Sage Integration: What You Need To Know
Sage is an ideal ERP solution for small and medium businesses that deal with complex business processes (like wholesale distributors), offering flexibility that allows companies with complex needs to grow and improve their business processes over time. But as businesses increasingly turn towards cloud applications to extend business processes into areas like sales order management, many Sage customers have wondered whether it is possible to integrate these third party applications with their existing Sage ERP systems. The short answer is yes. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the things you need to know about Sage integrations and what the typical path to these integrations looks like.
About Sage Systems
Sage Systems was founded in the UK in 1981 and today is the third largest ERP application provider behind SAP and Oracle. Unlike SAP and Oracle, Sage is focused primarily on providing solutions for small and medium businesses and the smaller end of the enterprise applications space. Sage Systems has more than 6 million customers––more users than its larger competitors––but in terms of revenue, the company is smaller due to the lower price tag of its offerings. Sage offers a range of ERP products tailored to meet the needs of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Their ERP and financial accounting products include:
- Sage X3: Financials applications for midsized to large manufacturers or distributors with the option to add operations, multi-site, multi-company, and multi-language utilities.
- Sage 300: Sage’s ERP financial accounting solution for small to midsized companies. Sage 300 includes project costing, multiple currencies, languages and more.
- Sage 300 Online: Sage’s cloud-based ERP solution for small to midsized companies that are outgrowing basic financial accounting systems and looking for a more robust solution that includes inventory, projects, payroll and more.
- Sage 500 ERP: ERP applications for midsized to large companies with a focus on manufacturing or distribution.
Sage also offers a free online version for startups and sole proprietorships called Sage One, as well as Sage 50 (formerly Peachtree), a combined online/desktop accounting system for small businesses, and Sage 100 (formerly AccPac).
Sage Integration Technical Information
Sage is based on proprietary rather than open-source code. Generally speaking, Sage’s customers do not have the technical expertise to do their own coding and application development in-house. Therefore, they are in no hurry to open their code to anyone other than their network of partner application developers. What this means is there isn’t a great deal of information available about how to integrate Sage with third party applications for do-it-yourself application development. Most of this type of development is done by Sage’s partner developers or by third party application vendors themselves.
Available Sage Integration Tools
The means of integrating a third party application with Sage depends on which version you are running and what applications you would like to connect with Sage. But in general, the integration options include: Application Programming Interfaces:API’s are the primary means of integrating Sage
products with other cloud-hosted solutions. These are usually developed and maintained by the third party application vendor using the Sage Development Kit (SDK). Some very popular applications have their API’s built into Sage and can be activated as needed. Sage Data Objects: Sage Data Objects are developed by Sage and its partners to integrate with the on-premise versions of Sage. Sage Data Objects are typically installed with Sage on-premise applications, but have to be activated using a serial number from the Sage developer that created it, and an activation key from Sage. You’ll typically need a working knowledge of C# to be able to develop an integration using Sage Data Objects. Web Services: Web Services is a means of integrating Sage applications with external applications like E-commerce portals, data feeds, etc. Web services enable Sage ERP to operate with third-party applications by making data available over the Internet and/or integrating data from external web services into Sage ERP processes. SData: Sdata is sub-category of Web Services that is specific to Sage. It is a web toolkit, promoting the development of REST (or as it is often called, “RESTful”) web services. REST stands for Representational State Transfer, and typically uses HTTP to build Web services that are lightweight, maintainable, and scalable. SData consists of a small, standards-based core (HTTP, ATOM, JSON) and a set of optional mechanisms solving common implementation challenges in a consistent manner.
Determining Your Integration Path
Now that you understand some of the general considerations that can impact your integration of Sage with third party applications, you can create an integration plan for your particular situation. To do this, you need to identify:
- What are your business needs? What should the integration allow you to do?
- Which version of Sage and what specific applications are you running?
- Is there a Sage partner that offers a supported integration tool, or is an interface offered by the third party vendor?
- If no integration tools are available, does your organization have the experience with Sage proprietary code to develop and support your own interface? If not, you will likely need to identify a partner organization to assist.
- Has your current system been modified or customized? How could these impact your integration plans?
- What are your future upgrade plans?
As we’ve shown, there are several ways to integrate Sage with third party applications, but there are some challenges as well. For most of the small and medium size businesses that make up Sage’s customer base, having the skills on staff to accomplish these integrations on their own is probably the biggest hurdle. Fortunately, tools such as API’s do exist to make the process of integrating with Sage easier. When an API or other pre-existing tool does not exist, Sage has a large number of partners who will likely be able to provide any needed assistance. Are you considering integrating your Sage ERP with a third party application to improve your business processes? Tell us about it in the comments.