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Taylor Macdonald, chief channel and strategy officer for Sage Software, stepped down Oct. 11 as part of an almost wholesale purge of the company’s North American executive staff. Macdonald’s position has been eliminated as Sage Group restructures its management.

Also out are Sage Software CEO Ron Verni, Chief Financial Officer Jim Eckstaedt, and Chief Technology Officer Jim Foster. In a conference call, Paul Walker, CEO of Sage Group, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, in England, said, “I came to a view with Ron that as the company now has a turnover in excess of the billion dollar mark, that perhaps there was a need for a change in style of management in North America.”

Taylor Macdonald joined Sage Software in 1998 as vice president of partner development, rising to executive vice president of channel and sales operations before being elevated to chief channel and strategy officer.

Under Macdonald’s leadership, Sage’s channel program offered a number of initiatives for partners, including helping them work with recruiting firms to find staff, helping them find health insurance for employees, and recruiting and training sales staff. He was recognized by The Channel Insider as one of the 12 channel chiefs who made a difference in 2006.

Prior to joining Sage, Macdonald was the founder of Macdonald Consulting Group, a business software consulting firm in Atlanta. MCG has been Sage Software’s “Partner of the Year” five times since 1996, and was one of the largest Great Plains channel partners in the United States.

The management changes came as Sage Group gave a preview of its end-of-year financial performance. Sales were up by 4 percent in North America over 2006, rising to $722 million. This trailed the overall sales performance of the company, which grew 7 percent over 2006.

The remaining management of Sage Software will report directly to Walker until a new regional CEO is named. According to John Schoutsen, a spokesperson for Sage Software, the responsibilities of Macdonald and Foster have been pushed down to the four U.S. divisions that the company created in May as part of a wider reorganization: Business Management, Industry & Specialized Solutions, Healthcare, and Payment Solutions. The move was part of a company effort to more strongly align technology and channel operations with each of the business units that began with those changes, he said.

“The feet on the street are in place as far as our relationships with our business partners go, and they are working within the divisions today,” Schoutsen said. “So the channel won’t really see a change.” He added that the existing channel initiatives will continue, and will be managed at a divisional level. “We anticipate that those programs will continue across the board. A lot of those programs are important regardless of which markets our partners are in.”

However, channel leadership at the individual business unit level is a matter that the company has yet to resolve. “Those are decisions that the existing management teams at those units will be making in the near future,” Schoutsen said.