Stoqo, originally Dear Inventory (www.dearsystems.com) from Australia, is one of the best sellers of inventory management application in Xero Marketplace. It was localized into China by NeuSAAS, Stoqo features smooth supply chain process design and user-friendly functions, which fully meets the application requirements for small-scale trading companies, assemblies and manufacturing companies.
Kingdee K/3 Wise is an ERP product of Kingdee (a well-known local ERP system vendor) with its integrated finance and supply chain modules fulfilling the application requirements of small and medium trading enterprises. As it adopts a traditional Client/Server mode, it is deployed on-premise, meaning in customer’s office.
For K/3 Wise, customers normally have to purchase its license upfront before implementation, which means, customers cannot return the product even though user experience is bad.
II. Comparative Analysis on Product Difference
The comparative analysis below is an organized interview material by the author, from interviewing an implementation consultant, who has been working on Kingdee system implementation for 10 years and also fully implemented 5 Stoqo projects. He has a deep understanding on the difference between the two products for their application in small companies.
For small companies, the organizational structure is usually not complete and the boundaries of functional responsibilities are not clear cut. It is common for one person to handle cross-functional tasks. There is also a lack of understanding and experiences with ERP system for employees in small organizations. Usually, budget is also not as sufficient as it is in big companies. These specific factors indicate why simplicity and smooth usage experience brought out by a graceful product design is so critical, so that small companies can fully utilize the system with the lowest cost (including the software purchasing cost in the beginning and ongoing software usage cost after system goes live).
We explain the difference in the following two major aspects:
1. User Friendly and Simple Design
The design of the product should be user friendly and simple for the entry, inquiry, and modification of transaction data as well as process control so that it is easy to understand and operate.
2. Easy but Powerful Functionalities
Even for small companies, the requirements for basic business data collection and data analysis are substantial. It is a big challenge for product design to find the best balance between the powerfulness and the usability of the functions.
We will illustrate the difference by looking at a few detailed examples in each aspect.
A User Friendly and Simple Design
a. Business Data Operation Process
Kingdee: A typical business cycle normally encompasses multiple steps. For example, sales normally consists of quotation, order, good picking and shipping, and invoicing. In Kingdee system, the data entry and inquiry for different steps in a business cycle is performed in independent transaction forms; therefore, users are unable to address all transaction information of the whole business cycle at one single page. (Shown below)
Enter purchase receipt when processing receipt of goods (Shown below):
Enter purchase invoice when processing invoice (Shown below):
Enter accounting entries list if the inquiry for purchase related journal entries are needed. (Shown below):
Stoqo: In small business, connected steps in a business cycle, such as order, inventory and invoice, are usually tightly linked and managed together at one time. Stoqo innovatively combines all the related transaction forms into one page so that users can enter and inquire the data of the entire business cycle on one interface.
The system does not set up different data input steps menus for a business cycle on the function menu. Instead, it provides only one “New Purchase” menu (Shown below):
The system put all related transaction forms of the purchase cycle on different tabs in one interface.
After transaction forms are approved in Stoqo, corresponding journal entries will be generated automatically. It will also show as a tab in the same page of the purchase transactions so that the internal staff and external accountant/CFO can view, inquire and analyze the entire chain of transactions information and accounting entries organized together.
The graph below is the accounting entries information inquiry interface:
b. Logic Control on the Modification of the Business Data
In data entry process, it happens often that original data entry mistakes are found and needs to be modified at the end of a business process. For example, if there is a mistake made in material entry in purchase order, such as material “A” is mistaken by material “B”. Let’s say a user, who has already finished entry of succeeding transactions, such as payment, purchase stock-in and purchase invoices, finds out this mistake. What should he do?
Kingdee: Users need to delete all transaction forms related to this original transaction form in order to change the information. For example, when users need to change the error of the material code in purchase order, they need to delete payment, purchase stock-in, and invoices that are related to this purchase order.
In Kingdee, when users try to modify data on purchase order, the system shows that This document is associated with other docs. Cannot cancel approval. However, it does not guide users to the next step, such as which related transaction forms need to be deleted. Shown below:
Stoqo: For small companies, usually, part or all of transactions in business process is operated by one user. At the same time, there is a lack of accuracy and integrity on the master data in small companies; therefore, mistakes happen quite often in data entry process. What users really need, is to be quick and convenient, but not strict controls like those in big companies.
Stoqo innovatively introduced an Undo function. If information on the original transaction form needs to be changed and it has already been associated with other transaction forms, users can click Undo and all data will be able to be modified. Users can directly change the information on the original transaction form such as the material code, currency and unit price, then re-verify all related transaction forms. There is no need to delete all related transaction forms, and data modification process is much faster.
c. Inquiry on Business Status
Users want to view the overall order status on Purchase Order List
Kingdee: Users cannot view the overall order status directly on Purchase Order List. Is stock received but no invoice yet? Or is the invoices received but no stock receipt?
The graph below shows the Purchase Order List page:
Stoqo: A Business Status icons set is added on the Purchase Order List to identify the status of this order. Users can better understand it.
Color Green signifies that the process is finished, while Yellow indicates that it is currently being processed. Shopping Basket icon refers to the purchase order, Document icon refers to the purchase invoice, and Box icon refers to the inventory stock-in or stock-out.
Easy but Powerful Functionalities
a. Document Printing Template
Kingdee: A design tool of document printing template is created with many functions but low usability.
The graph below is the design tool of Kingdee:
Stoqo: Stoqo innovatively uses Microsoft Word as the design tool of document printing template. As long as users know how to use Word, they can start to use the tool instantly.
Stoqo uses a very simple approach to solve a complex issue. Kingdee’s document printing template tool cannot compare with Microsoft Word in terms of fonts, graphics and layout functions, whereas there powerful features are instantly available to users of Stoqo.
The graph below is the design page of document template printing in Stoqo.
Users only need to adjust the required printing layout in the downloaded Word format (Shown below):
b. Design of Analysis Report
The usability and flexibility of the standard analysis report is also an important indicator for the user experience of an inventory management system.
Kingdee: The fixed reports fields and the fixed report filter fields are designed based on general requirements. Users cannot adjust them on their own.
Stoqo: Considering the reporting requirements of usability and flexibility of small companies, Stoqo is able to drag and drop data fields to shape different reports. At the same time, users can save the layout of the report for the next inquiry. The filter function can be applied to any fields and the operation is similar to Excel Filter function. Users only need to drag the fields that need to be summarized to the top of the report. The system will calculate and show the total lines of this field and the function is similar to Excel PivotTable. Stoqo applies the same logic of Excel to standard report, which is catering to users’ habit.
The graph below shows Stoqo’s standard “sales order detail report”. Just like Excel, users can drag fields to arrange different display sequences, to filter and to aggregate.
Users can directly drag fields to the standard repot to show related contents (Shown below):
c. Standard API Design
For small companies, inventory management fulfills only partially their business requirements. Their business requirements should also cover dealers’ management, POS cashier, CRM, expense claim management and so on. Whether inventory management system can be integrated with the best vertical applications in the market is very important for functionalities expansion and forming of complete business solution.
Kingdee: No standard API (application program interface). You can only use Kingdee’s modules, developed by Kingdee.
Stoqo: Stoqo developed and published their standard API, including detailed system data specifications. Developers can use the standard API to integrate other applications with Stoqo and users are enabled to pick up and assemble best of breed SAAS applications fitting into their own requirements.
Currently, Stoqo already finished the integration with Magento (E-commerce solution), Capsule (CRM solution) and MEGI (Cloud-based Finance Software solution).
The graph below shows Stoqo’s public API information:
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