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Sage Payroll and HR Software Review

3.5 stars Average rating: 3.5 (from 125 votes)

An Independent HRMS Software Review

Sage HRMS (previously branded as Sage Abra) is an end-to-end HR suite of applications aimed at the small to medium-sized businesses (SMB), including payroll, core HR, limited talent management, workforce management, and learning management functionality. Although Sage’s main software focus remains on the accounting arena – only 10% of the company's annual revenues come from payroll and HR – the company has proven to be a significant presence in the HR software for SMBs marketplace, competing successfully against the big ‘names’ of Oracle, SAP and Infor.

Growth By Acquisition

Founded in 1981 by a triumvirate of Graham Wylie, David Goldman, and Paul Muller, the Newcastle upon Tyne, UK-based Sage began with basic accounting software. Over the last three decades or so, growth has at times been exponential. Sage now offers 230+ applications in all major enterprise software categories:

  • HR/Payroll;
  • Accounting;
  • Payment Processing (including E-business);
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM);
  • Financials;
  • Business Intelligence & Forecasting;
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

In fact, Sage are currently one of the world's largest suppliers of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and reaches over six million customers across 160 countries – a indisputably global player.

However, it must be borne in mind that Sage is an accounting software company first (in fact, 55% of annual revenues come from this sector) and everything else second. This dates back to its 1980s inception. After a period of organic (and accounting-focused) growth, Sage embarked on an acquisition strategy to grow and broaden the company’s offerings. This growth by acquisition strategy continues into the present day and currently Sage employs just under 13.5K staff in 23+ countries. In fact in a 2010 interview with The Times, CEO Guy Berruyer clearly stated, "Acquisitions are part of our DNA." However, although this assertive strategy has certainly helped better position the brand in the ERP, CRM, and HCM software markets, the company's purchases to date do not necessarily reflect an overwhelming interest in these solutions.

To put Sage’s payroll and HR focus (or lack of) into perspective, just seven of the company’s acquisitions to date have been related to payroll and/or HR:

  • 2007 - Malaysia-based Creative (a leading and localized Asian provider of payroll and human resource management software solutions);
  • 2007 - UK-based KCS (a supplier of personnel, payroll and time & attendance solutions);
  • 2007 - UK-based Snowdrop (an SME HR and payroll specialist);
  • 2004 - U.S.-based Federal Liaison Services (a single source provider of employer payroll and tax filing solutions);
  • 2000 - U.S.-based Best Software (an asset management software firm that included SMB resources for HR human resources and payroll);
  • 1998 - Germany-based HR Management Software GmbH;
  • 1991 - U.S.-based Abra Cadabra Software.

(Sage also acquired the French Adonix Group in 2006 adding a sizeable ERP to the portfolio, however, Adonix’s HR system -- the Spanish Meta4 -- was conspicuously excluded from the sale).

Alliances & Extended Solutions

In order to further extend the company’s reach, Sage has entered into partnerships with a large number of other software providers, either endorsing or certifying their products. A Sage Endorsed Solution indicates the seal of approval for an application that Sage HRMS customers commonly use to solve unique business issues (and optimize the performance of their Sage HRMS software implementations). Third-party solutions with a “Certified” designation indicate a product that has been tested and verified by Sage. All such applications can be accessed by Sage clients via the Sage Partner Solution Source, an online marketplace of partner solutions (of which 25 are currently dedicated to Sage HRMS). Current HR-related Endorsed Solutions are:

  • Cornerstone OnDemand's Talent Management (offering a best-of-breed talent management suite that includes Learning, Performance, Compensation, and Succession Management capabilities);
  • Delphia Consulting's HR Actions (offering a web-based workflow solution for manager and employee self-service that is fully customizable, driven by defined business rules, and fashioned by interactive fields);
  • VineyardSoft's KnowledgeSync (offering form production/delivery automation, workflow triggers, activity monitoring, business process management);
  • Visibility Software's Cyber Recruiter (offering a process-oriented recruiting system for creating requisitions, posting positions, filtering applications, and simplifying the recruitment process with built-in workflows);
  • CompuPay (offering outsourced payroll, tax filing, web reporting, time clock systems, and employee benefit programs);
  • Sage Payroll PayCard (offering payroll debit cards).


The Customer Experience

A strategy particularly worth noting if you’re considering Sage for your payroll needs is the company’s 2011 strategic goal to improve the customer experience, resulting in an increase in customer outreach via surveys and other feedback mechanisms and indicating a willingness to engage directly with clients despite the organization’s size. As an indication of how seriously Sage intend to take client input, the latest release of Sage HRMS 2012 has a staggering 70 improvements which were driven by customer interactions.

Furthermore, although it is not yet incorporate with Sage’s payroll and HR offering, the company has demonstrated some unique thinking by developing the Sage Advisor program. This application monitoring service detects what users are and are not using within their Sage software, enabling Sage to make in-product recommendations and optimize the application software pursuant to how it's being used in the real world.

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