Infor OS, Infor SunSystems 6.4 & Q&A 11.3 – 10 Good Reasons to Upgrade

13. 11. 19 David Singh

SunSystems Version 6 first hit the streets in 2010, many people took the opportunity to upgrade from both SunSystems 4 and 5, and since the first release we have seen a number of revisions 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and now the latest 6.4. New functionality and enhancements have been introduced along the way as well as technical enhancements at the operating system, database and security / access levels. The view of many including those in the industry, its users and even the competition is that while SunSystems may lack some of the “bells and whistles” found in many other products today, it is a solid and reliable FMS that continues to deliver, and to coin a phrase “it does exactly what it says on the tin”. If you know me you’ll know I’m a long standing fan of SunSystems, and I largely agree with that sentiment, however in order to benefit from the latest technology, features and functions my advice to all SunSystems users (V4, V5 and V6) is you should upgrade and there are some very good and compelling reasons for you to do so, below are just some, this is by no means an exhaustive list and in no particular order.

1. The Technology Trap and Forced Upgrade

The last thing anyone wants is to be forced to upgrade, however, that is often the situation; not because we or Infor are forcing you to do so but the underlying technology is. As versions of application software age and are superseded by newer revisions software authors typically stop releasing updates for them to enable them to operate on latest versions of Windows or MS SQL database. I can count many instances where a corporate decision to upgrade Windows and / or MS SQL has led to SunSystems / Q&A to stop working and the only solution is to upgrade SunSystems to a newer version; this has meant downtime, a lot of stress and unplanned expense. So if you’re IT department are planning a technology upgrade make sure you know and plan your SunSystems 6.4 upgrade as part of the project.

2. The Java Issue

At the end of January 2019 Oracle decided to end its free of charge public updates to JAVA SE. So what I hear you ask? Well, to put it simply there are parts of SunSystems V5 and V6 that use this programming language to execute certain functions, up until January 2019 Oracle have been providing free of charge updates which contain important enhancements to improve performance, stability and security of the Java applications that run on your machine, this is no longer happening unless you upgrade to the latter versions of SunSystems 6.3 or now 6.4. Both of these still use Java but a public release of it that is supported. Not upgrading could put at risk the security of your system, unfortunately when software isn’t updated, the bad people out there find ways to break in, therefore an upgrade to SunSystems 6.4 is advised.

3. The start of your Digital Transformation Journey

SunSystems 6.4 has been engineered very much with Digital Transformation in mind, love it or loathe the term, it’s happening and it’s happening to businesses no matter what shape and size. DT means different things to different people, but in the world of Finance it’s all about joining up software, processes and people. Making sure the enterprise is joined up, that all our software applications are used efficiently and effectively, that people collaborate because our applications allow them to, that business processes are streamlined such that the business runs smoothly and we achieve optimum results across the enterprise.

4. SunSystems 6.4 engineered for Infor OS (Operating Service) and Designed for Progress

In the point above I speak about Digital Transformation. If your business is going to embrace this it needs a platform to build its digital strategy on; Infor OS is such a platform. If you’d like to know more about it then read my blog Infor OS The Future Has Arrived. SunSystems 6.4 has been specifically engineered to take full advantage of Infor OS, it exploits the capabilities of a number of very powerful features;

  • ION Workflow – a powerful and highly flexible workflow engine that allows you to build your own business rules, authorisations, process routes and alerts.
  • ION Integration Services – built on web services technology sophisticated real-time integrations can be built between Infor and non-Infor applications enabling you to join up your software applications.
  • IDM – Infor Document Management, an out of the box document management application that enables you to store all business related documents that relate to any financial account or transaction, with powerful archive and retrieval capability.
  • Ming.le, a unifying consumer grade UX (User Experience) that renders all Infor software applications in a common format it includes messaging and alerting capability such that only relevant information that you are interested in and have subscribed to is pushed proactively to you. Described as “Social Media” for business, Ming.le allows your people to communicate and collaborate in a way email cannot.
  • Mobile, users these days want to work the way they live, no longer do people want to be tied to their desktop, they want to be able to access things that are important to them on mobile devices, Infor OS has mobile built in.

