Exact Business Analytics
Giving users more - and more useful - access to the data locked in their computer systems has been a big trend over the past year, and Exact Software is right there at the forefront with its Exact Business Analytics.
Created in conjunction with Vanguard Solutions, Business Analytics lets users conduct online and offline analysis and consolidate reporting on a range of processes, including inventory, sales, manufacturing, distribution and finance. Its executive dashboard and user-defined information views help businesses drill down to the useful data buried in their enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management systems, and then turn it into something they can make sense of.
Price: Starts at $5,000.
Master Builder V. 10
When you think about it, houses and office buildings are really just big manufactured goods - so why shouldn't contractors benefit from the same kind of specialized business management software that manufacturers use? Intuit's Master Builder is an all-in-one software solution that handles estimating, production, accounting and business analysis for the construction industry.
Its latest release, Version 10, comes with a number of improvements, including a wide variety of communication enhancements. Reports and schedules can be e-mailed or faxed to everyone involved in a project as planning and budget changes occur, keeping everyone up to date, while new features allow notes taken during the estimating process to be exported to other Master Builder functions, like purchase and change orders, to make sure that important specifications don't get lost.
Master Builder also now has simplified accounting, with the ability to handle two-party checks and partial payments on the same invoice. And a new export feature lets users send data from the application to other standard business applications, like Excel, for in-depth analysis.
Price: First seat, with one full year of support and training - $2,395; add-on modules - $930 each.
There is nothing like trying to create a smooth-looking flowchart or diagram to reduce a competent adult to a whining, frustrated third grader. Enter SmartDraw, which lets you make professional flowcharts, organization charts, mechanical and software diagrams, floor plans, calendars and even Gantt charts (we didn't know either - it's a chronological bar chart of a business or production process).
The latest release, SmartDraw 7, has been made even easier to use, with over 30 new Wizards, 60,000 available symbols and templates, and plenty of enhancements to each of the types of charts and diagrams that the program makes.
Price: $198. Free trial available online.
Google's great and all, but it's not very discriminating, and there are resources that it can't reach. When you need something stronger, consider LexisNexis' new AlaCarte!, which accesses over 20,000 sources of business, news, business public records and government information.
It offers simple and advanced searches through newspapers, magazines and transcripts, deed records, liens, state and federal legislation, and more, and users only need to pay for the documents they actually retrieve.
Price: Per document - from $1 to $10; averages $3.
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