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SouthWare Innovations, Inc. — SouthWare Excellence Series

From the December 2005 Review of High-End
Accounting Software

SouthWare Excellence Series offers over 30 modules, submodules and other tools
in an integrated suite of financial and business management applications. Revision
11 introduces a role-based user interface option, a Warehouse Tracking module,
and enhanced data mining and query capabilities. SouthWare features its platform-independent
foundation for all modules, which can be installed on numerous operating systems,
including Windows, Linux, UNIX, AIX and others.

Modules Available/Scalability – 4 Stars
SouthWare’s modules fall into eight major categories: Financial Series,
Inventory/Sales, Service Management Series, Executive Information Systems, Tools,
CRM+, E-Business, and System Management. Core accounting modules include Payroll,
AR, AP, GL, Fixed Assets, Collections, AR Invoicing, International Transactions,
Cash Flow Ledger, Inventory Control, POS, Order Entry, Purchasing, Assembly
Work Orders, Rental Department, Return Authorizations, Job Cost, Warehouse Tracking,
Service Invoicing, Contract Management, Service Orders, and Equipment Servicing.
Ancillary modules include ExecuMate II, ExcelReport, ReportMate, ImportMate
II, Extended Data, SouthWare Forms, SouthWare WorkFlow, DocTransfer, TaskWise,
SalesMark, SouthWare NetLink, Intranet NetLink, and SwiftMate.

The new Warehouse Tracking module enhances the Inventory and Sales modules
by adding multi-bin tracking and warehouse transactions to the information already
tracked in these applications. While warehouse records are kept separate from
stock and order information, you can get supporting warehouse details from the
information in inventory and sales. This includes the capability to track items
by storage ID or bin, use both fixed (bins, slots) and movable (pallets, license
plates) storage IDs, know which items are in a storage ID, store a stock item
in multiple storage IDs, plan and track the movement of items between storage
locations, and maintain warehouse details of tracking and serial numbers.

By default, SouthWare uses the Acucorp Vision database structure, which is
a multi-user Indexed Sequential Access Method (ISAM) format utilizing simple
file/server technology. The system can also be configured for true client/server
computing using the AcuServer product, which can support database hosting on
Windows NT, Windows 95, UNIX, and even DOS TCP/IP servers. With this configuration,
the client machine works in conjunction with a memory resident program that
runs on the server to process requests for data, which cuts down on network
traffic and provides a more efficient computing environment when there are many
concurrent users. Of course, all of this is transparent to the end user.

Ease of Use/Transaction Entry – 4 Stars
SouthWare’s main user interface screen consists of a drop-down menu system,
an icon toolbar and a desktop workspace that can be used in three different
modes: standard menu, tree menu or browser menu. The standard menu is the program’s
“classic” navigator-style menu, with buttons for each of the primary
modules and a shortcut textbox where you can type in keywords to quickly jump
to the desired input screen or report function. The tree menu is a collapsible
menu system that provides access to all modules either by type of processing
or by application. This provides a concise way to see all modules in an organized
drill-down interface.

Revision 11 adds yet another interface option that customizes the environment
for the user’s role. This new role-based interface uses the term persona
to define the characteristics of a particular class of user, such as CEO, CFO,
Auditor, Buyer, GL Operator, Service Manager, and so forth.

A persona is a fictitious personality intended to represent a user performing
a particular role. It defines that person’s job responsibilities, information
needs, and modules and features used. Closely related, a “portal”
is simply a customized set of HTML/web pages that provide quick access to the
information and applications that person would typically need to accomplish
their particular job function. Although theoretically these portals could be
customized, SouthWare provides an adequate number of built-in definitions to
satisfy the typical organizational structure. For example, the Executive Portal
provides a page with tabs for Tasks, News, Financial, Sales, Service, Alerts
and Goals. Each of these tabs displays real-time summarized information for
various aspects of the company like Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Orders
and Invoices. The screen also contains shortcuts to reports and data-entry screens
that would typically be used by someone in that role.

