**This post is being written on July 11, 2019. Much could change after this date, so check for updates if any of this is critical for you. (Updated with FAQs on 10/29/19.)
Sage recently sent many of their Sage Timeslips software users an email outlining some changes to the way they will offer licenses of the product going forward. It can all be a bit confusing and this post is intended to try and clear things up. As always, if you still have questions after reading it, just give me a call (404-325-9779) and we can discuss your particular scenario.
The BIG news is that Sage itself will no longer sell a Perpetual license after August 1, 2019. They will continue to sell Sage Timeslips, but you will ONLY be able to purchase licenses and support under a Subscription pricing model. (Also, note that were are NOT talking about a cloud version. All versions of Sage Timeslips run on YOUR equipment. You can contract with hosted provider to host the product in the cloud, but Sage does not provide that service.)
Perpetual license purchases WILL be available through channel and retail sales until September 30, 2020. This means that while Sage themselves will stop selling Perpetual license, Duhon Technology Solutions, LLC, as a Certified Consultant for Sage Timeslips will continue to provide its customers sales of both the Perpetual and Subscription models until September of next year. So, you have a year to decide where you want to position your firm on this issue. But I am advising that you not wait more than six months to do this. As we want to have a bit of time under a supported version in the event we have any upgrade/update issues with implementation.
So, what’s the difference between Perpetual and Subscription?
Perpetual is the traditional way of buying software where you pay once for it, and then are able to run it on your equipment as long as you are able. Usually there is a period where that version of the product is officially supported by the developer, and you can contact them for help if you have trouble. Once that version becomes “unsupported,” you are on your own with getting help. If your business has a relationship with a Certified Consultant, you likely don’t really call support very much and just call your consultant. As we do not work directly for Sage, we are not bound by their policies re: supported versions and are free to provide assistance with any version.
On the up side, you only pay for licensing once and then have no expenditure during the period you are using it. Many customers find that they can go many years without upgrading and have the product work just fine for them.
On the downside, the older the product is, the harder it may be to get help with it. Once it goes unsupported, you are left with fewer options. You may start to have trouble transitioning the older product to a computer with a newer operating system. You will not be able to grow/add licenses to an unsupported product. It becomes a bit like a classic car. It will run as long as you can find a “mechanic” to keep it running.
It can also lead to arduous expenditure cycles where you have high outlay in year one, followed by years of little to no outlay, coming back around to a high outlay again when you need/have to upgrade. That’s a really “spiky” expense projection. Since most firms don’t save and put money aside during the low expense years in anticipation for the spike, it can cause a cash crunch if/when the upgrade becomes necessary.
Under the Sage subscription model, you pay them an annual fee to license the software. You are essentially renting vs owning.
On the upside, you are entitled to all fixed, patches, and new releases that Sage issues during your year. And you would be entitled to some level of support from them. For larger corporations, this can be a good thing as they now have an annual budget amount rather than the volatile spiking cycle of Perpetual, and your inhouse IT department can always call Sage if there is a problem.
On the downside, you pay forever. If you stop paying your data becomes read only. So, you pay to play. They can change the prices on you at any time. You have a lot less control over when to pay, and when to upgrade.
WHY is this happening?
It would be folly for me to attempt to divine Sage’s true motives here, but it is consistent with a move by many many software developers to move from perpetual pricing models to subscription pricing models. Frankly, they make more money that way, or think they will make more money that way. Perhaps they are correct. Maybe they are not. We can only make decisions for our own businesses based on the facts before us today.
Rarely does one solution fit all, some customers may make the decision to go ahead and commit to a subscription, while others may look to make the leap to a Version 2020 Perpetual license within the next year, and see how long they can make that investment last.
Some may decide that doing nothing and sticking with what they have is where they want to be and that is fine too if it makes sense for your business.
Factors to consider would include:
- How long you intend to run your business?
- Do you intend/plan to grow in personnel?
- What are your needs vis a vis time and billing software?
- What would be involved in upgrading?
- What alternatives might be avaliable to you (especially what may be included with your practice management or accounting program)?
- What information do you need to retain access to?
- What would be entailed with switching programs?
- Will/can Sage Timeslips continue to fulfill your needs?
- Are there customizations, or specific reporting needs that are “must haves?”
I will say that as a general rule, I am strongly suggesting to users of Versions 2015 or lower go ahead and upgrade if they can in order to get off of the older Paradox database and onto the newer Firebird SQL database. We have seen good success with the newer database platform over the last five years and that would be a much better place to have your data going forward.
So, here’s the takeaway:
You need to make a decision about what to do about the change in licensing structure. You need not be alarmed or feel pressured to make any decisions prior to August 1, 2019. However, you should consider it carefully, and come up with a plan prior to the end of the year. That will give you time to plan and execute whatever decision you ultimately make. If you need any help, or want to discuss your options, just give me a call at 404-325-9779, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAQ’s about upgrading:
Having spoken to several firms now about their options, a couple of common questions have come up.
- Will my data convert? Yes. We can take data from ANY old version all the way up to the newest version. It is a step by step process. Sage does not rewrite the converter every time, they just do the delta/change from the previous version. So older data is stepped through each version, between were it starts to the current version. Some databases convert just fine all in one shot, but others work better just moving a few versions at a time. Duhon Technology Solutions, LLC has all the versions in house and can do a stepped conversion for you if necessary.
- Can you make sure that all of my data will convert? Yes, if you would like, we can do a test conversion and let you see your data in the new version prior to pulling the trigger on the upgrade.
- Will the new version be very different? This one is a bit of a sliding scale because it depends how many versions behind current you are. As a general rule, there are some subtle changes, but nothing that is so completely radical that users can’t figure out where things are with a little time or help. The slip entry screen has changed the least. We still have Proof Stage, and Approval.
4. I have customized a lot of my reports in Sage Timeslips. Will they convert? We have had excellent success with reports converting, especially with reports that are just modifications of a “canned” report included by default in the program. Occasionally (but very rarely) a report may need to be tweaked post conversion to get it working properly again, but I would say that is a less than 1% issue on conversions that I have done.
5. Can you help us with the conversion and installation? Yes. You don’t need to go it all alone! Duhon Technology Solutions, LLC can help you if you like. I find it works best when I work WITH your IT personnel on this since it is now a true client server program that needs to be installed directly on the server/central workstation. Here’s my procedure for doing upgrades. A) I remote into your system the night before the rollout and grab a backup of your current data and bring it in house for conversion. B) Once I get it, I restore it into the current version you are running, do some diagnostics, and run some reports to PDF. C) I then run the conversion up to the current version and run those same reports out of the “new” database. If those report match, then the implementation is a go for the following morning. If there is a hitch in the conversion, then we have not disturbed your current set up in any way, and we delay the implementation until we have a solution for the hitch. As a rule, the conversions run pretty well, but it is nice have the flexibility to pause if there are any issues and not have you dead in the water and needing a fix ASAP. D) Once we are ready to implement, I backup your converted data and transfer it back to your office the next morning. I then work with your IT personnel to install the new program, working together to explain how it works, choosing installation locations, and setting up automatic backups. We then restore the converted database, and you are ready to get back to work without having to pay both the IT personnel and I to wait for the conversion to run. E) On sites with multiple licenses, I usually just show the IT personnel how to do the local installs to the workstation and and they complete the rollout. It also let’s them see/learn the “best practices” of installing the workstations for future reference.
All of these services are billed out at my normal hourly rate and are not included in the price of the software licenses.