openBLUE™ is the industry’s first and only on-demand open business application that supports your entire company from customer relationship management (CRM) to enterprise resource planning (ERP) to Project / Consulting Services to full Web e-commerce capabilities. openBLUE is the only online application to offer everything, including multiple organizations, multiple currency, multiple accounting, and multiple languages, delivered in a single, open, integrated, on demand service. Additionally, openBlue provides an open Architecture so you can access your own data, your own reports, your own customizations, how you want, when you want.
Customer Relationship Management
openBLUE’s Customer Relations Management is not an independent module, but the logical view of all customer and prospect related activities. Customer management functions are an integrated part of the business process. Therefore, there are (in contrast to traditional CRM systems) no batch or synchronization processes for the back-office functionality.
Lead and Activity Tracking
openBLUE supports the following types of requests:
- Information - (un)structured requests from web or email sources
- Service - structured request to perform a service at a given time & place
- Charge - structured request to reimburse costs
- Account - structured request concerning a particular customer or vendor order, shipment, invoice or payment
- Warranty - structured request concerning a product or service issue
- Help - structured customer service request
Depending on the type, the request can be automatically converted to a target document (offer, order, invoice). A confirmation email with tracking number can be sent manually or automatically. Requests can be be assigned to particular system users.
With the tracking number, the creator can update information. Management facilities ensure timely response and closure. Requests can also be generated based on the account status (date last sale, overdue payment, etc.) for customer service or sales to follow up.
Marketing Campaign Management
Customer retention is a crucial mission for every company. openBLUE supports this by creating mailings or requests for the (tele) sales force to follow up. Criteria for campaign could be last sale, sales volume, products purchased, etc. To attract new customers, addresses of prospects can be imported for mailings or requests for the (tele) sales force to follow up. The effectiveness of marketing campaigns can be measured by the revenue or gross profit generated.
Customer Profitability Analysis
You can report on revenue and gross profit of specific customers or customer groups over a period of time.
Self Service Online Inquiry
All business partner contacts can be enabled to view their information and status. They then can create information or account request to initiate follow ups … or pay open items.
The openBLUE Web Store provides everything you need to run your web presence. The information handled on the Web is part of the openBLUE solution, so no synchronization or extra integration work is required. Unlike a lot of other applications and shopping carts, you can customized the openBLUE Web Store with your own look-and-feel and even use your own shopping cart if required. That’s why we called it openBLUE.
Online Product Catalog: View and search the your product catalog. Product images can be displayed, if the product has an image attachment. You can restrict the products available on the web.
You can define (multiple) hierarchies to limit product selection. You can also search by Product Category or Product Attributes.
Online Pricing and Availability: You can choose, if you want to show product availability (either as available or the actual quantity). If the user is logged in as a Business Partner Contact with a specific price list, these prices are shown; Otherwise the default price list is shown.
Online Sales Transactions: Add items to the Shopping Basket via the Product Catalog or web form request. You can change quantity or delete items. When checking out, you can make it mandatory to sign in to retrieve stored customer information. For the Confirmation, applicable shipping costs and tax is calculated. The payment information is entered or confirmed. We support the VeriSign payment processor standard out-of the-box and because we have an openArchitecture other payment processors can be added. Before submitting you can verify the credit card number for data entry errors. After receiving the payment confirmation, the order is created and the receipt is displayed. Optionally an email can be sent with the receipt.
User Management: You can store user information and enable cookies to allow automatic detection and sign in.
Counter: You can monitor web requests and collect information like referring page, client host, time, user (when signed in), etc.
Info Requests: A web user request can be forwarded to one or more email address. You can also send a confirmation to the requester. The request becomes part of the Customer Relations Management.
openBLUE’s Multi-Accounting allows you to account in multiple, parallel accounting standards. This allows you to maintain parallel accounting for any combination of the following:
- Accrual and Cash-based Accounting
- Different accounting standards (e.g., US GAAP, UK SAP, German HGB)
- Different inventory costing methods (e.g., Standard, Average, FIFO)
- Different currencies
Usually, a Set of Books is defined as a set of transactions with the same Chart of Accounts, Calendar, Accounting Currency, Accounting Standard and Costing Method. In some situations, it is sufficient to convert or translate your Set of Books results to another Set of Books. For most applications, this is the only option. There are situations, where this is not sufficient:
- Unacceptable rounding and conversion differences
- High manual effort to convert
- Missing audit trail
- Unacceptable time delay of availability of results
- Inability to convert as detail information is missing
Most applications replicate transaction data to be able to support the different accounting dimensions.
openBLUE was designed to support multiple accounting. The concept of Set of Books was improved with the concept of Accounting Schema. An Accounting Schema is any combination of the following:
- Chart of Accounts
- Accrual or Cash-based accounting
- Accounting standard
- Costing method
- Accounting currency
Note, that in contrast to Set of Books, Calendar is not directly part of an Accounting Scheme, as you may have multiple calendars per accounting schema. The calendar is reduced to transaction support functions (open/close periods, summary postings, allocation definition ease of entry).
