The Spire Difference

To Version 2.9 – March 2018

Spire is accounting and business management software for small to medium sized companies. It evolved from its predecessor BVEssentials,a third party add-on program to BusinessVision.

BusinessVision users (as well as users who use other accounting software) will be very impressed by the myriad of ways that Spire will improve their productivity, help meet customer demand, and drive increased profitability.

Those at companies that have already switched to Spire from BusinessVision have found that the work flow is familiar and have been able to quickly take advantage of the improved user interface and many new features. Upon conversion, companies use Spire in a way similar to how they used BusinessVision, and then take advantage of the new and expanded features and modules as they become more comfortable with the system. 

This article takes into account all major improvements from when Spire was released in early 2015 through March, 2018. It will be updated with each major release.

The list of Spire features is divided into several sections for ease of reference:

User Interface and Navigation

New or Expanded Modules

General Features

Inventory, Customer and Vendor Improvements

Sales Order and Purchase Order Related Features

Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and General Ledger

Integrated add-on Modules

Technical Improvements

User Interface and Navigation

List Views Data is presented as a list in grid fashion so all records for that module (Inventory, Customers, etc) can be seen at once. Columns can be moved and sorted in any order, which facilitates maintaining, understanding, analyzing and updating the data.
Detailed Order Lines on Screen BV users are accustomed to seeing the listing of the invoices on order for or sold to a particular customer, which includes for example the customer, date and salesperson. For the first time, the detailed sales order items can be viewed in one screen, including the selling price, cost, margin, quantity ordered, committed and back ordered. This allows superior visibility to items on back order, making allocating items between customers significantly easier. Also available are the margins on a per item basis, making it possible to easily catch pricing issues before goods are invoiced.The same detail level screen is available in the world of purchase orders as well.
Filters Filters can be used to select information right on screen and can be saved for future reference, including the column layout and sort of the filter. Examples include: sales orders that are shipped and are ready to be invoiced, customers with accounts receivable over 90 days that need to be contacted, or inventory items that are on back order.
Search Information can be easily found based on single and multiple word searches and the entire module is scanned for the search. For example, a search for ‘widget’ and ‘large’ in inventory returns items with either of those two words in fields such as the item code, description, extended description, notes and vendor part number.
Multiple Windows Modules can be opened in a new window, so that multiple modules can be open and available at the same time, including on multiple monitors. Also, multiple screens of the same module can be open, such as more than one sales order, customer or inventory item.
Complete module integration Sales orders and purchase orders can be opened and maintained wherever they appear, such as in Customer, Vendor or Inventory. Likewise, customers, vendors or inventory items can be opened and maintained in sales orders or purchase orders.
Reports and forms All reports and forms are found in the related module and are selected at print time without having to be specified in advance. Multiple different reports and forms can be printed at once. All forms and reports can be emailed without having to manually pdf and save them first. For example, customer statements can be sent automatically to selected customers directly from the accounts receivable list.

New or Expanded Modules

Requisitions This module integrates purchasing requirements derived from sales orders, inventory and production orders (a separate add-on module for manufacturers). If an item is backordered on a sales order, it can easily be added to the requisition list. In inventory, a suggested order quantity field* allows you to isolate items that need to be ordered and then easily add them to the requisition screen. In Production Orders (items needed for production can be quickly added to the requisition list. The requisition list aggregates all of the purchasing requirements and facilitates creation of open purchase orders, which can then be modified as required. (* Suggested order quantity = quantity committed or backordered on customer sales orders, less quantity on hand, less order quantity on purchase orders, plus re-order point)
Price Matrix Customer pricing can be set based on a wide range of variables, such as specific customer/inventory combinations, types of customers, inventory product codes, or territories. The module also supports multiple price points based on volume and date ranges. It also offers cost plus pricing and cumulative price breaks, and has the ability to push customer specific pricing to the matrix from an order or quote.
Communications – To do list The Communications module can be used to create items for follow up that can be assigned to yourself or other people, enabling a light CRM system within Spire.
Communications – Alerts Using the Communications module, ‘Alerts’ can be created that pop up a message regarding a specific customer, vendor or inventory item whenever that information is relevant. For example, an alert could notify the person entering an order that the salesperson requires a copy of the order for that particular customer.
Phases Phases can track all activity for a sales order, purchase order or production order. For example, for a sales order, phases can track the date, time and user entering, authorizing, pricing, shipping and invoicing the order. Phases can be configured to create custom workflows, and can be used for reporting on order fulfilment timeframes or user performance.
Labels Labels, including bar codes, can be easily created for inventory, purchase orders and sales orders. The suggested quantity of labels is based on the number of items on the order, but can be set to 1 or amended as required.