The Navigate Pane is another new interface enhancement that is designed to
enhance user productivity by providing a pop-up window with links to things
such as Company News, the TaskWise task management module, Recent Menu selections,
Recent Activity and program Breakout status. A primary function of the Navigate
Pane is to provide a simple, easy way to open additional programs in their own
windows. This Multi-Window workspace provides easy access to a variety of functions,
which can be loaded and available in their own workspace for use as needed.

This is helpful to a user who needs to be able to quickly move between any
number of programs such as contact management, order entry, quote entry and
stock status inquiry. “Breakout” is a feature of the program that
lets you suspend program activity in one area to temporarily perform another
task such as customer lookup.

The actual data-entry screens underlying the new menu interface have not changed
much from previous versions of the program, and are looking somewhat antiquated
by comparison. SouthWare’s data-entry screens have a very rigid validation
sequence that pretty much forces you to hit Enter from top to bottom in order
to validate each field. While field validation is an expected function of any
data-entry screen, it would be nice if the screens allowed a little more flexibility
without locking the user into each succeeding field.

Customization/Security – 4 Stars
SouthWare provides a number of tools and modules to address users’ needs
to customize many aspects of the program. The Extended Data application allows
the company to add new data fields to the standard SouthWare files for storing
specialized information, such as phone numbers, stock information, equipment
information, or shipping and credit information. SouthWare Forms lets you create
alternate formats for standard forms available within the program. For example,
you can customize invoices, service order forms, purchase orders, quotes or
payroll checks.

Security is handled through the SwiftMate module, which allows you to configure
security per operator and per product. It also provides an option to provide
selective customized security. Menus change to match the security level defined
for each user, which prevents the user from accessing items that are not authorized.

Integration/Import/Export – 4 Stars
By using the ImportMate II module, information can be imported into SouthWare
modules from *.XML, comma-delimited, *.DIF, and fixed-length ASCII files. The
module provides validation testing and error reporting prior to updating actual
database records. ImportMate II can be used for a wide variety of tasks including
accounting system conversion, inventory pricing updates, adding new stock items
from a vendor price guide, creating physical inventory transactions from an
electronic hand-held count device, and importing bank transaction clearing details.

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is provided through the DocTransfer and NetLink
modules. DocTransfer is used for the exchange (import and export) of electronic
purchase orders, invoices, and customer orders. NetLink provides controlled
browser-based access to company data files, including shopping cart, price lookup,
and account balance information and can, with proper security, provide valuable
information via the Internet to employees, customers and vendors.

Reporting – 5 Stars
ReportMate is a powerful tool for creating customized report formats. By defining
report headings, fields, ranges, sorts, selection criteria, and other attributes,
you are limited only by your needs and imagination. Any custom report can be
output to printer, *.PDF, screen or file. Various file types are available for
export, including HTML, *.DIF, *.XML, or fixed-length text. A “GridView”
lets you turn a report into a spreadsheet-style grid for quick summarized on-screen
review of selected database records with optional editing capability.

Support/Training/Help System – 5 Stars
SouthWare Excellence modules come with online context-sensitive documentation
that is accessible throughout the program. The company works with a network
of sales partners for the installation and training function.

Relative Value – 4 Stars
SouthWare capitalizes on flexibility and customizability. Modules address a
wide range of businesses and users, from service organizations to manufacturers.
The SouthWare suite continues to be enhanced to meet new technological needs
such as electronic document interchange and remote browser-based access to key
information. This program has a long history and carries with it some of the
legacy baggage from years gone by, which affirms the vendor’s commitment
to enabling its existing customers to continue to use the system as they’ve
always used it or adopt the newer standards. SouthWare will be primarily attractive
to those businesses seeking systems that are full-featured, portable, flexible
and attractively priced.

2005 Overall Rating – 4.5 Stars