Wednesday, 28 January 2015 15:18

MYOB moves midmarket ERP into the cloud with MYOB Advanced

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MYOB is spreading its cloud across mid-sized businesses with the release of MYOB Advanced, its new cloud ERP system.

While MYOB is perhaps still best known for its on-premises software, the company has been diversifying into the cloud with AccountRight Live, which combines conventional software with Azure storage allowing one set of accounts to be accessed from multiple locations, and the pure-cloud MYOB Essentials, which is aimed at small businesses with simpler accounting needs.

"We have a very low churn rate" with cloud products, said MYOB general manager of industry solutions Andrew Birch.

The company already addresses the needs of medium to large businesses with its EXO on-premises ERP software, but is now offering a cloud-based alternative.

The goal of the new MYOB Advanced product is to make business live easier for MYOB's clients, said Birch, but he expects EXO to continue "for years to come."

"We see [MYOB Advanced] as a complementary addition" for customers who prefer cloud systems. "We suspect this is a high-growth area."

Migration from EXO to MYOB Advanced is apparently not very simple at this stage if you want to transfer transaction histories rather than just account balances, but MYOB is "thinking about a migration tool" to automate the process, Birch said.

"Both systems are highly customisable... that makes migration complex," explained product development manager Trevor Leybourne.

MYOB Advanced is aimed at medium to large organisations, typically with a few dozen to a few thousand employees, but business complexity can be as much an issue as headcount.

MYOB Advanced has been put together by the company's Auckland development team, building on US-based Acumatica's cloud ERP system that is already used by more than 1,000 organisations. MYOB is a part-owner of Acumatica, and has a seat on that company's board.

Acumatica was selected following a worldwide search for an appropriate starting point. "It looked the most advanced and feature-rich," said Birch, and that conclusion has been borne out during the last two years.

"There has been a lot of localisation and development," but Acumatica "gave us a proven starting point."

MYOB Advanced is a multi-tenant system developed specifically for the Australian and New Zealand markets - "we can really tailor solutions that are specific to this market," he said. "It's a very customisable and flexible product."

"Every single site is different," said Leybourne, so "virtually every part of the system is customisable."

"MYOB Advanced is designed to help larger businesses think bigger, with a range of cloud-enabled features to streamline customer interaction and equip staff with the tools to operate effectively and productively – wherever they are," said Birch.

"The benefits to businesses are not only in terms of the convenience and functionality of the product. Research has shown that once a company is using a cloud solution, use of the ERP system by employees rises from just over half to almost two-thirds - offering enormous gains in efficiency and productivity."

MYOB Advanced's modules cover finance, distribution, job costing, customer management and project accounting. They are fully integrated, so information that employees enter into timesheets flows automatically into invoices, for example.

Features include fast searching across the entire business, inventory, order tracking, staff expense entry (including foreign currency support), and synchronisation of Exchange (including Office 365) contacts, tasks appointments and emails.

MYOB Advanced includes multiple portals that provide limited functionality to groups such as employees, customers and vendors.

MYOB has also made provision for independent software vendors to develop very tightly integrated functions such as ecommerce, payment gateways, and business intelligence. These extensions are developed in C#.NET.

There is also an API that can be used at no extra charge. It can be accessed using .NET, Ruby and so on.

The software has been in beta and pilot testing since July 2014.

It works in "pretty much any modern browser," said Leybourne. The only problem is that most phone screens are too small to display the screens conveniently, so iPhone and Android apps will soon be added to MYOB Advanced, but a Windows 10 mobile app "is not on the roadmap."

"We look forward to seeing even greater take-up of our products across the mid-market, as larger enterprises embrace the benefits of cloud and the opportunities for greater staff and customer engagement through the use of a state-of-the-art ERP system," said Birch.

MYOB Advanced runs on Amazon Web Services. Reasons for the selection of AWS included the need for security, consistently high service levels and data sovereignty, said Birch, describing AWS as "best in class" in this regard.

"We spent quite a lot of time looking at how we might deploy MYOB Advanced," said Leybourne. "AWS just worked out of the box."

MYOB Advanced is sold exclusively through the company's partner network, which the company says is the largest ERP partner network in Australia and New Zealand. Two-thirds of the established partners and all of the new ones have already been trained and certified for MYOB Advanced, he said.

"Choosing to also partner with MYOB was an important and long term solution and partnership decision for us," said Inecom Technology Partners managing director Ross Gilchrist.

"We are a long standing, 10 years, Gold Certified SAP Business One partner and any solution we decided to support had to be comparable in quality, support and functionality.

"We became excited about a number of innovations and capability brought by MYOB in their Enterprise division with this new cloud solution.

"Our decision reflects our respect for the innovation that MYOB is showing for the bigger business space."

MYOB Advanced is available in three editions: standard, plus and enterprise. Moving between editions can be done automatically and seamlessly, said Leybourne.

"As you grow, you don't have to migrate your database," said Birch.

Pricing starts at $99 a full user a month, but users restricted by role can be added for as little as $12 a month. Roles include sales, warehouse, project, finance, employee, and external bookkeeper.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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