With the release of CompuTec ProcessForce 10, we are reaching a more feature-complete state; it’s an excellent time to summarize this significant release and highlight our master plan for the future.
1. What’s new in ProcessForce 10
As SAP is quickly progressing with its SAP Business One 10.0 release, we are today releasing our entire suite of software for SAP Business One 10.0 as part of the Early Adopter Care program (available for selected customers, go-live conditional on our approval of the customer’s project) until SAP Business One is released on General Availability. If you are a CompuTec ProcessForce customer who is interested in participating in the program, please contact your CompuTec partner for details.
We started developing ProcessForce in 2009, so we now have a long decade of hard work behind us, but from a technology standpoint we are only at the edge of what is possible, and we are as excited as the freshest start-up about what the future can bring to our customers in terms of value, quality, and performance. We already offer one of the best value for money packages on the market with a suite of solutions for advanced manufacturers and logistics companies from one single vendor. And they are not integrated; they are developed in sync with each complementing the other.
The main new functionalities for CompuTec ProcessForce 10 are:
- Plant Maintenance
These new features will support preventative maintenance, work management and equipment management in the production hall.
- MRP 2.5
Take multiple production revisions, scheduling, batch status, vendor-specific and internal lead times and more into consideration in MRP calculations. Receive more accurate recommendations from the system and keep your inventory levels low while still avoiding material shortages.
Support for serialized batches and new track and trace reports.
- Mass BOM change tool
A user-friendly tool to simplify replacing items on Bills of Materials en masse.
- Batch Traceability 360
Enhancement of current traceability tools. An interactive batch genealogy graph allowing for the creation of a multitude of reports and for the analysis of batch history and transactions.
What’s even more favorable, there is no separate licensing for these tools and functionalities. They are part of the standard product, showing our commitment to giving more value for the same money.
Along with CompuTec ProcessForce 10, we are also releasing CompuTec WMS 2.0, and CompuTec PDC 3.0 for SAP Business One 10. You can find out what’s new in CompuTec WMS 2.0 on our recent blog entry here. CompuTec PDC 3.0, from a feature perspective at least, is the same as PDC 2.0 with one significant difference – it doesn’t use DI API and CompuTec ProcessForce API directly, but instead, REST-based APIs exposed by our CompuTec AppEngine platform.
2. Decoupling from SAP Business One patch releases
Historically it was only possible to use a particular CompuTec ProcessForce version with the corresponding SAP Business One patch version, e.g., ProcessForce 9.30 PL12 with SAP Business One 9.30 PL12, but with CompuTec ProcessForce version 10 that is no longer required. You can use any CompuTec ProcessForce version 10.0.x with any SAP Business One 10.0 patch. We understand that many customers have more complicated landscapes, and they need more time to upgrade their SAP Business One, so decoupling this gives all the customers the possibility to use the latest version of CompuTec ProcessForce with their current SAP Business One installation, and it will be fully supported. It also gives us flexibility when we want to release our next version as it will no longer be dependent on the SAP Business One release. Please expect more regular releases, roughly one every month.
3. Lightweight deployment and only 64-bit versions
All our solutions used as extensions for SAP Business One will only be available as lightweight deployment extensions from now on. This means that they are no longer installed in the operating systems but deployed by the SAP Business One Client Agent to the required users.
We’ve also put both the HANA and the SQL versions in the same lightweight deployment package, so it’s enough to simply download and deploy that package in the Extension Manager.
It also means that ProcessForce API is not installed by default with CompuTec ProcessForce, so if an external solution needs it, it needs to be installed separately.
As SAP Business One is only supported as 64-bit software, all our products for version 10.0 also only come for 64-bit operating systems.
4. Support for SAP HANA & Microsoft SQL Server
We understand that for many customers implementing or migrating to SAP HANA is not an option for different reasons. Therefore all our software is available for SAP HANA & Microsoft SQL Server versions of SAP Business One in equal functionality. The only difference is the availability of the business intelligence semantic layer (technically calculation views) is only for SAP HANA.
