Category: Latest News


With mobility now the cornerstone for operating a cutting-edge business, Sage Evolution Mobile is the perfect tool to stay ahead of the competition. Now with an innovative suite of mobile applications, this homegrown ERP solution gives your sales force the ability to extend your business borders by transacting anywhere, anytime.

Available on Apple’s App Store and soon for Android too, Sage Evolution Mobile allows sales executives and management to view customised dashboards and real time information on customer history, inventory, expenses and other key business information. The ability to check item quantities and prices with quick searches allows users to create in-the-moment quotes and orders with discounts – this means deals can be negotiated and closed in one meeting. Customers can accept terms by signing on the tablet and an e-mail confirmation follows.

If more detailed quotes or proposals are required, Sage Evolution’s Quote on Air is the perfect solution: it combines desktop software with that of a cloud-based portal. Users can create custom quote templates that are automatically uploaded to the Quote on Air web space allowing the sales team to log into the portal and use the templates to produce professional and standardised quotes and proposals. Customers can accept their quotes online with immediate notification to the sales executive.

Sage Evolution’s mobile applications are the only mobile sales tools that offer online/offline modes, allowing the programs to operate even when users are out of 3G range and still ensure an automated and seamless integration back into Sage Evolution ERP.

Jeremy Waterman

Jeremy Waterman

A New ‘Customer Day’ is Introduced for 2013

Sage will be holding its third annual Sage ERP X3 Global Convention from 8-11 April 2013, in Berlin, Germany. The event will host Sage ERP X3 partners and internal teams for its duration and for the first time will also welcome Sage ERP X3 customers from around the world for the final day of the Convention.

The Marussia F1 Team, a customer and partner of Sage, will be attending the Convention, exhibiting its Show Car and sharing how it has put Sage ERP X3 at the heart of its operations, linking every part of its business for the first time.

During the Convention participants will hear from members of the Sage Executive Committee including Guy Berruyer, Chief Executive, Klaus Michael Vogelberg, Group Chief Technology Officer, and Christophe Letellier, CEO, Mid-Market Europe and CEO, Sage ERP X3. Jeremy Waterman, Managing Director for Sage ERP Africa & Middle East will give an update on the implementation of Sage ERP X3 in Sub-Saharan Africa. He will be joined by Keith Fenner, senior vice president for sales at Sage ERP Africa, who will share some interesting case studies. A great representation of more than 25 Sage Solution Providers from the Sage ERP Africa territory will be attending

Christophe Letellier, commented, “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and this year we wanted to give them the opportunity to experience the dynamism of the global Sage ERP X3 community and participate in our Convention. There will be a specific event track for customers which will allow for networking, learning and meeting partners and members of our global network. Our partners are an integral part of our success in increasing our business globally and the aim of the Convention is to bring together Sage ERP X3 sales teams and partners so that we can better serve our customers and provide a forum to drive knowledge sharing and growth.

Preactor and Tema Business Systems are confirmed Gold sponsors of the Convention and Ortems are Silver sponsors.

Mike Novels , Chairman and Managing Director, Preactor said, “Being a lead sponsor of the Sage ERP X3 Global Convention 2013 in Berlin is an excellent opportunity for Preactor to promote its partnership with Sage, showcase our innovative solutions to a global audience and network with some of the leading figures in the ERP community. And this year, we anticipate some more good news to be announced about our Sage partnership at the Convention! As in 2012 we expect the Convention to be very dynamic, with a big emphasis on knowledge sharing and relationship building and we look forward to actively participating.”

Batcha Noordin, VP Business Development at Tema Business Systems said: “Our business model is exclusively focused on Sage ERP X3 partners worldwide.  As such, TBS is an active exhibitor at various Sage events throughout the world. However the Sage ERP X3 Global Convention is definitely the most important event having all the active players of the Sage ERP X3 community under the same roof for a few days. This year, Tema Business Systems is a gold sponsor and that reflects our continued commitment towards the Sage ERP X3 ecosystem to whom we provide a value added service ranging from pre-sales support to a dedicated 24/7 helpdesk. We are very much looking forward to connecting with Sage ERP X3 community members again.”

For more information on the Sage ERP X3 Global Convention, go to http://www.sageerpx3.com/gsc

Gerhard Hartman

Gerhard Hartman

Blog by Gerhard Hartman, Head of the Africa Division at Sage VIP

This year’s annual Sage VIP African Alliance Partner Conference is taking place from 11-12 April at Lombardy Hotel in Pretoria. The conference serves as an ideal platform for not only building relationships with our African alliance partners across 12 African countries, but also to share key product developments and assist them with operational challenges.

