Welcome to the Exact Product Blog

On this blog we will cover stories from all around the Exact ecosystem.

Exact Product Blog: Exact Globe

The advantages of Electronic Invoicing

Written by Richard Smits on . Posted in Exact Globe, Exact Online

Since a few weeks we are sending all invoices to our Exact Online customers digitally. The monthly invoices are sent from our own Exact Globe environment to the digital mailboxes in Exact Online. With some simple mouse clicks our customers can first check the invoice and then create the entry into Exact Online with the invoice linked as an attachment. Why is this so exciting? Well, at Exact we are investigating the possibilities of Electronic Invoicing not only for ourselves, but also for our customers. This is the first step in the process and it will be the start for more functionality in both Exact Online and Exact Globe for supporting electronic invoices.

Electronic Invoicing received a lot of attention in the media lately. Governments worldwide are heavily promoting electronic invoices and the Dutch government even ‘killed’ all the strict rules that made sending invoices via email not viable for a lot of companies. Since February 2009 sending an invoice via email has the same legal status as a paper invoice.  Sending and receiving invoices digitally can save a company a lot of costs (labor hours, post stamps, envelopes, paper, etc) and furthermore it is environmental friendly. According to the European Commission, businesses across Europe can save up to 18 billion Euro by using a solution for Electronic Invoicing.

The disadvantage of only receiving an invoice via email (e.g. a PDF-file as attachment) is the fact that a user needs to download (and sometimes print) the invoice and enter the data in the bookkeeping system manually. A better solution is sending invoices completely electronically with the ability to import it directly in a financial administration, just like we are currently doing with Exact Online. Sending invoices electronically means that you send all the related invoice data together with the message, and that the sales invoice can be booked into the bookkeeping system as a purchase invoice by some simple mouse clicks (or even fully automated). This is the goal we are aiming for.

I am a member of the project group Electronic Invoicing within Exact and will update you frequently on this subject. If you want to share your thoughts, questions, remarks or advice about Electronic Invoicing with me, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit: miquelb

 

Going from a transactional towards an emotional relationship: A.D. time

Written by Michiel Dorjee on . Posted in Exact Globe

Today Marcel van de Sandt and myself visited A.D. time, a customer of Exact’s subsidiary in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After having spent 5 days at Exact’s development centre in KL, we planned the morning to visit this customer and get feedback from their users.

Incorporated in 1989, A.D. Time is in the business of distributing timepieces, writing instruments and jewellery. We made an appointment with the managing Director, mr. Y.Y. Kwan and its Group Finance Manager, mrs. Franscine Low. She explained to us that they’d been using a local ERP system for almost 20 years, starting with a DOS interface and updated to Windows at a later stage. For A.D. Time, the main reasons to switch to Exact Globe were a) after making a financial entry, the entry can still be modified before it’s final processed and b) the flexible reporting using pivots, Excel Add-In or the Crystal Reports module.

A happy user of Exact Globe's cashflow functionality

A happy user of Exact Globe's cashflow functionality

What mrs. Low was especially proud of was the record-low implementation time. From signing of the sales contract to a fully operational ERP system took them less then 3 months. This included analysis of the customer’s requirements and business situation, training of all their users, conversion from the legacy system to Exact Globe, trial runs and final acceptance. When asked what was the main reason for the success of the implementation, she mentioned solid project management from the start (with one owner on both customer as well as vendor side) and a good buy-in/involvement of all users. This rapid implementation time and the positive experiences after going live, made A.D. time decide, almost without any sales process involved, to purchase Exact Globe also for their new office in Thailand. KF Chong, General manager of Exact Malaysia, told us that software is almost never ‘shipped’ to a customer but personally handed over. In fact, we ‘handed-over’ the DVD’s with the Exact Globe software and SQL2005 during our visit. I never realized this, but a simple thing like handing over ‘our’ software means so much more to the customer then receiving it in a nice box. No matter the size of the company, it’s always a considerable expenditure they’re doing so such a personal touch is highly appreciated.

Getting the conversation going

After some time, we asked to have some chats with the users of the system. Initially the staff, mostly accounting clerks, were somewhat shy and told us that the system runs fine and not much issues to mention…but after one of them asked a question and got a satisfying answer the rest got into the mood as well and we were busy for the rest of the morning answering their questions. When you talk to these users you’re of course considered ‘the expert’ and something you’ll notice almost without fail, is that it’s the simple things (tips&tricks) that can make the users put a big smile on their face.

