Main Purpose of Job
- To manage software installations for Sage 50 and Sage 200 clients.
- To support software installations, including SAGE.
- To provide sales support, product demonstrations, and training.
- To provide an installation service for clients, which includes project managing the installation, tracking progress, providing training and consultancy, including marshalling the resources necessary to achieve a satisfactory installation.
- To receive support calls from customers and to work to resolve their queries.
- To support the sales process, both by phone and with site visits, including arranging product demonstrations, and pre-sale consultancy, as appropriate.
- To deal with customer complaints as and when they arrive.
- To arrange and carry out customer software upgrades when necessary.
- To ensure that in all dealings with both clients and internal team members our brand values are fully upheld.
- To carry out other functions in connection with the work of Bowe Digital as may from time to time be reasonably required. To assist with SAGE development design would also be an advantage. To provide telephone support on IT platforms and infrastructure would also be an advantage.
Desired skills and Experience
- Full knowledge of SAGE systems with accreditations
- Good understanding of business process, and system design.
- Project management
- Knowledge of Sage CRM would be an advantage
If you are interested in the position, please email your cv and covering letter to Karen Bowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sage Software, the financial accounting software vendor, has recently held its 2016 Sage Summit in Chicago. Over double the size of last year’s event in New Orleans, what did the event have to say about Sage’s future?
In many ways, not a lot. The headline speeches were largely around bringing in A-List celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow, Zooey Deschanel, Ashton Kutcher, Sir Richard Branson) alongside inspirational people from the world of the Invictus Games and Sage’s own Sage Foundation. In amongst these sessions were dotted little snippets of product information.Was this a case of there not being any real news to give? Actually no – it was a clever strategy of getting Sage’s brand better known in the US where its problem is that many of its own customers still see it as Peachtree, and are not really aware of what else Sage has to offer.
Was this a case of there not being any real news to give? Actually no – it was a clever strategy of getting Sage’s brand better known in the US where its problem is that many of its own customers still see it as Peachtree, and are not really aware of what else Sage has to offer.
Last year was really a case of Sage CEO, Stephen Kelly, making a lot of noise to show that Sage had finally arrived at the cloud computing party. Sage Live and Sage One were front and centre, with lots of noise around the ‘c’ versions of Sage 50, 100 and 300. This was to try and head off the encroaching threat of web-native companies such as Xero, KashFlow and others – and it seems to have had a measure of success.
This year was far more a story of maturation and evolution. Cloud was presented as a given, although Kelly was still keen to ensure that everyone understood that Sage will not force any company to move from an on-premise version of its software to the cloud – ever. Sage will obviously make it more and more attractive for companies to make such a move – it will compensate its channel more for moving customers over; it will ensure that companies are aware of the extra capabilities that a globally shared platform can offer in B2B and B2C trading and so on.
The question is, will Sage ever start to purposefully not add specific functionality to its on-premise systems so as to make remaining on that platform not only less favourable but also less viable for its more conservative customers? Only time will tell.
So, what was new? New customer characterisations – out with SMB, mid-market and larger customers. It was stated that the customer base did not really identify with the terminology (something that Quocirca can also attest to). Instead, we now have start-up and scale-up segments. Nothing too startling about this – but it may well play well with companies that want to be seen as more dynamic than an “SMB”.
At the product level, Kelly was keen to focus on how he sees the need to continue to rationalise the product portfolio, bringing it down from the close to 300 products that were around what was effectively a global federation of different companies before he joined. This is being done by building out on an open API strategy, which decouples the front end (system of engagement) from the back end (system of record) so providing much greater flexibility going forward.
To the Cloud!
This also enables Sage to make a better play for building an app marketplace – it is introducing a new Integration Cloud that purportedly will allow code-less integration of Sage, public cloud and on-premise systems. If this works as promised, Sage will be able to be a cloud aggregator and broker.
This could, however, bring its own issues. Look at the majority of existing app marketplaces out there. It is worse than cable television – you think you know what you want, but finding it is difficult. You find something that you think is what you want, but it is badly put together and presented. You find just what you want, but it is in a different language. And so on.
