Automating the Back Office

NetLedger, Microsoft aim updates at smaller firms.

NetLedger Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are each aiming to streamline back-office processes for small and midsize companies with business automation software upgrades.

NetLedger, which develops the software for Oracle Corp.s Small Business Suite, last week rolled out an enterprise resource planning offering called NetERP that combines back-office and e-commerce processes.

Sold as a hosted service, NetERP integrates financial management functionalities with order integration. It also ties inventory and procurement business process automation to automatic Web site generation.

The features let users extend back-office data, such as inventory availability, and processes to generate business-to-business Web sites, as well as employee and partner portals. Because of its back-office link, NetERP enables companies to configure a B2B Web site that provides customer-specific price levels and catalogs item availability based on actual inventory status, said officials, in San Mateo, Calif.

RLE Technologies Inc. has considered creating a separate B2B Web site but found the process cost-prohibitive, said MIS Director Matthew Lane. But the Fort Collins, Colo., company, which recently switched to NetLedger products, now is deploying NetERP to create a Web store, as well as for order processing and other back-office tasks.

"The nice part of NetERP is you enter in your products anyway in order to be able to process quotes, sales orders and invoice processing, and it takes all that information and dumps it into a Web site for you," said Lane. "Everything you do in [NetERP] is reflected in the store, so it cuts down on our processes a lot. We dont have multiple people doing multiple tasks that go to the same view."

Meanwhile, Microsoft Business Solutions-Navision 3.7, which Microsoft will announce this week, offers enhancements in financial management, supply chain management, customer relationship management and e-business, said officials, in Redmond, Wash.

In an effort to serve some vertical industries, Navision 3.7 will provide more flexible warehousing functionality with four new modules, as well as two new, less complex versions of the current Warehouse Systems Management module. Some application interfaces have been redesigned to make them simpler to use, and forms have been updated to make them more logical, officials said.