OK, this isn’t about ERP…but it is about software. I love articles like this, particularly when they have cool stuff. I’m all over Prezi Viewer for iPad (FREE) and Word Lens ($4.99 per language pack [which translates to and from a pair of languages]). Word Lens looks like magic. Can’t wait to try these.
ERP software companies like Microsoft and Sage generally release minor versions (9.0, 9.1, etc.) at least once a year. Every other year, we usually see what has been in the works since the lase major release.
Looks like two big software releases will ship this Fall / Winter. We’ve had the new release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 since the middle of May. Today Sage announced the release of the Sage 300 2012 Beta and SDK. Since both of these products represent significant improvements in the existing product, we’ll be looking carefully at them. A few highlights of each:
- Improved Cash management.
- Better and easier charting and queries.
- New report writer version (3) with enhanced features.
- Better customization tools.
- Built in document management (paperless).
- Microsoft Forecaster is now Microsoft Management Reporter (the release we’ve known about for 3 years).
- Debugging tool for developers.
- User Interface simplification and enhancement.
- Web server deployment option (internal or cloud).
- New cost accounting features.
- New user interface.
- New development tools.
Improvements in these products help businesses manage better. I’m particularly happy with the cost accounting features that have been added to the current version of NAV. Several times a year, I devote a week to looking at the developments in software since I last looked. This time, I’m spending a few extra days over the next couple of months to digest all the changes.
The Sage Alpha looked good when I reviewed it at the beginning of this year. The development schedule wasn’t far enough along then for me to set up a complete environment and play with the new features. Hopefully, the Beta will be fleshed out enough for me to actually write some code.
The list will get longer for Sage 300 as I have time to look deeper.
ERP software can be expensive, and most companies want to reduce their investment as much as possible while still getting all the benefit they can. Companies I talk to frequently say something like this about their number of users: “Well, let’s see…we have 18 users in accounting and order entry…and 5 in production…and about 25 or 30 that look at different things in the system occasionally.” They are describing a “read only” user.
But there’s a little more to it. Sometimes a “Read Only” user needs to be able to do just a bit in a product. Like enter inventory receipts or transfers, or enter accounts payable invoices. In many ERP software products, a “Full” user is the only thing available. This means that the Controller’s license (which needs to be able to access everything) costs the same as the inventory clerk’s license (which only needs inquiry, and perhaps inventory receiving).
Although the details aren’t all in play yet, Microsoft has joined the list of companies that offer a “Limited” user. Beginning with the 2013 version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision), a limited user license is available at about 20% of the cost of a full user license.
We’re wondering just how much we can get out of the Limited user license. I’ll post more after we get details and have time to test.
Business software isn’t the most important thing on most customers’ minds today. Most of the businesses I talk to these days seem to believe that the economy is improving some. Trouble is, they’re not quite ready to say the recession is over. I’m sure the uncertainty in the political environment is part of this, but it appears that economic ups and downs will continue for the next few months, at least.
Businesses are trying to do more with less. More shipments with fewer employees. More sales with fewer salespeople. Some have found that the downturn is a good time to improve technology in order to fare better during the downturn. The key to this is not about technology. I’m always suspicious of the companies that promise me an improvement if only I’ll buy their technology. Sometimes the technology you have can do more.
Finding More in Your Business Software
When I talk to clients about their business software, ERP, or accounting software, it’s not unusual to find that there is some feature they weren’t aware of (or didn’t remember) that could save money or improve sales. It’s these features that you might look at during the next few months. As the economy recovers, use of these features may allow you to get more work done with less effort.
Some features you might look at include: credit management, CRM, sales automation, quoting, automated marketing, and integration to other operational systems. Watch this blog for more ideas.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 now has a free express version document management product available to enhance the ability to attach documents to documents.
Chris Marcus from over at Zetadocs (developers of document management for Dynamics NAV) sent this information over a few weeks ago:
New version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV’s document management is available for download
In response to requests from Microsoft partners and customers, Zetadocs Express now integrates with SharePoint 2010, as well as Office 365’s SharePoint Online.
Zetadocs Express is the document management module for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It allows users to drag & drop files and emails onto records in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, storing copies in SharePoint with links back. Documents such as invoices can be emailed directly from Microsoft Dynamics NAV and automatically stored in SharePoint. This new release offers greater flexibility, scalability and choice:
- On-premise or in the Cloud
Zetadocs Express now includes full support of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Online, allowing users to choose between on-premise SharePoint server or Office 365 in the Cloud for document archiving and retrieval at any time, from anywhere.
- Save and Send any report
The “Save and Send” feature has been expanded to enable almost any customized Microsoft Dynamics NAV report using SQL Server Reporting Services to be emailed, archiving a copy automatically in SharePoint.
- Huge document archives
A new day-based file plan in SharePoint handles the archiving of thousands of documents per day for well over a decade before there’s any requirement to move out older documents.
Zetadocs Express is the result of a collaboration between Microsoft and Equisys to provide Microsoft Dynamics NAV customers the additional value of integrated document management using SharePoint. It is available at no additional cost to users of the RoleTailored client who are on a Business Ready Enhancement Plan. More details are available here.