In contrast to most applications, openBLUE differentiates Transaction and the resulting accounting consequences with the following benefits:
- Transaction data is not replicated
- You can add or discontinue an accounting scheme anytime
- You can generate accounting information for historical transactions
- You can modify or replace any attribute (and optionally regenerate the accounting)
- Easy to extend and to maintain
- Error tolerant (you correct it and regenerate)
Transactions are performed immediately with high priority (e.g. inventory update, invoice paid); the accounting is performed asynchronously with lower priority and depending on system load.
It is possible for customers to extend accounting rules, if the predefined accounting rules are not sufficient (internally, accounting rules are defined using an accounting rule engine).
openBLUE’s Multi-Costing uses different costing methods (Standard, Average) which can result in different financial results. openBLUE supports using more than one costing method, e.g. for legal accounting and business decision-making.
openBLUE maintains the information for the following costing methods:
- Standard Costing
- Actual Costing
Only one of them can be used for accounting in your Accounting Schema. You may switch the used costing method any time. Even though only one method can be used for accounting, the information is very valuable to compare trends. Costs are maintained in your accounting currency.
In Standard Costing, you maintain a standard price and accumulate the differences to the actual costs over time. Due to changing prices, it is required to set a new standard price periodically. The new standard price can be set manually or from sources like
- Current Average Price
- Last PO
- (Purchase) Pricelist
When an item is received, it is posted with the standard cost price. When the matched invoice is posed, the difference between the standard price and the actual price is posted to a standard cost differences account. If you later receive product related credit memos or early payment discounts, or realized currency gain/losses these amounts are also posted to the cost difference account. The balance on that account reflects how close your standard cost price matches the actual costs.
The actual costing price is adjusted when you receive products with changed costs. When an item is receive, it is posed to the selected actual cost price. If there is no current actual cost price, the standard cost price is used, or if that does not exist either, the purchase order price is used. When the matched invoice is posted, the difference between the used cost price and the actual price is posted and the costs are adjusted. If you later receive product related credit memos or early payment discounts, or realized currency gain/losses these amounts are also posted to product account.
One major issue in actual costing is correcting the costs, if the product has been sold before receiving the invoice. openBLUE does not retroactively adjust the costs used in the receipt and sales transaction, but adjusts the actual cost price for future use.
openBLUE’s Multi-Currency features include the following areas:
- Ability to transact in other than your accounting currency
- Ability to revalue transactions
- (Bank) Accounts in other than accounting currency
- Ability to translate transactions or balances for reporting purposes
- Ability to account transactions parallel in different currencies
If applications claim to support multi-currency, they usually support only multi-currency transactions, but often don’t even support foreign currency Bank Accounts (they are balanced in foreign currency rather than your accounting currency). The Euro requires certain precision and rounding rules and countries like France require special handling of rounding differences.
Some applications provide the ability to account your transactions in more than one currency. This is required, when translating would result in unacceptable currency gain and losses (e.g. countries with unstable currencies) or you want to eliminate Euro rounding differences. Some applications have parallel functionality for multi-accounting, but their multi-currency accounting results in unnecessary overhead.
openBLUE provides full support for all aspects of multi-currency functionality (e.g. price lists, preferred customer currency, etc.), and there is no need to copy or replicate transactions. A transaction may have one or many accounting currencies. Starting, switching and discontinuing a currency is easy due to lack of a primary accounting currency. All accounting currencies are on the same level.
In contrast to many applications, the EMU Currencies are not handled with the overhead as dealing with a currency with flexible exchange rates. As trade becomes more and more global, multi-currency features become important. As most applications support this area with restrictions, you keep all your options open with openBLUE.
openBLUE’s Multi-Language, provides an open design to deliver multi-language capability as part of the base product offering. Currently, we offer a series of language packs that can be installed with the provisioning of your service. The following language packs are available:
There are more than 14 other language packs under development including Portuguese (Brazil), Thai, Malay, Swedish, Finnish, Chinese, Vietnamese and several others.
The first step in offering multi-language was to translate the system elements:
- Seed Data (e.g. status information like Open/Close, etc.)
Few applications allow you to translate Screens, Reports and Messages, and fewer allow Seed Data and even fewer Transactions.
Next we provided the capability to switch your language as a user of the system:
- System translatable in one (base) language
- User can decide, which language to use
Most systems only have one base language, not openBLUE, we wanted to open up the choice of language to you.
Finally, we designed openBLUE to have the ability to create documents in the language of your customer and vendor. Very few applications support this because it requires printing the translated word for ‘Invoice’, and also different address formats, description of products, etc. (see also Multi-Currency for business partner specific currency).
openBLUE allows you to translate all elements, allowing different users to have their screens and reports in their language and allows printing all documents in the format and language of your customer or vendor. As the translation is dictionary based, the translation is much more consistent than other applications with different tool-sets for translating the different elements. As you can see, we designed the application to be open as possible, welcome to openBLUE!
openBLUE’s Multi-Organization features ensure that different organizational entities can share data or make sure that private data is not accessible by other entities. Sharing data is the prerequisite for centralized functionality, outsourcing, service centers or any enterprise that operates and manages multiple companies.