Turning now to the new functionality in SunSystems 6.4 and Q&A 11.3

5. Improved web functionality

Over the past 10 years SunSystems has steadily moved from a rich (thick) client to a web client meaning that it can be used through a web browser such as IE or Chrome. For many organisations and their IT departments in particular, accessing software through a browser is the most effective way of delivering and managing their business applications. The issue with older versions of SunSystems is that not all of the functions required by users have been available through the web interface, which means either installing the rich client on user’s desktops or having some kind of terminal services technology such as Citrix or RDP in play thus adding an extra layer of complexity. With SunSystems 6.4, significant improvements have been made with 95% of all functions available through the thin web client. The user experience of the web client is also much improved with better screen handling, rendering and less scrolling. In the past users have been reluctant to use the web client because of the poor experience, that’s all changed. Lay over the top of this the Infor OS technology and you have a consumer grade application experience that is attractive, appealing and easy to use.

6. Inter Company Posting

Up until now the only way to conduct intercompany transactions in SunSystems was to create the journals in Q&A and post them into the relevant business units, ensuring that the entries balanced across BU’s or use Corporate Allocations. It is now possible to create a new journal type that is for IC use that allows posting to take place from the Ledger Entry screen that posts the entries between the BUs in one process, the same journal type can be used in Q&A data send and it does exactly the same. This feature will be very useful to all users that have BUs where one pays on behalf of the other or there are sales between BUs. In later revisions of SunSystems 6.4 this process will be enhanced still further with the ability to accept or reject an IC posting by a receiving BU. Other areas where IC will be extended is in inventory management and sales order processing.

7. Purchase Requisitions

For uses of the Purchase Order Management or Purchase Invoice Register modules, significant work has been done in this area;

Purchase Requisition Enhancements

  • Override over soft commitment checking
  • Work Delegation
  • Email notification configuration
  • Show outstanding quantity for each contract
  • Generate multiple orders at the same time for different suppliers
  • Allow business rules to be fired on function Requisition Work Queue

Purchase Order / Purchase Invoice Enhancements

  • New Invoice Work Queues to list purchase transactions awaiting approval.
  • Improve Purchase Business approval to include more data into business modelling
  • Improve the use of email and Ming.le notifications to include purchase modules
  • Extending approval through ION Desk for line level business transactions, e.g. Purchase Order, Purchase Invoice.

8. 64 Bit Support

This is the first truly 64 bit version of SunSystems, maybe not as important to the end SunSystems user but definitely one that your IT department will want. For the non-technical that read this, 64 bit applications can exploit the full power of the machine that they run on, with 32 bit (old versions of SunSystems) there is a 3 GB memory limit that is removed. This paves the way for new versions of Windows and of course moving the Cloud, which is where SunSystems is ultimately heading (your choice).

9. Q&A 11.3

This has been a long-time coming of that there is little argument. Q&A 10 has been a staple for most all reporting from SunSystems for the past decade, there have been minor enhancements and there was an upgrade version, Q&A 11.1 (also known as Q&A BI) which was released but got very little adoption due to missing functionality and performance. Since then there has been Q&A 11.2 which fixed some of the issues but again wasn’t adopted by many, we’ve all be holding out for 11.3 and now we have it. The significant difference is that Q&A Executive no longer exists, the functionality that provided is now wrapped up in Q&A XL, which is a full 64 bit application and so works reliably with the latest versions of MS Office and Office 365 and even better doesn’t fail when there is a MS Office update (hurrah!!). Included within it are;

  • User Defined Outputs
  • Extract Performance improvements on summary links
  • Report Designer (Filter Columns, Subtotalling, Formatting)
  • Additional Macro Support for Q&A API’s
  • Web interface for User Management
  • Formula lockdown, like Executive.
  • Report Conversion from Q&A 10 for UDO and Report Designer.
  • Enhancements to Q&A Alert
  • Support to SunSystems Home page to produce Q&A Queries
  • Improvement in Patching

10. Roadmap for the future

Infor are continuing to plough financial and human resources into SunSystems, a team of over 80 developers in the UK and Shanghai are busy working on future revisions of SunSystems 6.4, new functionality and technology will continue to be added on a regular basis which you will be able to take advantage of by simply deploying the latest patch-set release and not through a disruptive upgrade. The next major release will be a new product family, SunSystems 7, this is due out early 2021 and will be the “true Cloud” version of SunSystems which Infor will be offering in a multi-tenanted Cloud environment as a subscription based service or you can continue to use it on premise if you so wish.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, this list is by no means exhaustive, and there are plenty of other reasons that I could have included, but I hope that this will give you an idea of what Infor OS, SunSystems 6.4 and Q&A 11.3 could do for you and your organisation. If you would like any further information about the software or issues mentioned in this blog, you can contact us alternatively you can register to join our Update Seminar on 20th November at London’s Goldsmiths’ Centre.

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David Singh

Written by:

David Singh

Touchstone FMS Business Unit Head

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