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Selling business software - it makes good, commercial sense

Selling business software - it makes good, commercial sense

What you call business software is probably quite different to the reseller across the street. And that's probably a good thing too, consider-ing how tight the market is at the moment. This week we're taking a random look at some products that fall under this category, ranging from broad-market, shrink-wrap products, to narrow, industry-specific software EP on-lineEP on-line is a template and check list driven Engineering Process. It is described by Strategic Systems (WA) as "one of the most fundamental and practical 'toolboxes of best practices' for the commercial development and engineering community". The emphasis with the product has been to create templates for each facet of the development process so that the team can focus on the technical aspects of their work.

Instructional guidelines with EP on-line cover a broad knowledge base. There are procedures to explain what to do in a particular context, and how to do it. In addition, there are check lists to ensure the user has done what is required.

The software uses intranet technology which provides cross-platform access and 'click button' integration with the many third-party applications which the templates are launched directly into.

The 85 templates cover engineering activities from requirements specifications, hardware and software design documents, code inspections and PCB manufacturing specifications through to acceptance testing, problem reporting, revision control and project planning.

EP on-line is written in HTML with all templates in the native format of the associated third- party application. In addition there is a work instruction and several templates to help the user build more EP on-line.

EP on-line is available in three product lines to suit the focus of the user's organisation: EP on-line for systems development, with an RRP of $7800 for two users through to $23,805 for 500 users; EP on-line for software development, with an RRP of $5850 for two users up to $17,854 for 500 users; EP on-line for hardware development, which has an RRP of $6240 for two users and $19,044 for 500 users.

Dealer enquiries are welcomed and the contact details are:

Strategic Systems (WA)

Tel (041) 216 2601

e-mail: info@ss.com.au.

Info: www.ss.com.au

Quicken Version 6

The new versions of Quicken, Quicken Deluxe and Quicken for Business, have been developed, according to Intuit Australia, largely from the feedback from financial software users.

In summary the changes include an expansion of Quicken's investment capabilities; the addition of an Internet function; and "enhanced ease-of-use". Quicken for Business has been developed to meet the accounting needs of small businesses, including home-based businesses.

The "streamlined design" features include an activity bar which organises the features of Quicken; a more refined accounts reconciliation; an improved report layout; and the ability to see a list of cheques to print or cheques to send online.

Improved user assistance includes audio instructions and step-by-step instructions; on-screen instructions; on-screen video explaining new features; and step-by-step answers to common problems.

Enhanced investment capabilities include easier investment tracking; the ability to view all information regarding a transaction in the one screen, (this includes a price history chart, the user's transaction history, and a summary of current holdings in that security); an asset allocation graph; a price and volume graph showing the daily high, low, close and volume of the user's investments; and enhanced share and price decimal precision to ensure that Quicken data matches brokerage statements.

Customer suggestions which have been included are register sorting by date, amount or cheque numbers to find cheques easily, or by date of entry; shortcuts from the register, enabling users to schedule payments, see how spending compares to budget, see how much has been spent on a par- ticular category, or view payments made to a payee; an improved Billminder; longer field lengths; easy answer graphs; and credit limit warnings. Windows 96 versions of Quicken and Quicken Deluxe offer long file names and auto-run for CDs. The Quicken live function provided instant access to the Internet via Quicken Financial Services ISP.

Quicken Deluxe and Quicken for Business have a home inventory capability which enables users to know how much their home inventory is worth, exactly where each possession is located and how much insurance is needed to cover them accurately. The "easy invoicing" function creates clear, professional looking invoices.

The RRP of Quicken 6 is $79.95, while Quicken for Business and Quicken Deluxe both retail for $99.95 each. All products are available now and further information is available from:

Intuit Australia

Tel (02) 9562 7922 Fax (02) 9562 7934

SmartDraw

Billed as the "drawing tool for people who can't draw", SmartDraw is a software package designed to produce professional business diagrams. Examples include flowcharts, business forms, presentation slides, organisational charts, building charts and computer network designs.

