Exact Software--Working Diligently Towards the "One Exact" Synergy Part One: Event Summary

Event Summary

Outwardly unfazed by (although certainly aware of) a tough economic environment and its heavyweight competitors' recent initiatives—including high-profile acquisitions of direct competitors—Exact Software, a Dutch-based provider of integrated accounting, payroll, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and business process management (BPM) software solutions and a division of Exact Holding N.V. (EURONEXT: EXACT) continues to expand its products' footprints and operations worldwide and lately, with a particular emphasis on the expansion in North America. Two thousand and three was indeed a busy and transitional year for the vendor with its acquisitions of certain resellers, the subsequent opening of new US offices, and a launch of new products to the market.

Exact seems to have stayed away from the major acquisitions of competitors amid the ongoing enterprise applications "food chain frenzy" given the 2002 acquisition of Kewill's ERP software business unit that added the Max, JobBOSS, and Alliance/MFG suites to Exact's ERP assortment (see Is Enterprise Market Consolidating? Exactly!). That acquisition followed on the 2001 acquisition of Macola Technologies, Inc., which was a sort of a harbinger of the recent raging consolidation (see The Mid-Market Is Consolidating, Lo And Behold).

Recently, Exact Software stated that the company has been making significant strides in extending its market presence in North America. According to Exact's financial results for the first half of 2003, the company's North American operation now represents approximately 26 percent of total revenue for the company, which was an increase from 20 percent in 2002. Throughout 2003, Exact has continued to realize revenue growth in North America with e-Synergy, the company's BPM solution, which was introduced in late 2002.

This is Part One of a six-part note.

Part Two continues the event summary.

Parts Three, Four, and Five will discuss the market impact.

Part Six will cover challenges and make user recommendations.

e-SynergyThe BPM Solution

With a broad rather than deep functional scope, which is difficult to be pigeonholed into a single enterprise software category, e-Synergy represents an enterprise relationship management solution that integrates the functionality of traditional front-office applications into one providing employees, customers, and partners with virtually a real-time view of activity across an entire organization. e-Synergy facilitates the one time recording of data in context and links that data to all the relevant people, products, customers, workflow, and financial transactions. Because of e-Synergy's ability to align people, information, and processes across the enterprise, users of e-Synergy should be able to view the health of the entire value chain, help employees manage time more effectively, and execute business processes more efficiently. Additionally, e-Synergy features a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) compliant XML (extensible Markup Language) interface enabling integration with most legacy ERP systems.

Exact touts that because e-Synergy automatically brings together the CRM solution with the financial database and other back office databases, users should have a level of visibility into all of the processes that govern the business. Everyone from an administrative assistant to the CEO has access to the information they need to make informed business decisions with e-Synergy. It allows for the real-time management of all organizational relationships by encompassing features and functionality of human resources management (HRM); catalog, product and price management; CRM, electronic workflow; document management (DM); project management; financial management, and portals into a single web-based application. Some high-level depiction of these modules follow below:

  • In addition to offering traditional HRM features, e-HRM allows a company to maintain roles (jobs) and security levels related to employees and information crating the basis for electronic BPM.

  • e-Logistics takes care of a company's product, catalog, and price management data and enables users to share this information through an intranet as well as the Internet.

  • e-CRM centralizes access to customer and prospects information that is traditionally spread across the complete ERP system, including contracts, invoices, financial transactions, and meeting reports. A business can thus integrate customers into its service, sales, product, and financial organization to provide a true 360-degree overview of its customer base.

  • e-Workflow, in addition to offering traditional request functions, ensures electronic management of an entire organization's internal and external business processes. It is a tool for easily creating and managing the rules and procedures associated with specific business tasks.

  • e-Documents stores and manages all information and existing artifacts centrally in one database creating the basis for storing a company's data electronically.

  • e-Project manages all of an organization's project related activities and views an organization's performance from a matrix point of view, including contract information, time inputs, budgets, and people and asset allocation schedules.

  • e-Financials automates data collection at the transaction level using the Internet or an intranet. An organization can analyze its key performance indicators (KPIs) on-line from a consolidated level down to the transaction level with a few clicks of the mouse.

Mid-2003 saw Exact adding a Supplier Portal to the e-Synergy product, which already had specialized portals for employees, customers, and business partners; however, the addition of the Supplier Portal completed the set. The Supplier Portal offers companies the ability to interact with their suppliers virtually in real-time and in a variety of ways, since suppliers are integrated into the company's electronic workflow, document management (DM), and item (product) management subsystems via the portal. In addition to collaborating on product development and monitoring quality, suppliers are able to participate in many facets of the company's day-to-day operations, such as participating in projects. For example, Exact states that an International Standards Organization (ISO) certified enterprise could include its suppliers in its ISO monitoring activities by tasking them for reports and participation in audits or by logging in through the appropriate portal. Here, customers could regularly access their account information, check stock, generate quotes, reprint invoices, and expedite their orders on-line. Meanwhile, the Partner portal opens visibility to account information in the e-CRM module allowing suppliers to track the sales cycle as leads generated by the supplier are pushed through it. This alone greatly enhances the customer's sales cycle by utilizing the expertise of the suppliers throughout the process.

Most recently though, on January 5, Exact Software announced the availability of e-Mobile, a mobile-device-based application that brings real-time enterprise management capabilities to users virtually at anytime, anywhere. The application, coupled with a browser-enabled mobile device, should allow users to access a central location for monitoring, evaluating and acting on critical events in a business as they occur. This should insure consistent information across a business and the ability to make decisions based on real-time information, since users no longer need to view information "off-line," and then synchronize once they are connected again, usually upon their return to the office. Exact Software's e-Mobile is generally available for purchase from Exact Software and its certified business partners. However, it is available only for Pocket PC devices equipped with Microsoft Windows and an Internet Explorer browser, though.

This concludes Part One of a six-part note.

Part Two continues the event summary.

Parts Three, Four, and Five will discuss the market impact.

Part Six will cover challenges and make user recommendations.

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