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An agile ERP offering for manufacturers

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Syspro has released its latest ERP software offering, Syspro 7. Aimed at the tier-2 market, it includes features which are likely to prove attractive to Australian manufacturers. Matt McDonald reports.

When it comes to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, the top tier is comfortably covered by the two big players, Oracle and SAP.

Now, most people reading this article (Australian manufacturers) are from SMEs and don’t really require the functionality (or expense) of such packages. They would be better served by a less comprehensive tier-2 product.

Syspro offers a tier-2 product for on-premise and cloud-based utilisation across manufacturing and distribution.

The latest version, Syspro 7, is in beta roll-out across Australia. Manufacturers’ Monthly caught up with Phil Duff, the company’s Founder and Global CEO; and Shaun Butler, General Manager of Syspro APAC to talk about the release.

For them, the strength of their product centres around its agility. Companies who use Syspro ERP take ownership of their ERP system. They can customise it to suit their own business and they can update and upgrade it without undue hassle.

Butler explained that Australia is a very mature market and most companies have already had one, two or three ERP products in their lifetime.

He said that in Australia the challenge for businesses “...has always been to maintain competitiveness and keep their product up to date.”

 He said that technological change is now fast and, for manufacturers, it is often technology that gives them their edge and allows them to compete internationally.

“Syspro ERP gives them agility so they can move to the next upgrade seamlessly and more often,” Butler added.

And with each upgrade, work is done to improve on its highly flexible and scalable suite of ERP solutions. So the hope is that businesses who upgrade to the latest version (Syspro 7 in this case) will experience better productivity and grow their businesses.

Butler explained, “Customers can take ownership of the system themselves without having to rely on the vendor.”

This is a significant point, because traditionally it has been the other way round. Using Syspro ERP, customers can do an update, change fields, or change screens without any interference from the vendor.

And any changes made last week or last year will be carried through when they upgrade to the new system tomorrow or next week. 

According to Duff, this agility has been the key to Syspro’s success. That agility was made possible by a key technical decision.

Duff told the story: “About 10 years ago, we made the decision to separate the database layer from what happens at the front end.... Security rules and how it interacts with database are controlled in a ‘black box’.”

“User interface is written in such a way that customers can change the entire look of the product, either using drag and drop or scripting techniques, to change the behaviour of that logic.”

According to Duff, that technical decision (along with some subsequent technical decisions) has meant that Syspro’s customers enjoy an agile, customisable product. He believes that these decisions are why the company today has a customer retention rate of about 95-98 per cent.

Syspro 7

According to Duff, Syspro’s new release brings customisation to a whole new level. 

“For me Syspro 7 has been like an amalgam of the last 10 years...we’ve been on a journey and what we’ve wanted to do is make a product that’s highly customisable,” he said.

The latest version features an enhanced user interface (UI). It is styled along the lines of Windows 8 and includes active tiles and touch capabilities. As such, those who use Syspro 7 will be able to create personalised solutions for their businesses.

To support large-scale customisation for businesses, the new UI also enables enterprise-wide modifications and themes. The new industry layouts are intended to be helpful for corporate alignment within specific vertical industries such as food, medical devices, machinery/equipment, electronics and pharmaceuticals/chemicals markets. 

Syspro 7 has also been designed with improved productivity requirements in mind.

Recognising the necessity among mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies for faster performance, capacity and volume requirements, the ERP software provides processing for higher transactional throughput whilst building on Syspro’s scalability for enterprises of all sizes. 

New mobile device platform

Syspro Espresso is a new mobile platform, which will soon be released in Australia. It allows users of Syspro ERP to access their business data in any location, at any time, for device-agnostic data collection and transaction processing.

 It is one of the first platforms of its kind to use a single source codebase to create native applications for any mobile device, with built-in powerful customisation capabilities for both the end-user and developers to engage.

It is intended to provide users with anywhere access to their business information. Its enhanced reporting capabilities are intended to ensure customisable reports are efficiently supplied anywhere, even without the need to have Syspro installed on the desktop. 

In addition, said Butler, customers will be able to design their own Apps to use with Syspro Espresso. 

“We don’t limit you to the 40 or 50 applications that come with Espresso. You can develop your own application and it doesn’t even need to be a Syspro App. It can be across the entire enterprise...it might be HR system,” he said.

What’s more, customers will be able to upload the Apps they develop onto the Syspro App Store for use by other users.

One-click installation

Syspro’s Software + Services deployment methodology enables Syspro 7 to be installed easily and remotely with just one click, and allows organisations to run Syspro ERP whilst also providing greater control over security and firewall settings across the network and/or internet.

Syspro ERP presents itself as a viable tier-2 alternative to the larger ERP software developers. According to Butler, it delivers the functionality that most people want most of the time and it is particularly suited to Australian manufacturers and distributors.

When asked if Syspro tends to lose some of its customers to those larger players, Duff answers in the negative.

“The trend is the other way round,” he said. “We’re getting more and more of their customers coming to us. The tier-1 starts to come down to tier-2 and we’ve come up...so we’re colliding at the top end of tier-2.”

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