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Lose the Starry Eyes, Analyze: Reviewing the Ideal Candidate for a Pronto Solution

Written By: josh chalifour
Published On: April 11 2003

Introduction

The Australia-based Pronto Software, was founded in 1976. It is a privately owned company with offices in both Australia and the United States. Pronto's customers around the world include companies in the chemical, food processing, electronic component manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries.

The ideal candidate for Pronto Software's ERP solution will be seeking financials, inventory, quality, and sales management features. The range of other modules Pronto offers will likewise be an important consideration—the candidate may need payroll and personnel management features, and could benefit from some other human resources functionality. The following high-level analysis of Pronto's solution will show how to begin determining whether your company's requirements make you Pronto's ideal.

Profiling Pronto's Ideal Candidate

For each high-level criterion TEC uses to analyze a product, we create several types of graphs. One type is a baseline graph. In the baseline graph, we normalize all criteria to an equal relevance, which allows you to see how a vendor's product scores on its own merit, without regard to any one module taking precedence over another. By checking the vendor's results against a normalized baseline, you clearly see the modules and functionality on which the vendor puts the most emphasis.

We adjust the baseline in the second type of graph so that it corresponds to Pronto's focus. The prioritized graphs make Pronto's strengths visibly stand out against its weaknesses.

Examining Pronto

The first graph (Figure 1) shows a baseline contribution analysis for Pronto Software. This graph takes into account all of our greater than 3,000 criteria for evaluating an ERP solution. The dotted benchmark line shows every module weighted such that the modules are equally important to the product's functionality, while the solid line shows how much each of the Pronto modules contribute to the product's functionality.

Figure 1.


From a high-level it seems Pronto provides near-equal support for each group of criteria. The two areas that appear the least well-supported are in product technology and human resources. If you were to set the benchmark as your company's requirements for a group of criteria, you could compare it with the points where Pronto's line reaches for the same criteria group. This graph however, shows scores such that each group of criteria is equally prioritized, which is not the easiest way to understand the functional areas on which the vendor is most focused and hence not the best thing use for aligning a company's needs with the vendor's focus.

A solution is to review a graph with its benchmark prioritized such that the areas the vendor supports most, become the areas that contribute the most in the graph. In the following prioritized graphs we show what the vendor supports against a benchmark we've adjusted to match the vendor's focus. This makes it easier for a company to get an overview on whether its requirements align with the product's functionality.

In the prioritized Figure 2, the differences between functional modules are more clearly differentiated.

Figure 2.

Inventory management is the highest reaching bar, while human resources is the lowest. These represent high and low poles for the degree to which each module contributes to the product. These same priorities, applied to the benchmark in Figure 3 reveal how the graph changes from its sister—the equalized baseline graph of Figure 1.

Figure 3.


Here, inventory management reaches two places away from the edge of the graph. Pronto supports all but eight of the criteria we included in the inventory management group and offers most of the others as modifications. On the other hand, the vendor supports about 64% of the human resources criteria from our inquiry. Let's take a closer look at some of these criteria to see where and to what degree Pronto is focusing its functionality.

Human Resources

Upon looking at a chart of just the human resources criteria group, it is apparent that the area Pronto least supports is the employee self-service category. Criteria for employee self-service involve mostly online features, allowing employees to change and manage personal information for benefit programs and other regular procedures. This group addresses twenty-two functions, which range from viewing pay-stub information to training histories, to the features for reviewing and submitting expenses. While Pronto does not currently support any employee self-service functionality, they've indicated they will support it in a future product release.

Figure 4.


Pronto's payroll, data warehousing, and personnel management functionality is well-rounded in supported features, with many of the areas that are not automatically supported still available through modifications. If just these three areas are the important aspects in your company's human resources requirements, Pronto's human resources module would do well supporting your needs. On the other hand, if your company must have the employee self-service functionality, it would present a problem for the Pronto solution.

Inventory Management

One of the areas in Pronto's solution that contributes the highest level of functionality to the product is the inventory management module (shown in greater detail in Figure 5).

Figure 5.


The vendor supports almost all the criteria except for the on-line requirements. The on-line requirements section shows that Pronto supports 72% of the criteria on which we requested information. On-line requirements however, only account for twenty-nine of the 192 criteria we use to analyze the inventory management module. Unless all of the on-line requirements are absolutely critical for your needs, there is little in the module that could not satisfy your inventory management requirements.

Manufacturing Management

The manufacturing management group of criteria, like the inventory management group, contributes a lot to the product's functionality. There is only one area in the manufacturing management group, project management, which clearly is a factor in reducing the module's feature-set. Pronto supports only about 20% of the criteria for project management. Although support for some criteria, such as planning simulation to resolve bottlenecks, project planning calculation, and time-phased project plans can be fulfilled through third-parties, most of the group's other criteria are slated for support in a future release.

Figure 6.

Sales Management

The sales management group of criteria deals largely with order entry and tracking. The area of sales management that contains the most criteria, concerns pricing and discounting. With over seventy supported criteria in this group, Pronto can deliver the vast majority of this functionality to its customers. Their customer service and returned goods handling, and on-line requirements support is extremely strong. Reporting and interfacing requirements are almost entirely supported, with an on-line interface for shipping arrangements, tracking, and feedback after shipping, the only exception.

Product Technology

Finally, the area other than human resources that we noted appears to contribute a lesser degree of functionality, is the product technology. The primary reason the product does not contribute much here seems to be its lack of support for application tools. Charted in figure eight, the application tools criteria reveals that Pronto supports only application management tools. Because it is possible to get support for application development tools through a third-party, that criterion still contributes some functionality. On the other hand, the vendor does not support any of the criteria included in the other two groups (process modeling and updating, and business model generation).

Figure 7.

In charting the product technology contributions we see a large contribution displayed for reporting and workflow and document management functionality. The reporting group appears higher in this particular graph because the vendor supports all of the reporting criteria, however reporting does not contain as many criteria as the architecture group. Even though the graph suggests it, in this case it may be misleading to assume that reporting is more important to the product technology category than, for example, the architecture criteria.

Figure 8.


Because the architecture group contains a large quantity of criteria in its own right, it's useful to review those criteria closely and find the areas that contribute most to its functionality. The architecture criteria group that receives most of Pronto's support includes system default parameters, such as allowing multiple printer assignments to users and allowing customized, company-specific help windows. Pronto's device interface support is basic, allowing just mouse, trackball, and keyboard interfaces. The product however is open to third-party support for barcode, guage, scanner, touchscreen, and portable data terminal devices.

Conclusion

Provided your company has little need for online human resources features, then based on the detail included in these graphs, it would be valuable to look more closely at Pronto's solutions. In particular, if your company needs product costing and customer service functionality, Pronto's inventory, sales, and manufacturing management modules will provide very high levels of support.

 
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