An upgrade to Oracle Corp.s Small Business Suite, announced last week, brings the software up to speed with the companys E-Business Suite for large enterprises in its ability to give executives a sharper picture of a companys financial state.
SBS 7.7, unveiled at Oracles AppsWorld user conference here, features a new Executive Dashboard that is a configurable console that presents executives with real-time metrics regarding their company.
Executive Dashboard is Oracles small-business version of the Daily Business Close feature in the Redwood Shores, Calif., companys full-scale E-Business Suite, officials said.
Daily Business Close, which was also discussed here but is not yet widely available, allows managers to view key business facts on a daily basis. Close information includes performance metrics, financial ratios, profit-and-loss summaries, and other indicators that roll up across all application models.
The dashboard for small and midsize businesses includes Snapshots, which can deliver real-time data to desktops. For example, a chief financial officer can have the top five sales representatives in a company displayed with daily bank balances, top expenses and open business deals. SBS 7.7 also provides graphical charts showing a top-five or top-10 list of items that the user can choose to view based on 15 metrics. Users can create custom searches of any data thats in the system and have that information displayed on a home page as a Snapshot, according to officials at NetLedger Inc., the developer that supplies the technology for Oracles SBS.
Comparative Snapshots is a new feature that allows users to compare last months numbers—sales by region, for example—with current numbers.
Dashboard information can be sent to mobile users via e-mail for frequent updates. Specific circumstances can be highlighted, for example, if payables exceed a certain amount.
Some metrics were available previously on the home page of Small Business Suite, but with the latest upgrade, the dashboard has been broken out.
Dan Corbett, who is implementing Oracle applications, said the benefits of the Dashboard or the Daily Business Close feature outweigh the drawbacks.
"Were currently using a mainframe," said Corbett, manager of accounts payable at Lockheed Martin Corp., in Schenectady, N.Y. "A dashboard is more user-centric. The drawback is that in a production environment with the mainframe users the way they were trained, theyre using a dumb terminal. [Moving to a dashboard] is a change for them. There will be growing pains and a learning curve [but] with all things considered, a dashboard is worth it."
Pricing for SBS 7.7 starts at $1,200 for a single user for a year and is $600 for each additional user.