Great Plains gets an upgrade

Microsoft Business Solutions on Wednesday released its Great Plains enterprise resource planning (ERP) software version 7.5.

The upgrade includes additional supply chain management and manufacturing features that assists with inventory, distribution and order management, the company said.

Other notable additions include the Available to Promise feature that enables businesses to oversee their inventory with complete stock views and access to important data, and the Advanced Distribution tool, which helps businesses to enhance distribution and manage their inventories while the picking feature helps to manage the order picking process. In addition, users can incorporate Crystal Reports 9.0 Professional into Great Plains 7.5 to design data views and publish recurring reports. The company said that while the release is only an upgrade, there were several key pieces it wanted to incorporate into the software now.

“There were some component pieces that we wanted to get released as soon as possible. The advanced distribution functionality was something that we were selling as a third-party product but really we wanted to get that integration into this release,” said Garth Dean, general manager, Microsoft Business Solutions Canada in Mississauga, Ont. He added that version 8.0 is slated to be released in about a year’s time.

Great Plains also includes more integration with other Microsoft business solutions such as its customer relationship management (CRM), retail management system and its business portal.

Microsoft bought Great Plains Software back in December 2000 for US$1.1 billion. Its line of ERP applications were used to manage accounting, sales and marketing, manufacturing and supply chain, and was generally targeted at small- and medium-sized companies. Dean said that while the sweet spot for Great Plains remains the medium-sized organizations, “we’re extending the boundaries down into the small business and up into the corporate space.”

Microsoft faces some competition in the ERP space, which features such industry powerhouses as PeopleSoft Inc., SAP AG, Oracle Corp., J.D. Edwards Co. and Siebel Systems Inc. Oracle offers an e-business suite that provides business intelligence, financial management, human resources and project management. J.D. Edwards’ solution offers financial management, asset, project, and order management. SAP has a bundled offering in mySAP that includes financial accounting, financial supply chain and business analytics. PeopleSoft’s ERP product, meanwhile, includes enterprise performance management and a financial management solution.

The Great Plains 7.5 product is available now and is priced at US$7,000 for a single financial user.

The company’s Canadian Web site can be found at

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