Users can create their own images or select from the clip art catalogue which has more than 1300 shapes and symbols. The images and texts can be rearranged and edited until the desired result is achieved. Once the design is complete, SmartDRAW integrates with existing software so images can be dropped into word processing, desktop publishing or presentation packages.

SmartDRAW works as a stand-alone program or as part of Microsoft Office, Lotus SmartSuite and other programs that support object linking and embedding. SmartDRAW diagrams can be inserted directly into Microsoft Word for Windows using the Insert Objects command.

The RRP of SmartDRAW is $99.95. Further information can be obtained from:

Marketing Results

Tel (02) 9899 5888 Fax (02) 9899 5728

Rescue Me!

This is a systems recovery software package to safeguard users against the problems associated with a computer crash. Rescue Me! guarantees an instant return to a working systems configuration, irrespective of the reason for the crash.

The software automatically takes snapshots of system configurations while the system is in working order. If a PC develops a problem after the installation of new software, a download from the Internet, or a change of system settings, these snapshots can be used to restore the system to a previously working configuration by determining exactly what changes have been made.

The package includes 60 days of free technical support and requires Windows 3.x, 95 or NT, 4Mb of RAM and a 3.5in disk drive for installation.

The RRP of Rescue Me! is $49.95. Further information can be obtained from:

Marketing Results

Tel (02) 9899 5888 Fax (02) 9899 5728

Zetafax 5

Zetafax 5 enables network users to send and receive faxes on their PCs. Using the e-mail gateway option, faxes can be sent like mail using Microsoft Exchange, Mail, Lotus cc:Mail, Notes, or Novell Groupwise. With the direct mail routing option, the faxes received can be distributed automatically (address books simplify this process).

A file can be sent to any standard fax machine, or faxed directly from the word processor. The fax can be sent on company stationery with a coversheet.

Zetafax 5 employs the Windows 95/NT 4.0 graphical user interface, and allows the monitoring of faxes sent and received.

The fax server can be expanded to support multiple fax lines and hundreds of users. The program can be run in the background of a workstation, on the file server, or on a PC of its own. Zetafax 5 also redials on a busy line or after communications failure.

There are several features in the software for monitoring and controlling the use of the fax. The audit trails for each fax records who sent it, when and where. Charge codes may also be used in the billing logs. A permissioning system allows the network administrator to restrict any user from sending faxes to specific countries, or before lower call rate times.

Zetafax 5 supports ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) compliant databases - users can access existing corporate databases for fax addressing.

Designed as a client/server application, Zetafax is available in a range of configurations to suit small workgroups as well as large sites. A Windows or Win95 fax server with a low-cost fax modem can be expanded to a multi-line Windows NT fax gateway with intelligent fax boards for hundreds of users.

The RRP for a five-user system is $895. Further details may be obtained from:

Banksia Technology

Tel (02) 9424 2000 Fax (02) 9424 2010

SAPS (SpartaCom Asynchronous Port Sharing Software)SAPS allows users to access pooled modems for outbound calls. Network users can simultaneously share an unlimited number of serial ports.

Supporting Windows, Windows 95 and NT, SAPS allows all modems in a pool to be shared for both outbound calling as well as those who need to access the LAN from remote locations.

The built-in administration can be used to show shared resources, connected clients, used resources and events, and also manage access rights and passwords.

SAPS works with Microsoft's RAS (Remote Access Service) technology, and network administrators can create modem pools that allow outbound diallers access to modems that were previously dedicated for incoming calls from remote users.

Benefits of the software include controlling on-line communications costs; improving utilisation of current hardware; reducing the cost of installing and maintaining dedicated multiple lines; the ability to share up to nine ports on Windows, 120 plus Win 95, and 250 plus on Win NT; and a reduction of the need for additional hardware.

The RRP for a five-user system is $993. Interested resellers can contact:

Banksia Technology

Tel (02) 9424 2000 Fax (02) 9424 2010

Carbon Copy 32

Carbon Copy 32 is a remote control software package. The product is a Windows 95/Windows NT solution which allows users to remotely access files and applications on PCs running any Windows or DOS operating system. The product is 32-bit and provides added remote computing power, faster remote control and file transfer capabilities.

