Company Background and Product Overview (2023)

SouthWare Excellence Series: Making Excellence Easier
Part One: Company Background and Product Overview

Featured Author - Charles Chewning Jr. - January 4, 2005

Introduction

The process of selecting mid-market accounting software usually starts with products that have achieved some name recognition, and that's fine as long as the search does not end there. SouthWare Innovations (www.southware.com) has created in its Excellence Series™ a worthy competitor serving a number of industries and offering users a surprising array of functionality, either directly as SouthWare applications or through one of their independent sales vendors (ISV).

Founded in 1984 and based in Auburn, Alabama (US), SouthWare is a relatively small company of very dedicated people (80 percent of its employees have at least twelve years seniority), which has created what may be one of the best examples of a true business management system, not just an accounting system. What may be even more important to companies of all sizes is that the Excellence Series operates on many platforms and databases, giving users the option to select the environment that best suits their technology requirements rather than forcing them to accept a single option.

Product Line Summary

The Excellence Series supports a significant number of applications, most of which complement its historical strengths in the distribution industry. However, users should not eliminate the Excellence Series simply because they are not in this single industry. In fact, the Excellence Series supports accounting, distribution, e-business, service management, rental management, and job costing out-of-the-box. Together with its third-party developers the Excellence Series also supports manufacturing and a whole host of other industry verticals.

Currently, SouthWare supports 6,000 sites in the US—it has no plans to expand internationally. The largest site supports 500 users—a cellular telephone company—with the next largest site supporting 300 users—high-end photographic equipment.

(Video) Chalk of the Town Company Background & Product Overview

While we will discuss some of SouthWare's applications in more depth a little later, let's start by summarizing what's available out-of-the-box. I have elected to segregate this list into four categories

  • Business Management Functions
  • Accounting Applications
  • Productivity Tools
  • Technology Features

The Excellence Series, and every other business management system for that matter, is not all-powerful, but it does offer advanced functionality in several areas and outstanding business management support.

Business Management Functions

  • ExecuMate II™ is a powerful executive information system that presents to executives and managers user-defined summary data (expressed numerically and graphically) that allows them to take the company's pulse. If more detailed information is required, extensive drill-down is available. The system even posts alarm warnings for key financial areas (Note: These same alarms could also generate a standard alert in TaskWise®, SouthWare's unified task, relationship management, and exception management system).
  • ExcelReport™: This unique application helps users establish both subjective and financial goals and grades progress toward achieving them. We will discuss this in more detail later.
  • TaskWise®: Combines into one application business processes such as task management, relationship management, exception management, and information sharing (collaboration). SouthWare has taken the concept of user-defined menus, which it supports, to the next logical level whereby the concept of a menu has been replaced by a completely integrated task management system that helps users carry out their jobs both more efficiently (do it cheaper) and effectively (do it better). This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Collections Adapter: Full-featured collections management application. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • AnswerReady™ is a tool that lets users set up a searchable database of topics, instructions, company policies, documents (e.g., employee handbooks), as well as questions and answers. The system has but one purpose and that is to help people do their jobs better by giving them ready access to the information they need. Users can create a table of contents to form the basic framework of the information management system, and add or modify topics (with appropriate access controls) as required.

