Pastel Evolution v5, available now, is focused on boosting customer productivity through time-saving and efficiency-creating features as well as multilevel security and greater integration with third party applications that provide industry-specific and niche functionality.
According to divisional director of Pastel Evolution at Softline Pastel, Mohammed Mosam, Pastel Evolution v5 is geared to address the growing requirement by SMMEs for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.
"The 2006 Gartner/Dataquest Insight: EMEA ERP Market Review says that South Africa and Turkey are experiencing solid growth at just over 13%.
Pastel Evolution sales bear that out - up 31% year on year, off an established customer base over 5000 South African businesses.
"Part of the reason for our success is that all our upgrades and new releases are based on customer input - and in the case of Pastel Evolution v5 we have addressed quite specific requests from customers in Evolution's target markets - manufacturing, engineering, retail, wholesale, and the public sector.
"With many of our customers moving to Microsoft Vista, for instance, we have ensured that Evolution is Vista compliant and therefore extends our ERP and accounting functionality into Vista's increased security capabilities. We have also incorporated rules-based security into Evolution so that customers can impose multiple levels of security per user rather than having a blanket system that limits their operational flexibility."
Other new features include linking of inventory documents, cost per warehouse, last cost per supplier, accounts receivable and payables batching, automatic settlement terms and discounts, and costing methods per item.
"Now that SMEs have taken the technology plunge and are wanting to automate more than just their accounts, they want their systems to really work hard for them," Mosam says. "They do not want to be in a middle ground where some parts of their operations are automated and others still require a high order of manual input.
"That is why we have enabled the linking of inventory documents so that if, say, a credit note has to be passed a single click will turn the invoice into a credit note. The system automatically pulls the relevant data through. There is no need to recapture information in the new document.
"In the same way, version 5 now allows for a costing method per inventory item and a cost per warehouse. Additional costs, such as transport, can be taken into account - allowing for more accurate pricing and financial reporting across warehouse items and branches.
Pastel Evolution v5 also provides a business intelligence (BI) management dashboard - giving users a graphical view of the sales for the day, the top five customers and products, and inventory items sold by group code. Mosam says this takes SMEs a long way towards management by exception, saving them time and, therefore, money.
"Being able to view the gross margin values and percentages per inventory line item that is being invoiced enables you to ascertain the level of discount that can be given to a customer. Staff in negotiation processes can therefore ensure that they do not under cut the minimum margin as set by the business.
"Our customers also requested automation of the tracking of their fixed assets. So our fixed asset reconciliation feature gives them the ability to use a mobile scanner to scan asset tags. No skill is required. Even someone with no understanding of fixed assets can collect the information and the system will allocate it correctly and create a report that gives management an accurate, realtime overview."
Pastel Evolution's enhanced capacity to integrate with third party, industry-specific applications has been recently demonstrated by Eastern Cape Municipal Support Services (ECMSS) - who used Pastel Evolution as the platform for a billing and reporting system they designed specifically for use by low, medium and, to a certain extent, high capacity municipalities.
"While we have added features that larger organisations enjoy, we have not tampered with the ease of implementation and ease of use factors, both major benefits of the Pastel Evolution solution," Mosam says.