Carbon Copy 32 is compatible with all other versions of Carbon Copy and is the latest of Microcom's remote access solutions.

The product supports connections to many PCs simultaneously via a modem line, LAN or Internet connection. Support for voice in both DSVD and ASVD modems introduces voice capabilities for remote editing and training from a distant PC.

Carbon Copy has been selected by both Netscape and Microsoft for integration in the Navigator and Internet Explorer 3.0 browsers. Carbon Copy/NET, which is a Netscape plug-in and an ActiveX control, is included with Carbon Copy 32.

Features of the product which, make remote control faster and more secure, include the ability to ignore unnecessary graphics such as splash screens, while transmitting information. The Windows 95 graphical interface creates phone book shortcuts and connections to another PC in one step. A parallel cable has also been included with the product for direct PC to laptop file transfer. Carbon Copy 32 protects confidential information during file transfer by limiting directory access.

The RRP of Carbon Copy 32 is $229. Further details can be obtained from Dianne Jentsch, product manager at:

Dataplex

Tel (02) 9427 9733 Fax (02) 9427 6259.

KeyView 5.1

Distributed by Marketing Results, KeyView is a package which allows Windows users to view, print, convert, zip and unzip any file without leaving the application being used. KeyView 5.1 is especially designed for organisations which deploy Web server and browser technology on corporate intranets. The program is designed around the concept of file sharing, allowing the end user to access multiple files from more than 200 applications. It offers application free viewing of e-mail attachments and word processing, image and graphics, multimedia, compressed and encrypted files on the Internet.

KeyView is able to update new formats and integrate with other products. It is automatically launched whenever the browser encounters a file it does not support. Large files are compressed and encapsulated into a usable format, allowing files to be easily manipulated. Files can also be automatically compressed from within e-mail applications or encrypted for secure transfer or storage. The RRP of KeyView 5.1 is $49.95 Marketing Results Tel (02) 9899 5888 Fax (02) 9899 5728Sidekick 97Sidekick 97 is another organiser package, but is described by distributor Marketing Results as "one of the only organisers to take full advantage of the Internet". The package allows users to schedule meetings, select participants, send invitations and collect replies over the Internet without using powerful LAN servers.

Sidekick 97 organises and prioritises all calls, meetings and to-do items by linking and scheduling communications with background information. It aims to provide "a complete scheduling and contract information system".

There are several features of the Sidekick calendar. Users can view calendars by day, week, month or year. Daily events can be placed in order of priority and uncompleted tasks can be passed forward. The program can also link calendar entries to communications technology so that users can receive meeting reminders via pagers or on-screen messages.

The scheduling functions of Sidekick 97 can also coordinate meetings across time zones and, if the meeting requires rescheduling, all relevant details can be altered by dragging and dropping an icon.

Designed to complement paper-based organisers, Sidekick 97 can format calendars, expense reports, contracts and to-do lists. Once these have been printed out, it is suggested that the user inserts them into a paper-based organiser.

A feature of Sidekick 97's contract files is that they allow instant access to background information. The storage space and search methods provided allow users to keep track of information including meeting notes and activity logs. This information is linked to both the scheduling and communications facilities so that it is on hand when required.

Mailing lists are updated and maintained because Sidekick 97 automatically integrates with existing e-mail address books and imports information from other directories.

Sidekick 97 requires Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0, an IBM compatible 486 or better, 8Mb RAM, 12Mb free disk space, CD-ROM drive and a 32-bit Web browser for URLs.

The RRP is $89.95

Marketing Results

Tel (02) 9899 5888 Fax (02) 9899 5728

ER Mapper 5.5

Earth Resource Mapping has just released ER Mapper 5.5. The company claims that the software makes data more realistic and easy to interpret; provides full 3D functionality on all supported platforms (Windows NT, Windows 95, Sun Solaris and SGI Irix); displays multiple surfaces in 3D; and prepares and prints photo-realistic images, even on small machines.