5. SAP Fiori ready
SAP Fiori, with its excellent UX design guidelines, enables the creation of state-of-the-art business applications with a consistent UI across different products. We are leveraging it already when building new functionalities like MRP 2.5, Batch Traceability 360, Mass BOM Change, and Serialization. All of them use the latest SAP Fiori 3 design specification and SAPUI5 framework. Technically they work as AppEngine plugins, and they are available for both HANA and SQL SAP Business One versions. They can be used in a web browser and are embedded in the SAP Business One client. In both cases, they require SAP Business One and a CompuTec ProcessForce user license (Professional or Limited).
While we believe a loosely coupled approach is great on the API side, it’s not so great on the UI side. Users expect to have a seamless experience when using a solution, and not separate loosely coupled products with different UIs. Therefore, we will be gradually adding all our forms as HTML forms, which can be used inside an SAP Business One standard client, and seamlessly integrated into the new SAP Business One Web Client. What’s unique is that both UIs (standard and web) can be used in the same SAP Business One installation giving customers the flexibility to choose which one to use depending on their needs. When using the Web Client, the user shouldn’t be able to spot any difference in the UI between SAP Business One Web Client and CompuTec ProcessForce, something for which we are already well known with the standard SAP Business One client. Additionally, it ensures our software’s longevity and removes the necessity of implementing outdated software that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later, or implementing wholly new and risky development endeavors with a lot of missing features.
In the future, we will offer you the possibility to update AppEngine plugins over the internet to minimize the effort required to have the latest version installed.
6. .NET Core, multi-platform, and containerization
Currently, all our software is developed in C# on the backend, SAP UI API on the classic frontend, and SAPUI5 on the HTML frontend using the latest .NET Framework. As SAP has finally started supporting the Service Layer for both the SAP HANA and Microsoft SQL versions of SAP Business One, we will slowly begin to migrate from DI API to Service Layer. Once that’s done, we will be able to migrate all our software to .NET Core, make it multi-platform, and containerize. That will open a vast opportunity for platform flexibility, easier administration, and higher scalability.
7. IoT, AI & Holo
From the beginning, we have been trying to stay on the leading edge of technology. We were among the first who supported SAP HANA, and SAP has twice awarded us as a global leader in innovation, which we are very proud of. In the future, we will be exploring and pushing the boundaries of what is possible even further, and keep on bringing the leading technological advancements to our customers.
Currently, we are working on integration between machines and our systems (IoT/Industry 4.0), trained models to discover anomalies in incoming signal streams, and our leading, patent-pending holographic user interface for Microsoft HoloLens 2 glasses about which you can read here.
That’s not to say we will forget about extending standard functionalities and solidifying the core of our solutions. ERPs always have to keep their primary purpose at the fore i.e. to provide a platform for optimized transactions and the ability to analyze those transactions from multiple angles. Innovations are very important, but we have to also prioritize the core aims of the system as a whole. If we dive deep down into the specific requirements of certain industries in the name of innovation, it is possible to end up compromising the cohesiveness of the whole system.
8. To cloud, or not to cloud
The cloud has already become a staple basis on which systems are built and consumed by customers. But not everyone has the same needs. There will be customers who will stay with their on-premise investments for many years to come, some who will take advantage of the hybrid capabilities of the cloud, and some which go full steam ahead and utilize the cloud’s full scope. It seems that the journey to the cloud is unstoppable, but we cannot predict with certainty what will happen in 5-10 years. We’ve already seen radical shifts in how technology is consumed in the past decades, and we cannot exclude the possibility that also cloud consumption will also change. Therefore, all our software will continue being developed for both on-premise and cloud customers, so the cloud is just one possible deployment model for us. That protects our on-premise customers’ investments, provides an easy cloud migration path, and covers pure cloud believers’ requirements too.
Having all our software containerized and with an HTML user interface based on SAP Fiori opens up the possibility of making it compatible with SAP Business ByDesign, and a new cloud-native SME solution which will be released by SAP in the future. Based on market dynamics, we will decide if that’s something worth doing at a later date.
9. One more thing… public roadmap
Today we are also releasing a public roadmap for all our products as a Trello board giving full visibility to our customers as to what they can expect and when. You can find it here. We will continuously update it and prioritize it based on market feedback as well as endeavoring to deliver new functionalities as planned, in a timely manner.
If you want to know more, you can find us at all SAP SMB Innovation Summits 2020 or contact us directly. We will also be running a large number of webinars and training sessions throughout the year about these exciting new possibilities.
Lukasz Chomin, CompuTec CEO, February 2020.