An opening address from the Managing Director of Sage VIP Africa, Anton van Heerden, will kick the event into gear on Thursday, 11 April 2013.

Ina du Plessis, Research and Development Director, will address the exciting roadmap that is planned for the launch of various Sage VIP products into Africa and Sandra Swanepoel, Sales director, will deliver a keynote about the organisation’s strategic focus for the future.

A highlight of the conference will be the announcement of Sage VIP’s top three African alliance partners for 2012. Our client base into Africa has increased tremendously in the last year and these partners’ contribution has been invaluable.

Sage VIP’s comprehensive partnership program is part of their winning recipe for increasing the footprint into Africa.  Establishing a partnership that works, is however a two-way street. Our partners need to take the first step in certifying themselves through Sage VIP’s training programmes.  It then becomes our responsibility to monitor their growth and development and to aid them as far as we can.  Being able to offer the best possible service to the end-user includes the offering of training to the client, local support and the implementation of a service level agreement.  We provide our partners with regular insightful information, in addition to a monthly webinar where we discuss any issues that may have arisen.

During our recent customer road shows with partners in Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe it was once again clear that companies in Africa want to ensure profitability by streamlining their business processes with automated HR and payroll software, which enable them to, for example, email payslips and manage overtime and leave by means of an automated process.

There is still an enormous scope of growth and within the next year Sage VIP’s client base in the rest of Africa will definitely increase. The greatest driving force behind our products remains the ability to offer a service that is compliant to the country’s specific statutory requirements.  Clients want the assurance that their payroll and HR system is compliant with legislation and that their tax documentation is on target.

The African Alliance Conference is the premier event of the year for Sage VIP and its partners. It promises to be highly informative and will provide a great deal of insight into the year ahead.

For more information visit:  www.sagevippayroll.com

Ansie Snyders, Head of the Department for Training and Seminars at Sage VIP

Ansie Snyders

Ansie Snyders

Sage VIP has announced the launch of an e-learning option to its already comprehensive package of training solutions. E-learning is an online solution that enables a user to complete the outcomes of a specific learning program in their own time and pace.

It made business sense to develop an online training solution which is innovative and aligned with world-class technology. According to a 2012 Internet Access in South Africa study, conducted by World Wide Worx, the South African Internet user base had grown from 6,8-million in 2010 to 8,5-million at the end of 2011. World Wide Worx also forecasted in the same study that the strong growth would continue during 2012, and the Internet user base would pass the 10-million mark by the end of that year. Further to this point, the way in which we interact with technology every day is changing and it influences all aspects of our lives, including the way we learn.

E-learning is a cost-effective solution, saving on class fees and travel costs. However, it still requires a commitment from the learner in terms of time and actual completion of the course. The online assessment is an added benefit to Sage VIP’s e-learning solution and at completion of the course; students will receive a certificate of competence.

Furthermore, because this is online training you will need access to a computer with internet connectivity. Once you have registered for the e-learning workshop, a login name and password provided by Sage VIP, will allow you access to the specific workshop.  To be able to complete the course, you will also need Adobe v4.0.1.

Although the training is done online, it will still be practical, interactive and use real-life examples. Sage VIP’s e-learning tools will include online reading material and limited use of video, basically guiding a learner through the relevant screens of the payroll module. There will also be interesting exercises to test the understanding of specific topics and the learner will receive supporting documents for reference purposes.

In conclusion, Sage VIP’s e-learning will make the subject matter come alive in a way that textbooks and the classroom cannot.

By Steven Cohen, managing director, Sage Pastel Accounting

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen

To succeed in business, exceptional service is essential. Everyone says they do it but I question its true impact, particularly when I consider that everything is automated these days. In the world of electronic communications, everyone auto-signs their emails with a warm and fuzzy salutation, your birthday is recorded in a customer relationship management (CRM) system that triggers a congratulatory SMS on the appropriate date and it’s seldom that you get to talk to a real person at a call centre anymore. The result of the, so-called benefits of technology is a techno-void between a company and its customers.

The Extraordinary Customer Experience

Sage, the global parent of Sage Pastel Accounting has launched a new Extraordinary Customer Experience initiative which will benefit its 4 million clients globally. The programme’s key objective is to build real relationships with customers using an old-fashioned method; people.

