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Acumatica cloud ERP tightens focus on SMB market

At Acumatica Summit 2020, the cloud-based ERP company announced new manufacturing features, a new Payroll module and a new acquisition of JAAS Systems.

Acumatica is sharpening its attention on the manufacturing ERP for SMBs market.

The Seattle-based cloud ERP vendor unveiled several upgrades to its Acumatica 2020 R1 platform at Acumatica Summit 2020 in Las Vegas. Primary among these was functionality for the Acumatica Manufacturing Edition module that was added with the newly announced acquisition of JAAS Systems Ltd., a company based in Columbus, Ohio that provides manufacturing software. Acumatica also released a new Payroll module as part of the Acumatica 2020 R1 platform, which is designed to help construction firms handle tricky payroll issues.

Analysts believe the expanded Acumatica cloud ERP capabilities could be good for customers as they add more targeted industry functionality.

Mickey North RizzaMickey North Rizza

Acumatica continues to expand its offering by adding more connectivity across the business, including payroll and manufacturing, said Mickey North Rizza, IDC program vice president for enterprise applications and digital commerce.

"Acumatica's cloud ERP product has moved the company from pure standard and required ERP functionality to even more functionality as it targets specific workflows like payroll, closing gaps that have notoriously cost a business much time, expense and headache," Rizza said. "In addition, with the addition of another industry -- manufacturing -- the organizations can go even deeper into their bill-of-materials, MRP [material requirements planning] and inventory concerns."

JAAS Systems acquisition adds manufacturing capabilities

The acquisition of JAAS Systems adds manufacturing functions to Acumatica Manufacturing Edition, including make-to-stock, make-to-order, engineer-to-order and project-centric.

Jon RoskillJon Roskill

JAAS Systems was already an Acumatica partner and independent software vendor (ISV) with extensive integrations into the Acumatica Manufacturing platform. Acquiring the company enables Acumatica to improve the platform faster, Jon Roskill, CEO of Acumatica, said in an interview with SearchERP from Acumatica Summit 2020.

"We're buying JAAS Systems because we want to go even faster in manufacturing, and we'll put additional development resources into it," Roskill said.

The addition of JAAS Systems in Acumatica Manufacturing is good for SMB manufacturers who are looking for a comprehensive cloud ERP system, said Shawn Windle, founder and managing principal of ERP Advisors Group, an independent ERP consulting firm in Denver.

Shawn WindleShawn Windle

"It's great that Acumatica can check more boxes around make-to-order, engineer-to-order, as well as discrete functionality, production management, [and] materials routing," Windle said. "Now they can take Acumatica into industries where I don't think Acumatica out-of-the box can meet their functional requirements."

ERP systems that now include more vertical industry specific or even micro-vertical specific functionality is an important selling point for Acumatica, Windle explained.

"Instead of just saying Acumatica can do manufacturing, now it can do aerospace, they can do automotive. Those are both industries where you have very high-end ERP applications that are big expensive solutions to implement," he said. "So getting JAAS and integrating that into the Acumatica platform enables them to even compete with companies like Infor or Plex on the automotive side."

Dealing with payroll requirements

The Payroll module automates several payroll processes and includes features that help companies deal with issues like taxes and government regulations. This is particularly valuable for the construction industry, Roskill said.

"The construction industry generally operates its own payroll, but it has requirements around certification, which can vary across states, and then there are union issues. So it's a tricky industry to support," he said. "We've been developing [Payroll] for over a year, and now we've got a number of customers live on it. Payroll is something you want to be fairly certain is going to be robust out of the gate, because otherwise people don't get paid and people are not happy."

The new Payroll module should help some construction companies deal with issues like making sure contractors are paid, Windle said. Other ERP vendors that compete in the midsize ERP market don't always have that capability.

"If you have the Acumatica payroll solution and then tightly couple that with the rest of their construction capability, that's very interesting, because there aren't a lot of ERP vendors that have payroll that can go deeper into the sub-vertical," Windle said. "That should be a big differentiator for Acumatica over NetSuite or Intacct. This kind of deep verticality and functionality is good for them -- and it's really good for customers."

Machine learning helps user experience

Acumatica 2020 R1 now includes AI and machine learning elements that are designed to improve the user experience, Roskill said.

One example is a machine learning enhanced expense reporting function that enables users to capture and process receipts for expense reports with their mobile device. The goal is to make things as easy as possible on users, according to Roskill.

"The enhancement to our mobile expense reporting module uses machine learning to recognize the receipts, recognize the fields in the receipt -- date and amount -- and map it to the appropriate expense code," he said. "You just point your camera at the receipt, and it fills out all the fields."

The Acumatica cloud ERP platform is upgraded every six months, and the latest version will be made generally available in February 2020.

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