Hello everyone. I’m really excited to write this blog post to let you know that today we have officially released ECi Macola 10.2 – the latest update to our flagship product ECi Macola 10. This new update adds four key new features and over 300 smaller enhancements.
But before I dive into what’s new with version 10.2, let’s first spend a minute on a quick refresher of ECi Macola 10 – and what makes version 10 such a leap forward from our previous generation products, ECi Macola Progression and ECi Macola ES.
ECi Macola 10 is built on several foundational products that you may already be familiar with.
If you were, or maybe still are a user of ECi Macola Enterprise Suite (we usually call it ES) – then you are already familiar with one of the foundational pieces of ECi Macola 10. In version 10, we brought in nearly all of the core ECi Macola ES functionality, including nearly all of the modules, and included them out of the box. That includes the modules for accounting, distribution, and manufacturing.
Second, we included ECi Synergy Enterprise – which is a very valuable product even on its own merits. We use ECi Synergy Enterprise for three key pieces of functionality. Probably the most obvious is Customer Relationship Management – or CRM. This is the functionality that allows you to track information about your customers, your potential customers, and your employees. The second piece is document management, which allows you to save and archive documents into a searchable system. The third part of Synergy is workflows. With workflows, you have the ability to define a process and ensure that it is followed, sending an approval through the appropriate channels, and establishing an audit trail. For example, when inventory needs to be ordered, a workflow may specify that the order goes to the inventory manager for approval. If the order is over a certain dollar figure, you could also configure the workflow to require an approval from the CFO. You can establish a processes around handling orders, contacting customers, or whatever else you can dream up.
The third piece of ECi Macola 10 is the automation piece, which leverages ECi Event Manager. With this tool, you can define all sorts of automated triggers. When x happens, you want the system to automatically do y. A great example of this would be creating email alerts for low inventory, trigger database actions, or even launching a workflow.
The fourth, and perhaps the most unique piece of ECi Macola 10, are the Personalized Workspaces (which you may have previously heard referred to as “Navigator”). These workspaces wrap-up the information from the three pieces I mentioned above and display information in a way that is easily and quickly consumable and actionable to the end user. Workspaces give you a view of your data personalized to you, or your role. But more than just viewing information, you can take action directly from those workspaces. If you see that inventory is low – click and launch the process to order more. If you see that customers have placed new orders, you can click to generate pick tickets. The best thing about workspaces is how customizable they are. You can build whatever you want. They really are a game changer – and something unique to ECi Macola.
What’s New in 10.2?
Now that we have a refresher on the pieces that make up ECi Macola 10, let’s talk about what’s new in version 10.2, which is available as of today.
There are four key pieces of new functionality that we worked on for this release – plus several other smaller enhancements. As you may notice – three of these four items either are web services or leverage web services. As we’ve been discussing with our customers for the last year or so, exposing key functionality as web services was and is core to our strategy for the long term vision of the product.
So let’s take a minute to review the four big pieces we added.
- Probably our most significant addition in this version is order entry (OE) as a web service. With OE exposed as a web service, our customers can accept orders from any software that can submit that order in the form of a URL. That is also the key that allowed us to build out a web interface and a mobile interface for order entry. What benefit(s) does this offer the customer?
- Easy/fast/simple/cheap integration to nearly any e-commerce solution, commercial or homegrown
- Faster you can accept orders, the faster you can grow your business
- Automating the order entry process, we deduce the costly errors and mistakes as critical information is first brought into the ECi Macola system
- Our second important addition in version 10.2 is with accounts payable (AP) as a web service. Similar to order entry, we wanted to expose this as a web service to open up a world of possibilities. With AP exposed as a web service, not only did we build a web front end that allows us to do things we couldn’t do in the original client, but with AP exposed as a web service, you can potentially automate what has traditionally been hours of manual entry.
- Third, we now have the ability to launch our web services – including OE and AP that we just talked about - from a workflow. So, for example, if one of your engineers creates specs for a new 3D printable item, you probably want to route through various departments for approval. Once everything is approved, instead of re-entering all of those specs into your master data, the workflow can automatically engage a web service to create that item for you. That’s just an example – and the automation possibilities here are pretty exciting. Reduce the amount of manual entry and likewise reduce costly human errors, accelerate the order entry and account payable processes (and therefore be able to handle/process more) with automation
- The fourth and final of our major enhancements is our mobile app. Thanks to the advances we’ve been making with web services, we’ve also opened up a tremendous amount of new functionality that we can enable for mobile devices. For example, with this new app, you’ll be able to enter an order from the field, find customers near you, open customer cards, check inventory availability, and open up any of your defined workspaces! This kind of functionality makes our mobile app infinitely more valuable for field employees, as well as those who just happen to be at home or out of the office. The mobile app for iOS has been submitted to the Apple app store and should show up any day now. The Android version will follow in the coming months.
Over 300 Enhancements
One of the things we want you to know is that we are responding to your requests and to the market. As such, in addition to the four large pieces outlined above, we’ve added over 300 smaller enhancements into version 10.2.
While there are obviously too many to mention here (you can check the release notes for the full list), here are a few examples.
- We’ve added the ability to purge the IM transaction history.
- We’ve added several forms of international support, such as support for Mexico Annex 24 and Malaysian GST tax requirements.
- We’ve continued to work on the phase out of ASImport.
- We are including integration with Kofax document scanning – so you can scan paper based documents and import the information directly into your ECi Macola system.
So that’s ECi Macola 10.2 in a nutshell. As you can likely tell, we’ve had a busy first half of 2015. It’s really exciting for us to be making so much progress from a product perspective – and I hope that you are excited as well around how ECi Macola 10.2 can make a positive impact on your business.