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Epicor Software Corporation — Epicor Enterprise (Epicor Financials Suite)

From the December 2005 Review of High-End
Accounting Software

Epicor Financials Suite is part of the larger Epicor Enterprise product. Epicor
Enterprise offers industry-specific solutions for financial services, professional
services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, distribution, hospitality and entertainment,
and nonprofit entities. The Epicor Financials Suite offers strong multi-currency
and multi-company capabilities for international companies to consolidate across
companies and currencies. The latest version is a very minor upgrade from previous

Modules Available/Scalability – 5 Stars
The Epicor Financials suite is comprised of GL, AP, AR, cash management, asset
management, currency management, advanced allocations, credit & collections,
electronic funds transfer, lockbox, deferred revenue accounting, and financial
reporting. The core application, GL, allows you to define an unlimited number
of companies, account codes and up to 365 fiscal periods. AR lets you manage
national accounts and large conglomerates as a whole, while keeping track of
each individual store or subsidiary. The latest version enhanced the ability
to enter transactions between organizations and on behalf of other organizations
to be accounted for. A balance sheet and income statement can then be provided
for each organization using the built-in reporting tools.

As mentioned above, Epicor tailors its product to the industry-specific needs
of the customer. While it offers a wide variety of accounting modules, other
integrated applications can also be added, such as Supply Chain Management,
Supplier Relationship Management, Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise
Information Portals, Business Intelligence, and IT Help Desk applications. These
integrated applications allow an industry-tailored Enterprise-wide solution
based on the specific business environment.

The Epicor Enterprise suite is designed for use with Microsoft SQL Server,
which allows the application to scale from a small 10-user implementation to
hundreds of users across multiple sites. Epicor has a strong commitment to Microsoft
products and platform, with many of its future plans tied to .NET technologies.
The company feels that by optimizing its product for only one database technology,
it can build in higher performance at a lower cost.

Ease of Use/Transaction Entry – 4 Stars
The program’s user interface consists of a vertical shortcut bar, a multi-level
tree-style menu, and a desktop or work area. The shortcut bar is used to activate
the desired module, while the desktop area displays icons for that module’s
applicable Processing, Maintenance, Reports and Configuration items. The desktop
is a drill-down Explorer-style screen that takes you to the detailed screens
and reports, either by expanding the tree menu or by clicking on the folder
icon that is displayed. This is all laid out in an intuitive manner that follows
a consistent and predictable design, in spite of some novel icons used to denote
modules and applications.

Data-entry screens follow standard Windows design, with record navigation buttons,
standard drop-down menus and toolbars. There is some inconsistency within the
data-entry screens, with some screens utilizing multi-tab dialog boxes while
others use scrollbars that allow the input area to be larger than the viewable
window. A “Zoom” button on the toolbar or a double-click in a lookup
field opens a find box to query the underlying table records.

One function called the Business Intelligence Explorer provides a way to locate
and view information about customers, vendors, invoices, vouchers and other
information. Using this window, you can drill into additional detail. For example,
from a list of customers, you can query directly to that customer’s invoices
and even down to the posted transaction details. The search can be saved or
the results can be exported to Word or Excel.

Customization/Security – 4 Stars
Several features allow the user to customize the program to their preference.
The desktop can be customized by adding or deleting shortcuts to frequently
used applications. Customized desktop layouts can also be created that only
contain the specific program items for an activity such as month-end close.
This helps to organize a multi-step process as sort of a checklist for easy
reference. The desktop can also be customized using the Repository Manager to
add windows and icons to the desktop, and to create and modify desktop layouts.
Macro capabilities are also available throughout the program.

With version 7.3.6, the security for user permissions has been expanded to
allow security by user, user group, customer, vendor and account. User permissions
are assigned specifically by company and application, which allows you to vary
a user’s permissions by company. For example, a user may have access to
payroll for one company but not for another. These same permissions can now
be established for groups, which, in turn, provides flow-through permissions
to users based on group membership. ::::

Integration/Import/Export – 4 Stars
Integration is provided among the various industry and functional suites provided
by Epicor Enterprise. Epicor also works with a limited number of development
partners to provide third-party add-ons for web-based tools such as customer
queries, sales information and order entry.

The program offers an Import Manager, but I was unable to find information
or Help files on this topic. (The company noted that the Import Manager User
Guide is included on the product CD along with user guides for all modules.)
Using the Business Intelligence Explorer mentioned above, you can export data
to Microsoft Word or Excel or send it to another Epicor Business Intelligence
Explorer user by e-mail.

Reporting – 5 Stars
Reports for each module are broken down into Operational, Analytical and Listings
categories. Reports are driven by the Crystal Reports engine, all professionally
formatted for preview, printing or export to a number of formats including *.PDF,
*.CSV, *.RPT, *.DIF, Excel, HTML, ODBC, *.RTF and Word. Full report customization
is available by purchasing a third-party report writer, such as Crystal Reports.

Support/Training/Help System – 3 Stars
Support is provided through the Help system, an online knowledgebase and the
capability of chatting online with a sales rep. The company also boasts a team
of over 340 product consultants and 265 support representatives around the world.
Epicor provides an “up-front guarantee” that the cost of implementation/consulting
services will not exceed the price of the software purchased. Several seminars
and webcasts are also available. The online Help system provided within the
program is somewhat sketchy, with each module’s Help system completely
separate. This makes broad topical searches difficult, especially for areas
that may cross modules. Explanations are very brief, and “how to”
coverage is lacking.

Relative Value – 4 Stars
Epicor Financials is a comprehensive suite of powerful applications utilizing
Microsoft SQL Server, but I find that it lacks some of the maturity and stability
of a few of the competing applications. It is not a new product and should have
long overcome these deficiencies. This review was performed via an online demo
environment where I had full access to the product but where comprehensive user
guides were not included. (The company noted that version 7.3.6 includes over
14,000 pages in user guides available on the CD that can be made available to
users over a network and almost 17,000 Help topics in the software itself.)

2005 Overall Rating – 4 Stars