EBS News – Autumn 2021

Welcome

Our Autumn 2021 newsletter covers all the latest news and information on technology that will help your business grow.

 

In this edition we include articles on various operating system and software updates as well as keeping you abreast on company news. Simply click on the link to the item on the left to go straight to the article in question.

EBS turns 42 Years Old and has its second MBO!

As many of you are aware EBS is a proud Birmingham-based IT solutions company and, in August 2021, it underwent its second management buy-out. The first was completed in 2007 and Jason Tullah (the remaining owner) passed over the reins to the four members of its leadership team to take the business on its next adventure.

The new directors consist of Sales Director Richard Bates, Client Services Director Sandy Robinson, Operations Director Simon Pritchard and Technical Director Dan Price.

EBS has been in operation since 1979, when it was originally established to sell printers and typewriters. Over the years it evolved into a full-service IT support provider specialising in hardware, network infrastructure, cloud services, Sage business management solutions (BMS) and Bespoke Development Solutions.

The business, which has been based in Erdington since its inception, currently employs a large team of longstanding and experienced staff to support hundreds of clients throughout the Midlands.

It was a logical step for all to complete an MBO. The leadership team have been with EBS for many years and, together, have built some great relationships with our customers. They felt very strongly about keeping our whole team together, which might not have happened if EBS had been bought out by a larger organisation.

Fred Chamberlain, one of the original founders of EBS says “It’s great to see the business continuing and the fact there are four directors again is great to see – this is how the business was originally setup! I wish them well in their new venture”

Festive Season Office Hours

Our offices will be closed from 12:30pm on Friday 24th December 2021 until Tuesday 4th January 2022.

Remote emergency Sage, hardware and technical cover will be provided on:

Wednesday 29th December

Thursday 30th December

Friday 31st December

If you require support on the above days, please email:

· support@e-b-s.co.uk for the Sage Team

· service@e-b-s.co.uk for the Hardware and Technical Services team

Windows 11 is here!

You may have heard Microsoft’s recent announcement of the release of Windows 11. So, what do you need to know? First, let’s have a look at some of the changes.

New User Interface – Fresh, simpler, more intuitive experience. Very Mac-like design with clean, rounded corners and a centred task bar and start menu (yes, you can move it back to the left if you prefer!)

Snap Layouts – This gives you a greater range of orientation options when multitasking across multiple windows or applications. This is particularly useful when transitioning from laptop to dock multi-monitor setups to keep windows where you want them.

Security – Microsoft has raised the bar in terms of security so that a range of technologies that are optional in Windows 10 are mandatory, or on by default, in Windows 11.

Internet Explorer is no more! – Microsoft has finally removed Internet Explorer. Hopefully, you have been using a modern browser such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for some time now so that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

Will my software work?

Sage Application compatibility

  • Sage 50 cloud Accounts v24.2 and above
  • Click here for information directly from Sage
  • Sage 50 cloud Payroll v27.04 for the 2021/2022 tax year and above
  • Sage Payroll v24.3 for the 2021/2022 tax year
  • Sage 200 compatibility has not been announced at this time. We will provide an update as soon as this has been confirmed.

Microsoft Office application compatibility

  • Office 2016
  • Office 2019
  • Office 2021
  • Office 365/Microsoft 365

 

So, can my machine run it?

Hardware Requirements

  • Intel 8th Gen CPUs and above
  • TPM 2.0

We have checked requirements versus specifications and have found that the machines below should be compatible – some may require firmware updates.

  • HP ProBook 450 G6 and above
  • HP ProDesk 400 G5 and above
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and above
  • Microsoft Laptop 2 and above

If you are using a different machine, you can run the Microsoft PC Health Check App – or feel free to contact us for assistance.

 

Should your business upgrade to Windows 11?

Our recommendation is to hold fire for the moment. We’ve always found it wise to allow a new operating system to mature before widely adopting it. Over the coming months, Microsoft will be releasing bug fixes, security, driver and features updates. All of these will help build a great platform for you to move onto. If you migrate too soon you may find the experience a bit more of a challenge.

Capturing Supplier Invoices – Draycir Spindle Purchase Invoice Recognition vs. Sicon Document Automation

If you have a sufficient volume of Supplier Invoices coming into your business each month, then it may be time to think about implementing a document automation process.

Some interesting statistics:

· 120 days per year spent on admin (Source: Sage)

· Typical cost of processing an invoice in the UK averages between £4 and £25 (Source: Gartner)

· Cost of invoice processing without automation tools can be 20 times higher than processes that are highly automated. (Source: Gartner)

What does document automation do?

In terms of Supplier Invoices, a document automation solution will automatically recognise the contents of a supplier invoice, capture the information and post a transaction into the Purchase Ledger without the need to key any information. This process can potentially save days of time each month depending on the volume of documents received.