Just as an example, we spoke to a lady who does sales order entry. I was already astonished by the speed at which she can enter a sales order, I mean seriously fast. But we did notice that she would quickly switch from her keyboard to her mouse every now and then. So we advised her to try Shift-Tab and arrow up/down in the entry grid to move between fields and lines. She tried and cheerfully alarmed a few other colleagues to come to her desk to see it for themselves.

Another example: the user in charge of bank statements didn’t know where to store the digital scans of the bank statements. Now Exact Globe has a very powerful documents functionality built in, allowing users to attach such digital files in every entry application. So after showing this to her, she now finally could get rid of all her local and network folders that store these files until today. Lesson learned for me from a product management point of view: the little icon in cash flow entry that marks ‘attachments’ is too far hidden away and apparently not intuitive enough for some users.

Final example: the users printed their cheques manually because they wanted a self-defined sequential number at the top when printing the cheque. Not something unusual, Thailand for example has pre-defined ranges for sales invoices as well. To address this, we’ve developed ‘external numbering’ for Exact Globe since update 380. Honestly speaking, this is probably one of the best known secrets (or least know jewel?) within our software…but it does just what this customer needs.

Just users? No way!

Another thing that really surprised me was the level of knowledge these users had about Exact Globe. They’ve been using the system for 2.5 months now and the functional depth at which they’ve implemented and are using it, is impressive:

  • cash flow management: prepayments in local or foreign currency, refunds, internal cash transfers, cheque remittance, TT transfers, receipts for grouped or multiple invoices etc
  • full logistic/distribution process including advanced price management, discount policies, sales commissions with multiple sales reps per debtor (and per order)
  • warehouse management including interbranch transfers
  • A long list of customized Crystal Reports either used by 1 user personal or reports shared within the team (nice to see, since this was one the new features of Exact Globe last year)

What’s in it for you, product managers?

But such a visit isn’t just useful for the customer’s users for receiving answers to their questions. For me the visit was also insightful, it really contributed to the relationship the users felt with Exact, it was fun and as a ‘bonus’ it gave direct input on some areas where I see we can make improvements to Exact Globe:

  • Prepayments in foreign currency, in situations with highly fluctuating exchange rates, can be done but are too cumbersome
  • Removing a line in an already entered Interbranch transfer

The picture at the top shows exactly why we’re in this lines of business and why I like my job: the smile of a happy customer.

Welcome to the Exact Product Blog!

Written by Michiel Dorjee on . Posted in Exact Globe, Exact Online, Exact Synergy

Welcome to the shiny, new Exact Product Blog. At Exact Software we continuously invest in our product offerings, ensuring that you can benefit from state-of-the-art technology that helps you to drive and grow your business. Today, we’re launching our Product Blog to keep you updated on what is happening in our world of business empowerment software. We do not only want to help you leverage your Exact solution more effectively, but we also want to provide you a sounding board for everything related to us and our products.

On this blog we will of course share product related news with you, mainly focused on our corporate product lines Exact Globe, Exact Synergy and Exact Online. We will provide you tips & tricks and we will give you insight in the future direction of our products by showing you what we are developing for new product updates. But also if you just want to know what it is like working for Exact or if you’re wondering how Exact develops its products, you came to the right place.

At Exact, just like at many other companies, a lot of interesting conversations take place near the coffee machine. Colleagues tell each other what they are working on, exchange opinions and ask each other for advice. This Product Blog is our virtual coffee place where we want to have these kind of conversations with you, so your feedback is highly encouraged and appreciated. Feel free to share your two cents on how we could make this Exact Product Blog more useful and informative. If you want to keep track of what is going on here, please use the RSS-feeds or e-mail subscriptions to receive our latest posts at your own convenience.

Dashboard Insight interview about Exact Business Analytics

Written by Michiel Dorjee on . Posted in Exact Globe, Exact Synergy

Exact Business Analytics (EBA) and the Exact Graphical Performance Series (GPS) are two business analytics solutions offered by Exact Software. EBA is the business analytics solution that we integrated with, amongst others, Exact Globe and Exact Synergy. With EBA you can combine and compare data and have it shown in a wide range of different graphs, reports and information views. Dashboard Insight, an online community designed to promote the business intelligence (BI) industry and its active players, interviewed our colleague Paul Challinor, as Senior Product Manager responsible for EBA.

