/ BLOG / Sage Line 50 HR 2007 (Rant alert)
During the course of work I often come across various Sage products, and usually this ends up with amplified ranting in various IRC channels. For those who are present in those channels I apologise as you’ve already heard this.
Many of their programs ignore basic practises for Windows, ranging from demanding write access to system32, to installing ‘unused’ SQL engines. I say unused, in one or two products they only appear to be used as a network transport. Which is seemingly bonkers if you ask me, especially when the various installers, and “certified experts”, create shares also.
In this respect Sage Line 50 HR 2007 is an improvement; to a certain degree.
One of our clients produced the media for Sage Line 50 HR 2007, so I apologise if there’s a known problem with the current releases of CDs. However, I shall endeavour as this really pissed me off, and there doesn’t appear to be any updates on the official website at all. Sage Support made no indication that any such fixes currently exist.
- If you select a "server" installation you are unable to customise any paths at all. This is one of the few circumstances where I might actually want to customise an installation path. Don't make me work harder.
- If you select a non-"server" installation then you can only customise some paths. Specifically you can only customise an installation path for the binaries.
- The documentation directory only contains an installer for Adobe Reader 5 (no actual documentation). I shouldn't need to explain myself here. It's wrong for so many reasons.
- It demands it must share C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Sage\HR, although you can specific the share name (this really pissed me off). Why on earth am I not allow to configure this path? This appears to be where data gets put (I don't know if this is strictly true at present, since is uses SQL (see below), but even so. That's just shit for data management. Any attempt to reshare another directory with the same share name and removing this one just upsets the Sage HR "server".
- It installs an "embedded" version of MySQL. Ok, so they've gone for a sort-of-open source product here, and that sort of pleases me. However, I am well and truely fed up with embedded SQL engines all over the network. Many of our customers have at least one system on the network with a full SQL engine. I know Sage is perfectly capable of talking to a non bundled SQL server. Look at Sage Line 200/MMS/etc. As a techy this would make me happy. Don't litter the network. Please.
- It fails to install on an Active Directory box with FSMO roles (aka Domain Controller), because it tries to create a local group, failing silently for obvious reasons. The installation then carries on blindly, despite the install log hidden away in the installation target directory stating that it rolled back.
In the end, after trying to manually add the Sage HR server service, and failing (for some reason that I didn’t have time to determine), I made a “quick” call to Sage. Sage’s advice? To install it on a non-DC box. They’re fully aware of the problem and the support staff have to deal with it fairly often. Apparently there’s a request in to change the behaviour. Surprisingly Sage Support were actually helpful in this instance, although I did throw “Barbara” off track slightly when I mentioned the install log. She also seemed to be a bit hazy on exactly what a Domain Controller is, but I guess that’s not her thing to have to understand, it’s mine and she at least made herself clear enough for me to understand what she meant.
In this instance it’s rather lucky that the customer does have an additional server they can use for this, but it’s not ideal. I’d rather keep on this stuff on the file server (which in this instance is a SBS box).
Perhaps had I more time to play with this I could’ve sorted it, but I was getting rather annoyed at this stage and just had to move on to other things.
In terms of getting that share somewhere that might not be “forgotten” (we document everything via our helpdesk software, but sometimes the importance of making things easy is useful in a tight spot - if the backup gets recreated, for whatever reason, can I bank on someone including that obscure directory?) a DFS replication to another location may be an option (this has worked for various other products they use that demand a directory in C:\Windows - not ideal on a clustered terminal server environment).
Would I recommend using Sage Line 50 HR? Personally, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, from a professional geek point of view. However, as a tool to help out with HR I honestly couldn’t compare it with the various other products out there as I’ve not really touched any HR software since I parted ways from the MoD. However, I may be trying out OrangeHRM for the company at some point soon, so maybe I will have something to compare it with soon.