Open Systems and its Traverse financials platform may not be a “household name” among small and midsized business (SMB) operators, but it’s actually been around a very long time. Founded in 1976, Open Systems originally offered a minicomputer-based turnkey general ledger accounting system written in Business Basic. Over the years, the company divested its hardware division and offered an updated version of Open Systems Accounting Software (OSAS), which it still offers for operating systems (OSes) other than Windows, including Linux, Mac OS X, and Unix.
The Open Systems Traverse we’re reviewing here (which begins at $175 per user per month) is a modular, Windows-based accounting and enterprise resource planning (ERP), general accounting, and inventory management system that’s available on-premises or as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) package. Unlike many other small to midsize enterprise (SME) accounting systems, Open Systems Traverse is available not just through Open Systems’ reseller network but directly from the vendor as well. Still, while its purchasing and deployment flexibility are exceptional, Open Systems Traverse’s complexity at the data manipulation level keeps it slightly behind Editors’ Choice winner Intacct in this roundup.
You Can Trust Our Reviews
Rather than a flowchart or process chart, like what you can build with Intacct or Oracle NetSuite OneWorld, Open Systems Traverse uses a Windows File Explorer-type interface, with expandable functional categories shown in a panel occupying the left-hand side of the screen. A customizable dashboard display occupies most of the remaining screen real estate. That left-hand side, Explorer-like panel is divided, with the lower part displaying file folder icons labeled with the application modules available in the installed system. Click on one of these and the application expands to the top half of the panel, showing the functions and reports available in that sub-ledger. The same parts of the overall system are reachable through drop-down menus on a ribbon bar stretching horizontally at the top of the screen.
For more granular drill-down, click a data point on a dashboard graphic (hovering the cursor shows the detail of that data point). Further drill-downs are available, but only through most reports.
A Bit Confusing
To get full value out of any accounting or ERP system, training is a must. While a reseller may install and do the initial configuration, most SME accounting or ERP systems are still complex enough to require a trained in-house support person (or department) to help with everyday tasks, like configuring customized data entry and report screens. This is particularly true with Open Systems Traverse. With data entry, transactions are stored in an appropriate Transaction table until the batch is posted. There are different Transaction tables for different types of transactions (A/R, A/P, G/L), and understanding the relationships between data storage tables is crucial to correctly configuring screens and reports. That’s because as a default setting, Open Systems Traverse performs batch rather than real-time posting and processing.
Fortunately, Open Systems Traverse includes Design Studio, a visual administrator utility tool used to set up and customize forms and screens. It’s something your Traverse systems administrator should probably become proficient with quickly. Using Design Studio, an administrator can create custom screens to input specific business process data, and then create individualized reports.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
As mentioned earlier, Open Systems Traverse is one of the few SME accounting and ERP systems you can purchase directly from the vendor. But, unless you have a very strong IT department that can work closely with your accounting staff, you’ll almost certainly be better off dealing with an Open Systems partner who can help you quickly and efficiently tailor and install the system. Without this kind of help, initial deployment, configuration and customization, and even many day-to-day operations are not only challenging but needlessly time-consuming and expensive.
Where you might also need some advice is pulling together the right modules to comprise your system. Available Open Systems Traverse modules include CRM, fixed assets, warehouse management, and production inventory, among many others. You’ll need expert help in mapping out your company’s business processes and matching those to the features available in all those modules, not just to make sure you get what you need, but also to avoid redundancy, overlap, and unnecessary expense.
You’ll also want to pay attention to what your users see, especially using the cloud-based version I tested as it’s the version most easily accessible by a variety of mobile devices. I tested mobile access using the Chrome browser (the same browser I used on the PC for the rest of the testing) using a Lenovo Android tablet, an Apple iPad Air 2, and a Microsoft Surface 3 tablet running Windows 10($139.00 at Microsoft Store)(Opens in a new window). All three let me access and move around in the application, but it was noticeably easier on the two tablets (iPad and Surface 3), which had optional keyboards along with touchpads. I would definitely recommend mobile users have an optional keyboard or perhaps a Bluetooth mouse if they need to access the Open Systems Traverse system on the go.
Some Smart Reporting
Another place where Open Systems Traverse shows its maturity is reporting; Open Systems lists more than 800 available reports. Fortunately, that’s not all for general ledger users but for a fully decked-out ERP system. Still, the general ledger module I reviewed included all of the standard reports you could wish for, with the only noticeable omission being a separate Statement of Retained Earnings. However, with Open Systems Traverse’s report filters and Design Studio, building this report is a simple job; few circumstances actually require a separate fourth financial statement anyway.