But what if you use Purchase Orders?

The document automation solutions that EBS supports for Sage 200 both work with Purchase Orders and will match based on original purchase order values and goods receipted. An acceptable percentage difference is set by you, so that any purchase invoice values in respect of amount or quantity outside of this will be rejected and marked for review.

We receive some invoices in the post and some via email. How is this dealt with?

This is no issue for both of our available solutions. The process is more streamlined if you receive emailed invoices. A central mail account is setup and document automation picks up the invoices directly.

So which solution is the best, Draycir’s or Sicon’s?

The fact is that both solutions are excellent. You will likely be choosing based on whether you already have Draycir Spindle Document Management or Sicon Documents, but there are a few other areas for consideration, so here is a brief synopsis of each:

Draycir Spindle Purchase Invoice Recognition (SPIR)

· To implement SPIR you must have at least one Spindle Document Management (SDM) or Capture license

· One-off module charge or monthly subscription

· Includes free purchase invoice approval module

· SPIR uses an enterprise-level OCR engine called IRIS, part of the Cannon Group

· Will automatically recognise 80% of documents out of the box

· Document scanning pricing is per invoice not number of pages

· Can match line by line to a Purchase Order

· Can handle multiple Purchase Orders on a single Purchase Invoice

· Secure cloud-based service hosted in a trusted European data centre

· Can read line items, reducing time spent entering data in Sage 200

· Matches invoices against PO or GRN, using an extensive set of rules

Sicon Document Automation (SDA)

· To implement SDA you must have at least one Sicon Documents Scan and View license

· One-off module charge or monthly subscription

· SDA uses Cogidocs OCR technology for recognition

· Prices are per invoice document and not per page, based on fair usage of 1-5 pages per document

· Specify at a module or supplier level if a Purchase Order would be expected to match to an invoice, if goods received notes should be confirmed before matching an invoice or if invoices can be processed with no Purchase Order because they are a utility supplier or someone not requiring an order

· Fully integrated into Sage 200 framework

· Sicon WAP Invoice Approval can be integrated at additional cost

Both solutions are being continually developed to add new functionality and both Sicon and Draycir are good at listening to user requirements. We will provide details of new features as and when they are released.

If you wish to discuss the best option for you or would like to arrange a demonstration, please contact your Account Manager.

Webinar Schedule

We are pleased to confirm the following webinars have been scheduled:

14th December 2021 @ 11.30am – Draycir Excel Data Bridge for Sage 200

12th January 2022 @ 10.30am – Draycir’s new Purchase Requisitions solution for Sage 200

20th January 2022 @ 10.30am – Sicon Document Automation (Purchase Invoice Recognition)

Further events will be added, so keep an eye on your email. We will send out invitations for the above, but you can register at https://www.e-b-s.co.uk/webinar-registration

And don’t forget we have a YouTube channel, where you can watch or re-watch recordings of our previous webinars. This can be found here.

Hit the subscribe button to receive notifications of new videos.

Big price changes for Microsoft 365 licenses

Microsoft have announced the “New Commerce Experience”, which brings the introduction of a one year and a three year term for Microsoft licensing. Monthly will also be available, but this will come at a premium cost (we are advised that this will be roughly 20% more than current prices, though this is subject to change).

As of March 2022 you will have the following options when setting up a new subscription or if you are renewing:

Option 1 – Commit to a monthly term

This offers the most flexibility out of the terms available with the ability to scale up and down and upgrade and downgrade on a monthly basis. However, this does come at a premium and it is anticpated to see a 20% increase on current pricing.

Option 2 – Commit to a 1 Year term

Although this limits flexibility it does avoid any price rises on current prices within the term.

Option 3 – Commit to a 3 Year term

As a result of this option not being available until March, limited information has been provided on it. We envisage a further commercial incentive to commit to the three year term but currently this is unknown.

It is possible to “mix and match” the terms for a subscription. As an example, you can have 10 users that are a given throughout the year and put these on a one year committed term. You may hire an additional few employees to help with busy periods and these can be ordered on a monthly committed term, to scale up and down depending on when they may be required – however, these will be at the increased price on those additional users that are on that monthly term.

If you do not commit to a term your licensing will automatically increase so please work with us over the next four months to maintain the lower prices where possible.

You can read more about this announcement and how Microsoft are positioning it here under “New commerce experience for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Windows 365 seat-based for breadth motion”.

MTD for VAT FAQs: 19 Key Making Tax Digital Questions Answered

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is the UK government’s initiative to simplify tax accounting for businesses and individuals.

You might already use HMRC’s online services to complete tasks such as submitting tax returns, but MTD requires you to use software for everyday accounting and asks you to keep digital accounting records.