Many applications have attempted to add this feature, often with inconsistent ‘Organization’ definitions in accounting and distribution. Also, the concept of sharing and private data is often implemented by replicating data with its overhead and synchronization issues.
openBLUE was designed to maintain different organizations and supports three entity levels:
System level data is mostly infrastructure information, but can also include system-wide business partners, products, accounting schema, etc. The system level is equivalent to the database installation. openBLUE provides tools to synchronize different systems.
Client level data defines information and accounting structure as well as common business partners, products, etc.
The Organization level is the transaction level (i.e. System and Client cannot perform transactions, you need at least one Organization). Organizations can also have their own data and information structure, not shared by other Organizations. Organizations can be structured in hierarchies with the children able to access their parent’s data.
Data on each level can only be entered or modified (if the role you are using has write privileges for that level). You can view and use data of ‘higher’ levels, but not change it. Example: With a System level role, you can access and change System data, but not access or view Client or Organization level data. With an Organization level role, you can use all System or Client defined data, but cannot modify any. A role may allow maintaining multiple levels (e.g. specific Client and specific Organization data).
Certain entities like business partners or products require accounting information. Accounting information is maintained on the client and organization level, but not on system level. If you want to share a system level entity, you need to enter (or default) the accounting information. Without this, the entity is not visible for the organization. This allows an organization to be selective in what to ‘inherit’ and overcomes a major hurdle to sharing data. Many applications have the accounting information as part of the normal attributes of an entity, making it difficult to share or forcing the same information structure among the entities that want to share information.
openBLUE also allows you to reorganize your Organization structure or merge entities.
Service Centers are virtual organizations performing transactions for other organizations. Examples are centralized purchasing or outsourced accounting services. Roles can be set up that allow central departments or external organizations to access the functional area, with access only to the required information. Service centers can access multiple organizations without changing roles, even if the organizations have different information and accounting structures.
openBLUE automatically supports multiple Legal Entity accounting, ensuring that transactions crossing legal entity boundaries are accounted correctly. This can include calculation of cost charges (e.g. selling organization is a different legal entity than the product owning organization).
openBLUE’s Multi-Tax supports Sales Tax and Value Added Tax, including multiple taxes (e.g. for Canada). The tax engine determines the correct tax, its amount and date based on:
- Transaction time
- Product category,
- Ship from/to location and
- Invoice from/to location.
As this requires maintaining the tax rules, for complex and changing tax situations, openBLUE also provides interfaces to Tax Vendors.
openBLUE supports compound foreign taxes (GST/PST) and local taxes.
Partner / Vendor Management
openBLUE’s Partner Management links different clients to each other allowing them to manage lead distribution, service requests collateral distribution and marketing expenses. It also allows to provide (centralized) services.
Relationship Management Across Servers: Basically, Partner Relations Management provides Customer Relations Management functionality across openBLUE clients/companies. For not connected Partners information is tracked via a web interface. openBLUE exchanges the requests automatically for connected Partners.
Lead Distribution and Tracking: Create leads and distribute them to your partners. You can follow up and monitor progress and results.
Marketing Expense Accounting: Enable your partners to create charge invoices directly.
Collateral Ordering: Enable your partners to order collaterals automatically.
Customer Service Requests & Warranty Requests: Initiate and follow up Service Requests and manage warranty requests.
Shared Services: Provide Services for your Partners (Accounting, Help desk, Shipping, …). As a Service Provider, you get access to just the information, you need for your tasks - but across organizations and clients, so that you can do your job effectively.
Centrally Maintained Information: For your partners, you can maintain central data like Products, Price Lists or Accounting Information. Partners can add additional entities, but cannot change the central maintained elements for consistency
openBLUE has it’s own built in Report Writer as part of the application. There is no need to purchase external third party tools and services. If you already have procured third party tools for other purposes, openBLUE has open API’s allowing you to use your tools to access the openBLUE database.
Integrated Reporting, Data Warehousing and OLAP
From every document in the system, you can create reports. You can define the layout, sorting, labels, etc. to customize it for your all or a specific organization or for yourself. Reporting Views enable analytical and summary reporting. The reporting facility you can drill down to contained elements (e.g. from order to business partner, payment rules, ..) or drill across to referenced items (from order to invoices, shipments, etc. linked to that order).
For multidimensional entries, you can select the dimensions, you want to report on. All information can be printed or exported to Excel, Word, XML, PDF, etc. for further processing. Secure Business Views allow you to extend the reporting to external dedicated SQL based reporting tools.
openBLUE provides a built-in workflow system. A workflow is a guided series of steps where potentially more than one user is involved. A step can be starting a process, running a report or entering information in a window.
Approval hierarchies do not require an explicit workflow, but become involved automatically, if the current user’s approval limits are not sufficient. The same applies, if tasks, in a workflow, cannot be performed due to functional or data security restrictions of the current user.
Workflows could be month-end tasks, etc. The system provides predefined workflows for many non-routine tasks. Workflows maintain a context, automatically querying the required data or providing defaults for new records to be entered. Whereas Workflow connects steps, Wizards provide guidance within the fields of windows.
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