Sage will need to be the honest broker in the middle, making the identification of what app is best for the user as easy as possible. It needs to empower the Sage community to rank and score apps to weed out those that are not up to the job. It needs to ensure that it doesn’t allow any third party to water down its stated commitment to joining its customers in a strategy of trust and security.
This could be further complicated based on some of the working examples Sage showed from its integrations with other products. One showed how it integrated into TomTom Fleet Manger, tracking an employee’s movements for mileage expenses and so on. It was said that this could also then be integrated into a time charging model, for example where a professional services employee enters a customer’s building and so can automatically starting charging the customer for their time.
This is great – as long as it all works and does not become seen as too ‘Big Brother’ by the employee. If it doesn’t work, identifying the root cause and remediating it could be difficult – and who gets it in the neck? Probably Sage.
The rise of the Bot.
The most interesting announcement, though, was something that was very innovative – not only for an accounting company but any company. Sage has brought in a very bright person, Kriti Sharma, to look at how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be brought into the world of financial systems. To this end, Sharma has developed Pegg, a bot. Somewhat of a mix of Cortana/Siri and TripIt, Pegg can take input from (at the moment) Slack and Facebook Messenger.
Why? Well, consider expenses – many companies such as SAP Concur (which owns TripIt) and KDS have worked on automating the expense process as much as possible – and yet users still struggle with it. By using a bot, it is possible to more quickly input the expense details in natural English, and Pegg will then deal with the intelligence required to sort it out and post it to the expense system.
Sharma is fully aware of the security and other issues that there could be around this, and also keenly aware of the possible power in a natural language interface to financial accounting processes that there is there as well. As such, she is ensuring that it is a case of small steps being taken to find out what users really want, how those requirements are dealt with and how security is managed along the entire process.
So, is Sage now safe? Not completely, but it is definitely not the turkey waiting to be stuffed. It still has plenty of progress to make, but as was pointed out, the majority of start-up and scale-up organisations around the globe are still using Microsoft Excel and other not-fit-for-purpose means of accounting.
The devil is in the detail – but Sage seems to be positioning itself as an interesting ingredient in an organisation’s business recipe.
Author – Clive Longbottom
What is ‘Backing up data’?
Data backup is one of the most important areas of business IT and yet is also one of the most ignored. Backing up data making a copy of your most important and needed files; this can then be used if the original is lost or becomes corrupt.
Why you should backup?
Losing your business files can happen in a variety of ways, the common causes include your IT system failing physically, errors, theft or disasters like fire, flood and dropped mugs full of liquids! People also commonly save data to just one place, like ‘My Documents’ on your PC’s hard drive. Which means that if this data were to be changed or deleted it would take considerable time for IT support to restore it.
What should you backup?
Choosing which files is a good start to ensuring you have a copy of all your business’s important information. To help choose which files you should backup try thinking about what you would need to continue working if your PC were to be stolen/damaged. For example clients address/telephone details, your account information, important documents.
Another question to ask yourself when choosing which data to backup is “How long has it taken me to collate all this information and what would happen to the business if I couldn’t get it back once lost?” These are the key things that you should be thinking about.
What type of backup should I run?
There are many options to choose from, but the two moat popular options are an online or physical backup though a hard drive. Both have their advantages and are explained in detail in our most recent post, which you can read by clicking here.
If you have any more questions about backups or just IT in general, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to provide you with our IT support advice.
When it comes to upgrading your operating system on your laptop or PC the majority of organisations are happy to keep the system or application on the version they know and love. Most of us don’t like change as was seen with Microsoft’s removal of the Start Menu in Windows 8.
However, in the case of Content Management System (CMS) applications, there is a far greater risk to the business if it is not upgraded.
Let’s take Sitecore’s CMS as an example where a customer is still using Sitecore version 6.2; here are some of the risks associated with staying with this older version.
Browsers like Firefox, Chrome and IE/Edge are constantly being updated, usually to remove security loopholes or unpopular abilities. This is great but it does mean your website will also require updating and tested with the latest versions. Quite often the CMS editor software will stop working with new browser versions or develop intermittent faults.
