Exact Software--Working Diligently Towards the "One Exact" Synergy Part Two: Macola, the ERP and BAM Solutions

Macola ES The ERP Solution

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, 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 the acquisitions of certain resellers, subsequent opening of new US offices, and a launch of new products to the market.

In 2001, the company acquired 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 from e-Synergy, the company's BPM solution, which was introduced in late 2002. (See Part One of this note for details on e-Synergy.)

Earlier in 2003, Exact Software announced the general availability of Macola Enterprise Suite (ES), the latest version of the company's ERP solution, which goes beyond traditional ERP solutions' scope by allowing its users to define business rules, workflow, and exception alerts and events. Exact claims that with Macola ES businesses are able to define a process that allows, for example, a sales order to travel from credit approval through fulfillment without using a single piece of paper; to automatically generate a customer notification for an overdue invoice; or to generate an email alert to a sales representative if a regular customer broke his or her pattern and did not place a purchase order on a given date.

In addition, with traditional email correspondence, there are no effective tools to ensure that tasks are completed on time or as directed. To that end, Macola ES provides a "closed loop" workflow so that tasks remain visible throughout the company and sometimes by the customer until completed. In this manner, organizations should rather quickly realize the benefit of a consistent execution of business processes, thus improving interactions with customers, employees, and business partners.

This is Part Two of a six-part note.

Part One began the event summary.

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

Part Six will cover challenges and make user recommendations.

Exact Event Manager The BAM Solution

As to extend these capabilities to all of it diverse ERP product lines and beyond, mid-2003 Exact Software also announced a new addition to its expanding product portfolio Exact Event Manager, which was designed to help businesses identify early warning signs before they become full-blown problems. Unlike most other enterprise solutions that typically offer just alert messaging, workflow management, or report distribution capabilities, Exact emphasizes Event Manager is possibly the first solution to integrate all of these processes (plus the ability to monitor incoming e-mail) within a single solution. For example, when a defined exception occurs, the product can simultaneously update database records, generate, and distribute related reports and also notify key employees, partners or customers. The product is the result of a joint venture between Exact Software and Vineyardsoft Corporation given it utilizes Vineyardsoft's KnowledgeSync 2000 business activity management (BAM) engine.

Exact Event Manager addresses the challenge of not knowing about existing and potential business problems or of learning of them too late by providing a way for organizations to define and respond to critical, time-sensitive data across the entire enterprise. Exact contends that taking a proactive approach to an early warning sign is much more effective than trying to contain a situation once it becomes a full-blown problem. For instance, with Event Manager, the proper people can be notified whenever a regular customer breaks his or her traditional buying pattern, and this notification can then be delivered through an e-Synergy workflow task to a sales person for follow-up. Further escalation and notification can occur if the sales call is not made quickly, thereby increasing the likelihood of retaining a hard won customer.

To that end, Exact Event Manager is a service that runs on an organization's database file server and monitors the database for situations and events the organization has defined, and it comes with a library of pre-defined business events commonly used by businesses. Each event can be tailored to an individual company or copied and modified into new events, making the setup quick and easy. Exact claims that the early users of the product have found they resolve more situations more quickly before the situations escalate out of control. They print and analyze fewer reports, saving valuable management time and, most importantly, improve customer satisfaction.

Back-Office Integration

Late in 2002, Exact Software North America announced new back-office integration capabilities for e-Synergy by demonstrating its ability to integrate with many mid-market ERP systems such as Macola Progression Series, JobBOSS, Exact Globe 2000, and Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) Great Plains. Mid-market ERP solutions have traditionally lacked the workflow, document, and account management capabilities that allow organizations to truly view the processes that run the business in context. These premises reinforce the value proposition of Exact's product given mid-market organizations increasingly require the ability to integrate core requirements into their workflow in order to create more efficient processes.

Additionally, the disparity between the front- and back-office presents difficult challenges to maintaining efficiency across the entire organization and can negatively impact a company's ability to effectively interact with customers, employees, and business partners. Exact believes that by providing solid integration points for e-Synergy with these diverse mid-market ERP solutions, users can take advantage of capabilities not currently available in off-the-shelf packages.

To that end, mid-2003, the vendor announced the integration of its e-Synergy software with the Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics ERP product. Exact's e-Synergy interface with Dynamics ERP will provide Great Plains users with the following:

  • Access to e-Synergy's workflow and knowledge management (KM) tools for enterprise-wide collaboration

  • Access to e-Synergy's internal (employee) and external (customer, vendor, and supplier) portal technologies

  • The ability to share key corporate information, such as financials with all decision makers, more effectively

  • Broad HRM and CRM capabilities

  • An integrated view of all the activity taking place within an organization

  • Transfers, via XML, customers, vendors, items, and posted general ledger (G/L) transactions from Dynamics to e-Synergy and customer records (new and modified) back to Dynamics. This can be set up to run automatically (in batch mode) at a frequency to suit the user, depending on the volume of data, their bandwidth, and their operational need regarding the "freshness" of this data

Reseller Support

Last but not least, and to address the resellers' part of the equation, last summer Exact Software announced additional corporate support of its channel program with the launch of the Total Partner Support Plan. The plan provides qualified business partners with complete product accreditation and support as well as access to corporate lead-generation and marketing programs. The introduction of the plan follows the earlier unveiling of Exact's upgraded training programs for business partners. Since finalizing its acquisition of Macola in 2001, Exact has placed a great deal of emphasis on building the channel as it has been extending its footprint in North America.

With the launch of the Total Partner Support Plan, Exact hopes to be able to provide an end-to-end program from which business partners can confidently provide the services and support their customers need to be successful. Some of the benefits of the Total Partner Support Plan include

  • Access to corporate marketing materials

  • Pre-sales consultancy support

  • Unlimited support for business partner customer support centers

  • Unlimited education for product certification programs

  • Free access to conversion technology to upgrade customer data to new solutions

  • Product user licenses for internal use

This concludes Part Two of a six-part note.

Part One began 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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