Great Plains Adds Functionality to Business Apps
by Dan Burger
The Great Plains Business Solutions unit of Microsoft has announced the availability of Solomon IV Release 5.0, its midmarket suite of business management and e-business applications. The Solomon IV product family runs on various Microsoft platforms, including Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000; it also uses Microsoft's Visual Basic development language.
The latest Solomon upgrade builds upon Solomon IV Release 4.5, which was introduced in July 2001. Its primary enhancements are found in the distribution modules, with some added functionality added to the payroll capabilities.
Three new modules have been added to the sum and substance of Solomon 5.0 Advanced Distribution: Inventory Replenishment, Order to Purchase, and Landed Cost.
The Inventory Replenishment module sets inventory stocking levels and automatically purchases goods to maintain favorable customer service levels and inventory balances. It statistically tracks historical usage and vendor performance, considers average lead time, and uses this information to forecast future demand. It also allows users to override any calculated replenishment suggestions, preferred vendors, exceptional items, and other criteria that factor into the replenishment planning. Additional features within the Inventory Replenishment module include:
The Order to Purchase module enables the automatic creation of a purchase order from a sales order. The goal is to balance inventory carrying costs with customer service levels and therefore avoid stock outages when delays in fulfillment or unexpected demand occur. Order to Purchase makes this a one-step process--taking a customer order and placing a purchase order with a vendor--to fulfill stock needs. The module also allows preferred vendors to be identified based on past performance, another feature that streamlines the fulfillment process.
Order to Purchase also provides automated drop-ship processing between vendors and customers, speeding fulfillment when goods aren't on hand to satisfy incoming orders. Automated purchasing sources inventory when stocking levels are low, removing the manual effort required to fulfill commitments to customers.
Improved drop-ship management comes with the capability to identify inventory that is shipped from the warehouse when in stock and drop ship when items are out of stock.
The Landed Cost module provides tools to capture shipping, handling, and import fees (landed costs) and roll these costs into the total cost of goods. This takes into account additional costs beyond the merchandise cost of inventory incurred in purchasing items, for instance, freight and miscellaneous origin and destination charges. Those costs are subsequently represented in the valuation of the inventory.
For distributors or manufacturers who acquire goods from international suppliers when multiple currencies are involved, landed costs can also be entered in their original currency, and the Landed Cost module converts the values to the distributor's or manufacturer's base currency value. Using the bi-monetary support in inventory function, item valuations updated by landed costs can be represented in the inventory's alternate currency.
The Landed Cost module also updates inventory costs for items with valuation methods such as FIFO, LIFO, Average Cost, and Specific Identification. By automatically updating inventory values and financial ledgers according to the appropriate rules of each valuation method, after-the-fact adjusting entries are avoided.
Often, landed costs are not known at the time the goods are received because invoices are sent by the vendor at a later time. With Solomon 5.0, landed costs that aren't known at the time of receiving can be entered later in the accounts payable system and allocated across multiple purchase orders. Inventory values will be automatically updated, as will financial ledgers according to the appropriate rules of each valuation method. This reduces the manual work and reconciliation that has to be performed by the accounting department and avoids after-the-fact adjusting entries.
Additional features allow landed costs to be allocated to inventory items based on quantity, cost or weight. They can also be applied to inventory goods received for a specific project and the module will appropriately and automatically record and allocate the additional costs to the project.
Enhancements outside the distribution modules include new deduction calculation options, expanded union payroll capabilities, Web-based time entry, simplified tracking of employer benefit expenses, and multi-level security for financial reports.
Solomon IV Release 5.0 is currently available in North America with prices beginning at $4,500 for a single-user edition.
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Last Updated: 5/21/02
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