There is a Product Support Lifecycle that people should be aware of, for example, Mainstream Support for Version 6.6 ends December 31, 2015.
Sitecore and other CMS’s rely on underlying systems such as the Windows Server itself, SQL Server and the .NET Framework. These will also have support withdrawn from Microsoft; Windows 2003 server is a good example.
Migrating to newer versions of these underlying systems also means you will have no choice but to move to a newer version of your CMS as your old version may not run on Windows 2012, SQL 2014 etc.
Opportunities that come with upgrading your CMS to the latest version of Sitecore:
- Faster interface and improved search technology used throughout the editor
- Greater independence for the marketing team; more marketing features allows for the configuration and publication of personalised rules, content tests and engagement plans without the need for developer support
- Greater Cloud deployment efficiencies
- ‘Item Buckets’ (used to store large amounts of unstructured content) allows you to create any number of items in that bucket without being concerned about the underlying structure
- Keep up to date with online channels ensures faster and better ways of testing website and campaigns across numerous devices
- Keep up to date with developer tools
- Bulk actions on multiple items in Sitecore mean there is no longer the need to manually delete items one at a time.
Essentially, the longer an upgrade is left the longer and more painful it will be in the future. Moving from Sitecore 6.2 to Sitecore 7.2 currently needs many step upgrades – sometimes it’s better to install a new Sitecore instance and simply migrate the config and content. And, don’t forget third party modules and interfaces may no longer work on older versions.
The decision to upgrade your current CMS to the latest version may prove difficult, especially if it’s stable and running smoothly. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that moving to newer versions brings greater efficiencies and functional improvements – you’ll have to do it one day!
Author – Nigel King
Starting on July 28, Microsoft is making TPM 2.0 hardware-based security layer a requirement on Windows 10 smartphones, PCs and tablets.
Microsoft is rolling out a change in minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices, and expects hardware makers to comply in order to make their devices more secure.
Starting Thursday, PC makers should include a hardware-based security feature called TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0 in Windows 10 PCs, smartphones and tablets.
Killing the password
Microsoft wants to kill passwords with a bio-metric authentication feature called Windows Hello, in which users can log into a PC via fingerprint, face or iris recognition. A TPM 2.0 chip is important to Windows Hello as it generates and stores the authentication keys in a secure area.
TPM 2.0 could also make two-factor authentication via Microsoft Passport—which could use bio-metric and pin-based authentication—a common feature in Windows 10 PCs. The Passport feature could be used to log into websites, applications and other services.
Microsoft has said TPM isn’t needed for Windows Hello, but recommends the security layer to protect bio-metric login data. TPM chips can be hard to hack, and do a better job protecting sensitive information than the software-based mechanisms that would otherwise be used to protect Windows Hello login data.
TPM definitely provides a security improvement in laptops, and is an excellent protection for encryption keys and other critically important data needed for authentication on the PC, said Kevin Murphy, vice president of operations at security company IOActive.
“Since it is hardware based rather than software based, the keys are not exposed to the PC memory. PC memory is a common venue for attackers to scrape intellectual property resident in the memory, which is usually the main purpose of the attack,” Murphy said.
However, using the TPM does not protect the encryption keys from being manipulated by an attacker. If an attacker “owns” the machine—for example by spoofing an authorized user—the TPM will answer any request as it normally would to the legitimate user.
“It will not know the difference. The advantage in this scenario is that the attack is limited to the current attack and cannot steal the keys for a future attack,” Murphy said.
It is possible to break TPM chips, but it would be a difficult attack, likely requiring a tremendous amount of skill, equipment, time, and investment, Murphy said.
Disk encryption system BitLocker already uses TPM to secure encryption keys. TPM is also used for secure software updates, to protect virtual machines and to authenticate smart cards. Intel’s vPro remote management service relies on TPM for authentication ahead of remote PC repairs.