Other features include contour generation, enhanced map composition function, and Wizards which automate frequently used processes.

An example of the display of multiple surfaces in 3D has been given by Stuart Nixon, president of Earth Resource Mapping: "Telecommunications companies use ER Mapper 5.5 to show cellular phone network signal strength as a transparent surface over aerial photo images, to see where phone services need to be improved." Other industries where ER Mapper has proved useful include Agriculture, Defence, Mining, Oil and Gas and Urban Planning. By integrating imagery and vector GIS data in 3D, users are able to create 3D presentations that show interactions between different data.

The data importing tools include automatic image, mosaicing, unlimited file sizes, and vector and image merging. The data enhancement tool includes colour balancing, identification of areas of interest, detection of changes, updating of GIS data, and the analysing of data using ratios and other formulas. In order to compose professional maps, the software combines GIS and CAD data with a raster backdrop. It uses drag and drop map tools, and includes data from Autodesk World, ARC/INFO, Geosoft, and MapInfo. The RRP of ER Mapper 5.5 is $4800 and includes one year free maintenance and support.

Earth Resource Mapping

Tel (08) 9388 2900 Fax (08) 9388 2901

M.Y.O.B.

The M.Y.O.B. family of accounting software caters for business rather than personal finance systems. Tony Stevenson, marketing communications manager of Data-Tech Software told Australian Reseller News: "our whole focus is on developing and publishing business-specific software designed to help businesses maximise their chance of success." He adds that "we're seeing an increasing misuse of personal finance software to run a business . . . mainly because personal finance software is either given away with the system or is very cheap".

There are several features common to each product in the M.Y.O.B. range. The software is made in Australia for Australian businesses, significant because accounting and business requirements vary greatly between countries. As the business grows, M.Y.O.B. software has a package which will suit its size. The progression is from M.Y.O.B. First Accounts, to M.Y.O.B. Accounting and eventually to the new multi-user product, M.Y.O.B. Premier Accounting. All M.Y.O.B. products are designed both for the user and their accountant. This is possible through M.Y.O.B. Accountant Link.

The family of M.Y.O.B. products is supported in Australia by Data-Tech Software, the support includes 60 days of Introductory Support. Beyond that time, the company offers a range of Extended Support Plans ($165 for M.Y.O.B. Accounting), which include: Access to support specialists via a free call 1800 number; All software maintenance including new versions and tax table updates; ESP Bulletin, which is a quarterly newsletter designed to help users make the most of the software in their business.

In addition there is a nationwide network of accountants, consultants and training centres which specialise in helping businesses tailor the software to their needs.

The products in the M.Y.O.B. Family include:l M.Y.O.B. First Accounts, which is designed for startup businesses and very small businesses. The package has a complete range of financial and management reports and has an ESP of $199. The current version, number two, was released in March 1997.l M.Y.O.B. Accounting is designed for a wide range of businesses including those which need a powerful inventory and order-processing system. M.Y.O.B. Accounting handles back-ordering of stock and provides more reports and analyses than M.Y.O.B. First Accounts. The ESP is $399 and version seven will be released in July 1997.l M.Y.O.B. Accounting with Payroll includes all the features of M.Y.O.B. Accounting plus a fully integrated payroll. As soon as the payroll is processed, all related parts of the user's accounting system are instantly updated. The software produces plain paper group certificates and banking files for direct payment of employees. The ESP is $525 and version seven will be released in July 1997.

These three software packages are available for Windows and MacOS.

Data-Tech Software

Tel 1800 555 007 Fax (02) 9770 9088

E-mail: info@datatech.com.au

And at long last . . . it's here

Multi-user M.Y.O.B!

M.Y.O.B. Premier Accounting is a multi-user accounting system that has all the features of M.Y.O.B. Accounting with Payroll and provides simultaneous access for multiple simultaneous users. M.Y.O.B. Premier provides real-time updating of accounts. Rather than requiring users to enter transactions in batches and periodically post the batches to update the system, with M.Y.O.B. Premier, the instant a transaction is entered the rest of the system is updated. M.Y.O.B. Premier includes three users but more can be added at any time. The estimated street price is $999 and version 1 for Windows will be released in July 1997. (MacOS in August 1997).

