ACCPAC has long been the victim of misplacement in the market. Its reasonable price has pinned it as a low to mid-range application, while its capabilities are better suited to the mid-range and low high-end (capable of 100 users). At the same time, the product generates some seriously sweet margins for partners, in the vicinity of 30 to 50 per cent. ACCPAC is designed to work in with all aspects of a business, and is object-oriented, so it can be tailored to the different ways people operate. Excel is embedded into the ACCPAC product, as is Crystal Reports for general reporting, and BBA for customised business processing. The product sports some phenomenal drilldown capabilities - to find further information or track a sale or product, the user simply points and clicks on the screen object. ACCPAC says many users are upgrading to the 4.2 version to utilise this tool that saves the time and frustration of trying to track a paper audit trail. The system can do 45 digits in 10 segments, making it comparable to the top-end systems. It is also multi-tier, in that the business logic is separate from the database engine, so any database can be slotted in without having to alter the logic.
JIWA contains a complete financial package with inventory, general ledger, debt and credit ledger, purchasing sales order entry and contact manager. The system's strengths are built around distribution, with the warehousing, import and export features being especially apt. One of its most sought after functionalities is its landed cost, which automates consolidated shipping, the cost of landing goods in Australia from foreign ports, deferred GST and the value of taxable import (VOTI). JIWA operates on an NT 4.0 platform, instead of trying to connect to every type of database and platform. JIWA has chosen to go with the 20/80 rule and is confident Microsoft's Sequel 7 will still be there when the dust settles. This also gives its users the familiarity of the Windows interface. For advanced features, JIWA has built adaptable modules and, recognising that businesses will want to expand beyond accounting, has ensured smooth integration with CRM packages such as Goldmine and Siebel and Spitfire advanced warehousing. The system uses MS Visual Studio to compile code, so resellers can add specialised features at the customer's request. Crystal Reports' writer is embedded and JIWA has added a "postcard" element which generates (via e-mail or fax) sales orders, debtor's statements and advanced shipping orders by a simple point and click of the mouse.
Built in 1983 by some forward-thinking distributors, Micronet has continued to nurture its strength in the export, wholesale, retail and service sectors. Inventory, multiple warehousing, barcode and serial number tracking, and part number succession come as part of the standard application rather than add-ons. The company's focus is bringing high-end functionality to the mid-range space, with the flexibility to handle 50 to 500 concurrent users, according to Micronet. The system has 500 compartmentalised switches that are used to customise the product at the installation stage. For the customer, this becomes a matter of simply ticking "yes" and "no" boxes, so the integrator can then turn on the features they want. A typical cycle for a 10-seat implementation is 10 days (one day per seat), making it a rapidly deployable solution that is fully integrated into a business' existing operating systems. Its 32-bit NT base allows it to take advantage of the customer's existing architecture. Micronet is one of the few developers seriously addressing the ASP model, rather than just saying "yes, our software has the capacity to do it in theory". It is very close to launching a working version that has been tried and tested on franchise groups.
Exonet 6 likes to refer to itself as "business software" rather than accounting software, because it offers 85 per cent of the high-end feature set and is a complete end-to-end solution. The N-tier, MS SQL-based product can handle anywhere between five and 500 users, or companies with revenue between $2 million to $100 million, although this obviously impacts the price per seat. A typical 10-seat installation takes approximately five to 10 days, according to Exonet. The developer is aggressively driving the e-business aspect, having identified this trend as the wave of the future. The product was originally developed by a company that conducted $1 million-worth of transactions online five years ago, and this focus has stuck in the redeveloped version. It seeks to integrate all parts of the business process, such as stock, general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, assets, retail and job costing, with a centralised e-commerce engine, so that a company's clients can see and interact with their own data on the Web. According to Exonet, traditional drilldown and "postcard" capabilities are a given, while the next generation involves enabling customers to see where their order is up to, track margins and print invoices independently, 24 X 7. It has also readied itself to capture the wireless wave; as well as interfacing with applications such as ACT and SalesLogix, the product transfers data between the desktop, WAP phones and PDAs.