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Technology Focus: IBM i Accounting Applications Stay on the Money

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If you want accounting software that runs on IBM i servers rather than directly on client PCs, there are still plenty of options.

 

If there's one area of application software that typifies the divide between running business software on a bunch of networked PCs as opposed to on a centralized server (although possibly with PC clients), it's probably accounting. QuickBooks and similar PC-based apps are commonplace at small businesses worldwide, and the conversation about moving enterprise financial tracking away from a server environment probably takes place at one company or another somewhere on a daily basis.

 

Particularly with so many Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings prevalent today, the idea that any organization can trade in its traditional accounting apps for something shiny, new, browser-faced, and slick that someone else will manage for you can be appealing. However, some advantages to using server-based accounting apps can sometimes get lost in the glare and glitter of thinking about taking a totally new approach to tracking financial data.

 

SaaS Accounting: Why Not?

"The number-one concern for businesses considering SaaS is often security," points out Rusty Gadberry, president at Arkansas Data Services (ADS). "If sensitive company data and business processes are to be entrusted to a third-party service provider, then issues such as identity and access managementparticularly from mobile devicesneed to be addressed. And if your company uses multiple cloud services, be aware that deprovisioning an ex-employee can become a security headache."

 

"Ease of integration with source applications is probably the biggest advantage," opines Rex Smith, FPS product manager at Tegratecs Development Corporation. "First off, this is the ease with which accounting transactions can be received from other applications. Another part of the integration advantage is the ability to drill down into production application details and to more easily run local or custom inquiry software functions, without requiring a fully enabled service-oriented architecture (SOA). It can be challenging for the smaller private companies to justify SOA largely because it is difficult for them to figure out how to divide their truly integrated applications into components that are flexible yet efficient. Last but not least is the comfort of control."

 

ADS' Gadberry agrees that integration is important. "If it's not possible to handle the relevant APIs and data structures in-house, then the data may have to be keyed into the SaaS application," he points out. However, he also emphasizes compliance, performance, and data mobility as considerations. "When business data resides in a service provider's datacenter, ensuring that relevant government data-protection regulations are complied with can be a problem. A browser-based application hosted in a remote datacenter and accessed via an Internet connection is likely to cause worries about performance when compared to software running on a local machine or over the company LAN. And what happens to company data and its business processes if the SaaS service provider goes underor if the company needs to change to another SaaS vendor for some other reason?"

 

Advantages of Server-based over PC-based Software

When comparing server-based accounting apps to PC-based ones, Smith and Gadberry both note advantages for the former.

 

"[For our software,] the PC is used mostly in presentation and houses very little business logic or shared data," Smith notes. "Advantages then include a reduction in program and data duplication and minimized synchronization (or islands of automation) issues. [Also,] IBM i server-based accounting applications are in better shape than many of the small but growing businesses running custom software on PCs, because many of those folks are stuck working very hard to retrofit single-user systems and database interactions into multi-user systems. That problem isn’t going to be solved neatly and is particularly difficult when you add the Internet interactions."

 

ADS' Gadberry emphasizes avoiding integration and backup hassles as advantages. "Businesses that want to connect hosted software with existing on-premise apps face the problem of software integration with PC-based accounting applications. In most cases, limited integration is achieved via an export from the server-based accounting software, then importing to the PC-based accounting application." As for backups, "most businesses don't do a good job of making backups of their data when it resides on a PC because it is a hassle to do. This puts the company's accounting data in peril in the event the PC hosting the accounting application fails."

 

"It's good to mention the high-quality reconciliation, cross-referencing, vendor accountability, and cost-center tracking capabilities found in server-based accounting software. Perhaps a word of caution is in order," Smith adds. "It makes sense to retain these capabilities while in the process of automating new Internet or cloud-based (or otherwise isolated) accounting activities. Otherwise, it can be easy to end up with lump-sum amounts and categories in place that take a lot more time to resolve or analyze than before."

 

A Peek at the Future of Accounting Apps

Gadberry and Smith both agree that one of the big challenges facing accounting software is forecasting technological changes that may affect the genre. "If the vendor supplying the server-based accounting app hasn't modernized the application...the consumer will start looking for another solution [such as one] that provides dashboards, [the ability to attach] documents to invoices in AP, and financial report generators," predicts Gadberry.