Heat 3.5

Bendata, an Astea International company, has announced the release of Heat 3.5, help desk software which documents how well help desks meet their Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Heat 3.5's activity log collects every piece of problem-resolution information to create a detailed account of activities and the time it took to resolve problems. The detailed information obtained also lets help-desk providers proactively improve their service by identifying problem areas and making adjustments.

The new release includes such features as improved search functions in its First Level Support search engine and through new customised templates, which Bendata claims make problem resolution faster and easier. Other communications features which have been included are telephony and Internet links, and SMTP e-mail and integration with the HP OpenView network management console.

Heat 3.5 documents each activity technicians perform for a customer and captures downtime, such as time spent waiting for customer call-backs, from the time they open a trouble ticket until they resolve a problem. If customers question whether the help desk is providing the level of service they agreed to, the help desk manager can easily research the activities in question to determine if they met the SLA, and print reports to show the customer.

Using the new activity log feature to collect all information on each trouble ticket, the product automatically generates the name of the person who opened the ticket, the activities technicians performed while the ticket was open, and the total time taken for resolution of the problem.

In addition, Heat 3.5 provides a field where technicians note whether the time they spent on an activity was billable or non-billable time - for example, an activity could be "billable research time". The activity log also provides detail about the total person-hours spent to resolve an issue; average research time each technician spent resolving a call; and the number of activities tracked for different call types. Of further assistance to ensure that help desk providers meet their SLA goals, Heat 3.5 shows help desk staff the service level a customer is entitled to as soon as they call in with a problem, enabling them to determine how to handle the call.

Greater flexibility has been built into the new release via templates designed specifically for the retail, manufacturing and government markets. These templates provide help desks with a set of screens where they can track industry-specific issues, allowing them to immediately begin tracking problems most common to their customers.

Bendata has also made it faster to search the HEAT Telephony Manager by providing a Windows interface to the organisation's telephone system. It also reduces response time and increases productivity by providing service reps with key customer information on every incoming call that is routed to their help desk.

HEATLink to the Internet enables customers to open, close and update call tickets over the Internet using any Web browser. It also facilitates the creation and deployment of Web pages through a user-friendly tool that includes HTML templates and a template wizard.

HEAT 3.5 and Heat Telephony manager are available now. Support for Sybase System 11 and Oracle are also available.

The RRP for HEAT starts at $3000 per seat. HEAT Telephony manager is priced at $6250 for a ten-user system, and HEATLink to the Internet is priced at $12,000.

For further information, contact Claire Larsen.

Astea International,Australia

Tel (02) 9436 0855 Fax (02) 9436 0823

E-mail: claire@astea.com.au

Aviva AutoScript

Aviva AutoScript has been released by Eicon Technology as "a powerful tool that automatically generates GUI versions of legacy host screens and application navigation code for fast integration with a 32-bit client/server development tool".

Aviva AutoScript works in conjunction with Aviva Mainframe 7.20, Eicon Technology's PC-to-host connectivity solution for Windows NT and Windows 95.

By turning on Aviva AutoScript and navigating through the host system, corporate developers can, in a single pass, generate host navigation code and create GUI versions of host application screens automatically. AutoScript generates a Visual Basic project from which the developer can further customise the front-end application.

Additional value to host-access applications is provided as AutoScript enables companies to modify how users interact with mainframe data. Multiple host screens can automatically be combined into a single graphical screen. Using a variety of development tools, companies can re-engineer their applications from the client end by changing workflow, without making any changes to the host side.

Available now, Aviva AutoScript is priced at $1535; Visual Basic applications developed with AutoScript can be distributed without paying any run-time fees, but require a copy of Aviva Mainframe Edition to establish the connection to the host.

Eicon Technology

Tel (02) 9919 7200 Fax (02) 9929 6300

Info: www.eicon.com


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