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SAGE IS GONNA DO WHAT IT SAYS IT'S GONNA DO

promiseWhen the Facebook post went up that the big message from the Sage Summit user conference was that Sage executives were going to do what they said they were going to do, a friend posted a response asking why anyone had to go to a conference for that.

 

Good question and I'm sure a lot of Sage resellers might ask the same thing. For in prior years, after the Insights reseller conference, the VARs complained frequently that what they heard sounded good, but just never happened.

And it reminded me that years ago when I was analyzing lots of quarterly financial reports at a computer magazine, a Wall Street analyst gave me some advice that's very relevant to this point. Don't worry so much about the numbers in evaluating a company, he said. The key is can management make what it says it's going to do happen?

That's starting to stand out as the difference of Sage North America under CEO Ron Verni, who was dismissed along with three other top executives in the fall of 2007, and CEO Sue Swenson who took over in March 2008. If nothing else at Summit, it was clear that executives were aware of that past shortcoming.

Actually, Swenson has gotten quite a bit done. She shook up the health care unit, sold off the payroll business Verni had tried to build. And she brought in some very good people in many areas. The last is necessary to give any company the chance to succeed. Now, they have to deliver. And of course, they have to do that with a company that parted ways with hundreds of employees in a tough economy.

One of the best examples of something that hadn't happened with the integration of payment processing services with the rest of the company after the parent Sage Group acquired Verus in 2006 for a price that was five times revenue. Companies like to see a return on their investment, especially at prices like that. Payments grew. It just didn't seem to be the kind of game-changing deal that the past North American management had envisioned.

Swenson's description is that the management talked about payments processing, but there was no discussion going on at the lower levels where the people have to make the day-to-day business happen. And with talk of integrating payments process across a substantial number of applications, things seem to be changing.

There are a lot of other areas we'll all be watching. But beyond grand schemes, this time we are starting to get specifics of how it gets done.

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