Top 5 Reasons to Upgrade to VISUAL 9

By Jack Shannon

What version of VISUAL are you on? If it’s not 9.x.x, you are not on the latest version. VISUAL 9 was a major release; minor releases are designated as 9.0.1, 9.0.2, etc., and are released every quarter. Depending on the version of VISUAL you are on today, version 9.x.x has anywhere from 75 to hundreds of enhancements. Here are my top 5 in version 9.

1. Notifications

Do you have any of these needs?

·       Confirm to a customer their PO was received

·       Inform a customer their order shipped

·       Let a salesperson know an invoice was paid

·       Inform production a raw material was just received

All of these notifications can be automated with Lifecycle Notifications. This new feature allows a user to notify internal or external people when a defined event occurs in Customer Order Entry or Purchase Order Entry. In addition, internal users can be notified when a predetermined invoice event occurs. Want only you to be notified when something happens? You can do that too.

Messaging has been around for a while in VISUAL, and it remains. In fact it’s the engine that is used to send the notifications. The difference is Lifecycle Notification in VISUAL 9 can be managed by each user as needed, because no code is required to be written to get it to work. Think of it as a messaging wizard.

2. Custom dashboard KPIs

VISUAL dashboards were introduced in VISUAL 8 and are designed to give users a quick visual of key performance indicators (KPIs), and allow them to drill down to more granular detail. You could create as many dashboards as you wanted; you could share dashboards or keep them private. The one limiting factor was the only KPIs that could be displayed were the ones that were pre-built. Although the pre-built KPIs were flexible, customers wanted to display personalized KPIs.

This limitation was eliminated in VISUAL 9. Your own data source along with drill-down parameters with the results displayed in a grid or chart view can now be created. The pre-built KPIs are still there, but now with the ability to create personalized KPIs; your dashboards can display exactly what you want.

3. Performance lead time

When you think of lead time, you are probably thinking of the lead time field in Part Maintenance, or the vendor lead time to supply a part. (Bonus enhancement feature: 9.0.2 allows for different lead times for different vendors for the same part. Consider this a reward for reading this far.)

Performance lead time isn’t about parts, it’s about the entire organization. VISUAL 9.x.x can track and chart how long the quote to invoice process takes against a standard time you develop. This overall time can be broken down by disciplines such as Quoting, Sales, Work Order, etc. Does production complain it takes sales too long to get a work order created after a quote is won? Start tracking it and find out. More importantly, this gives insight into your company’s performance from the customer’s perspective.

4. Batch email invoices

The title says it all. In the past, invoices could be emailed, but it was one at a time. With VISUAL 9, those days are over. Batch process all invoices that will be sent via email; or process one at a time. The choice is yours.

5. RMA enhancements

The VISUAL developers worked with users to enhance the entire RMA process. Based on these discussions, many changes were made to not only the RMA window, but also Customer Order Entry. Highlights include:

·       Customer contact information from the customer order is copied into the RMA window, but can be changed as needed.

·       Ten user defined fields have been added to the RMA window header and each line item.

·       Evaluation work orders can be copied into repair work orders.

·       If multiple parts are received in an RMA and they represent multiple supply work orders, all the different work orders can be linked to a single repair line on the customer order.

Final thoughts

I focused on the bigger enhancements for my top 5 list, but as a former user, I understand sometimes the smallest enhancement could have the biggest impact on your use of VISUAL day-to-day. A full list of enhancements can be found on Infor Xtreme. If you’re not familiar with logging on to Infor Xtreme, talk to the person in charge of VISUAL in your organization.

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About the Author

Jack is the President of Visual South and has been working with the product since 1996 when he bought it in his role as a Plant Manager. Since 1998 he has worked for Visual South with roles in consulting, sales and executive management.