Accounting Applications

  • General Ledger: Standard functionality.
  • Cash Flow Ledger: Bank reconciliation and powerful cash flow monitor. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Accounts Receivable: Standard functionality.
  • A/R Invoicing Adapter: Simplifies the invoicing process rather than using the more comprehensive order entry screens.
  • Accounts Payable: Payment processing that includes cash requirements reporting, invoice and vendor holds, and cash basis accounting. The application will support over 99 pay-to addresses per vendor. If there is any question about an invoice (questionable charges, total amount that exceeds a specified value, etc.), the invoice can be placed on hold automatically and handled by TaskWise, SouthWare's exception management application.
  • Purchasing: SouthWare has created a comprehensive purchasing system that is significantly more robust than other middle market accounting systems. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Order Entry: Standard functionality.
  • Inventory Control: Comprehensive inventory control including substitute items, vendor part numbers, RF receipts, and landed cost tracking. Although SouthWare provides significant functionality that relates to inventory management, these more comprehensive controls are contained in separate applications. If users require only basic inventory control, that's all they have to purchase or see.
  • Warehouse Tracking: SouthWare has adopted a unique approach to warehouse management by creating an application (November 2004 release) that offers sophisticated day-to-day controls that are actually outside the formal accounting process while at the same time maintaining full quantity and cost tracking. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Browser-based Handheld Processing: To complement its Warehouse Tracking application, SouthWare supports RF processing using handheld devices. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Item Group Matrix Adapter: Complete inventory matrix (row and column) support for clothing, lumber, landscape plants, and any other item that uses multiple units of measure per item. Users can assign their own part numbers or the system will automatically generate part numbers to fit the row and column combinations. The system will also generate different price multipliers per row or per column.
  • Marketing Catalogs: This feature allows users to group items into logical categories that can then be used to improve lookup speed, create logical ordering systems on web sites, or to improve inquiries. As an example, users can post items on web sites using multiple categories (e.g. coats / boys’ coats / winter coats / long sleeve / blue) that make the ordering process for users far easier. This same feature is available on the buy side to improve lookup of required items. Finally, Marketing Catalogs can be combined with a tree view of stock items to vastly improve the search and inquiry capabilities of the system.
  • Point of Sale: Standard POS system plus a fast and efficient method by which sales transactions can be input without having to cope with the complexity of a more robust order entry application.
  • Assembly Work Orders: Rather than having to rely only on bills of material in a sophisticated distribution environment or conversely forcing users to purchase and contend with full-blown manufacturing suites, SouthWare provides users with a middle ground. Assembly Work Orders allows users to record a customer's order (standard or created on-the-fly), note any special instructions, calculate a final price if optional items or processes are added to a standard assembly, check availability of all components, and create applicable work orders for a simplified make-to-stock or make-to-order environment. Fixed and variable costs can be allocated to each work order and profitability checked against the price quoted.
  • Shipping Interface: Interface configurator for third-party shipping systems. Current integrations include StarShip™ and ClipperShip™.
  • Delivery Scheduler Board: This utility allows users to examine daily and monthly views of scheduled deliveries.
  • Return Authorizations: Handles both customer and vendor returns, detailed warranty and problem descriptions, reimbursements due from vendors for labor charges, purchase orders (if required) for vendor returns, even vendor return label printing.
  • Rental Department: Supports all rental activities, including availability and scheduling conflicts, overdue contracts, serialized equipment tracking, delivery and pick up scheduling, and long term contracts with periodic billing. Rental and normal sales transactions can be included on the same invoice. The Rental Department integrates with SouthWare's Service Management applications to provide complete maintenance for all equipment available for rent.
  • Service Management Series: This is a complete service management system that is comprised of four specific applications to help companies manage service contracts, track service histories and required preventive maintenance for each piece of equipment under service contract, daily planning and dispatch, and service invoicing. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Payroll: Standard functionality.
  • Fixed Assets: Standard functionality.
  • Job Cost: Standard job costing including revenue recognition, master jobs for grouping of related jobs, AIA code set up and invoicing, certified payroll reports, and time sequencing for job shops.
  • International Transactions: Record, track and report multicurrency transactions. The Excellence Series is not fully multicurrency compliant in all applications, but it does support basic currency transactions.

Productivity Tools

  • Tree View Menu: Allows users to create an Explorer style menu organized by business process, application, or user-defined, including user created reports.
  • Tree View Inquiry: This applet helps users group and review key information according to rules they set. As an example users can review and manage open sales orders, open purchase orders, stock items, or any other aspect of a business by grouping information according to user-defined rules and then drilling down as far as necessary (e.g., sales orders can be viewed by location, billing operator, salesperson, order type and order status). This gives users the ability to zoom in on a small but important slice of all sales orders. One example of this technology would be a salesperson identifying and reviewing all sales orders waiting on back orders. As the user sifts through each layer, the system will display totals for reference purposes and at the last level will display each line item on a specific order. The same application could be used to examine specific stock items, their status, applicable vendor catalog pricing, cross-reference part numbers, substitute items, and even tracking or serial numbers.
  • FileView: This applet provides users with a built-in lookup, query, reporting, and export function. Users can selectively build a list a records that meet specified criteria in a grid, sort that list, group the list by one or more fields, preview each record in an attached pane, export the data in Excel or HTML format, and create customized reports once the records have been selected and sorted.
  • WebView: Resellers or knowledgeable users can create a complete browser’-based accounting and business management system with hyperlinks to call SouthWare programs and objects.
  • Handheld Device Access: Through its NetLink™ technology, SouthWare gives users access to system data and processes using handheld devices. Specific support has been provided for customer account management, a service technician portal, TaskWise task management, lookup contact information, executive review portal, order entry, stock item status check, receiving entry, and physical count entry. One of the really nice things about this new tool is that the applications have been sized so that they display in the standard handheld screen (no scrolling).
  • HTML and PDF Reporting: Grid views and reports can be exported or printed in either HTML format for posting to web sites, or in PDF format.
  • OfficeLink Interface to Microsoft MapPoint®: This link allows users to view and manage route deliveries, and create a map for customer locations, scheduled service work, and other data related to geographical location.

