Hosted accounting and CRM provider NetLedger Inc. is releasing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application that offers small business clients complete integration of their back-office operations.
The product, NetERP, adds several new e-commerce capabilities to the features previously available in NetLedger's Advanced Accounting product, including a Web Store feature with personalized vendor, employee and customer centers.
San Mateo, Calif.-based NetLedger is the company that developed the Oracle Small Business Suite, having licensed the name from Oracle Corp. The NetERP application makes the company a competitor, as a well as a partner, to Oracle. With NetERP, NetLedger is targeting small and medium-sized businesses (with less than 500 users) who don't need a back-office system that is as elaborate as ones offered by Oracle or SAP.
High-quality ERP applications have traditionally only been available to large businesses with large IT budgets, said Zach Nelson, NetLedger's president and CEO.
"We're giving small companies the chance to be like Amazon.com," Nelson said. The new software includes online Web Store capabilities, as well as click-and-drag features for users, who can customize their dashboards to show only the information they need.
"There's no fragmented data," Nelson said. "It's all in one place, in a single data repository."
Karen Smith, a research director at Boston-based Aberdeen Group, said that the NetLedger
"NetLedger is really moving forward to improve the enterprise view into both the front-office and back-office data, so it comes online via the Web," she said.
Smith said she was impressed with the new application but noted that NetLedger customers won't have any offline capabilities. NetLedger will also face tough competition from San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, which has done an excellent job educating its customers, she said.
The NetERP software can be customized by users, providing them with real-time information on things such as shipping and receiving, return authorization and purchase orders.
Using his customized interface, NetLedger customer Tyler Smith, the CEO of Troy, Mich.-based Niche Retail, can tell at a glance whether he's having a good or bad day.
"It's the only software package that I've seen, without going to some of the monster companies, with multiple applications for complete integration," Smith said. "All of my employees have different access levels to the software based on their job function, and you really feel like you have a handle on what's happening with the company."
The company is a Web-based conglomeration of nine specialty shops that offer items such as jogging strollers, bicycle trailers and wrist watches. It processes about $50,000 in sales each day, Smith said. Smith has had access during the last two weeks to NetLedger's beta version of NetERP, and he said he was pleased with the software enhancements.
Smith organizes his NetLedger dashboard to include reports that show his company's top-selling item over the past 30 days and the gross sales amount over the last month, with real-time updates. Noting that some business owners might be reluctant to work with an application service provider (ASP) and have their data stored in remote servers, Smith said that he has had only two interruptions, for a few hours, over the last two years.
NetLedger chrages a start-up fee of $4,800 for NetERP, which includes two users. Each additional user can be added at a charge of $75 a month. The product is scheduled for release in September.
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