true learning experience and an excellent opportunity for practitioners to discuss, debate and clarify the meaning of integration between people, processes and technology.

In his keynote address, Marius Meyer, the CEO from the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) said: “It is important for the HR profession to be guided by formalised and specific standards.” According to Meyer the current draft standard of practice will be finalised before the end of 2013. He encouraged the HR community to contact the SABPP and provide their input to the draft document.

Frank de Beer, Industrial Psychologist at Sage VIP, encouraged a debate around the impact of broken job structures on HR. He said: “Job structures are unique to every organisation and the key is to ensure that it supports the organisational purpose.”

Jason Bonehill, Industrial Psychologist at Sage VIP, challenged practitioners to critically consider the meaning of performance management for their organisations. During a workshop, practitioners continued to explore the challenges in moving performance management from practice to culture. The major themes that emerged during this session, as the delegates shared their experiences, were that management support is the key to driving a performance culture.

Karen Ekron, Head of Recruitment Consulting at Sage VIP, provided a comprehensive presentation on the challenges of selecting and implementing technology within the recruitment space and shared how the South African context can influence these technology decisions. According to Ekron it is important to be clear on what you want to achieve with your recruitment technology. “Recruiters usually need a combination of software solutions and it is therefore important that they ensure compatible technology platforms in the recruitment space,” said Ekron.

Dr Louise van Rhyn, Founder of Symphonia for South Africa, a non-profit organisation, who leads and initiate projects that are intended to engage South Africans in the process of nation building, was also present. She shared the ‘partnership for possibility’ leadership programme with practitioners. “The goal of this national change project is to achieve quality education in South Africa by 2022. The main elements of the programme include the partnering of business leaders and school principals in a co-learning and co-action partnership and 113 business leaders in South Africa are already making a difference to the quality of education of approximately 94,000 children, by partnering with school principals,” said van Ryn. “The programme is accredited by the University of the Western Cape and can be included in skills development and BBBEE reporting.”

Otto Pretorius, principal thought leader and director at QBit, a Business Consulting Company, led a debate on the link between strategy, the operating model, practices, processes and tasks. Organisations often attempt to fix broken organisational processes with technology, without understanding the underlying causes of the dysfunction experienced. Pretorius commented: “Technology can’t fix a broken business; it just makes broken things happen faster.” In order to ensure that HR processes are integrated, HR practitioners need an operating model for HR that can be translated into an HRIS. Pretorius introduced practitioners to an HR operating model called Standard Integrated People Practices (SIPP), which is accredited with the SABPP. SIPP is a work centric model where all processes flow from an understanding of work in the organisation.

Pretorius explained: “When studying HR processes a significant realisation is that HR is not a sequential process. It is a vast network of intertwined business processes that can be triggered in what seems to be a random order.  Understanding current and future requirements of work, how we define levels of accountability, define output, competency models and pay models (including grading) all integrate through a proper understanding of work. SIPP is a framework that allows HR practitioners to create this integrated understanding of work and processes in the organisation.”

Renate Landman, Executive Coach and Facilitator, representing The Human Edge and Worldsview Academy, introduced practitioners to the Influencer Change model. Landman shared case studies where some of the most challenging behaviours have been changed by identifying the end result, designing the few vital behaviours that will produce that result and leveraging six sources of influence that create an environment where it is easy for people to engage in these vital behaviours. Landman explained: “The Influencer model was designed after decades of studying individuals who achieved sustainable behavioural change in challenging environments and who had the data to prove the change.”

Craig Yeatman, CEO from Worldsview Academy (an organisation that specialises in Organisation Development) facilitated a workshop titled ‘the Establishment and Adaptation Landscape’. At the session practitioners could not only network with other professionals, but also debate in detail the true meaning of organisation development.  Practitioners had the opportunity to walk around on the Establishment and Adaptation (E&A) Landscape of Organisation Development and plot organisational issues. Yeatman explained: “Unlike other change frameworks, the E&A Landscape of Organisation Development simultaneously and appropriately works with the human and the organising systems. The E&A Landscape is made up of 25 fields – each of which is a unique aspect of the organisation in a unique phase of adaptation, providing a platform for intervention selection and monitoring over long periods of time across multiple interventions.”

The p2t HR Conference was a true community of practice for HR and OD practitioners, allowing them the opportunity to engage with each other, share their experience and challenging them to think differently about their organisational challenges.

For more information about the presentations, please visit: www.vippayroll.co.za

Bold Context was in need of a hosted solution that could also support detailed financial reporting to their customers.  Sage ERP X3 presented itself as the perfect solution to address the company’s needs.

Bold Context simplifies financial management for small and medium-sized businesses through the provision of skilled advisory personnel and robust, scalable and cost-efficient back-office services in a shared service centre format, (referred to as a hosted solution). The hosted services include accounting, debtors, creditors, sales, purchasing, stock, manufacturing, reporting and business intelligence. In essence, SMEs have access to large company systems at small company prices.

