Pronto Xi-The ERP from “Down Under” Becomes TEC Certified

Introduction to Pronto Software
I’m pleased to say that the certification for the PRONTO-Xi enterprise resource planning (ERP) system has been completed by TEC’s analyst team. Here I’d like to share my impression and some conclusions regarding this system with you.

This past week we had the pleasure of receiving Pronto as guests at TEC’s offices. Both Terry Leister, VP North America, and Jayd Blunden, Senior Business Consultant at Pronto Software were here for the certification meeting. I really appreciate the fact that they made the long trip from Australia to Canada to meet the analysts and show us their impressive system.

Pronto Software is an integrated solution provider, known mostly in Australia (where they are based), as well as in the South Asia region. They are currently putting a lot of effort into becoming more recognized and successful in the North American market. The company has catered to the midsized ERP market for over 30 years and undoubtedly has a deep and clear understanding of their over 1,500 customers’ business needs and challenges. Pronto Software defines its major clients as manufacturing, importer distributors, integrated retailers, facilities and service companies, mining, and mining supply companies.

Product Strengths and Challenges
In order to define the solution’s features—in other words, its strong aspects as well as its weaker points—I used the information that I obtained during the demo meeting as well as the data from the request for information (RFI) that was completed by Pronto. I also used TEC’s eBestMatch™ decision support system (DSS), which can be used by anyone looking to do a similar exercise for any enterprise software selection project.

Among the functionality of the Pronto Xi ERP system, I would like to highlight the following:

  • I personally liked the user interface logic that the system is based on, where the user has a variety of information readily available on the screen—in real time. In combination with online queries, screens, reports, and drill-down and screen customization capabilities, it gives users the ability to adjust and shape work spaces, concentrate on business tasks, and reduce the number of input errors. The screen customization allows you to change, modify, add, or hide screen prompts, fields, grids and buttons, and even create user-defined buttons.

  • Pronto Software is a single-source supplier. This means that they provide a single code application, and no integration is required for the most typical business processes: the customer does not need to purchase and install additional third-party programs. The company offers additional partner applications—mostly for business intelligence (BI) using Panorama—and interfacing with other systems. All other modules are an inherent part of the system and can be easily turned on and off as needed.

  • Another interesting aspect of Pronto’s Xi product is its scalability. The system can be successfully used by small businesses with very few workstations, as well as by relatively large corporations with thousands of users and an extended number of business processes and procedures. The system is scalable and stable enough to serve organizations with more than 2,000 users.

  • Pronto Xi software can be delivered to the customer through traditional installation or through the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. The vendor offers Pronto Hosted Services that provide multi-site hosting and management facility with data mirroring and replications.

  • Pronto Xi ERP also contains a robust and powerful point-of-sale (POS) module for retailers and distributors. The rating scores for the functionalities of this module in our eBestMatch system were high; which most definitely shows that Pronto Xi has the ability to compete with the best POS systems on the market.

  • Alert intelligence and task intelligence features are also provided with this system. These are tools that can be used for interactive communication with your ERP system. The system is smart enough to generate short message service (SMS) and pop-up messages, send a fax or e-mail, run a process, and launch an application based on particular events or important task milestones. It’s totally up to the user to define them. It can be used—for instance—to e-mail your customer when the order is ready to be shipped, or it can SMS the inventory manager to alert him/her that a particular item is out of stock and needs to be reordered.

  • With standard auditing capability, the system allows users to track changes that have been made to any field or piece of information within the entire system. The “what,” “when,” “where,” and “by whom” types of questions can be easily answered.

In spite of all the software’s features and advantages, I found a few areas where Pronto Xi’s capabilities were not as robust as its competitors in this space.

  • There are some weaknesses in the process manufacturing management module. It’s obvious that this ERP application has grown from discrete manufacturing (where I feel it is undoubtedly strong in functionality) and based on Pronto’s response to our RFI, some specific business processes particular to continuous type of process manufacturing are not supported by default, and might require customization, modification, or—in the case of by-products or co-products tracking for defined tasks—“workarounds.” In other words, the application can support these business processes, but it does not do so “natively,” i.e., some user manipulations within other sets of functionality may be required. A similar approach may be required for dynamic recipe adjustment based on the actual characteristics of ingredients, yield calculation, multiple process models for the same item, circular bill of materials (BOM). The good news for potential customers considering Pronto Xi ERP is that this hasn’t stopped other process manufacturers from using the product, and Pronto has experienced many successful system implementation examples in the pharmaceutical and chemical verticals, food processing, and other mixed-mode or process industries.

  • The overall rating for the human resource (HR) module was lower due to a relatively weaker employee self-service functionality. This functionality ideally allows employees to view pay stubs and review and maintain own personal information, such as name, address, benefits related to a life event, tax filing status, number of exemptions, dependents and beneficiaries, etc. This is supposed to be offered in future releases but for now it may not be the best choice if self-service functionality is a critical priority for your company. Other than the self-service area of HR, Pronto demonstrated HR ratings that left the mixed-mode ERP average far behind.

  • The company focuses mainly on the Australian, New Zealand, South-East Asia, and North American markets. As such, the system is translated into French and Spanish languages only. This might be an issue if you are planning to use your ERP system in countries where users speak other languages.

The contribution analysis graph below shows that in most business areas, Pronto’s Xi system rates higher than average by the industry benchmark. The only exceptions—as I mentioned earlier—are human resources and process manufacturing management areas—where the ratings are slightly lower than the industry benchmark.


Figure 1: contribution analysis graph [click thumbnail to enlarge]

Pronto Software positions its ERP product as a system for midsize to large organizations with total number of employees from 1 to 10,000 and more. Based on what I saw during the product demonstration, and on the level of support information I obtained from Pronto’s RFI, I consider this product to be well established and reliable, and in some cases can be considered a lower cost alternative to tier 1 suppliers.
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