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Microsoft updates its Great Plains ERP

Arif Mohamed
Microsoft will next month announce a major upgrade to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) product line with the launch of Great Plains 8.0.

This will be followed by upgrades to its other ERP packages including Navision in October and Axapta in 2005.

Great Plains 8.0 updates the previous version, 7.5, whose UK customers include Comic Relief, Kall Kwik UK, Kinleigh, Liverpool FC and Virgin Active.

Microsoft said it made more than 120 enhancements to Great Plains, making its interface similar to Outlook, with greater ease of use and reduced training costs.

Simon Edwards, Microsoft Business Solutions UK manager, said, "We made look-and-feel, usability, functionality and integration enhancements. Our aim was to provide a familiar interface."

Edwards said typical Great Plains customers are mid-sized organisations with 50 to 1,000 employees and Microsoft has 1,600 Great Plains customers in the UK.

"Customers have chosen Great Plains for its out-of-the-box functionality, financials and integration with Microsoft software," said Edwards.

New features are serial number tracking across the supply chain, analytical accounting to replace the old complicated codes and an enhanced report writer. Users can also access key financial data from within Word and Excel.

Great Plains 8.0 will integrate with Microsoft Business Portal 2.5, available later this year, and Microsoft Office 2003. Microsoft plans to merge the three ERP products into one code-set as part of the Longhorn operating system product suite.

Industry flavours
Microsoft has improved the developer tools so its resellers can tailor Great Plains 8.0 to different industries. "Our plan is to deliver, through our partners, the expertise that matches the industry. We will build enabling technology into our products, rather than specific-industry functionality," said Simon Edwards, Microsoft Business Solutions UK manager. Scottish channel partner Evision is one reseller that has tailored Great Plains for the construction industry.

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