In its latest (5.01) version of Evolution, Softline Pastel’s mid-market enterprise resource planning (ERP) offering, the company has added customer-requested functionality - such as procurement, warehousing interbranch transfers, and integration with Microsoft Outlook – to provide greater flexibility for users.
“In the process, we are expanding our market to large organisations, including government, that would not normally have considered us a player in their space,” says Pastel Evolution divisional director, Mohammed Mosam.
“Our new procurement module, for instance, gives industries such as government and mining, which tend to procure rather than sell high volume items, an affordable technology option they have not had before. Also, our solution can be implemented faster than most competitive products – and it is modular. So customers can very quickly get up and running with a powerful ERP system that gives them only the functionality they actually want.
”More importantly, perhaps, all our enhancements are not only based on requests from customers but have been tested live, in customer environments. So they have a direct and extremely practical relevance to the market. The essence of Evolution is therefore not changing. It is still geared to keeping operations and administration as simple as possible for the organisation and is now doing that in more areas of the business than ever before.”
Development of the new procurement module became necessary as larger organisations began to turn to Evolution as a more cost-effective option than those of more traditional ERP suppliers. The module automates procurement from requisition for inventory or consumables to receipt of the goods. Customers can set their own rules for authorisations and the system automatically validates all requisitions against budgets in the general ledger, generating purchase orders and good received vouchers as the workflow proceeds.
Another new feature, Warehousing Inter-branch Transfers (IBT), provides greater control of inventory while it moves from one location to another. It makes use of goods in transit ‘virtual’ warehouse and accounts for damaged goods and variances that might arise. It automatically creates documentation needed to accompany goods in transit.
A new Units of Measure feature makes the management of inventory much easier. Users can specify a buying and a selling unit and the relevant pricing per item - which is then a default at the time of processing.
For larger organisations, where high volumes of cashbook transactions have to be captured on a daily basis, a Bank Manager module allows bank statements to be downloaded from any one of South Africa’s major banks and the transactions from the statement to be automatically allocated to the correct accounts in the general ledger. The steps in the process are set as a recurring code, eliminating re-capturing of data and duplication of work for all future bank statement imports.
Additional efficiencies and streamlining of processes are enabled by the integration of Microsoft Outlook with Pastel Evolution, ensuring that everyone in the organisation can capture operational as well as financial data. “Instead of having to work in a separate package to generate documents like quotes or notes about customer interactions, users can simply continue to work in their main communication tool, Outlook, and then use the Evolution options on their screen to seamlessly link their work to the system’s financials,” Mosam says.
An Information Alerts module helps improve productivity by enabling employees to proactively manage by exception. Based on criteria set by the organisation, the system sends alerts to employees to take action when, for example, a quick selling item needs re-ordering.
Other new features include business intelligence (BI) Web reporting, which allows remote users to access and print via the Internet reports relevant to their roles in the business, and the BI OLAP module. The module is a fast, easy analysis tool that allows users to establish trends and statistics using binary cubes. The ability to slice and dice large volumes of transactional data into a familiar reporting format such as Excel gives organisations powerful insights into their operations.