Oracle Expands Package For Small Business

By Doug Bartholomew Enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) software firms, forced to look to the smaller branches and twigs after plucking all the low-hanging fruit, are starting to close in on small businesses. Once the purview of the DuPonts and Dows and Chevrons and Colgate Palmolives, ERP systems now can be had by medium-size and even small manufacturers. A case in point is Oracle Corp.'s Small Business Suite, an online service that helps companies manage key business operations such as customer relationship management, orders, purchases, inventory and payroll, all in one system. Oracle's suite, powered by a system from NetLedger, enables companies to get a complete picture of their operations, customers, suppliers and employees. With the addition of a sales-force-automation module to the Oracle package, small companies can, just like the big boys, track leads, assign leads to territories, process sales orders, and enjoy anytime, anywhere access to customer history data. The customer support management module allows a service department to perform all service operations, including case management, tracking and processing. The new small business package also contains an advanced shipping and receiving capability. Designed for companies that have a person or a department responsible for shipping and receiving, this module enables the warehouse employee to process all shipments and receipts. It includes the ability to check on open sales orders; print picking tickets, packing slips and return forms; and mark items as shipped. Finally, the Oracle Small Business Suite features some enhanced accounting capabilities. Among them are accounting period management, giving users the flexibility to set up their own time frames for accounting, and inventory costing options including LIFO or FIFO valuation methods. The entire online Oracle suite for small business is offered at $99 per month.

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