 

"[There has been a] barrage of new requirements for expanding the server-based accounting applications to include interaction with customers using the browser over the Internet," Smith observes. "This often appears quite a bit more challenging than it actually is...most of these applications don’t need to be browser-enabled or replaced by something that runs in a browser. The accounting-related applications that work on the browser should be new in flow, layout, and capability and [intended] for new non-internal users, but yet interact with the database (and applications) already in place. So really what you want to do to solve these new challenges is to develop new self-service mini-application functions that run browser-based HTML5 clients and that are integrated with and complementary to existing server-based systems and databases."

 

"I can see many server-based accounting and cash-management apps making the mistake of assuming that because things are running smoothly today, that they need not look to the horizon towards implementation of new features or components that can work in conjunction with and improve their own results. I think the risk for hasty replacement of these applications is increasing. One reason is that it is increasingly less difficult for a new company leader to make the case that the application is outdated and that a new application is needed, even though this call to action is essentially unjustified when it is based primarily on appearance and presentation," Smith concludes.

 

Accounting Applications for IBM i Servers

Listed below are accounting software applications that run on IBM i servers. Each product listing includes a brief description and a hot link to the vendor's product page. Because our focus is on licensed software for use on in-house servers, these listings don't include SaaS or browser-based solutions, of which there are many, unless the solution is also available for licensed, in-house use.

 

To provide some at-a-glance summary information about the available products, the products descriptions listed below use the following function abbreviations: Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR), Check Printing (CP), Check Reconciliation (CR), Fixed Assets (FA), Financial Performance (FP), General Ledger (GL), Human Resources (HR), Inventory Control (IC), Order Entry (OE), Order Management (OM), Project Accounting (PA), Payroll (PR), Purchase Orders (PO), and Sales Analysis (SA). This information is compiled from existing online product descriptions and products may be capable of additional functions that aren't mentioned here.

 

Accounting Software for i5/OS

 

ACOM Solutions

EZ PayManager/400

EZ PayManager/400 handles secure payment processing for enterprises using IBM i servers. It offers secure, fully automated payment delivery for printed and electronic payments. Features include automatic fax and email payment notification, individual check customization, text and graphics substitution, a visual check-template designer, and full audit logs.

 

American Software

American Software Enterprise

Designed primarily for supply chain management, American Software Enterprise is designed for the IBM i and includes extensive functions for AR, AP, and GL, as well as logistics, planning, and manufacturing.

 

Arkansas Data Services

Financial Accounting Software

Financial Accounting Software offers numerous features to support its basic capabilities of AP, CR, GL, and PR. The software includes APIs that let it interact with other IBM i software applications and also supports budgeting and financial-reporting actions. The application is also available on a SaaS basis.

 

Compu-Tech

Accounting Software

Compu-Tech has developed IBM i-native accounting software with various functional modules. Core features include AP, AR, CP, CR, and GL, as well as budgeting, user-defined subsidiary ledgers, cash receipts, and shipping. An optional payroll module is also available.

 

Gamma Software

GammaSoft Executive Series

GammaSoft Executive Series is a suite of accounting applications that provides AP, AR, GL, HR, IC, and PR functions. Other capacities include bank reconciliation, purchasing, customer relationship management, and maintenance scheduling.

 

Global Software

iSuite Financials

Global Software's iSuite Financials provide AP, AR, FA, GL, OM, PA, and PO functions, as well as cash management, and project and lease accounting.

 

HarrisData

HarrisData ERP Applications

HarrisData ERP application deliver a modular set of integrated functions that includes accounting, sales, purchasing, inventory and manufacturing. 

 

Infor

Infor Enterprise Financial Management

Infor Enterprise Financial Management includes AP, AR, FA, GL, and IC functions, as well as purchasing and reporting capabilities for Sarbanes-Oxley and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) requirements.