echnology Features

  • SwiftMate: System manager.
  • ReportMate™: SouthWare's report writer. SouthWare also supports F9. New reports can be created and added to any menu, as well as preselected and sorted reports. At the time the report is launched, the system will prompt the user for date ranges and other constants that are used to select or calculate information. Report designers can even display information to assist people actually running the report. Information can also be exported in HTML and XML format or posted to ExecuMate II™, SouthWare's executive information system.
  • Extended Data: The Excellence Series allows users to easily add any number of user-defined fields and have those fields instantly accessible for reporting purposes. In addition users can add their own list boxes for fields, prompts, and defaults and even create simple stand-alone databases. When data fields are added the standard file definitions are not changed. This innovative concept allows users to customize their database while retaining compatibility with standard programs. At the same time it allows users instant access to new fields when creating reports.
  • SouthWare Thin Client: This application allows the Excellence Series to be configured using thin client architecture. Acucorp's Thin Client does not require programs to be split into client and server components. This means that SouthWare uses the same programs on "fat clients", "thin clients", and server-side processing. The Acucorp runtime has been split so that the user-interface portion can be displayed on the client while the program is running on the server. Thin Client may be loaded on any Windows client or installed on the network that is locally accessible to the client.
  • ProcessWise™ Manager: This innovative tool helps people review and manage processes within SouthWare, specifically implementation, daily and periodic processing, and upgrades. The ProcessWise Manager presents processes in a dependent list format and allows users to check each step as it is completed.
  • SouthWare WorkFlow™: Acts as a bridge between the core accounting applications and any customized programming to maintain update compatibility. SouthWare has identified a large number of workflow points in the system where programmers can attach their modifications. Since the original source code has been untouched, the system can be updated easily. The flow point will stay exactly where it is thus keeping the integrity of the modification as well.
  • SouthWare NetLink: Complete system for providing browser-based access to corporate data and processes for customers (including shopping carts), vendors, and employees. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • ImportMate™: Import utility with powerful filtering and validation. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Remote Control Fields (RCF) Packets: Remote Control Field (RCF) Packets is a technology that automates the running of SouthWare programs (e.g., end-of-day, month processing, or any repetitive process). RCF Packets are similar to a keystroke macro but add considerably more control and versatility to the process.
  • DocTransfer: Serves as the EDI interface between the Excellence Series and trading partners that send or receive information in flat file format.
  • SouthWare CheckUp™: This diagnostic tool runs tests on the system, particularly system and application setup options, and looks for possible errors and warnings.

Industry Specific Applications

SouthWare supports a number of industry verticals that have been written by its resellers. The following list represents the most prominent products.

What Makes SouthWare Different

The process of selecting mid-market accounting software usually starts with products that have achieved some name recognition and that's fine as long as the search does not end there. SouthWare Innovations (www.southware.com) has created in its Excellence Series™ a worthy competitor serving a number of industries and offering users a surprising array of functionality, either directly as SouthWare applications or through one of their independent sales vendors (ISV).

SouthWare is a senior player in the middle market, having been founded in 1984. While its roots are in the distribution industry, the Excellence Series is not just a distribution play. It serves a number of industries and supports a very large number of users.

While many products have moved to more "modern" development environments, SouthWare has stuck with Acucobol and this decision appears to have been wise. Revision ten of the Excellence Series runs in any operating environment and yet the product supports all of the leading graphical expectations.

The Excellence Series is in fact a superior product that provides users with a powerful business management framework that is in many aspects far ahead of other middle market products.

  • Portability: The Excellence Series is compatible with Windows and LINUX/UNIX, as well as over 600 other platforms, allowing users to mix and match computers in a network as needed.
  • Versatility: The Excellence Series offers users significant functionality, particularly in the area of distribution and service management, but has recognized that all companies do not require every application. This granular approach to product development allows users to select only what they need without having to cope with overly complex or costly functions they do not need.
  • Development Environment: While the Excellence Series supports unlimited modification, it does so using tools that guarantee access to software updates.
  • Responsibility: If a programming issue is identified, it receives priority until it has been resolved. People do not have to wait for bug fixes.
  • Task and Exception Management: SouthWare has recognized that systems have to move away from accounting (data input and report generation) and toward a more proactive business management orientation whereby the system itself will help people do their jobs better. Many systems generate alerts (exception management), but few actually provide people with the tools (task management) required to resolve these issues.
  • Job Assessment: The Excellence Series is the only product in the middle market that helps people "grade" their performance. ExcelReport™ is the only application of which I am aware that helps users establish both objective—financial—and subjective—performance—goals, measure performance over time, and actually grade that performance.
  • Maturity: SouthWare produces a mature business management system that has been thoroughly tested in the field.
  • Internet and Intranet Functionality: SouthWare's NetLink™ provides controlled access to business data via Internet and intranet browsers. It offers easy-to-use standard web pages as well as a development environment that allows users to easily create their own real-time data web pages without requiring a high-level of technical expertise.
  • Extended Data: SouthWare has recognized that organizations may want to track data that is unique to either their industry or their business model. Additional fields can be added throughout the system, but unlike other products, these fields are recognized instantly by the system and are available for reporting or other uses.

SouthWare Technology

SouthWare's Excellence Series utilizes a development methodology labeled "S.M.A.R.T." for Strengthening Mature Applications with Recent Technology. Specifically, SouthWare uses tools from Acucorp, Inc. (http://www.acucorp.com/) and has blended these mature tools into a development philosophy that combines product stability and processing speed with modern business programming methodologies to give users the "best of both worlds."

Acucobol-GT with graphical extensions, the newest version of Acucobol, provides many graphical user interface options to take advantage of graphical system capabilities. The current version of the Excellence Series fully utilizes these features. The latest release does have that graphical look and certainly acts a lot like a fully graphical system. SouthWare is improving the look and feel of the system and will continue to move in that direction as quickly as it can. This does not mean SouthWare is abandoning other platforms. In fact, the latest release can still be utilized by companies with text-based workstations. However, some new features are supported only by Windows workstations.

The use of a technology such as Acucobol-GT also allows the Excellence Series to run on virtually any client or server system, including Linux.

The Excellence Series uses Acucobol-GT's proprietary Vision file system out-of-the-box. For added flexibility users can replace or mix in other file systems including C-ISAM, Btrieve, MINISAM, and relational databases such as MS SQL and Oracle.