Building TPM into everything
TPM 2.0 will be a minimum requirement on all Windows 10 devices except for developer boards like Raspberry Pi 3, which runs the lightweight Windows 10 IoT Core.
The security feature isn’t new; in fact it’s been available for years, mostly in business PCs. Many new PCs already have TPM 2.0, with an exception being low-cost PCs. Some Windows laptops have the older TPM 1.2 standard. But PC makers will now be expected to comply with Microsoft’s new hardware requirements and include TPM 2.0.
HP’s Elite X3 Windows 10 smartphone—based on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor—already has TPM 2.0. The feature isn’t listed in Acer’s Liquid Jade Primo or Nokia Lumia models, which have older components.
Microsoft has been trying to drive hardware and software changes in PCs, some of which have been controversial. Upcoming PCs based on Intel’s Kaby Lake chips—which could be released in the third quarter—will support only Windows 10, not prior versions of the OS.
The software company earlier this year said it would support Windows 7 and 8.1 on Skylake devices until July 17, 2017, but extended that for one year after attracting criticism for trying to force an OS upgrade to Windows 10 on users.
TPM 2.0, a specification from Trusted Computing Group, was approved as an international standard by ISO/IEC (the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission) in June last year.
Author – Agam Shah
As charities contend with a drop in donations and remaining financially viable, they’re increasingly looking to technology to help. In fact, eight out of ten chief executives say they would be “investing in IT/new technology and online solutions”.
Getting the right accounting software can help charities to manage gift aid, understand the most successful sources of funding and get more detailed data to show their impact. We offer some advice about how charities can choose the right software and get the most of their investment.
Investing in software
Charities are always under pressure to keep infrastructure and administration costs low and any purchases need to be carefully considered.
However, a lack of investment can be equally problematic, as charities miss out on valuable data that could help secure new funding sources or provide information to help show their supporters how their donations are helping.
Accounting software can also help to minimise the impact of some of the key challenges facing charities today:
- Financial sustainability: accounting software can help you to understand the financial status of your charity and to make better informed decisions thanks to the data it provides.
- Drop in public and government donations: while the software can’t create more donations, it can help you to analyse your most successful sources of funding, so you can focus on areas that are working well and minimise your costs in acquiring new donors.
- Administration time and costs: many tasks that need to be handled manually can be automated with the right software, freeing up your team for income generation or managing services.
- Measuring impact: with the increased focus on demonstrating the positive effect that charities make, having access to the right data is essential. The Charity Finance Group said that “public trust and confidence are essential for an effective and successful charity sector, and high standards of financial management and performance reporting are an important part of maintaining this.”
- Legislation: keeping up to date with the volume of charity regulations takes time. The right accounting software ensures you’re compliant and helps you report your figures correctly.
Choose the right software
With so many advantages, it’s clear that the right software can make a big difference. But there are a growing number of packages available, so it’s important that charities follow the right process in choosing one that suits them.
From developing a specification through shortlisting and trials to making the purchase, it pays to be clear about what you are looking for. Each charity’s needs will be different but here are the key things that will apply in most cases.
Designed with charities in mind
Charities have different needs from general businesses and need to be able to track donations, gift aid declarations and ensure their accounts comply with Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP), including providing a Statement of Financial Activities (SoFA), which replaces the Profit and Loss statement used by companies.
Choosing software that has been optimised for charities ensures you’re complying with legislation and have the information you need.
The right data
It’s important that you understand the data and reports you need for your organisation. Any software you choose should be flexible enough to fit your requirements, and simple to use.
With many fundraisers out at events or with supporters, choosing charity software that lets them stay connected is really helpful. Choosing software that is available through the cloud means they can update information from anywhere with an internet connection.
Other employees can make use of this feature too. From your finance director to your chief exec, everyone can be assured that they will always have access to the figures they need.
You need to know that your data is safe and your software provider can ensure that you stay compliant as new legislation is introduced. Choosing an established charity software company means they’ll be there to support you, now and in the future.
Given the rapid rate of innovation in the software field, the costs of obsolete systems are usually much higher than most people realize. The only way to know for sure is to estimate that cost.