Infor Upgrades XA with Query, Inventory Enhancements
September 30, 2008 Alex Woodie
Infor last week delivered a new release of ERP XA (formerly MAPICS), version 7.8, that brings enhancements in the areas of inventory management and query and reporting. Support for advanced shipping notices (ASN) will enable XA shops to extend their inventory visibility beyond just what’s in the warehouse, while improvements in the product’s SQL query engine should speed the delivery of reports.
Much of the acceleration in executing queries in ERP XA version 7.8 will result from support for the SQL Query Engine (SQE) that IBM has been building into its i operating system (OS) since OS/400 V5R3. The SQE achieves speed gains through several mechanisms, including utilization of statistics to make better choices when executing a query, and use of lightweight memory-resident structures instead of temporary indexes, among other techniques.
Users will also be presented with more usable information in XA 7.8. With this release, the ERP system will automatically update financial-related reports by type. So if the user is analyzing accounts receivable or general ledger, the report will automatically be categorized for them, eliminating the need to look up the transaction category, as users had to do with previous releases. Similarly, Infor says it has implemented a “companion field” that updates the currency decimal point for various foreign monies, which also eliminates a step.
XA users can drive more efficiency into their supply chain operations thanks to support for ASN in version 7.8. With ASN (which Infor erroneously referred to as “abstract syntax notation” in its initial announcement), XA will be able to track all inventory and record it as an asset, regardless of whether it’s in a warehouse or in transit to a warehouse or a customer. Previously, the ERP system only counted assets in the warehouse, which provided a less-than-complete view of a company’s inventory.
Another new feature in version 7.8 is a product upgrade analyzer that will identify customizations that may need extra attention during an ERP upgrade. The new release also includes new administrative capabilities that allow IT administrators to shift workloads among servers, send messages to users, and route user log-ons to underutilized servers.
ERP XA is a System i-based ERP application designed for discrete manufacturers with mixed-mode processes. The software supports the latest just in time (JIT) and Kanban manufacturing techniques, and has about 4,000 customers around the world.
Infor acquired MAPICS in January 2005, following acquisitions of Lilly Software Associates, Daly.commerce, and BRAIN. The MAPICS acquisition was Infor’s biggest, but was trumped a year and a half later, when Infor bought its rival ERP consolidator, SSA Global and became, by far, the biggest provider of ERP software for the OS/400 platform.
Today, much of the work on all of Infor’s i OS ERP product suites is conducted en masse out of an Infor lab called the “System i Center of Excellence.” This lab, which ( a year ago), was headed by former MAPICS developer Robert Russell, covers all of Infor’s i OS-based applications, including Infor CRM AutoRelease, Infor ERP A+, Infor ERP Infinium MM/PM, Infor ERP KBM, Infor ERP LX, Infor ERP PRISM, Infor ERP PRMS, Infor ERP System 21, Infor ERP XA, Infor ERP Xpert, Infor FMS Anael, Infor HCM Anael, and Infor HCM Infinium.
The next delivery out of this lab could likely be a new release of the former BPCS product line, ERP LX version 8.3 feature pack 3, which had previously been scheduled for delivery in November.