Suite Puts Manufacturers on the Web

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2001-01-29

Small manufacturers looking to serve customers that want to do business via the Internet will soon have a Web-based suite of e-commerce tools from Inc. and Intacct Corp., which plan to marry their respective manufacturing and accounting technologies.

The unnamed bundle, to be sold as a hosted service to companies with less than $50 million in annual revenue, will include manufacturing, sales order management and e-business functionality from Apps4biz, as well as general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, human resources and auditing modules from Intacct, of Los Gatos, Calif.

The integration of the combined products with a Web-based platform using Extensible Markup Language should be completed by the end of next quarter, according to officials at Apps4biz, of Andover, Mass.

"If youre a small manufacturer today, where 80 percent of business comes from one or two customers, and those customers demand that their suppliers deal with them in a certain manner or provide information electronically, the small manufacturer has no choice but to comply," said Mory Bahar, Apps4bizs CEO.

But, Bahar said, small manufacturers have to automate their internal processes before they can transact e-business with buyers.

New England Molders Inc., a provider of custom injection moldings for the medical, automotive, consumer and electronics industries, is beta testing Apps4bizs namesake manufacturing application. Joan Holmes, chief financial officer and co-owner of the company, based in Shrewsbury, Mass., said she is "anxiously awaiting the final version of the software.

"It is a definite must to have an accounting package integrated [into our manufacturing app]," Holmes said. "It saves a lot of duplication work. With this, it all talks to each other. We could run our entire business—top to bottom—with one application. Thats the goal."

Holmes looked at other applications but found that while there are some terrific options available, they are prohibitively expensive to small manufacturers.

While not all of New England Molders suppliers are asking for Web interfaces today, Holmes said she believes they all will be within a year.

Bahar also has bigger plans in the works.

"We will try to identify the most promising portals and create a relationship with them," Bahar said. "We will eventually offer customers the opportunity to create a buying group with that portal—buying at a larger scale."

Rocket Fuel