Initially I was cynical about the advantages such a plan would bring to the business. Our local contact centre is manned by real people and it’s considered one of the best – it wins local and international awards all the time and is currently a regional finalist in three categories of the highly regarded Contact Centre World Awards run by ContactCentreWorld.com.

However, our new service initiative requires more than just people to offer extraordinary customer service; it’s their attitude and approach to the customer that is so crucial. In addition to the programme’s need for passion, accountability, collaboration and being enterprising when dealing with customers, I am drawn to its requirements for creating working conditions that encourage people to succeed!

It’s all about attitude

As a business leader, I’ve always said that it’s important to stimulate the thinking of those around you. This can only be applied if you understand that attitude and not just aptitude is essential when employing at any level in the organisation. I like to see the interview process as a gate that only lets exceptional people in – and it’s part of my management ethos to pay more for a good person. So, I think I am on the correct path to getting the customer service experience right but now the hard work really begins.

For the Extraordinary Customer Experience to become a reality we need to change the way we think about customer service. I want us to own every customer experience and not simply sell stuff to people because we have targets to meet. We need to build real relationships with all of our clients and recognise that a new client or a satisfied contact centre customer is not just another successful transaction. In addition it’s important to define what we are delivering to our customers in relation to what our customers think they are getting – a disconnect at this point is the difference between exceptional or deficient service.

By: Christophe Letellier, CEO for Sage ERP X3

Christophe Letellier

Christophe Letellier

When approaching the subject of the Cloud, there is a choice between being strongly positive or enthusiastic. The wave in favour of the Cloud is so strong that views which attempt to even mildly address the need or even the relevance of the Cloud could make you look like a supporter of the past. But this has always been true with new technologies or business models; just look back to the early 2000s.
Cloud technology is not a revolution; it’s an evolution that materialises the maturity of the Internet. By definition the evolution will take time, a long time, when in contrast a revolution could change our world in weeks or months. As customers and suppliers, it has already taken us 15 years to get to where we are today with the Internet. I would bet it will take even longer before everything runs from the Cloud
The Cloud, in my opinion, brings many good things to the software industry. It means solutions can be developed more quickly, agile development becomes standard and seamless upgrades a given. Software vendors are changing and the Cloud is the trigger, but the change is embraced because it creates value for customers.
On a similar note, the Cloud implies a different business model that is based on usage. The ‘per month, per user’ pricing model is the first step that will evolve into fully consumption-based pricing. Once again, it’s good for our customers. The Cloud will also open the ERP world to many more users than today. Because it’s more flexible and web based, we can expect that the Cloud will provide much easier access to an ERP system. C-level executives will, at last, benefit from the mine of data that is created by their ERP system. This is particularly true in mid-sized companies where the CEO is in the operational driving seat and today drives almost blind! Casual users will also be more at ease and will be able to contribute more. This is true for occasional internal users, but also for external users like partners, suppliers or customers. The 25-year-old concept of an extended enterprise now becomes a reality.
All these changes can bring great value to our customers and it’s important that we aim to deliver on these promises. The Cloud is not the means to get there, but only the trigger. It has changed mindsets and offers a technical solution, but we can deliver the very same value to our customers via other delivery mechanisms. If I look at the ERP world for instance, there are many examples of strong adoption of financials in the Cloud when manufacturing, that requires significant customization and close connection to shop floor control systems, looks less attractive. Does it mean that our customers should be put on the side of the road? Today a vast majority of mid-sized companies do use their ERP systems on fat clients without web access, when such systems have been available for over 10 years now. Why should we expect that adoption of full cloud solutions will be that much faster? And does this mean that our customers shouldn’t have access to the benefits listed above?
Adoption of the Cloud is a long journey. Cloud will become a standard in one or two decades. What do we do for our customers in the meantime?
My conviction is that although the Cloud will not dominate for some time in the ERP space, it will profoundly change mindsets and drive software vendors in a new direction. Having sold web-based products like Sage ERP X3 for over 10 years, Sage is not afraid of this evolution. On the contrary, we welcome this change towards flexibility and openness. This has always been our motto. Building hybrid systems and leveraging the best of the on-premise and cloud worlds will help the transition, drive adoption, and create true value for our customers. Our customers are pragmatic so we have to be inventive.

