Microsoft forges closer ties between Solomon and Project 2002

Microsoft Business Solutions has fully integrated its Solomon Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application with several other Microsoft Corp. applications, as the latest upgrade – version 5.5 – rolled into Canada recently.

The key upgrades and enhancements to Solomon v5.5 “revolve around the complete integration into Microsoft Project 2002 using professional services automation enabler,” said Mississauga, Ont.-based Garth Dean, general manager Microsoft Business Solutions, Microsoft Canada.

“Solomon has had an integration into [Microsoft] Project 2002 for a couple of versions, but this is a complete enhancement and complete integration release,” Dean said. “It really brings the two elements of project management together with a financial information system.”

The upgrade provides improved information flow, the ability to connect database and functionality into one common collection system for better reporting, and also increases business management with the ability to pull out key performance indicators and monitoring of business metrics, he added.

This full integration is something that, analyst Warren Shiau says, drives most of the interest for Microsoft Business Solutions.

“Right now, compared to any other vendor, I think this is a very strong competitive advantage,” said the software manager at IDC in Toronto. “As time goes on, you’ll see that Microsoft Business Solutions and Solomon, with its target market, will probably end up being some of the more popular ERP suites in the small to medium market because it’s the full package.”

Other features in Solomon 5.5 include integration with Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System (RMS), which Dean said is a point of sale system operating in the retail environment.

The integration allows for the easy sharing of information between RMS and the financial capabilities of Solomon. Microsoft Office XP users will be able to use Outlook, Word and Excel through the smart tag capabilities.

The Smart Tag Manager lets Office users drill down on customer, vendor, inventory, account, salesperson or employee detail information stored in the Solomon 5.5 database.

Small to medium businesses (SMB) are the targeted users of v5.5, specifically companies that use a lot of labour in their business practices, such as engineering firms, architecture firms and general contractors, Dean added.

Solomon 5.5 is now available in Canada and the United States. It is delivered through the Microsoft Certified Business Solutions reselling partner channel. A typical three-user financial solution starts around $19,050.

Microsoft also released the Real-Time Communications Server (RTC Server) to the growing family of the Microsoft Office System, as an instant messaging (IM) server. It is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2003. Licensing and pricing for the RTC server has not been determined.

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