(Video) 5 Minutes Company Profile and Product Presentation (AIM Global)

Product Pricing

Although resellers set the final price, which can and most often does include software, data conversation, training, and some degree of programming or report creation, a typical ten-user system that includes all of the core accounting applications costs in the neighborhood of $ 25,000 (USD)—software cost only. This is just an indicator price with actual pricing being set by the reseller. The price can be lower or considerably higher, depending on the number of users, data conversion, and programming requirements of the user.

Resellers

SouthWare operates through a network of ninety resellers, most of who have been allied with SouthWare for a number of years. Rather than accepting anyone who wants to sell software, SouthWare has been highly selective in its reseller recruitment.Resellers must demonstrate proficiency and offer support to their clients. SouthWare supports its resellers, who in turn support their clients.

While the Excellence Series has been developed in Acucobol, it is not strictly necessary for resellers to have to learn this language in order to sell the product. SouthWare's development environment allows resellers to create program modifications in any language, not just Acucobol.

Introduction

The process of selecting mid-market accounting software usually starts with products that have achieved some name recognition and that's fine as long as the search does not end there. SouthWare Innovations (http://www.southware.com) has created in its Excellence Series™ a worthy competitor serving a number of industries and offering users a surprising array of functionality, either directly as SouthWare applications or through one of their independent sales vendors (ISV).

Detailed Application Analysis

ExcelReport™

This unique application allows users to establish both subjective and objective—financial—goals, grade progress toward achieving these goals, measures progress over time, and thereby help people do their jobs better.

The system supports a completely user-defined set of critical success factors for each business, business unit, or even individual employee. These success factors can be financial values or ratios that are then associated with specific grades or subjective factors that will be evaluated and assigned a grade. In addition to calculating and displaying grades on a period basis—with up to five years history—, the system will display both trend lines as well as a grade point average (GPA), just like in an educational setting.

Although there is any number of success factors that can be established and tracked, here are some questions that can be asked and answered.

  • Which areas of the business need attention?
  • Are we making progress toward our goals?
  • Are we able to fulfill customers’ orders?
  • Are we shipping orders on time?
  • What’s the average approval rating on sales orders?
  • Which items are returned the most due to poor quality?
  • How much are errors and complaints costing us?
  • What do our customers think about us?
  • Are we hitting our financial goals?
  • Which vendors are giving us good service?
  • What are the recent events involving this customer?
  • Have we responded to all the ideas and suggestions we’ve received lately?
  • How solid are our vendor relationships?
  • Are our employees satisfied with their careers?
  • How well are we preparing for the future?

TaskWise

TaskWise® is SouthWare's vision of a completely integrated business management system that includes task management, relationship management, exception management, and information sharing or collaboration. Users can manage their daily work through one convenient portal that gives them access to both information and functions, all wrapped around a central task manager.

  • Task Management: Users can define individual or linked tasks that can be text oriented, such as reminders or descriptions of issues that need to be addressed but are not tied to specific accounting functions. Other tasks can be tied directly to accounting functions such as approving purchase orders, invoices, or hyperlinks to specific SouthWare functions, such as order entry for an order clerk. In essence, SouthWare has taken the concept of user-defined menus, which it supports, to the next logical level whereby the concept of a menu has been replaced by a completely integrated task management system that presents those tasks the user should address.
  • Relationship Management: TaskWise can function as a complete relationship management system. Since this is a task manager and not a CRM system, TaskWise can handle vendor and employee relations just as easily as it can handle customer relations. TaskWise can also integrate with Microsoft Outlook via SouthWare's OfficeLink™ application.
  • Exception Management: TaskWise is tied into a robust Alert Driver application that identifies exceptions and assigns them to specific named individuals as one or more tasks. Standard tasks can be linked together to form a complete business process. User can also create new alert drivers as an integral part of their daily business functions. For example, they may be worried about the cost of specific items rising very quickly in the future. Rather than checking the prices every day, they can define a new alert driver and prompt the system to notify them if the price rises above a specified value or if the price is rising faster than a certain rate. Many products support alerts, but SouthWare is one of the very few products that provides users with a software-driven business management system that helps them address potential or actual problems. The key concept here is the notion of a system that incorporates what used to be manual control processes into a single software-driven and software-supported business methodology.
  • Collaboration: By presenting a software-driven business management system, SouthWare by default supports collaboration. Alerts and tasks can be shared with anyone in the organization, together with supporting e-mails. While there will always be one person who is responsible for a particular exception as an example, that person can send that "file" to another person and ask that they handle it, but they can also ask that person to send them a confirmation that the task has been completed.

Collections Adapter

Although the collections process could be handled through an alert system—as it is with some other products—, collections is such an important function that it should be handled by a separate task-driven, contact management application. SouthWare has recognized this and created a full-featured collections management application that allows users to track and resolve past due invoices or customers who have exceeded their credit limit.

Specifically, users can

  • Know who needs a collection call based on either days outstanding for a specific invoice or customers that have exceeded their credit limit.
  • Review and record the status of each outstanding invoice during a collections call.
  • Know what was said on past collection calls.
  • Easily access the details of any overdue invoice.
  • Record what was said and when the customer promised to pay.
  • Create mail merge letters.
  • Systematically follow up with every customer who needs attention.
  • Know when to withhold further credit to a customer.
  • Decide how frequently to follow up with each customer.

