AscentERP Rises in the Cloud ERP Market

Shaun McInerney and Chad Tripp, AscentERP

AscentERP is a cloud ERP provider building on the Salesforce platform, with a focus on manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies. Though not as well-known as other ERP providers on the platform, the company is doing some interesting work within its industry focus. It has also had the good fortune to receive some free media through its involvement with featured customers of Salesforce.

This post provides an update to our previous coverage of AscentERP.

Power of a Cloud Platform

Though not the largest player on the AppExchange network, AscentERP is continually experimenting with the latest features of the Salesforce platform. During Dreamforce, the annual conference of Salesforce users, we had the opportunity to discuss the latest developments with Shaun McInerney, one of  AscentERP’s co-founders.

  • Refining the user experience. Most recently, the team has been working with Lightning, the latest generation of the Salesforce platform. Lightning allows a developer to more rapidly build an application user interface that can be deployed across multiple desktop and mobile devices. There are multiple components for things like search bars, charts, related lists and so forth. Developers can also build their own components specific to applications that they build on the platform. McInerney indicated that his team is finding where Lightning works best with other capabilities of the Salesforce platform and where it needs better integration.
  • Internet of things. With AscentERP’s strong focus on the warehouse and factory data collection, it is also experimenting with Thunder, the newly announced event processing engine that Salesforce will use to capture large volumes of data from connected devices, such as smart products, manufacturing machinery, or any number of sensor-based equipment. Although Thunder was announced at Dreamforce, it is not yet generally available.
  • Expansion of accounting integration. Cloud integration is an important feature of the platform. It enables AscentERP to forgo building its own accounting modules, but rather to partner for this functionality with other cloud providers. For larger firms, it partners with FinancialForce, which is native on the Salesforce platform. In addition, AscentERP integrates with Intacct, another popular SaaS accounting provider. For smaller companies, AscentERP created an integration with Quickbooks. Sage Live, which Sage is now building out on the Salesforce platform, is a possible future partner.

A modern cloud platform does the heavy lifting for developers in terms of infrastructure, user interface, and technical capabilities, allowing developers to focus on functionality. AscentERP’s ability to quickly deploy new features illustrates the power of a cloud platform.

The Back-End System for Generation Tux

Customer stories are a good way to understand where an ERP vendor is experiencing success. At Dreamforce this year, AscentERP had the good fortune to be part of a case-study for Generation Tux, which Salesforce featured during one main stage keynote.

Generation Tux (GTUX) is a new venture by George Zimmer, the former CEO/spokesman for the Men’s Wearhouse (“You’re gonna like the way you look”). Zimmer’s new company is attempting to disrupt the highly-fragmented market for tuxedo rentals by offering an online service nationwide in the US. Its business model is to have all customer interactions–shopping, measurements, shipping, and returns–conducted through the company’s website. Zimmer has been one of several celebrity fixtures at Dreamforce in recent years, so it is no surprise that GTUX chose Salesforce to build its ecommerce rental platform.

AscentERP provides all of the back-end systems for GTUX, as seen in this video case study produced by Salesforce. If you look closely, you can see the AscentERP logo at the 2:38 minute mark.

Dressed in GTUX tuxedos, the team in the AscentERP booth were definitely the best dressed in the Dreamforce exhibit hall, as shown in our photo at the top of this post. (Shaun McInerney is on the left in the photo, along with Chad Tripp, the firm’s technical manager of RFID/IoT solutions.)

At a cocktail reception, McInerney filled in some interesting details.

  • The Internet of tuxes. The strategy calls for RFID chips in each of the 120,000 pieces of apparel managed by GTUX in AscentERP. Smart products play a central role in the business strategy and enable several innovations.
  • Inventory control. No more problems with inventory accuracy. The RFID system allows GTUX to conduct a cycle count of its entire 250,000 square foot warehouse in just 70 minutes.
  • Simplifying the returns process. After the wedding, the customer must return the tux, shoes, and other apparel items. With an RFID tag embedded into every item, warehouse personnel can instantly know whether the customer has returned every item.
  • Reducing fraud. Occasionally, a customer will try to return a different pair of shoes, or a different shirt, than the one he was originally shipped. The RFID system instantly spots this anomaly.

Other case studies can be found on the AscentERP website.

Recommendations for Buyers

In our ERP selection consulting work, we may short list AscentERP for small and midsize businesses that are looking for a nuts-and-bolts production system with good support for warehouse management and data collection. The co-founders have a long history in warehouse management and data collection, and it shows in the capabilities of the product, as evidenced in the case study from Generation Tux.

In manufacturing companies, AscentERP handles production modes of build-to-order, assemble-to-order, and configure-to-order along with repetitive manufacturing capabilities. It can take opportunities from Salesforce.com and convert them into sales quotes and into sales orders in the production system.

Smaller companies may find the Quickbooks integration an interesting option, allowing them to implement ERP without having to give up Quickbooks. At the same time, AscentERP’s open approach gives buyers a wider selection of accounting systems to choose from.

As with all the cloud ERP providers on the Salesforce platform, AscentERP is a young vendor. Buyers should qualify AscentERP as well as any system integrator involved in the deal to ensure there is a good fit with requirements and experience in the customer’s industry.