Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Press Release: Pastel announces dates for Evolution upgrades

Pastel Software Zimbabwe will launch two upgraded versions of Pastel Evolution this year. Version 6.60 will be launched in Zimbabwe in July and Version 6.70 in October, participants in a series of seminars held in Harare were told.

The seminars, which focused chiefly on Pastel Evolution and various applications of Evolution, such as Branch Accounting, Retail Point of Sale and Municipal Billing, were held on March 8 and 9.

They provided local users and potential users of Evolution and other Pastel products, such as Pastel Partner, with the opportunity to hear about the latest developments and uses of these products from experts from Sage Pastel International in South Africa. Pastel software packages are the most common accounting packages in use among small to medium-sized businesses in Zimbabwe.

Explaining the added functionality of the new versions of Evolution, Sage Pastel International Evolution director for Pastel Evolution Mohammed Mussa, who was one of the speakers at the seminar, said new features would include Advanced Manufacturing, Retail Point of Sale (POS) enhancement, which will have POS lay-by, Pricing Manager and Promotions.

The new versions will also allow for three stage invoicing,  generation of a purchase order from a sales order, proof of delivery and an inventory forecasting and distribution matrix, which will permit the distribution of stock from head office based on branch sales.

The additional modules that come with these versions are Branch Accounting, Multi-Currency, Manufacturing and Information Alerts.

Mr Mosam demonstrated how to use the Branch Accounting module and the various features of this module. The module, which was introduced in South Africa in October last year (2010),  has become a phenomenal success throughout Africa, he said.

Branch Accounting is ideal for legal entities with multiple locations. With this module, information is shared, consolidated and saved on both the centralised system at head office and at branch level. This ensures all financial, inventory and pricing data is always up to date and consistent across branches. The Branch Accounting is specifically designed to work in environments with weak telecoms infrastructure and allows for offline/online remote branches.

Product price changes made at head office level can be automatically implemented at all branches.

Companies that make use of it can operate their branches, wherever they may be, independently and yet control from head office changes and accounting entries. All data is centralised back to head office.

If, for instance, lines go down at any branch it will still be possible to operate from the branch for as long as the lines are down. All activities can be tracked at the branches and consolidated back to head office when the lines come up again. Each branch will also still be able to service its clients.

In addition, any potential loss of data due to fire or theft can be kept to a minimum because data is housed at two locations. Data for a particular branch can be rebuilt and sent to the relevant branch within hours of data loss.

With Branch Accounting it is possible to log onto either one branch at a time or all branches to see the transactions taking place at each branch.

“Branch Accounting simplifies and streamlines business processes and transactions between all these entities,” Mr Mosam said.

The benefits of Branch Accounting include increased productivity as a result of time saved as well as simplified transactions and minimisation of error potential with once-off entry of information.

Branch Accounting also provides a complete audit trail and full visibility of business activities and a transaction history from head office level for each branch. There is also the creation of efficient, cost effective transactions with affiliate and subsidiary companies.

Mr Mussa said Pastel Evolution had fast become popular in South Africa and internationally. He said the current version, version 6.5, had become popular for its accuracy in the management of data.

Some of the features that are currently being used in version 6.5, include user-defined fields on transaction lines, Sales document encryption,  and duplicate reference numbers, which make it possible to account for cash in any way that fits one’s business.

Its cost prices feature makes it possible to hide cost prices that one may not want others to see. Costs can be viewed in a particular encrypted format and cost prices can be masked or allocated a digit code.

The system audit manager tracks any transaction changes made to particular files before and after the transaction. It also tracks changes made outside the application and the IP address of the user.

Mr Mosam also demonstrated the Pastel Evolution Retail Point of Sale module. He said Retail Point of Sale was designed for businesses with high retail volumes and multiple branch locations that require the flexibility of offline capabilities and branch retail independence.

Information flowing between head office and branches includes new products, price changes with start dates and sales and associated transactions to update Evolution Accounting.

Retail Point of Sale is easy to use, fast and robust with a powerful front and back office retail solution. It has bi-directional integration with offline remote sites, automated integration directly into Pastel Evolution and full electronic inter-branch transfer. It also has support for standard POS printers, cash drawers and pole displays.

Mr Mosam said Pastel Evolution Retail POS has multiple levels of security, is ideal for high volume retail outlets and is suitable for multiple branch locations. It makes it possible to print receipts and cashier reports, do inter-branch transfers, process quotes, orders, invoices and credit notes, and implement multiple payment methods.

Mr Mosam said the various modules had the potential to increase productivity.

“All modules are designed to simplify processes,” he said. “They are modules that really allow Evolution to make a difference,” he added.

Mr Mosam also took the opportunity to tell delegates about the Municipal Billing module, which is designed specifically for the billing needs of local authorities. The module makes it possible to obtain a history of what is happening on customer accounts. It can retain up to five financial years of continuous transactions. Pastel is looking into the possibility of increasing this to seven years, he said.

Municipal Billing also allows for the calculation of an average reading based on historical consumption.

Mr Mosam said with Pastel Evolution there is no need to change accounting structures, staff or skills. As the business grows one can simply add more modules. Pastel Evolution is affordable, easily deliverable and grows with the business as a partner, he said.

Business Intelligence product manager Les Allen took the opportunity to encourage seminar participants to change the way they do their accounting, as he took them through the Business Intelligence Centre (BIC) module.

He said there was no need to spend any more than a day doing the accounts. The BIC Excel Genie was, he said, the new way of organising one’s business.

“Many people spend a lot of unnecessary time doing their accounts when it can be done in a short space of time,” he said.

He said with Excel Genie there was fast implementation with instant return on investment (ROI) using out of the box templates. It makes it possible to view data textually or graphically and quickly drill down to details in the familiar Excel interface. It is automated, leaving no chance for making manual mistakes. It also gives options to generate layout more easily.

It allows for forecasting, using the ‘what if’ analyser. One can change numbers for sales accounts and forecast against the actual budget to obtain the answer to the question ‘How will it affect my budget?’. After forecasting, it can be reset.

Pastel Software Zimbabwe Payroll Sales and Support Consultant Carlos George provided delegates with information on Pastel Partner Payroll and HR (Human Resources) which, he said, was being used in 23 countries in Africa and by 34 000 clients in the SADC region. He said Pastel Payroll works for any company with at least 10 employees.

“It is so easy even the boss can use it,” Mr George said.

He said Pastel Payroll could generate ‘what if’ scenarios. It was also possible to select which employees to work with at any given time, for instance on termination. It can terminate employees from the payslip and reverse the termination if desired. Pastel HR is fully integrated with Payroll.


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