Some of the most frequently asked questions around MTD for VAT, and the corresponding answers can be found on the Sage Advice Portal – https://www.sage.com/en-gb/blog/mtd-for-vat-questions-answered/

If you have any queries about MTD, please contact EBS support.

Device Shortages

You may be aware that there is currently a shortage of supply of laptops and other components such as monitors, PCs to a degree and smaller components. Our advice is that should you be planning to update any of your kit that you consider this sooner rather than later.

The other impact of these shortages is that prices are rising relatively steeply.

Hopefully this will not continue, but laptops in particular, have been affected for over 12 months now.

With the release of Windows 11 we are expecting a potential surge in requirements, as Gen7 models and older are not capable of supporting the new platform. See our other article in this edition for more information on Windows 11.

Contact your Account Manager to discuss your plans over the next few months or with any questions arising.

Sage 50 Manufacturing – Sage Update

Sage has decided to withdraw support for Sage 50 Manufacturing software from 1 October 2021. In their initial and follow up messages, Sage outlined that with effect from October 2020, they would no longer test the integration of the Sage 50 Manufacturing software with any new releases of Sage 50cloud Accounts. An issue has been identified with Sage 50 Manufacturing when Sage 50cloud Accounts v28 is installed. The issue results in an inability to print any reports or layouts with an error message displayed as follows:

“The report could not be generated. Could not load file or assembly”.

Sage has been unable to identify a suitable workaround. As Sage 50 Manufacturing is now retired from the product range, Sage are not in a position to resolve this issue. Whilst we always recommend updating to the latest version of Sage 50cloud Accounts, at this time we strongly urge you not to upgrade to any version higher than 27.2.

Please contact your account manager for help and support on upgrading your version of Sage 50 products.

Sage 200 Lifecycle

Sage has updated the lifecycle for Sage 200 versions. Particular attention should be drawn to end-of-life dates and end-of support dates. See the below table to see the status of each version.

Sage 200 Lifecycle

Please note: in line with a variety of technology changes, these versions can no longer be licensed after the date indicated and will cease to operate. Not all versions are impacted and those without a date will continue to function. These dates could change at any time, so please check regularly. We encourage upgrades to the latest version to ensure you get the most value from your subscription. Please speak to us if you require additional information. Once a software version has reached end of support status, the software licence will still be provided though we make no warrants or guarantees as to the duration or performance of the software. Numerous factors can influence the software use, please note that for technical reasons a software version can have an end of support date changed at any time. By the same token an end-of-life date may also need to be introduced where one was not previously given.

*Developer Support will still be provided for these versions during extended support.

If you have any questions or are unsure of your Sage 200 version, please contact your Account Manager or EBS Support.

Configuring a new user for Sage 200cloud

There are several steps which need to be completed to successfully set up a new user for Sage 200cloud.

Firstly, access to Sage 200 is driven by the Windows user account in Windows Active Directory.

The Windows user must be assigned to the Sage200Users user group to enable their user for Sage200. If the user requires access to the Sage System Administration program, they must also be added to the Sage200AdminUsers user group.

When an Admin user logs on to System Administration they will be presented with a Manage User Lists screen advising that a new user will be added. Once they OK this message they will receive confirmation the user has been successfully added.

Selecting the Users option on the left will show a list of Sage 200 users, with the new user in the list:

Sage 200 Users

If they double click on the user (or right click and properties) they can set the user properties, details, Roles, Company Access. Remember, it is the Selected Roles that determine which features the user has access to:

Sage 200 Administrator PropertiesSage 200 Administrator Properties

Once this section is completed, the user should be able to log in to Sage 200 companies they have been assigned, with the feature permissions as defined by their Roles.

By default, when users first log in to Sage200, any reports or documents produced will automatically be sent to the Spooler. If preferred, reports and documents can display on screen, or go straight to the printer. This is set within Sage 200, in the Tools menu/cog icon > Choose Output Mode:

Sage 200 Output Mode

There are some additional user permissions for Sales Order Processing held within Sage 200 > SOP > SOP Utilities > System Set Up > User Permissions. Here you can set default Warehouses, allow users to view discounts, override credit hold and more:

Sage 200 Admin Permissions

If you have any queries, or difficulty with any of the above, please contact our Sage Support Team.

Team Member Profile

Sourab KhajuriaName: Sourab Khajuria

Position: Senior Developer

Worked at EBS: 3 Years.

How would you describe what you do at EBS?

Full Stack Developer, I design and develop high quality solutions.

What is your favourite product that EBS sells?

Sage 200 Bespoke Solutions.

What are you most proud of during your time at EBS?

Completion of some very challenging projects which gave me a huge sense of satisfaction. It makes me proud as it pushes me and the team to learn new things constantly.

 

What is your hidden talent?

It’s still hidden but I guess a little bit of Salsa dancing.

Who is your favourite Movie Character and Why?

Tony Stark from Iron man. He was Innovative!