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Posts Tagged ‘2012

Sage 300 ERP 2012 RTM

with 3 comments

Yes, Sage 300 ERP 2012 has been “Released to Manufacturing”. In a way this is really a “Release to Marketing”, since we don’t really manufacture much anymore, it gets posted for download and then sales and marketing takes over. I think everyone prefers keeping the acronym RTM rather than changing to RTW for “Released to the Web”. I previously summarized all the great things in the release in my Sage 300 ERP 2012 posting.

It’s been a lot of hard work and a tumultuous journey since we release 6.0A at the end of 2010. But we are really happy with the release, it includes many useful new features as well as building on a number of foundations ready for future development.

Now that we are RTM, business partners should be able to start downloading it on Sept. 5 and DVDs should be available by Sept. 18.

Rebranding

Sage Accpac ERP is now release with the new Sage branding and is now Sage 300 ERP 2012. This means we now match the revamped Sage web site and fit in nicely with all the new sales and marketing material. Hopefully now we can fully leverage and build on the Sage brand to ensure people are familiar beforehand with our products.

In addition our editions are changing. It would be confusing to have Sage 300 ERP 200 Edition 2012. So 100, 200 and 500 editions become Standard, Advanced and Premium Editions. Hence something like Sage 300 Advanced ERP 2012.

Manufacturing

When I started with Computer Associates on the original CA-Accpac/2000 project, manufacturing was a much bigger deal than it is today. In those days we produced a boxed product that consisted of floppy disks, printed/bound manuals, many special offer cards and the copy protection dongle all shrink wrapped in plastic.

Back in the 90s we had quite a complicated schedule of when everything had to be submitted so that it could all come together on our release date. For instance manuals took 1 month to get printed, and disks took 1 week to get duplicated and labeled (if we were lucky). So the technical writers had to be finished a month ahead of the programmers. Similarly any included marketing material, as well as the design for the box had to all be submitted quite early.

Back then we released on 3 ½ inch 720K floppy disks (they were actually in hard plastic by this point). Each module took 6 or 7 disks, so you had a stack of disks for System Manager, a stack for General Ledger and so on. Generally a single 720K floppy was quite a bit more expensive than a blank DVD is today.  (In fact the first version of Accpac was released on 8” floppies for the North Star CPM computer, but that was before my time).

After we shipped the gold master floppy disks off to manufacturing, we still had one week to QA while they were being duplicated. We would continue regression testing through the week looking for any more serious issues. If something was found, it was quite expensive, since usually any manufactured floppies were thrown away and new ones were duplicated.

For a while we produced 5 ¼” floppy disks which were available by demand. With version 3.0A we switched entirely to CDs, but we still shipped one module per CD. With CDs it then became practical to provide things like PDF versions of manuals on the CD along with other extras that were impractical on floppy disks.

One thing with having all the modules on separate CDs was that we could stagger the release, so we would release first perhaps SM and the financial modules then the operation modules a few months later and the Payroll modules a few months later still and various other things even later. The end result being that when we first announced RTM on a version, then it would be nearly a year before all the modules, options, integrations, translations, etc. were all fully released.

Now there is only one RTM for a version and this RTM includes everything on one download image (or one or two DVDs). This includes all ERP modules, all documentation, all options products, translations in five languages and all integrations (like CRM and HRMS). So now when we RTM, a customer knows that all Sage components they need are ready and they can go ahead and start the upgrade process. We also work with all our ISVs to try to get their products certified for the new version as quickly as possible.

These days everything is on-line, so the web site needs to be ready to link to the new release and then we provide the download images that are posted there. We still produced a gold master DVD, since people can order these if they want them (for a fee).

Release Cycles

Although not visible outside of development, we also run our release cycles quite differently now than we used to. In the early version all the coding was done first, then when we decided it was code complete we threw it over the wall to QA and went through a long find and fix bugs phase. Generally we shared QA with Sage 50 Canadian (then known as Simply Accounting) and one product was QA’ed while the other was coded.

Now we use an Agile development process and QA is involved from the start and there is no separate development and QA steps. Nothing is considered code complete or done until it is fully QA’ed and documented. Generally this lead to more accurate schedules and higher quality products.

Summary

We are very excited to be releasing Sage 300 ERP 2012. We hope that people upgrade to it and enjoy using it. We are also excited to be starting work on the next version which also looks very exciting.