Sage ERP X3 enables Bold Context to provide the hosted solution to companies with limited internal IT skills and capabilities. The solution is affordable and manageable. “The Sage ERP X3 application is hosted in a professional environment with full backup procedures and database administration which is taken care of on behalf of our clients.  There is no large capital outlay and businesses can now enjoy the benefits of large enterprise systems without breaking the bank”, says Graham McGregor, CEO for Bold Context.

“The cloud-based ERP offers many advantages, especially for start-up businesses,” says Keith Fenner, senior vice president for sales at Sage ERP Africa. “Businesses are able to benefit from lower infrastructure costs, easy software deployment and seamless scalability.”

Accounting and business management software solutions specialist Lorge was contracted by Bold Context to implement, service, support and maintain the Sage ERP X3 software. The hosted ERP X3 solution offers Bold Context and its customers a full suite of modules to fully support its needs and drive the business. Developments per customer are made easy with the SAFE (Sage Application Framework for the Enterprise) architecture, and data is securely housed in the respective customer’s folder,” says Jonty Katz, Operations Manager of Lorge’s Sage ERP X3 division.

In the past the clients of Bold Context also experienced difficulties with the level of detail available in the reports delivered from their various systems and they had to start to purchase and develop 3rd party applications to fill the gaps their current systems could not cover. This created a complicated IT environment which increased the costs of servicing.  Businesses started to become reliant on certain key individuals and were exposed to large amounts of risk should this individual depart the business,” says McGregor.

However, with the hosted Sage ERP X3 solution Bold Context can simplify the creation of reports dramatically.  Once the customer has transferred key financial accounting information, Bold Context starts a systematic system improvement & development process. This can be broken into phases to support rapid initial system setup and then focused development thereafter to achieve high levels of ROI for the ERP take on.

The companies utilizing Bold Context hosted Sage ERP X3 solution now have access to more detailed financial information supporting business analytics through the extension of multiple dimensions.  The customers can also map a long term system development strategy knowing full well that they will not outgrow the system.

One of Bold Context’s hosted clients is CSS Tactical, a professional security services company, providing mainly armed response and dedicated proactive patrols as well as the installation of burglar alarms and CCTV cameras.

“Sage ERP X3 has allowed us to manage our key customer billing information and customer master file data in a controlled and efficient manner. We have also managed to improve our business profitability analytics through the dimension levels supported in Sage. We have also been able to map a long term ERP strategy involving all the benefits of Sage including CRM & EDM module utilization,” says Ricky Croock, CEO of CSS Tactical.

By Keith Fennersenior vice president for sales at Sage ERP Africa.

Companies need to be efficient, save time and costs, when it comes to the production and distribution of documents, such as invoices, remittances, statements, quotes and order confirmations

Sage ERP Africa’s electronic document distribution solution, Spindle Professional, now makes being efficient as a business so much easier because it enables business users to improve their practices and to streamline and automate all communications. It also helps the organisation to reduce their carbon footprint by going paperless.

The Spindle Professional software helps the small and medium sized business to instantly distribute multiple documents via email and to automatically print, fax and archive it as PDF documents. It is versatile, can be utilised by a number of departments across an organisation including Accounts, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service functions and it integrates with accounting, CRM and other systems. The software also enables organisations to create professional-looking documents, including the company’s logo and branding.”

How does it work? – A practical example:

Angela raises a sales order and prints it to Spindle Professional. John (the customer) gets an order confirmation as a PDF, via email. It includes corporate branding, terms and conditions and special offers, as well as a digital signature to assure its validity. Steve (in the sales department) also gets the order confirmation and checks it against quotations. At the same time a copy is saved in CRM, giving a single location for all communications and documents.

In the accounts department, Susan’s local printer prints a copy for filing with Terms and Conditions. A copy is also created and indexed into Microsoft SharePoint for easy access by multiple teams. Angela’s sales order is at the same time printed directly to the warehouse printer with bar codes added for easy item picking. A copy gets emailed to Bob in the warehouse, in case a reprint of the paperwork is required.

Key Features

·         Email – The most cost effective way to send documents. Complete with company branding and messages, finished documents are sent as PDF files.

  • Print – When an organisation simply can’t email or fax. Copies can be printed on different stationery Prints to multiple printers simultaneously

·         Barcode Generation – Create and insert barcodes to documents.

·         CRM – Automatically links outgoing documents with a customer or company and saves a record of the communication for reference.

·         Fax – Quick document delivery from one business to another.

·         PDF Digital signatures – Digitally signing documents gives you improved security and protects against invoice fraud.

Key Benefits

·         Reduce costs – documents are automatically delivered via email and fax and remove the need for pre-printed stationery.