Cash Flow Ledger

(Video) Piasecki MD Company History and Product Overview

Rather than just providing a bank reconciliation application, SouthWare has expanded this application to help users track and analyze cash flows. Specifically, users can

  • Capture cash flow history as it happens without any extra work.
  • Understand how today’s cash balance got that way.
  • Review daily cash balance fluctuations.
  • Quickly reconcile G/L cash to a bank statement.
  • Review each type of cash flow to look for trends.
  • See the details behind any cash flow transaction.
  • See the detail cash, check, and credit card payments in each day’s deposit.
  • Look at cash flows over any period of time.
  • Easily identify accounting errors involving cash accounts.
  • Track the cash for a single bank account using several G/L cash accounts.

Purchasing

SouthWare has created a comprehensive purchasing system that is significantly more robust than other mid-market accounting systems. Specifically, the purchasing application

  • Auto-generates purchase orders with user confirmation of each purchase item and purchase quantity.
  • Tracks seasonality and recent sales history to optimize inventory levels by dynamically changing the reorder points to reflect both historical and estimated sales volume.
  • Supports vendor quantity discounts. For some reason most mid-market accounting products do not support buy-side volume pricing, only sell-side discounts.
  • Also takes into consideration, when creating a purchase order, factors such as economic order quantity (EOQ), movement class, prior usage, minimum and maximum, and pricing from competing vendors.
  • Takes into consideration when assigning a vendor requested delivery date factors such as a customer's requested ship date, the vendor's typical lead time, internal administrative lead times, and production lead times.
  • Optionally moves purchase orders into an approval WorkFlow™ that is fully user-defined.

Warehouse Tracking

The management of a warehouse can become quite a complex operation and in many instances a bottleneck in the order-to-cash process. In addition, the "accounting" data records are being accessed by people who are definitely not accountants, much less accounting clerks. SouthWare has addressed both of these issues by releasing— in November 2004—a warehouse tracking application that supports sophisticated warehouse management techniques while at the same time separating the management and control functions of the warehouse from the accounting application itself.

The process of receiving, put away, storage, replenishment of picking bins, pick and pack, and finally shipping can generate a significant data flow. SouthWare does not completely separate the warehouse from accounting, but it limits when information needs to be shared.

The formal accounting system certainly needs to know when and in what quantity materials are received. The warehouse needs to know the details concerning each order (item, quantity to ship, and requested ship date). The accounting system needs to know when an order has been shipped. That basic information is shared between the accounting applications and the warehouse, but that's all. Everything that concerns the management and movement of materials within the warehouse is kept within the warehouse application. The accounting records are not updated because they do not have to be updated. By disconnecting some of the links between accounting and warehouse management, the management of both is actually improved significantly. The "official" records are maintained by the accounting system while the warehouse tracking system can be used to report and correct any discrepancies.

SouthWare's warehouse management features include

  • Multilevel storage IDs (warehouse, zone, aisle, shelf, position, bin).
  • Fixed as well as moveable locations (trailers, pallets, license plates, etc.).
  • Location attributes (refrigerated, hazardous, secured, etc.) that are associated with item attributes.
  • Location capacities (weight or volume).
  • Location codes that map, for example, a bin to a specific level, shelf, aisle, and zone.
  • Group storage IDs by zones or areas.
  • Preassigned or variable storage locations for specific items.
  • Restricted storage by customer or vendor.
  • Direct putaway into bin or location or place into temporary receiving location with subsequent putaway.
  • Identification of picking or storage bins so that orders are always picked from the picking bins that are subsequently resupplied from the storage bins.
  • Wave or zone picking.
  • Transactions are assigned to stations that are then associated by warehouse managers to individual employees. If the volume in a station only requires one person, then only one person can be assigned to pick all orders.
  • Support for RF devices.
  • Suggested picking locations based on age, location preference, or quantity stored. For example, if an order or orders call for 105 items, and there are 100 in ten cartons in one location, the picker will be directed to pick the ten cartons and then retrieve the other five from a bin where there are individual items stored loosely.
  • Separate packing and shipping transactions.

Browser-based Handheld Processing

SouthWare has created a link to RF scanners that warehouse personnel can use to improve efficiency. Specific attributes include

  • Designed to fit within the screen of a hand-held device without scrolling.
  • Display next assigned transaction.
  • Complete and update transaction.
  • Scan storage ID and view contents.
  • Scan stock ID and view current locations and quantities.
  • Additional functions can be added via customization.

Detailed Application Analysis (continued)

The process of selecting mid-market accounting software usually starts with products that have achieved some name recognition and that's fine as long as the search does not end there. SouthWare Innovations (http://www.southware.com) has created in its Excellence Series™ a worthy competitor, serving a number of industries and offering users a surprising array of functionality, either directly as SouthWare applications or through one of their independent sales vendors (ISV).

Service Management Series

This is a complete service management system that is comprised of four specific applications to help companies manage service contracts, track service histories and required preventive maintenance for each piece of equipment under service contract, daily planning and dispatch, and service invoicing.