In the interview Paul explains how Exact helps businesses during these challenging and uncertain times of economic downturn.

Dashboard Insight: You recently announced the development of a program geared toward helping businesses proactively address the economic downturn. Can you tell us more about the program?

Paul Challinor: Exact provides real-life solutions to pressing business problems for companies working their way through the challenging economic environment. From business-process assessments – which help optimize the efficient use of Exact applications – to point solutions that help businesses focus on deliverables that increase the satisfaction of their customers, Exact is committed to helping customers prepare for the eventual upturn of the economy.

Paul also shares two interesting real-life examples of businesses that have inproved their efficiency with Exact’s business analytics solutions: both Liberty Hardware Manufacturing and Parker Hannifin use business analytics solutions from Exact to combine information from different sources and to turn those data into valuable information.

Dashboard Insight: Can you tell us about some of your key clients?

Paul Challinor: EBA has been particularly successful in the manufacturing and CPG industries. Two key clients come to mind quickly: Liberty Hardware Manufacturing and Parker Hannifin.

Liberty realized that to maximize the value of their ERP application and provide a solid foundation for business decisions, they needed to improve the frequency, accuracy and accessibility of their business reporting. Specifically, business users needed the ability to perform their own analysis, without routing information requests through the IT department. Their existing reporting tool did not allow users to select data fields using business terminology, which leads to frequent questions of reporting accuracy. Also, Liberty needed a solution that could integrate vitally important point-of-sale (POS) data from their major clients, which was stored in a Microsoft Access database.

With our help, sales, inventory, purchasing, and POS data is now accessed and applied on a daily basis, greatly increasing the overall value of Liberty’s ERP solution. Integrating the POS data with other business information has also proven to be highly valuable. Sales teams conduct in-depth analysis of products and programs to measure the success of specific items or sales strategies. The integrated information also enables much tighter control of inventory levels and production planning.

As for Parker, they had a 12-year investment in their JD Edwards World ERP system and recognized an opportunity to leverage that asset to support specific business objectives, including sales analysis and strategic pricing initiatives. The company also sought to provide a standardized reporting structure for all departments and locations that would eliminate duplicate and repetitive report generation. Their goal was to ease the reporting burden on the IT department, while providing a single information resource with accurate data for all locations across their very large organization.

Exact’s ability to dynamically combine data from multiple sources was uniquely suited to Parker’s complex data environment, which includes 46 distinct JDE databases in multiple locations. GPS enables business users to access the specific information they need to see without being concerned where the data is stored.

Please read the complete interview of Dashboard Insight with Paul Challinor.

 

Photo credit: Unhindered by Talent

SQL Server 2008, Exact Globe and Exact Synergy

Written by Michiel Dorjee on . Posted in Exact Globe, Exact Synergy

I notice that quite some hits on my own personal blog and that of another colleague come from searches with keywords containing ‘SQL Server 2008’.

On April 21st, Exact Globe and Exact Synergy product update 393 has been made generally available. As per this product update SQL Server 2008 is supported, running on a Windows 2003 or Windows 2008 server. For small companies, SQL Server 2008 is also supported when installed on a Windows XP or Windows Vista desktop. Exact Synergy Enterprise will soon start support for SQL Server 2008, as of product update 241.

If you want to have a look at the unique selling points of SQL Server 2008, please have a look at the overview on the Microsoft website. For an overview of technical documentation for SQL Server 2008, please refer to Books Online.

Exact has stopped selling SQL Server 2005 as of May 1st. From now on, only SQL Server 2008 licenses will be sold. SQL Server 2008 licenses grant the right to downgrade, which means that everybody who wants to use SQL Server 2005 can still do so when purchasing SQL Server 2008 licenses. The upgrade to SQL Server 2008 can then take place at your own convenience.

A complete overview of the system requirements for Exact Globe product update 393 can be found here.

Next to the support of SQL Server 2008, a variety of improvements has been made available in product update 393. For our customers: more information can be found in the release notes and in the updated set of database documentation here (access is restricted to customers, so you’ll need your username/password for the Exact customer portal).

Photo credit: lilit