·         Reduce environmental impact - sending documents by email and fax dramatically reduces the amount of paper used by a business and can help reduce environmental impact.

·         Automated Archiving – Spindle Professional automatically archives all documents as PDF files to a predefined location.

·         Intelligent Delivery – Spindle knows which documents to print, email or fax based on client and supplier preferences.

·         Intelligent documents - Terms and Conditions or promotional offers are automatically attached to relevant documents.

·         Seamless Integration – Spindle professional integrates with existing systems e.g. Sage 300 ERP (formerly Accpac), Sage ERP X3 and Sage CRM.

Spindle Professional is a document distribution solution that many of our Sage 300 ERP and Sage ERP X3 users in Africa have been looking for. It has been developed in partnership with Draycir International and offers us a real opportunity to deliver greater business value to our distributors and offer even more functionality from our Sage platforms.

Christophe Letellier

Christophe Letellier

 

Christophe Letellier, CEO – Sage ERP X3

On my way back from a great Sage ERP X3 Global Convention in Berlin last week, I was wondering what makes an ERP solution the right one for mid-market customers. During the whole week, we’ve presented and demonstrated Sage ERP X3 at length: the solution today, with its breadth and depth of functionality and exciting customer testimonials, as well as the future of Sage ERP X3 with its totally new user experience that will increase return on investment. We have shared all this with our employees and partners. Of course, excitement was high and a good product is an important part of a good solution, but it’s not enough.

My take from last week in Berlin is that the community makes the difference. I’m not speaking about size or numbers but about commitment and collaboration. What showed strongly last week is the ability and the willingness of Sage and its partners to collaborate, share and work together for the benefit of our clients. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to paint a picture of a perfect world, but what I describe is the reality of what I’ve witnessed. I received so much feedback from our partners, and no matter where they came from, they all mentioned the fact that probably the best part of our Convention was the opportunity to engage transparently with Sage and the other partners.

I’ve always believed that the split between “direct” and “indirect” was a figment of the past. What counts now is gathering the skills and competencies that will make our customers more successful. Good sense says that it’s better to have a small slice of a big cake than a big slice of a small one. In business it’s not small or big, in fact, it’s “deal” or “no deal”. Sharing value makes sense when you have won! I think that together with our partners, we’ve got that mentality. Winning means giving our prospects and customers the confidence that they will have the solution they need to succeed, putting together the winning team that will fully address their needs.

This is what I’ve seen in Berlin: a great collaborative spirit. I know that our customers and prospects, who joined us on the last day, felt the same.

Even if this was a great outcome from our Sage ERP X3 Global Convention, it is not new to us. From day one we always have favored a selective approach when recruiting our partners. We could easily have 2-3 times more partners if we wanted, but the level of commitment and engagement behind Sage ERP X3 has always been the priority. Looking back, I’m happy we made this decision. Only committed partners can be open and mature enough to work as part as a community. Only the ones who are engaging their own business behind Sage ERP X3 can understand and accept that they will be stronger collaborating rather than working in isolation.

What’s true for our partners is also true for Sage. In all regions we have developed very collaborative models that leverage both the strength of our community and give our customers the choice to contract with who they want in order to access the best skills and competencies. We’ll keep developing this model; it’s not a dual model, but a hybrid model. At the end of the day, mid-market companies have the last say and they will tell us if we are right!

Gerhard Hartman

Gerhard Hartman

By Gerhard Hartman, Head of the Africa Division at Sage VIP

The Sage VIP African Partner Conference, held last week in Pretoria, was a resounding success and a first for the Africa Division. The business partners attending the conference represented 12 African countries. At the conference we build relationships, shared key product developments for the year ahead and provided business advice.

In his opening address, Anton van Heerden, the Managing Director of Sage VIP, thanked business partners for their contribution and support to growing the business in Africa. The group has experienced a 40% growth in their African operations the last year and currently 22% of the company’s new business is based in Africa.

Sandra Swanepoel, Sales director, said in her keynote address: “Investing in technology and research is important for growing the business in Africa. Other contributing factors to our recent success in Africa are: quality of training, providing the right resources and a willingness to cater for localisation.”

Ina du Plessis, Research and Development director said legislation in the different African countries still remains a challenge for the customisation of solutions.

Karen Schmikl, Liquid Payroll Product manager, spoke about the road ahead for online solutions in Africa and the planned release of Liquid into Africa. Liquid is an online payroll software solution for the small-to-medium sized business and is fully supported through telephone and email.

Another highlight of the conference was the Gala Dinner – a true celebration of Sage VIP’s success in Africa. The top three African business partners, with the highest figures in software sales for 2012, were also announced. Omni Africa was the winner and Quantum Solution and Infosys Consult, came in second and third place respectively. Our client base into Africa has increased tremendously in the last year and these partners’ contribution has been invaluable. The African partner conference will definitely become an annual event.

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