When updating or upgrading sage software it is important to be aware of best practices to ensure a successful and efficient process. In this blog, we will provide insights and answers to some of the common questions surrounding upgrades and updates.
What is the difference between an update and an upgrade?
The most simple way to define the difference between an update and an upgrade is to think of an upgrade as a less frequent, more drastic change to the software you are currently using. Whereas a software update, can be more frequent, fix little bugs or make small tweaks, and is often used to repair the product.
A term used commonly is “hotfixes” which are temporary critical fixes that are usually fixing a single function and will be incorporated in the next product update. Sage upgrades are generally released annually (regularly in August or September of every year). For instance, this year as of August 2021 you have the option to get Sage 300c 2022; which would be updated to the latest version released.
Note: most of our customers are not upgrading every year, so you may be running an older version of Sage Software whether is be Sage 300, Sage 50, Sage X3 etc.
Sage just like any other software company supports the current version, and two versions are behind. We at BAASS will try and support older versions of Sage you may be on where possible.
How do I know what version my business is running on?
When opening the Sage application, there will be a splash screen outlining which version of Sage your business is currently running on, for example below.
You are then capable of going into the system information to gather additional information. As seen below, the top identifies the version number and the product update number. You are then able to see the full details of your installs and other specifics.
The product update numbers increment with each release; in the details area, you see the ID name and the version numbers. Navigate to the red checkmark for the active version.
Product updates are mostly released quarterly and are numbered accordingly since the full version is released in August or September.
- Update 1: December/January
- Update 2: April
- Update 3: July
- Update 4: September
Note: these numbers could potentially increment to product update 11, as Sage supports the current version and two versions behind.
Product updates usually fix the software however, in the last few years Sage introduced a product update that contained enhancement features, as well as fixes. The features could change your databases, which could result in breaking the custom integrations, custom reports, and forms may stop working.
Independent Software Vendor (ISV) modules that are Sage SDK (System Development Kit)-based look and feel like Sage. For example, your EFT module (if you have an EFT module), which is an ISV may need to be upgraded as well other products with combined SDK and non-SDK. For example, the Resource Manager may have a portion of it assisting in your Sage desktop and the rest might be through a web version.
There are also Integrated Sage Softwares such as HRIS which is a Human Resources Information System or Sage CRM (Customer Relationship Management), which may not function as intended if these product updates are simply applied. In order for all of them to work in harmony, a matching product update or upgrade may need to be installed for the applicable integrated solutions.
Why or when do you need to upgrade or update?
The first reason is compatibility. In this case, a publisher stops supporting their versions due to end-of-life technology changes and security updates compatibility requirements of an operating system.
Whether it is your desktop, laptop or server, the Sage 300 operating system uses Microsoft’s SQL as its database. MS SQL needs to be compatible with the operating system, the server that the operating system is on, as well as Sage 300, which should be compatible with the operating system and the database. Another compatibility issue to watch out for is that you may be upgrading an integrated program that requires you to upgrade or update.
Two reasons why you may update is for features functionality that you wanted to use/business requires or fixes to existing issues/ error messages. Importantly, the latest product updates are usually needed for payroll tax tables and other tax filings such as 1099 in the U.S payroll. Tax tables are released for the current version and two previous versions.
Whether it is an upgrade or an update, and whether you do it or your software provider does it, there are certain things part of the best practice. We recommend maintaining a separate testing environment; separate meaning a separate application installed outside of the production environment. It is understandable that not all users have this option, but a disconnected test environment to implement the product upgrades and updates initially help to mitigate the risks.
Once you test and confirm all systems are functional, then the upgrades/updates will implement in your production environment, including all your required workstations and servers. This is done when users are out and the integrations and schedule sessions are turned off.
Whether it's a product update or product upgrade, it is the same process where multiple backups are taken -- at times not relying on existing backups. Databases are backed up into the cloud, but we suggest taking an additional backup just in case something does not work properly, for both the accounting software and applications.
We at BAASS have a well-established process to document and schedule the upgrade process. Our formal review process consists of scheduling a session with one of our technicians to connect with you and obtain all the environment-related details. This expert will connect with you and gather the details within a document called BAASS Upgrade Review Process. This document is further analyzed by technical and consulting team members to identify any potential challenges; proactively the findings are notified to you.
Options are then discussed and proposals submitted for your approval prior to commencing our process. You will receive a compatibility document that identifies hardware requirements for workstations and servers. As well as Microsoft Office and Excel we recommend you contact your account manager for upgrades; we rarely have any of our clients doing their own upgrades.
Updates are usually a result of a request, our clients initiate this by going to the support site and submitting a request or calling our support desk, or emailing support at bass.com. Other than requesting support, we can get updated information through several options.
In addition to the BAASS website, you can also get useful up-to-date information from Sage sites. As a Sage customer, you can register into the Sage Customer Portal to gain access to blogs, detailed release information etc. The Customer Portal has a knowledge base that you can search and lookup issues and resolutions; if the resolution states the product update is required, the best to plan the proper steps including contacting BAASS.
Another area you can log in to is Sage City as a Sage Client you are eligible to register a Sage account to access these sites by selecting your region and product. You will then gain access to specific news announcements and alerts.
Whether it is an upgrade or update we recommend you gather enough information by looking at your system to document your Sage environment. We recommend you document your Stage environment at all times; some of our clients do it already that's part of their internal process. Their it team does it or the accounting team, of course, keep track of the Sage modules and product updates, the workstations and the servers it's installed in and information about the test environment all that is documented. Monitor BAASS and Sage sites, you can contact support at BAASS for issues or contact your account manager if you need a full upgrade.
Have a test environment to mitigate the risk and test on it first. We always say “you could never have too many backups”, so take multiple backups of your production environment and be ready for the downtime during the implementation stage. Depending on the size and the number of modules and how integrated they are you could be down for a day or two. We have covered a variety of points related to your Sage 300 upgrades and updates. Our goal is to provide as much information as possible to assist you.