 

Infor Infinium Financial Management System (FMS)

Infor Infinium FMS is a solution for handling accounting functions in large enterprises and is specifically designed for the IBM i. It provides the entire range of accounting and financial software functions, includes extensive financial analysis and business reporting options, and is regularly upgraded to meet the latest financial and business regulatory requirements.

 

Infor Lawson Financial Management

Infor Lawson Financial Management offers AP, AR, FA, and GL as basic functions but is also capable of handling project activity and accounting, grant management, cash and treasury management, expense management, projections and budgeting, and enterprise performance-management analysis.

 

Kobelt Development Inc. (KDI)

Core Information System (CIS)

CIS features AP, AR, FA, GL, IC, and OM functions, as well as incident tracking, content and membership management, order entry, and a runtime function that lets users customize and control access to application menus.

 

CIS-LAMP

CIS-LAMP is a version of CIS with a browser interface.

 

Mosaic Data Solutions

Mosaic21 Financial Accounting Software

Mosaic21 provides AP, AR, GL, HR, and PR functions. Additional features include automatic data conversion for selected third-party applications, the ability to handle up to 999 bank accounts, and externally described files that facilitate the use of SQL, query, and report-writer tools.

 

New Generation Software (NGS)

NGS Concert Series Financial Software

NGS Concert Series facilitates AP, AR, GL, HR, and PR functions. In addition, it offers multicurrency and not-for-profit organization support, a Microsoft Excel plug-in and facilitated access for Windows users, and online data-entry validation.

 

Oracle

JD Edwards World Financial Management

JD Edwards World Financial Management, designed for the IBM i, provides AP, AR, FA, and GL functions. It also includes features for multicurrency support, purchase-card management, planning and budgeting, and project management.

 

Professional Support Group Pty. Ltd.

Integra

Integra is a job-costing application that contains full accounting functions for any type of business, including AP, AR, GL, IC, and PR. Additional features include job and project costing, estimating, subcontractor accounting, purchasing, and asset control.

 

Tegratecs Development Corporation

Financial Portrait Software System

Financial Portrait offers AP, AR, and GL basic functions. Additional features include support for up to 15 accounting periods, custom report writers, multiple subledgers within each application, and drill-down inquiries.

 

UNIT4

Unit4 Financials

Unit4 Financials is an accounting and financial-management application that provides AP, AR, FA, GL, as well as budgeting, project-accounting, and spending-management functions. It helps enterprises streamline, automate, and improve business visibility of its financial processes. The product is available either for in-house licensing or as a Software as a Service subscription plan.

 

Accounting Software for IBM i Servers Running AIX or Linux

 

Legler Systems Company

Online Business Accounting

Online Business Accounting is designed for AIX and Windows. Its standard accounting features consist of AP, AR, CR, FA, GL, IM, OE, and PO. Other functions include a database control system and a mailing-list system.

 

ONLINE Computing

MasterTools

MasterTools is accounting software for AIX and Windows that also handles supply-chain management, manufacturing, and project-management activities. Accounting functions include sales-tax management, time and attendance, and cash management, as well as AP, AR, FA, GL, and HR.

 

Open Systems

Open Systems Accounting Software (OSAS)

OSAS is a customizable accounting and business-management system that runs under AIX, Linux, Windows, and other operating systems. Users can modify its open-sourced code at will, and its basic functions include AP, AR, CR, FA, GL, IC, PO, and PR. It also provides enterprise resource planning capabilities.

 

Sentinel Hill Software

S5 Financial Accounting Systems

S5 runs on Linux, UNIX, and Windows and supports DB2, Oracle, SQL, and Sybase file systems. Its major capacities include AP, AR, FA, GL, IM, OM, and PO, as well as order processing, project-time billing, and class-registration invoicing.

 

John Ghrist

John Ghrist has been a journalist, programmer, and systems manager in the computer industry since 1982. He has covered the market for IBM i servers and their predecessor platforms for more than a quarter century and has attended more than 25 COMMON conferences. A former editor-in-chief with Defense Computing and a senior editor with SystemiNEWS, John has written and edited hundreds of articles and blogs for more than a dozen print and electronic publications. He is currently CEO of John Ghrist Agency, a marketing communications firm for technology companies. You can reach him at ghrist@comcast.net.

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    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.