Thanks to xTuple customers Cordeck Building Solutions, headquartered in Metro Chicago (USA), and Minneapolis, Minn.-based Warning Lites, xTuple ERP 5.0 includes a lot of changes. Big changes that warranted bumping the major version number. These fall into two broad categories — tax changes and CRM changes.
Let's start with taxes. The tax landscape around buying and selling goods has changed dramatically in the last few years. The kinds of items that are taxed, the nature of particular sales, the number of jurisdictions, and the explosion and influence of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) traffic on the Internet have all grown to the point where no one person can understand it all. An entire subindustry has sprouted into being just to handle this complex web of compliance issues.
A key player in this market is Avalara with its automated sales and use tax compliance product called AvaTax. Warning Lites sponsored development of an integration between xTuple ERP and Avalara's AvaTax service. If you choose to work with Avalara, add your subscriber information to the xTuple ERP setup, map your existing xTuple tax types to Avalara's tax codes (the two companies use "tax codes" differently), and you're ready to go. Compliance headaches? Gone!
Long-time xTuple customer Cordeck had a different set of challenges to solve — managing customer relationships and marketing campaigns to improve their business processes, especially inbound lead-to-sale conversion. Their sponsorship allowed us to make great improvements to xTuple ERP's CRM functionality; it's all about flexibility to meet the business needs of today and tomorrow.
Part of the customer relationship challenge will be addressed with an integration to Mautic — marketing automation for building powerfully personalized campaigns in minutes, to scale your marketing operations for amazing efficiency. We're moving to Mautic ourselves!
The first minor CRM changes appeared in our 4.11 releases, such as multi-column sort throughout the application (how many of you noticed that?!). A few more will show up in 4.12.0. The big changes, however, require big database changes and forced bumping the major version number to "5":
- The concept of "groups" in CRM has been generalized. We used to have employee groups and customer groups. Version 5.0 extends that to allow creating groups of addresses, contacts, CRM accounts, and more. The internal structure to do this allows us — or you — to apply the same structure to other objects, paving the way for future expansion.
- The associations between disparate CRM objects has been generalized, too. For example, contacts can be attached to multiple CRM accounts. A contact can have as many phone numbers as s/he needs, and you can create the field labels for what type of phone number, e.g. That kind of thing.
- The CRM account merge feature is more capable than ever, allowing two accounts for the same customer to be combined and preserving the history. The old restrictions on what kinds of account can be merged are gone.
- Filters on list windows can now remember the columns, not just the rows. Different list filters serve different purposes, so we've updated the application to acknowledge that. Earlier releases of xTuple ERP remember the visible columns on a window and show those same columns next time you open that same window. Version 5.0 gives you the option of associating the visible columns with specific filters. That way, your marketing filters of contacts can show a different set of columns than your customer service filters. This simplifies data exports for specific purposes, too.
More CRM changes are in the works for 5.1 and beyond.
These are just some highlights on what to expect in xTuple ERP 5.0. We're wrapping up 5.0 development work now (late October, 2018) and will release an alpha-grade preview in a few weeks. Look for a beta later in the year, a release candidate around New Year's 2019, and a final release soon after that.