One report I did notice is a Working Trial Balance (sometimes called an Adjusted Trial Balance), something that’s pretty rare these days (but is included in the Accountant’s Edition of QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise. This report is used during period or year-end closings, and consists of a listing of unadjusted account balances, closing adjustments, and the adjusted accounts balances. A Working Trial Balance is very easy to construct in Microsoft Excel($0.00 at Apple.com)(Opens in a new window), but it was nice to see it included in the available reports.
Building Out the System
If you decide to evolve Open Systems Traverse from midrange accounting to full ERP, then you’ll be happy to know it’s a simple process to complete. But make sure its ERP feature set is in line with your business needs. As with many of the ERP systems reviewed here, Open Systems Traverse is stronger in some areas than in others. While add-ins can provide point-of-sale (POS), retail, and service business scheduling as well as dispatch and routing functionality, Open Systems Traverse’s greatest strengths lie in distribution and manufacturing.
However, several subsystems are applicable to a wide range of business types, including customer relationship management (CRM) and fixed asset management. CRM is a common, almost bedrock, ERP function, and Open Systems Traverse does it well. Besides the standard customer contact information, which is developed in the sales and accounts receivable modules, Open Systems Traverse’s CRM allows you to interact with Microsoft Outlook($106.08 at Amazon)(Opens in a new window) and Microsoft Office to develop and track sales campaigns and campaign materials and emails.
Most of the modules in Open Systems Traverse allow you to define your own fields, and CRM also supports this capability, so you can add your own activities and other information you feel will be useful if associated with a customer record. You can also establish relationships between contacts in the same organization, such as showing a top-down org chart, for example. This is useful when you deal with different people in the same company for different products or services, or to make a note of the proper contact for specific problems or activities.
Keeping Up With Depreciation
Open Systems Traverse’s fixed asset management isn’t needed quite as universally applicable as CRM, but it’s close. Not every business needs to track fixed assets but many have assets that the IRS requires be depreciated over a number of years rather than simply reported as expenses when they’re purchased. Open Systems Traverse’s “Fixed Asset” module makes this easy because it automatically calculates the depreciation on a particular asset using any prescribed depreciation method. It also provides up to four sets of books for situations where reporting needs to be calculated differently. For example, the IRS may require a different depreciation method from the way you wish the asset to be reflected in your books and financial statements. In this case, you could maintain two or possibly three sets of depreciation records.
The Fixed Assets module has several other useful features. Its “Lease vs. Buy” analysis capability is a handy example as is its “Trial Depreciation” functions that let you test out various scenarios before making an acquisition. Also, the end-of-year Tax Summary report mirrors the IRS Form 4562, which is convenient. And, while many Fixed Asset systems overlook amortization since it really doesn’t apply to depreciable assets, Open Systems Traverse has a Loan Amortization calculator, which is useful for creating amortization schedules for such things as loans and prepaid expenses.
It’s impossible to review ERP without noting that financial accounting is a big piece of the pie. For example, when talking about distribution capabilities, we’re not just looking at a single app but, rather, it’s an interrelated system of discrete functions. Distribution and manufacturing both tie in very closely with inventory, sales order entry, and purchasing, for example—not to mention important integration with non-accounting modules such as warehouse management and manufacturing requirements planning (MRP).
Closely tied to that is all-up inventory management, where Open Systems does a solid job. This was readily apparent to me as the test system I was using for this review was configured with what Open Systems calls a Distribution Suite. That includes Inventory, Bill of Materials (BoM) with kitting, Warehouse Management, and Requirements Planning in addition to Sales and Purchase Order apps. All of these are tightly integrated but are available as separate app modules or in different combinations, too. All of the modules support multicurrency operation.
The Traverse Inventory module supports multiple warehouses, and items can exist in several warehouses if required. Items are also easily transferred between warehouses to meet sudden shifts in demand. Warehouse transfers can include the cost of the transfer in calculating the cost of the item. You can also track item movements within a warehouse.
Traverse provides support for all of the common costing methods, and includes bin or serialized costing as well as specific item costing. In using the Inventory module to fulfill an order, you can specify alternate items to be shipped when stock levels are low, assuming that the items are equivalent. Open Systems supports mobile devices and bar code scanning, but most of the capabilities in this area are located in the Sales Order app where items can be scanned or entered into a sales order from a device. Import for physical counts is also supported, so you can conduct inventory counts either by using the worksheets generated by the system, or by importing them from a spreadsheet if physical inventory counts are recorded using this approach. Inventory report screens have excellent drill-down capacities, and while there aren’t an overabundance of inventory reports, those that are provided are relevant and useful.
