We receive from 3 to 5 inquiries a week from users all across the country with one question – “About how much would it cost to upgrade my MAS90 or MAS200”. Providing a quick price is a difficult task because the cost can vary wildly depending upon:
- Use of custom enhancements (Extended Solutions, customizations)
- Number and type of modules used
- Number of workstations (local, remote)
- Timetable (when does the upgrade need to occur)
- Ability of users to participate in testing
- Degree to which forms (how many, how intricate) have been customized in modules that are being upgraded
- Degree to which screens and user defined fields have been added to the system
- Number of companies (both live and historical) being upgraded
- Whether third party solutions are used (Starship, PC Charge, Business Alerts, EDI, FRX, Sage MAS Intelligence, F9, Job Ops, etc)
- How long since the last upgrade
- Size of the data files
- Condition of the data files (are the amounts in balance?)
- Number of users of the system
There’s really no easy way to respond to this inquiry so what many consultants do is provide a guess.
They’ll suggest a range of hours — say 20 to 40 hours.
Then they tack on “but you’ll only pay for actual time used – which may be more or less”.
We price our upgrades as a fixed cost for the services that have been requested (and documented). After having done many upgrades (and other projects including annual support) this way for many years – we’ve heard from clients that they prefer to know the costs in advance rather than receive a surprise bill at the end of the engagement.
What follows then is our typical reply for users who we’ve never collaborated with on an upgrade for before. If you’re an existing Schulz client – then our pricing will likely be a lot different since we already are familiar with your system.
A project to upgrade Sage ERP MAS 90 or 200 to 4.4 for professional services (assumes you have current Sage and any other needed software maintenance) typically starts at $ 5,000.
What makes an upgrade more costly than that? Typically it’s complexity (and, yes, everyone thinks they have a vanilla system that will take no time to upgrade).
If you’re like most users who’ve asked us that question you’ve already received some type of quote — either in writing or by email from a consultant that goes something like this…..
“Your upgrade should take between X and Y hours at $ Z – but of course you’ll only be billed actual time”.
Let me ask you a question.
What if the consultant who provided the guesstimate on price is wrong. What if instead of Y hours it takes Y times three (or four)? Who pays the extra fee?
Hint: It’s you…
We think the fairest way to price services is not with an hourly rate.
The fairest price is a fixed price (not an hourly estimate or “range of hours”)
This assumes a typical straightforward upgrade with no third party integration and using default forms (no customized forms) and standard reports (no custom reports or FRX/F9/SMI conversions) and no imports or custom office use.
That’s not to say that if you have any of those items that your cost would increase dramatically (or at all). Rather when there are added items to upgrade we like to take a look first – so neither of us mis-understands your upgrade project.
A Range Of Hours Is NOT A Price – It’s A Recipe For a Billing “Surprise”
Pricing is a factor of many things — and what many of our best clients find (too late) is they were misled by a low hourly price from another consultant — which they compared with the detailed fixed price we provided.
Some of those customers become our most loyal and devoted fans — but not until they were surprised (shocked?) by a bill from their former consultants.
The reason they were surprised — and that the other consultant seemed at first to be cheaper?
The client was comparing an estimate (a range of hours at standard hourly rate) which they thought was lower…. until the bill they received from their hourly consultant showed the actual (much higher) hours — and higher billed amount.
The only thing fixed about the price they’d received was the hourly rate. At the end of the engagement they learned that the hours could vary wildly from original estimates.
When they asked their consultant why the actual bill was so much higher than the quote – the consultant’s #1 response?
“The price we gave you was an estimate – the costs could be more — or less”
If you think that hourly (range of hours) estimates usually come out less – I’ve got a surprise for you…
Surprise (excess) billings is actually the #1 reason we find companies actively look to switch consultants.
At Schulz Consulting we price and invoice based on a fixed project cost.
This means we must understand your needs at the START of the project and not learn as we go (hourly billing) and expect your company to pay for our lack of initial due diligence.
The items covered (scope) of the project are laid out clearly in a detailed proposal – so there’s no chance for a surprise bill – or even worse – a system upgrade that goes so far off the rails that you have to restore to your old version.
In cases where you ask for extra services – we clearly explain the associated cost and send a quote for your approval prior to starting on any extra cost items.
Our careful upgrade procedure has been developed after working with hundreds of similar projects.
Every step of our process is documented in our online project management system (which you’re free to review at any time).
The project plan for your upgrade includes:
1. Install and initially configure your upgrade
2. Test conversion where you can review your data prior to final conversion
3. Final or go live conversion
4. Post-upgrade followup (training, troubleshoot, additional service requests)
At Schulz Consulting we price our services in what our clients tell us is the fairest (and their preferred) way – which is as a fixed cost.
Watch Out For Prices That Are Really WAGS (Wild Ass Guesses)
“it should take between xx and yy hours at zzz rate. If it takes less then you pay less and if more you pay more”.
These are not really prices – but rather are estimates.
The costs usually don’t come in as less — but more.
Under this pricing method you will not know the true price until the project is complete.
Many of the inquiries we receive are from users that are curious about general costs.
Your inquiry may be similar — and we’re happy to provide our preliminary estimate which you can use to compare against your preferred provider’s quote .
If you’d like a formal proposal we provide one for a fee of $500 (this only applies for companies where we’ve not performed an upgrade in the last few years) which is credited against your paid upgrade cost.
Wait. A fee? Why a fee when all the other consultants on the web do this for free?
There are two reasons that there’s a cost to generate a formal proposal:
First, most consultants are giving you a “ball park” estimate based on an hourly rate. To put it bluntly they’re guessing. You’ll shoulder ALL of the risk of a cost over-run.
Second, we assume the risk of a cost over-run – however we must understand your system, your requirements and the expectations of the project BEFORE we can provide you with a cost.
Our proposal includes a single session to login and review your existing MAS system, discuss open issues and concerns and provide a 10 page document with the scope of services.
Please feel free to contact me to arrange for an evaluation and I can provide you with a cost for an initial analysis (credited against your accepted project).