Your Inside Track to Modern Software Assessment | Podcast | Episode 004

Your Inside Track to Modern Software Assessment | Podcast | Episode 004

In this episode, we chat with Tom Costa, who is the partner enablement manager for Sage Intacct, and is an expert in ERP systems of all shapes and sizes.

Having started his career with Sage, Tom went on to work with a number of other big name software vendors, including Microsoft, Infor, SAP and Acumatica. Before returning to Sage.

Tom now focuses on helping the Sage partner base deliver maximum value during their customer interactions, advocating a customer-first approach to software demonstrations that focuses on enabling results as opposed to merely ticking requirements boxes.

Audio Podcast Links

Please find the show notes below.

Tom's Background

  • Originally started with a company called state-of-the-art software,
  • Took the only programming class that the high school offered at the time, It was the software side that interested me, which led me to gravitate towards a career in the software industry, as opposed to just hardware sales or things like that.
  • Used to deliver 2 - 3 demos a week
  • Now taking 30-40 years of experience and using it to train others

Major shifts in cloud Software

  • The shift to more of a remote work environment from where we were all in the office together.
  • Don't think we're ever going to go back to pre 2019 levels of we're all going to go into the office Monday through Friday, there's going to be some hybrid variant of all that, but all of it includes working from home.

Is AI essential or a nice to have?

  • It's more than a nice to have now that I've actually seen practical use cases for it
  • It was always huge organizations, huge enterprises. They had the budget to incorporate this type of technology, but now we're finding that it's gone down to the small to medium-sized level.
  • AI in Sage Intacct uses GL outlier detection to spot inaccurate transactions
  • Approvals can be chained on to this so that you're not having to approve anything that falls within past trends
  • Avoids 'Garbage in - Garbage Out'
  • More trust in data
  • Less routing around to find 'needles in haystacks'
  • Mention of Microsoft HoloLens

The hidden advantage of automation

  • Now, there's a level of automation that people don't have to do as much manual tedious time consuming operations, because the automation does that.
  • The users find that work more interesting
  • With this there is less likehood that they'll move jobs
  • Instead of starting working thinking I've got all of this boring stuff to do, it's a shift to being motivated to use the tools we have to improve

Software and blockchain

  • Blockchain is being used to make data more accurate and secure
  • Reference to web 3.0
  • It's still a way off being adopted within accounting software
  • Managing crypto currencies is closer
  • Tom lead a session on how to manage crypto in Sage Intacct. Use the contact me on my home page to request a link.

Sage as finance software or ERP software?

  • Some companies write-off Sage as accounting only
  • This is just an education thing
  • Many companies are using other Sage applications to manage all of their operations from construction companies, to distribution companies, to professional service companies

Demystifying the Sage suite of applications

  • Sage 50 is your entry-level solution that many accountants have trained on
  • You then have Sage200 which is an end-to-end ERP in the UK (Sage 300 in the US)
  • Sage Intacct is the cloud solution built for finance teams, but is now expanding into manufacturing
  • Sage X3 is geared towards billion dollar organsations with a lot of complexity

Tom's recommendations for approaching software assessment

  • Do you research online to narrow down a long list to a shorter list
  • Then find an organisation with experience in your industry
  • Try to stay away from platting requirements and assessing based on requirements
  • Go to market with a business objective, and have a partner challenge on what you're not doing at the moment that you could be doing
  • You don't know what you don't know, and often you only understand your business from an internal perspective
  • Having someone give an outside perspective and share insights is beneficial
  • Use as a repository for information on software systems.
  • G2 also have an assessment tool that allows you to compare software solutions, you just need to create an account and login
  • Be wary of hyper-growth SaaS organisations. They often have aggressive sales teams that are just trying to funnel ou through their process, as opposed to looking out for what you really need
  • Selection of a partner needs to be based on a relationship that could last 10, 20+ years

Configure or Customise?

  • Sometimes it's pointless customising a solution, as you customise to the way you're working now as opposed to the way that you might be working in the future
  • Sometimes it's better to take a phased approach, where you get the fundamentals in, live with it, build expertise, then work with your partner to evolve the solution as you become more aware of the available capability
  • There's nothing wrong with a 'big bang' approach, but it might not scale if your processes change
  • There are now also several marketplace suppliers for many solutions that offer 'plug-ins' that allow you to pick and choose additional capability, where it be for something like Expenses, HR etc.

How to tell a good demonstration from a bad one

  • It's all about the person delivering the demo
  • Are they confident, do they have experience?
  • Are they able to tell stories about similar customers and how they're using the solution?
  • Watch out for 'yes people' that will immediately say yes to all questions
  • Pay more attention to those that are honest and might say 'I don't know the answer to that, I'll have to get back to you'.
  • Most systems are going to be better than the solution you're coming from, especially if you're working on a legacy application
  • Pay more attention to what this could mean for the future

Tips for implementations

  • Be aware that no business change comes easily
  • It will be tough, and there needs to be serious buy in from all levels of the business
  • Also note that not just implementation, but the selection process can take a long time
  • If someone senior to you says 'Investige Software' it might be worth pushing back initially, stressing the amount of work it's likely to mean for the business
  • You don't want to be spending 3 months assessing systems for seniors to come back saying we don't have the time or the resource to proceed with that
  • There are cases where the same system has been implemented poorly in some companies, but perfectly in other similar companies
  • This is where it's important to stress that selection of the right implementation partner is crucial
  • Emphasise that there's not point in implementing a new system to do things in the same way. You could have a bad process that you're able to do faster
  • Implementations should change process to take you to a better place than you first started

What software could Tom not live without?

  • Outlook
  • If it's in his inbox it's getting done
  • If it's not taken from his inbox and put into it's calendar, it's not getting done
  • Tom keeps a lean inbox, stressing that you should only have items in your inbox that require attention, everything else should be filed away

Get in Touch

Wanting some one-to-one guidance on how to leverage technology to support your ambitions, or just want help demystifying the complex world of software and systems?

There are 3 Ways to Contact Me

1. Send me an e-mail at

2. Use the contact form on my homepage

3. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and send me a message


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©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use

©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use