PAYROLL SERVICES ARE NEXT FOR BEST: Best Software will launch a payroll program to enable accountants to operate their own service bureaus, although that effort will follow next year’s plan for tailoring an existing payroll product to the company’s general ledger packages.

Jim Foster, executive vice president of business units in Best’s Mid-Market Division, said that the service bureau product will be modeled on the online Peachtree Payroll Services that was launched in May. However, before that offering hits the market, Best will introduce a series of products based on the Peachtree offering. That includes MAS 90 Payroll Services and Accpac Payroll Services, which will be tailored to have a look and feel similar to the MAS 90 and Accpac accounting software lines.

Foster said that Best will explore whether it can allow accounting firms to privately label the service when they resell it to their clients. The time frame for the accountant version depends on how quickly Best can get the MAS 90 and Accpac editions to market. Foster said that Best employees who worked with Peachtree when ADP owned it are drawing on that experience to help the company become an important player in the payroll market.

— Robert W. Scott

MICROSOFT MAPS ERP STRATEGY: Regardless of when Project Green — Microsoft’s next-generation accounting product — is released, Microsoft Business Solutions said that it’s committed to improving its current line of enterprise resource planning products, which should see “significant enhancements” over the next 12 months.

The MBS line of ERP products includes Axapta, Solomon, Navision and Great Plains. The product strategy for these solutions involves five customer-centric technology themes that the ERP products will center on moving forward. These themes include best total cost of ownership, adaptive processes, empowered users, connected business and “insightful.”

Axapta supports advanced manufacturing and supply chain management, as well as core financial management for the upper midmarket segment and divisions of large organizations or multinationals.

Navision is also known for cross-industry financial management for the lower midmarket to midmarket segments, as well as for companies with multi-language needs. Solomon provides financial management with a particular focus on project management and accounting and distribution.

Great Plains offers midsized businesses cross-industry financial management and a broad set of add-on solutions. Version 8.0 of the product was released in June, while Solomon 6.0 is scheduled for a July release, followed by Microsoft Navision 4.0 later this year and Microsoft Axapta 4.0 next year.

NETSUITE ENHANCES E-COMMERCE FUNCTIONS: Hosted business application provider NetSuite Inc. is now offering integrated Web store functions with its enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management features through its new NetCommerce product.

Customers who log onto Web sites built on NetSuite will now be able see their entire history with that merchant, regardless of whether the interaction took place online or offline. With NetCommerce, Web orders automatically update NetSuite to reduce inventory, notify the warehouse for shipping, create invoices for billing and update customer records. NetCommerce also includes e-marketing capabilities to help acquire new customers and track the success of marketing efforts.

Later this summer, NetSuite will offer analytic and site-building tools for additional functionality. NetCommerce Analytics is a Web reporting tool that can incorporate transactional and customer-specific behavioral data.

NetCommerce Site Builder enables companies to build and manage entirely customizable sites built with any tool (such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe Illustrator) that automatically link with NetSuite’s accounting, inventory and customer management capabilities.

It also enables companies to sell online in any language or currency chosen by the customer.

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