SAGE MAS 90 SOFTWARE REVIEW
State of the Art, Inc. first published the Master Accounting Series for the 90’s (MAS 90) in the mid 1980’s. MAS 90 gained significant market share by developing a successful reseller channel that consisted largely of small Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Certified Public Accountants (CPA’s). Many CPA’s used the accounting software solution in their practices, became familiar with it, and recommended it to their client base. As the CPA’s became concerned with increasingly complex technology issues, as well as accounting independence concerns, most either ceased selling accounting software directly, or chose to spin off their technology businesses. Sage MAS 90 is currently re-sold by a seasoned channel of VAR’s.
Sage MAS 90 is a horizontal (non-industry specific) accounting application, however, the company also targets the wholesale distribution industries, and most of the continued development and enhancement to the software line is centered on the wholesale distribution and warehouse management niche. The small business finance system has many enhancements, however, that make it suitable for other industries as well. At present, there are over 20 separate accounting software modules, including some for light manufacturing and e-commerce storefronts.
Sage MAS 90 operates in a file server environment which means that data files are shared with either a dedicated (file) server offering file sharing services, or one computer in a network offering peer-to-peer file management. This LAN-based financial system architecture is a fairly archaic approach that for most intents and purposes limits the number of concurrent users. Sage documentation indicates that MAS90 can support up to ten locally connected users, but many experienced consultants would recommend switching to the more powerful MAS200 if more than five users need concurrent access. Sage MAS 200 is functionally equivalent, but operates in a client-server environment running under Windows server operating systems.
Sage MAS 90 uses Crystal Reports for almost all of its built in packaged reports and custom reports. Some of the remaining 'legacy' modules such as Work Order Processing, or Job Cost still have 'hard coded' non user editable reports, but users can create new reports using the included Crystal Reports tool.
From a technology perspective, MAS 90 was originally developed in Business Basic Extended (BBX) and the product has failed to keep up with the development platform and database technology advancements made by primary competitor Microsoft with its Dynamics lines.
While largely a horizontal financial system, MAS 90 does offer some market functionality for the distribution industry (however, not the more advanced supply chain management (SCM) industry).
- Wholesale distribution;
- Wholesale management.
MAS90 accounting software strengths include the following:
- Low acquisition cost;
- Proven, reliable and stable financial application;
- Strong basic accounting functionality;
- Very large North American install base.
MAS90 accounting software weaknesses include the following:
- Older technology and architecture;
- Some remaining hardcoded reports;
- Unclear publisher commitment to an aging product;
- Multiple concurrent user capability;
- Very limited database services (recoverability, open access for reporting, performance, data typing);
- The technology limits multi-site operation;
- Multi-currency support;
- Multi-company and inter-company support.
MAS90's primary competitor and arch rival is Microsoft Dynamics with its GP, AX, NAV and SL lines.
Other competitors include QuickBooks and Epicor as well as the on-demand makers of Intacct and NetSuite.
Sage’s product solution strategy is somewhat vague in that the company offers several different ERP and accounting software products that target a common market space. These financial system products include MAS 90, MAS 200, MAS 500, ACCPAC, DacEasy, Peachtree, BusinessVision, BusinessWorks, PFW, Simply Accounting, and Timberline.
Sage is actually headquartered in the UK however more than half of the company's global revenues are derived in the United States. Sage has been experiencing significant employee turnover at both the exectuive and operational levels. This turnover has clearly slowed the company's product evolution strategies.
Sage has also not demonstrated a clear approach to the software as a service (SaaS) accounting or CRM markets. Following Sage's acquisition of Accpac, the company positioned Accpac as a SaaS accounting software solution, however, many industry followers challenged Accpac as a non-native Internet product and Accpac has failed to attract significant SaaS market share. The company appears to be retooling for the SaaS accounting and CRM software market, however, due to the Sage's executive turnover and mass layoff turmoil, the company's messaging is extremely unclear.
MAS 90 Software Evaluation
Sage Group PLC
Newcastle Upon Tyne
ENG NE13 9AA
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