Exciting news, everyone — xTuple 5.0.0RC has been released! But What’s In It For Me (WIIFM), you ask? A number of CRM enhancements, third party tax service integration, and a variety of window and organizational updates that you’ve been asking for. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of all the updates, feel free to check out the Release Notes. In the meantime, here’s an introduction to the features we think are super exciting, not to mention they’ll make your life easier.
Contacts and Accounts have been given a boost to improve efficiency and user experience (UX). Contacts are now able to have a relationship with more than just one CRM Account (5453). So, if one of your Contacts works for one of your Vendors AND is also a Customer, the Contact’s Relationship tab will list both.
Starting in CRM 5.0, there’s a Company Name field on the Contact (28321). At the surface, this may not sound all that exciting. What this allows you to do: Search contacts by the company name. Sometimes, the company name is listed as the first line of the address, so it isn’t searchable. But, in order to provide address validation, we needed to pull the company name out of the address. So, now you can search for the Company Name, since it’s its own field.
In the past, you could only get to a Project through Projects. While navigating the Customer’s CRM tab and the Account’s Activities tab, you’ll notice that you can now show the associated Projects with the simple tick on a checkbox. The Projects will appear in the list and can be opened from both locations (26600, 27641). This update helps streamline the UX, so you don’t have to leave the Customer or Account window in order to view the Projects. Phew! What a time-saver!
The CRM Account List now only shows the results available based on the user’s privileges (5798). For example, the user should not be able to see the Vendor in CRM > Account if they do not have “View/Maintain Vendor” privileges. This not only streamlines the UX based on their privileges but also allows you to have more control over which users are able to see the vendors.
Merging and Purging — it’s all about keeping your data clean. And now, it’s getting even easier. We’ve rewritten the Contact Merge utility, included merge functions, and CRM Account merge functions (29683). The CRM Account Merge is now able to handle Customers, Vendors, and Tax Authorities (16327). For a better UX, we’ve made sure that the CRM Account Merge window has a reasonable initial opening size so that it does not require manual resizing (15709).
Speaking of keeping your data clean, duplicate Contacts can be frustrating. We’ve added a system-wide setting to enforce unique email addresses for Contacts (29312 - nothing quite like “eating your own dogfood”). With the Contact Merge utility and the unique email addresses, you’ll see a significant improvement in a duplicate-free state going forward.
And finally, those in sales and marketing will be excited to hear that we’ve added the ability to send emails from the Contacts, Customers, and CRM Accounts windows using the default email client (33325). This will result with one email per recipient. If you select a list of 5 people, 5 email composition windows will open. This is not the same as sending the same email to all selected records which means you can customize and personalize your emails to the recipients.
Window and Organization Updates
There are times when we realize that we could combine two pre-existing objects of functionality in order to simplify both the application itself and our everyday use of the application. You’ve asked us to combine the Project Tasks and To Do items, so that’s exactly what we did (4860). To Do items have been merged with Project Tasks into a single “Task” object, so the To Do items no longer exist as they once did. Tasks can document associations with other documents such as Accounts, Contacts, Projects, Quotes, Sales Orders, Work Orders, and Purchase Orders. Associating the Task occurs on the Task window’s Documents tab. The Tasks screen will also show parent tasks so that you can quickly view all the linked tasks (29000). And, you’ll have the ability to right-click to add tasks to the objects that can have tasks. Why is this so exciting? It helps simplify your daily engagement from having to check both the Tasks and To Do screens to just one place and allows you to create tasks that much faster.
Another frequently requested addition is for lists to show the number of records they contain (33309). This completely makes sense for every level of user. Everything from a list of filtered down incidents to a list of contacts will show a number for the records resulting from the query. This can help you gauge how much work needs to be done, how many tasks are assigned to you, or how many customers result from a particular filter.
Now, when you create a filter, you’ll not only have the ability to sort the columns and order (ascending vs. descending) and the column visibility, but those settings will be saved as part of the filter (33307). This will allow you to have more control over how the list of results are displayed and keep you from having to constantly sort in the exact way that you want to view the data. It may seem like a small feature, but it will help reduce the number of clicks which hopefully reduces headaches, too.
Third Party Tax Integration
Just reading the words “taxes” can make some people’s heart rate skyrocket. But that doesn’t need to be the case anymore. We’ve partnered with Avalara, a third party tax service, to build the simple and easy tax compliance suite integration with xTuple (29654). Setting up Avalara in your ERP is astoundingly easy. You’ll need an account with Avalara in order to get your account number and license key. Once you update your tax integration settings in xTuple, you’ll be ready to link your xTuple tax types to Avalara’s tax codes. The final step will be to ensure that the proper tax types are associated with the items you buy and sell.
Now, you can rest easy knowing that Avalara is tracking all the rules and rates changes so you don’t have to, especially important if you sell across any tax jurisdictions (which could be as close as across the street!). They actively manage the sales tax compliance across all sales channels which improves accuracy and reduces the risk of an audit. You’ll also benefit from the efficiency of Avalara’s automated sales and use tax calculations, exemption certificate management, and return preparation and filing.
For more information about xTuple’s integration with Avalara, read here.
Other Important Notes (from the developers)
There are significant changes to how CRM and tax data are stored in the database, so you may need to update customized scripts, reports, and MetaSQL queries. In addition, the deprecated portions of the Script Toolbox have been removed as previously announced, which may also require script updates.
Strict country checking is now required and how countries are stored in the database has been changed. Before upgrading to 5.0.0-alpha or later, you must install fixCountry 5.0.0 and migrate the country data.
As always, check the Compatibility Matrix.