The Bill of Materials (BoM) is fairly standard, and includes kitting to provide a more granular approach when your BoM has sub-assemblies. You can use the BoM to build non-serialized items that contain serialized subassemblies and kits, and separately track the cost of components but assign the overall price to the kit. You can also create batches for inventory processing based on ABC classification (where “A” items provide the best revenue and “C” items are the least profitable). Traverse inventory also lets you specify different alert colors for stock levels, so that low or stock-out conditions are more visible.
Requirements planning is done in a single module rather than requiring an integrated Material Requirements Planning (MRP) and Distribution Requirements Planning (DRP) operation, as is more common. Forecasting reports are flexible, and you can show forecasted requirements in bucketed or bucketless formats and in a variety of displays such as graphs or tables. Forecasts are performed by using historical data, and don’t seem to be quite as sophisticated as the multiple methods available in SAP Business One Professional(Visit Site at SAP)(Opens in a new window). They should suffice for many users, however.
In many respects, Traverse Inventory is a fairly generic app module, even in the Distribution Suite configuration I tested. It has the basic requirements and should be able to handle the day-to-day operations for most companies. There’s a Design Studio that lets you create custom reports, and the inventory supports user-defined fields for those that need a little customization. While there are more comprehensive and sophisticated Inventory modules from other ERP vendors, such as our Editors’ Choices Syspro(199.00 Per User Per Month at SYSPRO)(Opens in a new window) and Acumatica(Visit Site at Acumatica Cloud ERP)(Opens in a new window), Open Systems’ wide selection of available app modules makes it a good choice for a company that wants to construct a system more closely tailored to its needs.
It’s All About Product
While some of the ERP systems I reviewed, such as Epicor ERP(Visit Site at Epicor)(Opens in a new window) and NetSuite OneWorld, include project management capabilities (up to and including Gantt charts and critical path determination) as part of their out-of-box ERP capabilities, Open Systems Traverse concentrates on production management. That sounds similar but, in practice, it’s actually more on the order of MRP. This function ties together sales order data as well as inventory and payroll to let you determine what needs to be done organization-wide to fulfill sales orders. Production management assumes that you’re actually producing the items you’re selling (i.e., manufacturing) rather than purchasing them for distribution. The end product is a Production Order, which details items and materials you’ll need from inventory to build the products indicated on the sales order. If that fits your business process, then it’s a nicely capable module. It’s a nicely capable one because it lets you drill down well below simple manufacturing inventory when detailing what it takes to fill sales orders (including analysis of required labor costs, tooling, and more).
Overall, I like Open Systems Traverse from an ERP perspective. With its modular orientation, it can be quickly configured to be a good fit for many smaller businesses that need enterprise-class functionality. It can accommodate those companies with multiple locations and subsidiaries, and it even supports multicurrency needs. Open Systems Traverse is affordable and not difficult to use once you get the hang of it. However, many users will still want to work with a consultant or reseller—at least through the initial install and configuration—just to help fine-tune the system. The software earned an Excellent rating in our review on its General Ledger capabilities and it retains the same rating from an ERP perspective.
Priced to Compete
Most vendors declined to give us specific pricing, but Open Systems was very open about theirs. Open Systems Traverse includes an on-premises perpetual license, priced based on number of concurrent users and which applications are purchased. For example, a six-user, five-application purchase would be $11,000 plus maintenance, support, training, implementation, and similar value-add costs. Cloud pricing runs $175 per user per month, which includes the Open Systems Traverse subscription and the Microsoft Azure($14,300.00 at Microsoft Azure)(Opens in a new window) virtual environment running the system’s cloud servers.
Traverse has all the bells and whistles you could want in an SME accounting system, and can evolve into full ERP if necessary. As with other accounting and ERP systems in this market segment, providing extreme flexibility also results in a certain amount of complexity, especially when it comes to data manipulation and customization. But with experience and the Design Studio, Open Systems Traverse can be custom-tailored to your operating needs and, once fully customized, delivers a powerful solution that holds its own with any competitor.
The Bottom Line
While Open Systems Traverse is one of the oldest players in the space, it actually shows its age in areas like UI design. Still it’s a solidly capable mid-tier financial platform that’s well worth a look.
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Source By https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/open-systems-traverse