In the 2013 Budget speech, Finance  Minister, Pravin Gordhan, emphasised that one of Government’s most pressing development challenges is to expand work opportunities for young people: “There has been extensive debate on how this should be done and the answer is that a wide range of measures are needed, including further education, training, public employment opportunities and support for job creation in the private sector.”

Learnerships help young people to obtain a formal qualification, while gaining relevant workplace experience. While there are many benefits to the prospective learners, there are also advantages to the employer implementing the learnership. Employers have the peace of mind that their employees are not away from the office for extended periods of time and while they are away, they are improving their relevant work based skills to be more productive and efficient at what they are employed to do.

In 2002, the Government introduced a Learnership Allowance Incentive, for employers to:

  • Encourage job creation by reducing the cost of hiring and training employees through learnerships
  • Promote skills development
  • Encourage human capacity development

However, there is a very specific legislation that guides the process and it poses certain challenges. Tax Talk spoke to Rob Cooper, tax expert and Director of Legislation Updates and Proposed legislation at Sage VIP, part of the Sage Group plc, about some of the recent changes made to the Learnership Allowance Incentive.

Cooper says: “To encourage employers to participate in learnerships, an allowance in the form of a deduction from the company’s taxable income has been available for many years. To qualify for the learnership allowance, employers must register the learnership with SETA. There is a R30 000 allowance at the start of the learnership, and a further R30 000 upon the successful completion. The value of the actual incentive has always been influenced by the when the learner is registered and the learner’s failure to complete. However, with new legislation introduced in January, the scenario will change.”

Cooper explains: “In the past, the allowance (deduction) was only allowed during the year in which the learnership agreement was officially registered with SETA.  For a variety of reasons, registration often takes a couple of months and this resulted in reduced value.”

“In future, employers will no longer have to register learnerships from the moment of the inception. A learnership will be deemed to have been registered for the duration of the agreement that falls within the employer’s year of assessment. However, it is necessary that the learnership is registered within 12 months after the year of assessment.”

“The second issue relates to failure to complete. In the past, the allowance was not granted if the learner previously failed to complete a prior registered learnership of similar nature to the new learnership.  Typically, the employer was not aware of prior learnerships (i.e. the information was not easily accessible or the quality of the information was not reliable, as it is dependent on feedback from other employers). Attempts to obtain this information also delayed the registration process.”

“In future, employers will no longer have to find out details of the individuals’ learnerships entered into with other employers.  Learnership allowances will only be refused if the learner failed the same type of learnership with the same employer (or associated institution).”

”Implementing a learnership programme within your company will definitely contribute to job creation, especially for young people. However, it is important to keep track of all the legislative changes.  Make sure that your company is operating within the parameters of the basic conditions of employment and its legal requirements. It is crucial to being a responsible citizen,” concludes Cooper.

For more information, employers are invited to attend the Sage VIP, Payroll and Tax Seminar. You can book your seat at:  www.vippayroll.co.za.

Rob Cooper is a tax expert and Director of Legislation Updates and Proposed legislation at Sage VIP, part of the Sage Group plc. 

Rob Cooper

Rob Cooper

“Changes proposed to South Africa’s Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), Labour Relations Act (LRA) and Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEAB) will have a significant impact on how employers conduct their business in 2013,” says Cooper.

“In the draft Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEAB), specific attention should be paid to the concept of equal pay for work of equal value, which can result in a new form of unfair discrimination.”

Cooper explains: “In cases where employment conditions, including remuneration, are applied differently to employees who do the same or similar work, then the employer must be able to show that the differences are based on fair criteria such as experience, skills, responsibility and qualifications. If the employer cannot do this, the differentiation would constitute unfair discrimination.”

“In practice it would mean that if a company employed factory workers on a permanent basis and at times of high demand took on additional workers from a labour broker and they worked side by side doing the same job, then both permanent and labour broker-supplied workers must be paid at the same rate,” says Cooper.

“Because the employer must pay the labour broker his fee on top of the wages for the workers, the result will be that brokered labour will cost more than permanent labour. This is logical and the premium that the employer must pay for flexibility.”

“Importantly, the intention is to align the Employment Equity Act with other general labour laws that need to be applied in cases where an individual supplied to a client by a labour broker is seen as an employee of that client.  One can only assume at this early stage that these employees, supplied by the labour broker, will have to be included in the client’s equity plan as well as in the labour broker’s equity plan.”

