Lawson Updates M3 Suite of ERP Apps for i/OS
February 23, 2010 Alex Woodie
Lawson Software last week unveiled version 10.1 of M3, a Java-based ERP system for manufacturers and distributors that has traditionally been deployed on IBM System i servers. Lawson claims to have made more than 600 functional enhancements, including many desktop-oriented features aimed at improving the user experience. But version 10.1 also includes a lot of process-oriented enhancements, such as improvements to bulk ordering and demand planning, which are designed to save money and improve efficiency.
At the top of the new product heap are new search and user interface enhancements. Lawson says it has improved the Smart Office interface, the Microsoft .NET-based framework introduced two years ago that enables users to access a range of Lawson applications (including ERP, collaboration, business intelligence, and portals) from within MS Office applications, such as Outlook or Excel.
With M3 version 10.1, Lawson gives Smart Client users the capability to create bookmarks that they can send to colleagues via e-mail or Instant Messaging chat. Lawson says the feature works similar to social networking sites (like Facebook) and will enable a “faster, more collaborative working process.”
The St. Paul, Minnesota-based software vendor also brought Enterprise Search to M3. Enterprise Search–the “Google-style” search function that lets users search against structured and unstructured data residing in their Lawson systems and elsewhere–was rolled out by Lawson at its user conference last year, but only for users of S3, its other major ERP product line. Now all of Lawson’s customers can use Enterprise Search.
But version 10.1 brings plenty of enhancements to the back-office, the warehouse, and beyond. For example, Lawson added a new package management functionality that’s designed to streamline the handling and tracking of packages, including eliminating the need for workers to re-package and re-label packages when boxes are placed within other boxes or packages.
Lawson also added new demand planning and forecasting capabilities to M3 10.1. With this release, forecast calculations can be made directly in the demand planner, which features new views, charts, and graphs. Also, a new audit trail in the demand planner makes it easier to see when forecasts change, which Lawson says will make it easier to optimize inventory.
Suppliers buying from customers will benefit from new bulk order management capabilities in M3 10.1. Lawson says this feature will enable the call-off, or distribution order, trigger process to take place more smoothly and efficiently, whether manual or EDI processes are used. Warehouses running M3 10.1 also gain the capability to re-group advanced orders as soon as accurate supply and inventory information becomes available, which Lawson says will make warehouse activities more efficient.
Support for “catch weights,” or the difference in weight of variably-sized products in the meat, poultry, and dairy industries, will enable M3 customers in these industries to more accurately track catch weight and pricing information across the supply chain. Lawson has also expanded the lot number and related fields to 20 characters, which will allow customers to abide by new global supply chain standards.
Lawson also bolstered M3’s financial software with new capabilities to sort and filter AR and AP information in user-definable ways, eliminating the need for special reports and software modifications.
Lawson also used the M3 10.1 roll-out to introduce a specialized version of M3 designed specifically for the clothing and apparel industry. Lawson for Fashion, as the new product is known, joins several other specialized versions of M3, including Lawson Food & Beverage, Lawson Equipment Service Management & Rental (ESM&R), and Lawson for Wholesale Distribution. Previously, Lawson offered a QuickStep product for the clothing industry.
A number of other new capabilities were also introduced for each of the major industries served by the software. To see lists of these enhancements, go to www.lawson.com/wcw.nsf/pub/m3_101.