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Acumatica ERP upgrade built around customer needs

Acumatica 2021 R1, the latest version of the SaaS ERP, includes CRM and industry-specific enhancements inspired by close customer engagement.

Acumatica's semiannual ERP product update provides a set of features that looks to take advantage of the cloud-based enterprise applications trend.

Acumatica 2021 R1 cloud ERP system includes capabilities designed for small to medium-sized companies that are dealing with changing business conditions, particularly those caused by COVID-19, according to the company.

Acumatica's approach to ERP has drawn generally positive comments from users and analysts, who pointed to the application's industry-specific capabilities, particularly for manufacturing, and the company's customer-centric approach as two reasons why.

SaaS ERP for medium-sized enterprises

Aimed at smaller to medium-sized enterprises, Acumatica is a SaaS ERP with a comprehensive set of functions, including financials and CRM. In addition to a generic general business edition, Acumatica ERP also has editions with specific industry functionality, including distribution, manufacturing, construction and retail.

Derrick Elledge, vice president of operations, Power Storage SolutionsDerrick Elledge

Acumatica ERP was the right fit for Power Storage Solutions, a Dallas-based power company that provides battery backup power for telecommunications, data centers, petrochemical utilities, hospitals, universities and financial institutions.

Power Storage Solutions was formed three years ago out of a division of Interstate Batteries that was sold to three former employees. It is a $20 million company with 75 employees and has offices in Dallas, Houston, Detroit and Orlando, Fla., according to Derrick Elledge, vice president of operations at Power Storage Solutions and one of the company's three co-founders.

When the company started, Power Storage Solutions used existing enterprise applications from its old Interstate Batteries division, but Elledge knew this was not a viable strategy. The Interstate Batteries division had five best-of-class enterprise applications, including Salesforce for CRM and Workday for financials, but Power Storage Solutions needed one comprehensive cloud-based system that was easy to use and could be deployed quickly.

Acumatica ERP hits the sweet spot

After considering several systems, Power Storage Solutions decided to implement Acumatica ERP, Elledge said. It checked all the boxes the company was looking for, as it was cloud-based, aimed at midsize enterprises, and included highly rated functionality for financials and CRM.

"What we really liked about Acumatica ERP was that it allowed us to put all these applications and processes on one platform," Elledge said. "Acumatica's sweet spot is right where we are. Salesforce may be the best-in-class for CRM, but Acumatica is not far behind in the way it manages its CRM and leads -- and the CRM is simpler to use for our folks. They like it, and they use it, which is the most important thing."

The company was unfamiliar with the Amazon servers that Acumatica ERP runs on, and Power Storage Solutions was wary of moving to a SaaS system at first, he said. But the benefits of the cloud made the choice imperative, as the company's technicians are usually out on the road.

"One thing that frustrates the heck out of any salesperson is you get into a hotel room after a hard day at work and then you get onto the site and try to figure out how to get through a firewall to be able to work," Elledge said. "We wanted to be able to work remotely, so we knew this was the direction we wanted to go. So far, there have only been two instances in our three years of existence where we've had to get something done on the server level with Acumatica."

Power Storage Solutions has already upgraded to Acumatica 2021 R1, and Elledge said that the latest version has built on improvements in Acumatica 2020.

"Last year's update made it easier to set up things on the back end. Now in 2021, they've started rolling out more employee-facing functionality," he said. "They made a big jump in the CRM, such as improving the interface between the phone and the [CRM application]. For example, when you're at a trade show you can scan a card and it automatically adds [the info] to your contacts."

Customer focus an advantage

The enhancements in Acumatica 2021 R1 are the result of paying attention to customer needs and feedback, said Ali Jani, chief product officer at Acumatica.

Ali Jani, Acumatica chief product officerAli Jani

Acumatica, which has been offering a SaaS version of its ERP since 2009, delivers two releases a year, which enables the company to keep close to customer needs and requirements, Jani said.

"We're really focused on development, so we're able to innovate very quickly," he said. "We've purpose-built it for the cloud from the beginning, which has allowed us to accelerate rapidly and add additional functionality at a very rapid pace."

Focusing on customer need is a competitive advantage for Acumatica in the crowded ERP market, said analyst Shawn Windle, founder and managing principal at ERP Advisors Group, an enterprise applications consulting firm in Lakewood, Colo.

Shawn Windle, founder, managing principal, ERP Advisors GroupShawn Windle

"Acumatica 2021 R1 demonstrates that Acumatica is listening to user requests and implementing valuable functionality such as enhancing built-in reporting and analytics or providing mobile image recognition for business cards," Windle said. "These are practical improvements that enhance the usability of the product for end users."

Acumatica 2021 R1 includes user interface enhancements to streamline the onboarding of new users, which is an advantage as companies manage an increasingly remote workforce, he said.

"The upgrades in feature functionality indicate that Acumatica is investing for the long-term in their product," Windle said. "We predict that more customers and experienced ERP partners will implement Acumatica in the foreseeable future."

Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.

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