 

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Written by smist08

September 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Sage 300 ERP 2012

with 5 comments

Introduction

Our Sage 300 ERP 2012 release is now in beta. I thought I’d put together a blog post that summarizes and lists all the other blog posts I’ve written for this release along with a few updates on things that made it into the release since these were written.

When we release Sage 300 ERP, it isn’t just the core ERP modules, it also includes many other Sage integrated products, many of which we are now supporting new versions as well. Plus Sage 300 ERP acts as a platform for many third party modules that extend Sage 300 ERP into many vertical industries.

Summary of Articles on Sage 300 ERP 2012

Here are the various components of Sage 300 ERP 2012 that I’ve blogged on:

Sage Advisor Update
Sage Advisor PEP
Sage 300 ERP 2012 Payment Processing
Sage 300 ERP Inquiry Queries for 2012
Value Added Application Features for Sage 300 ERP 2012
Sage Visual Process Flows
What’s New in the Sage CRM Integration for Sage 300 ERP 2012
SageCRM 7.1 Released
Sage 300 on Windows 8
Sage 300 ERP 2012 Supported Platforms
SData Enhancements for Sage 300 ERP 2012
SData Referenced Resources

All in all quite a large and varied set of new features and services.

Timelines

Roadmap diagrams are always dangerous to put in a blog posting, since once posted, this will be on the Internet for a long time. And as always things are continuously subject to change. At this point the 2012 release is looking good, we were code complete back in June, we are now in beta and our regression testing is going well.

Updates On Previous Blog Posts

Just a few updates since all the previous blog posts.

First we are still adding tweaks here and there to Sage 300. For instance one of the leading causes of tech support calls is from people that tried to activate a new version without backing up their database first. Then activation fails and their database is half converted, now what to do? So tech support asked R&D to change the activation warning screen from just popping up a warning message box, which everyone ignores, to the following:

The hope of this is that it gets more attention and that more people will back up their data before performing activation. Generally we look at the leading reasons for calls to tech support and see if we can alleviate them in the program by making things clearer, easier or better documented.

I blogged on the new functionality in payment processing (credit card processing) earlier in the development process. At that point the team working on it was feature complete on what they had promised for the release. However since then, they have taken the time to incorporate User Centered Design advice into the feature to make it much easier to use. As a result the screens look quite different from my original blog posting. For instance below is the updated screen for capturing batches of pre-authorized payments.

In a similar way the team has made quite a few tweaks throughout the various screens related to credit card processing to either reduce the number of screens, or provide ways to fill them in easier (like providing a way to default addresses), or generally making the labels much clearer. Hopefully all these usability changes will make our Sage Exchange integration a much more enjoyable feature.

By the same token, the Sage Advisor Update screen has gone through several usability revisions and looks much better now. Since this feature is all about update, the first thing that will probably be updated on your system is this component, since it likes to update itself.

For Lanpak usage, we no longer use multiple lanpaks if you login to multiple companies on the same workstation. However we will continue to use multiple lanpaks if you login using multiple Sage 300 users. This should help with the TCO for companies that divide their accounting across multiple Sage 300 company databases.

Quality Debt Reduction

With every release we want to improve the quality of Sage 300 ERP. With this release we have cataloged all known defects at the start of the release and a release certification requirement is that the number of total defects must be lower at release by 15%. So from release to release the number of open defects is reducing. There is also a lot of work going on so we prioritize these defects so that the ones that affect customers the most (based on severity and frequency) will be fixed first. We want to ensure this isn’t a numbers game where we just fix lots of issues about under-lining or field widths in reports. The real aim to ensure we have real measurable metrics that are published in a dashboard that is visible to everyone in Sage up to the CEO, to ensure we are improving quality in a real and measurable way. At this point our quality debt reduction stands at 45%; hopefully, this will improve a bit further by release.

Summary

We have a lot of new functionality in the Sage 300 ERP 2012 release. Please check out the beta, if you are qualified. This release leverages shared components from other Sage groups such as the Visual Process Flow tool from the Sage ERP X3 group, the Sage Advisor Update from Sage UK and Sage Advisor PEP from the Sage 50 US team in Atlanta. There are improvements to the platform with enhanced SData support, paving the way for future development. There are many application features. There is updated platform support and updated support for newer versions of other integrated Sage products.

The Sage 300 ERP development group is very excited about this release, and hope everyone has a great experience with it.

Written by smist08

July 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm