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Microsoft on Tuesday announced the purchase of ERP Complete, an implementation tool designed to cut time and costs of deploying Axapta, Microsoft’s enterprise resource planning suite aimed at the manufacturing, distribution, retail and services industries.

The tool was acquired for an undisclosed amount from En’tegrate Software LLC of Rolling Meadows, Ill., a software and consulting vendor focused on Axapta implementations.

“The goal of the ERP Complete acquisition was to make an immediate reduction in the average Axapta implementation cost of at least 25 percent,” said Mark Jensen, general manager for the Axapta solution at Microsoft Corp.

The company also hopes the tool can cut the training time of Microsoft partners who sell Axapta from upwards of six months to as little as six weeks.

According to Microsoft and En’tegrate, ERP Complete drastically cuts the cost of the typical implementation by taking corporations through the process step by step.

En’tegrate says that paying for services—typically the consultants who advise and implement the solution—makes up more than 40 percent of a standard ERP budget, while the software eats up just 22 percent. By automating much of the basic services portion, ERP Complete can help reduce the costs and time of an enterprise software overhaul.

“For midsize and smaller companies considering an investment in a complex system like Axapta, a huge part of that consideration is the time and cost of getting it up and running,” said Chris Alliegro, lead analyst for Directions on Microsoft, an independent analyst firm in Kirkland, Wash. “These companies can’t tolerate, much less afford, a long and protracted setup and integration period before they realize their return on investment.”

Alliegro said Microsoft, which has between 4,000 and 5,000 Axapta customers, has examined its product portfolio to figure out why some products are difficult to sell, and to find and fund technologies to get around those issues.

“They’re going after some of their bigger hurdles and challenges,” Alliegro said. “A tool like ERP Complete can whittle down that time and cost component of getting the system integrated. It looks like a good move for Microsoft.”

Microsoft said it is part of an overall goal of reducing costs for current and potential enterprise customers. “Our mindset is to figure out how to keep driving down the total cost of ownership for our Axapta customers,” Microsoft’s Jensen said.

En’tegrate’s product materials say some of its users have saved between 30 percent and 70 percent on the services portion of their ERP budgets.

“The ERP Complete technology is unlike anything I have ever seen,” Donovan Dean, IT director at car parts developer and supplier Haldex, said in a statement. “It has allowed us to cut our implementation budget by 25 percent.”

In addition to the tool, Microsoft is taking on staff time from En’tegrate to assist in the transition and rollout.

“Our development organization could’ve developed the tool reasonably quickly, but the real difference came from the partner expertise,” Jensen said. “They have better implementation and more real-world expertise in deploying the system than we do. We’re buying some of the best expertise we could find.”

Axapta is one of the four ERP suites offered by Microsoft Business Solutions, a subsidiary of Microsoft with products, services and applications that aim to improve business operations. Axapta, the high-end ERP offering, is sold only through Microsoft partners.

Beginning next quarter, ERP Complete—which among other components consists of a set of rapid deployment wizards, extended help, a deliverable resource library, and communication and program management—will be available for free to registered Microsoft Axapta partners in the Microsoft Partner Program.

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