  • Contract Management: Tracks each service contract, including earned and unearned income, contract pricing, route scheduling, meter usage, renewal tracking, contract proposal, and addendum generation.
  • Service Orders: Handles both recurring and on-demand service calls, technician scheduling, complete time and cost tracking, and all dispatch functions. This application also interfaces with SouthWare's Return Authorization application to track returns for credit, repair, exchange, and warranty work for both items sold as well as customer-owned equipment.
  • Equipment Servicing: Maintains equipment service information including service histories, metered usage, location, status, preventive maintenance schedules, parts lists for each piece of equipment under service, skills required for servicing, and extensive warranty information, including on-line customer access for warranty inquiries, service requests, equipment service history, and notification of equipment relocation.
  • Service Invoicing: Invoicing application for service management series. Includes recurring and contract billing as well as actual service calls.

SouthWare NetLink

NetLink™ is a comprehensive tool for developing browser-based access to corporate data and processes for customers (including shopping carts), vendors, and employees. Live or off-line access is supported. The following are standard SouthWare functions.

  • Order shopping cart is saved until order is submitted.
  • Provides default pricing as well as customer-specific pricing.
  • Catalog lookup. This is where SouthWare's use of catalog technology makes it very easy to set up a storefront.
  • Automatically create customer for new sale.
  • Easy add, change, or delete line items.
  • Numerous options to show item pictures, notes, and discount from list price.
  • Optionally supports SSL encryption for secure transmission of data.

Since NetLink is a framework for building an on-line business community, virtually anything that is possible within standard SouthWare can be accomplished with a browser. Sample supported requests include

  • Sales orders submitted from customers and employees.
  • Customer request for account balance and related details.
  • Employee request for customer-related information.
  • Customer requests for service (resulting in the creation of a service order).
  • Requests for marketing materials.
  • Changes of address or phone number.
  • Request for invoice or purchase order details.
  • Review of product history.
  • Vendor review of open purchase orders.
  • Review of shipped status of open sales orders.
  • Review of product catalog and pricing.
  • Dispatch status of open service calls.
  • Internal review of current financial statements.
  • Access to employee personnel information.

ImportMate II™

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This is an import application with powerful filtering and validation. This powerful utility can be used to

  • Convert accounting data when switching to SouthWare from another business system.
  • Regularly update inventory pricing from vendor-supplied electronic catalogs.
  • Create payroll exception hour entries from data captured in an electronic time clock.
  • Add new stock items from a vendor price guide.
  • Create physical inventory transactions from an electronic handheld count device.
  • Import—create or change—trading partner documents, such as orders and invoices.
  • Import a file of the checks that cleared your bank to automatically mark them cleared in cash flow.
  • Create A/R transactions from invoice data generated by a special customized billing system.
  • Create A/P transactions from invoices stored in a database package.
  • Change the product category code for a group of stock items.
  • Create G/L journal transactions from data in a customized non-SouthWare package.
  • Assign an A/R account number based on customer type.

Competitive Analysis

The process of selecting mid-market accounting software usually starts with products that have achieved some name recognition and that's fine as long as the search does not end there. SouthWare Innovations (http://www.southware.com) has created in its Excellence Series™ a worthy competitor serving a number of industries and offering users a surprising array of functionality, either directly as SouthWare applications or through one of their independent sales vendors (ISV).

SouthWare competes in the middle-market, which is defined as companies with revenues in the $5 million to $250 million (USD) range. Its historic strength in the distribution market places it in competition against three product classes: distribution-specific products (FACTS™, SX Enterprise™, and TakeStock™ all part of the Infor family of products, and CommerceCenter™ from Profit 21), general accounting products with distribution capabilities (Great Plains™, Navision™, and to some extent Solomon™ from Microsoft Business Solutions, MAS 500™ from Best Software), and finally manufacturing products that also compete in the distribution space (e.g., Syspro™ from Syspro).

Service management can be thought of as activities supporting both manufacturing and distribution functions and, as such, SouthWare will find itself in competition against the same distribution products as well as to a lesser extent manufacturing products.

SouthWare’s strength and weakness are its size. As a relatively small company it can react very quickly when required. This is particularly true when it comes to correcting software glitches. While the size of the company itself is not necessarily a competitive weakness, SouthWare does not support a large number of resellers and this can lead to geographical challenges in that there are gaps in coverage of certain market areas. SouthWare’s strongest resellers actually compete anywhere there is a business opportunity. Unfortunately some users may not feel comfortable being supported by someone that is not in the same geographical region.

Some people may consider Acucobol, SouthWare’s development environment to be a weakness, particularly given Microsoft’s success in convincing people that everything in the mid-market should be allied with Windows. This may be a viable concern for larger companies with their own IT staff that may not have any past experience with Acucobol, but it certainly should be of lesser concern to smaller organizations that will naturally rely more extensively on their reseller to provide the required technical expertise.

SouthWare has always required that its resellers offer a full range of services, including technical support. While the absolute number of resellers may be less than its larger competitors, SouthWare resellers in general offer a more complete range of services and support.

User Recommendations

Rather than restricting software selection to only one product class or products that have achieved some degree of name recognition, users should cast as wide a net as possible by identifying products that meet their functional requirements. SouthWare has been a player in the distribution industry since its founding and has developed over time additional competencies in service management, rental equipment, e-commerce, and through its ISVs manufacturing, and other industry specific applications.

