The Road Ahead

     There’s something about spring that makes everyone in our industry start thinking about roadmaps.  I don’t know if that’s because we used to hold partner conferences in May, or if it’s because many of our current projects are planned to release in the fall so everyone is wondering what’s next, or if it’s just something about spring itself that causes thoughts to gravitate toward roadmaps. But they seem to be on everyone’s mind right now.

      In my role as liaison between Sage Payment Solutions and all of the products in the Sage ERP product portfolio, my roadmap thoughts lean toward the integration roadmap for each of our products. So last week I hopped a plane and went to visit the Sage Payment Solutions team at their headquarters in McLean, VA to work collaboratively on a roadmap plan. Our goal was to gain agreement on what we expect to deliver to our joint customers in the months and years ahead.  

      So how do we determine what to include in our joint roadmap?  Well of course we look to feedback from our customers and channel partners that have been submitted in the Ideas website for each of the respective ERP products. But ideas in those sites lean towards ERP features, and don’t really touch on integrated payments functionality. So we look to see what competitors are offering. But that’s not too easy to do because we don’t really have ERP competitors that offer the full-service credit card and payment processing integration that is unique to Sage. So we look to other sources where Sage customers can go to obtain payment processing and related services; their banks. We researched the offerings banks have that mid-market customers would like to see integrated with their ERP system so they can improve efficiencies and reduce manual effort.  One of Sage’s long-term goals is to be the one-stop shop for all payments related products and services, offering functionality that customers could get from their bank, but that they will prefer to get from Sage because of the unique integration with their ERP software that we provide and their bank cannot. 

      How do we prioritize the functionality once we’ve identified it? That’s not as easy as it might seem. First, we spent time evaluating the usefulness and desirability of each feature or service by key types of customers: manufacturers, distributors, service based industries, and retailers. Then we evaluated them on other dimensions by asking a few key questions:

     –       Is adding this functionality important for a full solution from single source? 

     –       Do we have a better chance to win and keep customers if we add this functionality? 

     –       Does it apply to both US and Canadian markets?

     –       Does this impact the Sage image or reputation? Is it expected from the marketplace?

     –       Will customers be willing to pay for this service or functionality? 

     After this, we determined if it makes sense to move forward with further research and customer validation on the functionality on our list. So while we haven’t completely finished the roadmap process yet, we’ve made a great start and look to have something to announce at Sage Summit in Nashville this summer. Meanwhile, what functionality or service would you like to see on the Sage Payment Solutions and Sage ERP Joint Roadmap?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. 

On to the adventure,

Czarina Erika

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4 thoughts on “The Road Ahead

    • Jeff,
      Thanks for your suggestion and for being the first person to post a comment! We definitely have Level III transactions on our integrated roadmap and are working to add it sooner rather than later. What percentage of your transactions do you estimate require Level III?

      • It’s hard to say at this point Erika. I don’t have to tell you that the frequency of customers who had previously been Net Terms customers who are also using a credit card to pay their balances have exploded. With the fee structures in place, it becomes essential for a small business to capture the cards at the lowest possible rates. SPS has told us we can see some savings for certain on Level III, so this becomes something we need to explore to continue to grow the business without growing the costs.

        Just as an example, five years ago, fees accounted for approximately an additional 25% of the discount of accepting a credit card. Today, we now process twice the amount in number of tickets and average value, but fees now account for an additional 85% of the discount amounts. We are getting hard on the fees, so there has to be a way to help mitigate those fees without passing them on to the customer in the form of a higher retail price.

      • Thanks for the quick response. Its good to hear that your increasing the amount and average value of your tickets, but I can certainly see why you want to get rates down as low as possible.

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