Three years ago, Apero Software faced an existential decision that would affect the company’s growth prospects, perhaps even its survival, in future years: How should the company modernize its trusted Latitude Distribution ERP software, which had been powering the operations of global wholesale distributors for over twenty five years?
Built on the Progress OpenEdge platform and database, Latitude offers modules that contain and manage an entire wholesale business, including general ledger, receivables, payables, inventory management, purchase orders, replenishment management, inventory revalue, commission management, bill of materials and more. The character-based application is extremely reliable and trusted by its users. However, it is not able to function in a user environment that has essentially moved on to web, mobile, and other graphically-oriented interfaces. A major modernization project was mandatory. The question was how to approach such a monumental challenge.
As they assessed possible paths forward in modernization, Apero’s management and development teams realized that they were aiming at multiple moving targets in terms of functionality. “Our goal was to modernize the product with a new user interface (UI),” said Sophy Nathanail, CEO of Apero. “But in reality, we were trying to do much more than that. We needed to future proof our core Progress OpenEdge-based system. We only wanted to do the modernization once in this decade.”
Apero carefully thought through its requirements for modernization, collaborating closely in the process with advisors from Progress. The new application had to be available in both a character-based UI (CHUI) to satisfy the existing user based and graphical, browser-based UI (GUI) for new and more exacting users. Mobile editions of the application would also have to be relatively simple to develop. The application had to integrate easily with third party applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems and data warehouses. In the near future, Apero hoped to release a Software-as-a-Service version of its applications. All of these requirements were based on technologies that were rapidly evolving. Future-proofing Apero meant establishing an architecture that would be adaptable to unforeseen developments in the IT industry.