The one fact that really sets SouthWare apart from its competition is its development of a comprehensive business management system that helps users do their jobs better. All products including SouthWare offer comprehensive accounting functions that handle data input, data processing, and report generation. Most products have moved toward support for business management functions and exception management. SouthWare is the only product that has embraced this concept at all levels, providing users executive information systems, exception management, task management, and even performance assessment.

About the Author

Charles Chewning, Jr. is president of Solutions, a Richmond, Virginia-based consulting firm specializing in accounting software selection. He is considered a leading software selection expert. Chewning has written a number of accounting software reviews and is a frequent speaker on the subject of accounting software selection as well as sales and marketing. He is the publisher of The Accounting Library (http://www.accountinglibrary.com). He can be reached at cchewning@accountinglibrary.com.

Company Background and Product Overview (1)Company Background and Product Overview (2)

FAQs

How do you write a product background? ›

  1. Know who your target audience is. The first step to writing product descriptions is to define your target audience. ...
  2. Focus on the product benefits. ...
  3. Tell the full story. ...
  4. Use natural language and tone. ...
  5. Use power words that sell. ...
  6. Make it easy to scan. ...
  7. Optimize for search engines. ...
  8. Use good images.

What is the purpose of product overview? ›

A product description is the marketing copy that explains what a product is and why it's worth purchasing. The purpose of a product description is to supply customers with important information about the features and benefits of the product so they're compelled to buy.

How do you answer what do u know about our company? ›

The best way to answer, “what do you know about our company?” is to name specific facts you found while researching the company that demonstrate you understand their business and got to know their organization before applying.

How long should a product overview be? ›

How long should a product description be? A product description should be between 305-400 words, or however long is necessary to address the main features of the product and a brief overview of its benefits to the consumer.

How do you write an overview of a business? ›

What should I include in a company overview?
  1. Basic company information. Consider the company overview like an introduction for your business. ...
  2. Ownership and management team. ...
  3. Company history. ...
  4. Mission statement. ...
  5. Product/service and customer. ...
  6. Future goals. ...
  7. Start with the elevator pitch. ...
  8. Stick to the basics.
22 Oct 2020

What is the background of a product? ›

It includes requirements, specifications, assumptions, constraints, decision history, trial-and-error processes, and “rationale” in general. It plays an important role by providing information about underlying reasoning for product development.

How do you write a product review example? ›

How to write a product review
  1. Introduce the product or service. ...
  2. Empathize with your readers. ...
  3. Identify your target audience. ...
  4. Explain benefits and features. ...
  5. Include additional social proof. ...
  6. Summarize your review. ...
  7. Publish your review.

What should be included in a brief background? ›

The background section should discuss your findings in a chronological manner to accentuate the progress in the field and the missing points that need to be addressed. The background should be written as a summary of your interpretation of previous research and what your study proposes to accomplish.

What is product overview in business? ›

Use this section of your marketing plan to fully describe: your product and its purpose. its features. its current pricing structure.

How do you describe a product description? ›

A product description is a form of marketing copy used to describe and explain the benefits of your product. In other words, it provides all the information and details of your product on your ecommerce site. These product details can be one sentence, a short paragraph or bulleted. They can be serious, funny or quirky.

What does overview of the business mean? ›

This section is designed to give the reader a general idea of your company, the company's products and services, its legal structure, the company's mission statement and goals, how it operates, where it is based, as well as how it makes money.

What is the best answer for why this company? ›

I see this opportunity as a way to contribute to an exciting/forward-thinking/fast-moving company/industry, and I feel I can do so by/with my …” “I feel my skills are particularly well-suited to this position because …” “I believe I have the type of knowledge to succeed in this role and at the company because …”

What do you expect from this company best answer? ›

My goals for the company are that it have a work atmosphere in which I will contribute to the team, be recognized for my efforts, provide career security, and have the opportunity to advance within the company.

How do you talk about a company in a job interview? ›

I think this company give most facilities for all members. This is a company which is mushrooming day by day where I can get experiences and I can learn the best skills which can be helpful for my career. It is a fast-growing company and l will learn more new works in future.

Can you copy product description? ›

The easy way involves copy and pasting the exact product description from the original manufacturer's site. After all, it is perfectly legal to do this. Large brands actually want you to take their exact product descriptions.

What is a company overview example? ›

A company overview (also known as company information or a company summary) is an essential part of a business plan. It's an overview of the most important points about your company—your history, management team, location, mission statement and legal structure.

What is company background? ›

The company background should include a brief history of the company. Your company background could be very brief at the beginning stages of starting up, but you can still detail what you want your company to be about and the origin of your idea.

How do you give an overview? ›

An overview should have some basic facts and be in clear enough language for you to understand. It should answer the questions; "who", "what", "when" and "where", and only briefly some of the "why" and "how" questions. Think of an overview as a picture taken from a distance where all of the details are not in focus.

What is background and overview? ›

The introduction contains preliminary data about your topic that the reader will most likely read, whereas the background clarifies the importance of the paper. The background of your study discusses in depth about the topic, whereas the introduction only gives an overview.

What is an example of background? ›

Your background is the kind of family you come from and the kind of education you have had. It can also refer to such things as your social and racial origins, your financial status, or the type of work experience that you have.