“The draft Employment Equity Act further changes the way in which companies implement affirmative action. According to Cooper, the groups of people who benefit from the affirmative action provisions will be limited to those who were South African citizens before democracy (April 1994) or to those who were prevented by the policies of apartheid from becoming citizens before 1994, and their descendants. This means that the employment of foreign nationals or those who became citizens after the democratic era (April 1994), will not assist employers to meet their affirmative action targets.”

Employment Services Bill

According to Cooper, the Employment Services Bill is another very important piece of legislation for employers to be aware of as it moves towards finalisation.

“The overall intention of this brand new piece of legislation is to empower the Department of Labour to provide a comprehensive range of employment services (free of charge) to members of the public in an attempt to achieve the Government’s objectives of: more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods.  Any initiative that reduces unemployment is to be welcomed,” says Cooper.

The Government is aiming at making employment services open and accessible to all. This includes the following:

  1. Registering work vacancies and seekers, matching resulting opportunities, and facilitating the placement of seekers with employers or other work opportunities.
  2. Provision of advisory services for training, social security benefits, dealing with vulnerability, vocational and career counselling, assessment of work seekers to determine suitability, and improving work-related life skills.

UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) legislation

Changes to the UIF legislation have been pending for quite some time and will hopefully move through Parliament towards the end of this year.  Broadly, the proposed changes envisage increasing the value of the UIF benefit, as well as extending the grace period during which benefits can be claimed, from 6 to 18 months,” says Cooper.

He says there is also an intention to remove certain exclusions of which there are no details but hopes that this will include the exclusion of commission from the remuneration on which the contribution is calculated, which results in commission being excluded from the value of the contribution and the benefit.  Unemployed people, who were earning a low basic salary plus commission, are negatively affected by a benefit that is in line with only their basic salary.

Cooper is encouraging employers to attend Sage VIP’s Payroll and Tax Seminar in March and April 2013. “The seminar is regarded by many as a definitive guide to the changes in payroll and tax legislation and we endeavour to present it in a practical and interactive manner that does not focus on the legal aspects alone. The presentation will also aim at communicating future trends that will impact payroll and HR,” said Cooper.

By Rob Wilkie, CFO Sage South Africa

Rob Wilkie

Rob Wilkie

Whilst last year’s budget was all about infrastructure expansion investment, this year the emphasis is in keeping the budget deficit in check.

Mr Gordhan announced in his 2013 budget speech that tax collections would be R16.9 billion less than the estimate made in the 2012 budget. This was largely as a result of weaker economic growth, labour unrest and lower commodity prices. Economic growth for 2012 is expected to be sluggish at 2.7% with mining strikes and stoppages costing the economy approximately R15.3 billion.

As a consequence, the budget deficit increased to 5.2% of GDP. In other words, government spending exceeded tax revenue collected by R185 billion. In business terms, government made an operating loss in 2012.

In order to reduce the deficit (or rate of cash burn) Gordhan said that he would not increase taxes or impose drastic austerity measures, but would instead reduce the rate at which public spend was escalating. He said he would do this by utilising government’s contingency reserve (R23.5 billion); reprioritising expenditure to strategically important initiatives (R52 billion); and reducing financial mismanagement and corrupt expenditure (6% of GDP).  If successful, the growth in government spending would be reduced to 2.3% in real terms (7.8% including the effects of inflation) and the budget deficit brought back to 3.1% over 3 years. Additional borrowings of R497 billion would be required to fund the deficit, increasing government debt to R1,7 trillion or 40% of GDP. Gordhan said that he was comfortable with this level of debt and SA’s ability to meet its debt service commitments.

If government were a business the budget would read as follows:

  • Business SA has made a loss equivalent to 5.2% of its turnover.
  • It does not want to increase its prices as existing customers may stop buying and new customer acquisitions decline.
  • To return to profitability (or reduce its loss) Business SA therefore has to reduce its cost base or at least slow its cost growth.
  • It will do this by a combination of resource reallocation to its priority initiatives and reduction of inefficiencies and wasteful expenditure.
  • Until such time as it is able to return to profitability Business SA will utilise its cash resources and credit lines to fund its losses.

It is a balancing act.  Do you cut deep; stop the cash burn but risk sustainability and preparedness for the next cyclical upturn? Or do you rather focus on efficiency gains and investment priorities, live with losses and more debt, but enhance sustainability and competitive edge?

Government has chosen the later, both for socio economic and structural reasons, but also because it has the capacity to borrow in order to sustain deficits. I believe they have got the balance right in this budget. It is now up to government to show the political will and commitment necessary to implement it.

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