The Transformation of Acuity Financials into Sage 500 ERP

e2b teknologies (www.e2btek.com) started out in the early 1990s as Henslee & Associates, Inc. We started reselling accounting software around the same time that Gartner coined the term ERP to identify manufacturing-based business systems that extended beyond the supply chain to include the rest of the enterprise. As the company grew, founder Bill Henslee rebranded the company as Haitek Solutions to better reflect the purpose of the company – to provide high technology solutions to businesses. The “HAI” part of our name stood for Henslee & Associates, Inc.

There were literally hundreds of legitimate ERP systems available at the time but most of them were proprietary or based on specific technology platforms like the IBM AS400 or supported only specific flavors of an operating system like SCO-Unix while others were entirely proprietary like Qantel which ran on its QMRP product on its own hardware.
These were the good old days before anyone started talking about the “Y2K Bug.” Most MRP II systems were designed for very specific industries. Publishers like Friedman specialized in configure to order with their Frontier product, Job Boss focused on small job shops, and Fourth Shift dominated the repetitive manufacturing market while Marcam was thriving in process manufacturing with Prism and Protean.

Back then there was a distinct line between MRP II software and general accounting software from publishers like State of the Art (Sage MAS 90), Platinum Software (Platinum for Windows), and Great Plains. Most of these systems started off in Microsoft DOS.
It was a very competitive landscape but some manufacturers still didn’t have an accounting system and those that did often had very limited manufacturing capabilities in their systems so there were plenty of opportunities for ERP publishers and ERP resellers.
Haitek Solutions started out as a value added reseller for Thoroughbred Software’s Solution-IV accounting software. We resold their system and developed our own Shop-IV manufacturing ERP system in their proprietary IDOL-IV development environment. We were very successful in the early to mid 1990s garnering several major customers but everything was about to change.

In the mid 1990s Microsoft’s Windows operating system became a viable alternative to Unix. In a matter of years most accounting and mid-market ERP publishers had rewritten their software to support Windows and it was becoming harder and harder to compete – especially in smaller manufacturing opportunities. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel by developing an accounting system from scratch but we needed a Windows-based solution to remain competitive.

In 1996 we started our search for a new partner and we found a fledgling accounting product called Acuity Financials from State of the Art software in Irvine, CA. Acuity was perhaps the most modern accounting system on the market at the time supporting Microsoft Windows, developed in Microsoft Visual Basic, and written and optimized (not ported like other applications) for Microsoft SQL Server. But Acuity was only an accounting application with General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Cash Management, and a third party solution for Project Accounting – originally from Niku and later replaced by a solution from Intellisol. Side note – Sage later acquired Intellisol’s Project Accounting module which is now the Project Accounting module within Sage 500 ERP.

Haitek was very interested in Acuity and we soon learned that State of the Art was developing a full distribution suite for Acuity to include Inventory Management, Purchase Order, and Sales Order modules. That’s what we needed to redevelop our Shop-IV manufacturing system so we signed on as an early development partner and started rewriting and redesigning Shop-IV from scratch in 1997. Acuity provided a great software development toolkit (SDK) but we were left guessing at table layouts and underlying structures anxiously awaiting the distribution release.

No major rewrite goes without hiccups and the task ahead of us was truly a wild ride. An interesting set-back happened when we hired a SQL programmer to help with the project. He worked for a couple weeks and then disappeared. When we finally caught up with him we found out that he was back in his home country of China helping his family recover from a natural disaster. We continued to work on the massive rewrite and announced Envision ERP to State of the Art’s global reseller channel in 1998 around the same time that Acuity Financials 4.0 was released with the much-needed distribution modules.

We knew there was a pent-up demand from the growing Acuity installed base but we never could have predicted that our first sale would come from half-way around the world a year before our official product release.

Soon after we announced Envision ERP to the channel we received a call from State of the Art notifying us that one of their Acuity resellers in Australia had “pre-sold” Envision ERP – sight unseen. That company, Daniel Robertson Brick of Australia, became one of our first customers. They dumped Great Plains because Envision ERP supported multiple parts produced per work order without having to define what products were being manufactured. This was a unique feature we had in our legacy Shop-IV application and we retained the functionality in Envision ERP.

Robertson Brick had a very unique requirement. They would place clay and ceramic bricks into an oven and they would grade them after they were removed. The finished goods were then classified into different items based on the qualities of the bricks. Some were more orange than red and others had different characteristics. Envision ERP was the only product they had ever seen that allowed them to make the items and then define what in fact they actually produced from the work order.

The official release of Envision ERP happened in October 1999. The first company to implement Envision ERP was Indianapolis-based Escient. Escient was an innovative consumer electronics company whose products were antiquated with the growth of internet-based music sites in the early 2000s. Escient’s TuneBase system connected to multiple CD carousel players and allowed the consumer to build play lists through a juke-box-like user interface on their television.

Haitek Solutions and Envision ERP gained a solid following among State of the Art’s Acuity channel. Several early wins, positive customer reviews, and a successful marketing campaign launched Envision ERP onto the map. State of the Art (rebranded to Sage Software in 1999 after being acquired by Sage Group the previous year) took notice and wholly-acquired Haitek Solutions in March 2001.

Envision ERP lives on today as the eight manufacturing modules in Sage 500 ERP – Light Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing, Material Requirements Planning, Advanced Planning & Scheduling, Engineering Change Management, Estimating, Shop Floor Control, and Product Configurator.

Haitek President Bill Henslee left Sage Software shortly after completing the transition of the company to Sage forming e2b teknologies. e2b teknologies is one of the longest-standing Sage 500 ERP development partners with more than a dozen product enhancements extending the original Envision ERP functionality. Sage recognized e2b teknologies as their Gold Development Partner of The Year in 2011 for Sage 500 ERP.

Transformation of Acuity Financials into Sage 500 ERP

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