What is background process example? ›

A background process is a computer process that runs behind the scenes (i.e., in the background) and without user intervention. Typical tasks for these processes include logging, system monitoring, scheduling, and user notification.

What is a good sentence for review? ›

I read the book reviews in the newspaper. The educational software was sent to teachers for review. Verb Scientists are reviewing the results of the study. I need time to review the situation.

How do you give good comments on a product? ›

How to give better product feedback
  1. help the product team be more empathetic for someone using their product and understand how they made someone feel.
  2. demonstrate an overlooked use case or report something not working as intended.
  3. share with the team your experience building something similar and how it ended up.

How do I summarize my background? ›

You can include specific details such as:
  1. The names of prior employers.
  2. The dates of your employment.
  3. Previous job titles you held.
  4. Your duties and their impacts.
  5. Relevant education or training, including certifications.
  6. Accomplishments such as promotions, awards or other recognitions.

How do I describe my background? ›

Include how many years of relevant professional experience you have and for which other companies you have worked. If you have had many different employers, choose the most recent and relevant ones. And if this is your first job, summarize your education on a high level.

How do you write a background sample? ›

How to Write a Professional Background to Stand Out
  1. State Your Work Experiences. ...
  2. Mention Key Accomplishments. ...
  3. Emphasize Your Biggest Strengths. ...
  4. Make it Relevant to the Hiring Manager. ...
  5. Keep It Short and Concise. ...
  6. Consider Your Unique Selling Points.

What should I write in company profile? ›

What to Include in Your Company Profile
  • Company name.
  • Established date.
  • Physical address per location.
  • Phone and fax numbers.
  • Website URL.
  • Email address.

What are the 4 types of product description? ›

There are four types of products and each is classified based on consumer habits, price, and product characteristics: convenience goods, shopping goods, specialty products, and unsought goods.

What is an overview summary? ›

Overview also refers to a restatement of the main points of something but has a more general connotation than summary. It tends to be used in academic contexts more than summary and has less general use in newspapers and magazines than summary does.

What are your 3 reasons why you applied to us as a company *? ›

These reasons could include one or several of the following:
  • Company's general reputation.
  • Key leaders' reputation.
  • Admiration of products/services.
  • Admiration of other company initiatives (marketing campaigns, community involvement, training programs)
  • Company's culture and values.
  • Company's growth/success.

Why do we hire you best answer? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

What makes you an especially good fit for this company or role? ›

For example, you might explain that you are particularly motivated, or that you are known for going above and beyond for your employers. A second way to answer is to emphasize your unique skills. If you have skills that make you a strong candidate (especially if not many people have those skills), mention these.

What a company should expect of me? ›

Dependable and Responsible.

Employers value employees who come to work on time and take responsibility for their actions and behaviors. In addition, employers know that dependable and responsible employees value their job, job expectations, and their performance level.

What will you bring to the company if we hire you? ›

The simple answer to this question is you : you bring all of your skills, qualities, values, interests, academic knowledge, internships and life experience to the company.

How can I speak fluently in interview? ›

How to speak fluently in an interview
  1. Find your pace. Studies show that your speaking speed is the greatest indicator of your nervousness to an interviewer. ...
  2. Think before you speak. The last thing you want is to be stuttering over your first words when answering a question. ...
  3. Practice makes perfect.

What should I say in the beginning of interview? ›

Start the interview with a polite greeting: “How are you today?” or “I'm pleased to meet you!” Thank the interviewer for meeting with you: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.” Mention who you know at the company: “I was so excited when _____ told me this position was open!”

What are the 10 tips of writing product description? ›

Tips for How to Write Product Descriptions

Use headers and bullet points. Choose expressive words. Appeal to your audience's feelings. Utilize e-commerce SEO best practices, like keywords.

What is a product or service overview? ›

A product or service description is marketing copy that explains why your offering is special or unique and why customers should buy it.

What does brand overview mean? ›

It outlines the objectives, goals, values, and vision of your brand, allowing anyone involved with creating brand assets to communicate the direction, purpose, and positioning of the business as clearly as possible.

What is the best way to describe your product? ›

Focus on benefits and features

A good product description should focus on the product's features and benefits. Obviously, the features are a bit more clear cut. The benefits will require a bit more creativity and understanding of your target audience. However, both features and benefits allow for creative writing.

How do you effectively describe a product in one sentence? ›

Address critical information quickly. A good pitch is a short (around 30 seconds) speech that explains what your company does, why it's unique, and how it solves a problem. It should be clear, straightforward, and couched in simple language that doesn't obscure your value proposition.

What is an example of a feature of a product? ›

Definition: Product features are a product's traits or attributes that deliver value to end-users and differentiate a product in the market. The battery life of an electronic device can be considered a feature. So can the fabric or other materials a suitcase is made from.

What are the four types of feature? ›

Different Kinds of Feature Stories
  • Human interest. Involves persons rather than things. ...
  • Interviews. Usually done with prominent persons. ...
  • Informational features. Of historical, social, practical interest. ...
  • Personality sketch. Develops a total picture of the person. ...
  • Featurettes.

How do you describe a company's product? ›

A clear and compelling description provides potential customers with details about features, problems that can be solved, and answers questions. It highlights the value, describes benefits, and showcases the unique selling points that make the product or service stand apart from competitors.

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