General Features

Email templates Any form or report can be emailed using a template, which is a user defined set of standard messages that can be edited as the email is being sent, and that includes data from the form, such as invoice number or invoice date. The email window makes all email addresses associated with that order, invoice, customer, purchase order, etc. available to choose at time of sending.
Export Data can be exported easily to Excel from all module lists; all data on screen exports in the same column and row format as what is on the screen. Excel can automatically be opened from within Spire once the export is complete.
User Defined Fields User Defined Fields allow companies to add customized fields to all modules, which can then be viewed in a list on screen and added to forms and reports. Once on screen, the information can be filtered, searched, sorted and exported. The equivalent feature in BV was called ‘Workbook’, but the information could not be viewed in a list on screen or exported. (Note this is a very reasonably priced add-on module.)

Inventory, Customer and Vendor Improvements

Inventory and Customer Group Edit A group of inventory items or customers can be edited all at once. For example, a new sales rep can replace an existing sales rep for specific customers, or inventory items can be assigned to new product codes, or the unit price for inventory items can be updated by setting a specific gross margin for all selling price levels.
Colours in Inventory, Customer and Sales Orders Customers, inventory and types of sales orders can be assigned different foreground and background colours, making it easy to highlight information such as important customers or discounted inventory. Quotes can be visually distinguished from open sales orders, for example.
Inventory,  Customer and Vendor Code Change Inventory, customer and vendor codes can finally be changed, and that change will be reflected wherever that code appears – open orders, history, bills of materials, etc.
Inventory Adjustments and Transfers Inventory adjustments and transfers can be done in a batch, not just one item at a time. This is very useful for transferring goods between warehouses and for physical inventory counts. The transfers are stored in Purchase History for future reference or analysis.
Inventory Components Inventory components (bill of materials) can be created for any manufactured or kitted item, which can be built even without Production Manager (an Integrated Add-on Module – see below.)
Inventory Landed Costs Default landed cost % can be established by item. Landed cost can be allocated to items on a PO receipt by weight, quantity or value.
Lot Tracking There is the ability to track lots from purchasing through manufacturing through sales; a trace button reveals how a lot number was created and consumed.
Inventory Count Module Count variances can be viewed on screen for immediate followup; multiple units of measure are accommodated and any sub-group of items can be counted to facilitate cycle counts.
Customer Mail Merge A Word mail merge is available in the Customer module to send marketing and other materials to a specific set of customers, facilitated by using custom filters (discussed above).

Sales Order and Purchase Order Related Features

Customer History View in Sales Order A customer’s sales history can be viewed from within a sales order. The sales history is quickly filtered for the items already on the order, showing the quantity and price of prior sales. When the filter is turned off, all other items that the customer has previously purchased are visible with the ability to add them into the current order with a single click. This is a great tool for customer service to make sure the customer is maximizing their order.
Integrated Credit Card Processing Spire has integrated with PayFirma; credit card payments can be processed in Sales Orders, POS and AR payments and payments are automatically deposited to your bank account. All confidential credit card information is encrypted and is in compliance with privacy legislation.
Desired Margin Visual Aid Once the desired margin by product code is established, the margin will turn red on each line item that falls below that desired margin in sales orders, alerting order entry staff to pricing issues.
Scanning capability Fill Order tab in Sales Orders and Receive Order tab in Purchases are designed to work with bar codes for scanning of items to improve order and receiving accuracy and efficiency.
Cumulative Discounts Discounts can be offered based on a minimum quantity of items purchased over multiple items matching a certain criteria (such as Product Code). For example, buy any 10 of one type of item, and get 10% off.
Sales History Edit Non-financial information on an invoice can be edited in Sales History, such as customer PO number, salesperson, territory, or item description.
Restrictions by User Users who are sales reps can be set to only see the sales orders and sales history for their own customers or customers within a specific territory.
Sales Order Job Headers Headings/sections can be created in the detail section of sales orders to better organize items, such as between services and parts. These can be sub-totalled if desired with form/report customization.
Deposit Orders The sales order list displays deposits received to date and remaining amounts, adding visibility to customer deposits and enabling analysis of the Customer Deposits account in the general ledger.
User Selectable Kit Components Components for a kitted inventory item can be specified; when that item is added to an order, the system will prompt to ask which items should be included in that order. This can be used for size/colour inventory, or where different components can be substituted in regularly.
Job Costing by Invoice Detail Job costing can be done on a line-by-line basis on a sales order or purchase order.
Automated Repeat Orders Sales orders can be set to repeat at specified intervals, where, when due, they are automatically created as new orders awaiting processing.
Sortable Detail Lines If activated, a line # column in the detail section shows how many different items have been entered on an order.   Detail lines can also be sorted by location for printing of the pick slip, then re-sorted back to the original order before printing the packing slip or invoice.
Receipts tab in Purchase Orders It is now possible to see receipts against a specific purchase order on the purchase order itself, making research into inventory issues significantly easier.
Improved Sales Tax Handling on PO’s Sales taxes are now set per vendor and/or warehouse so that sales taxes are correctly reflected on purchase orders regardless of where the vendor is located. Click here to see a 5 minute video on this.

Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and General Ledger

Customer Pre-Authorized Debit for A/R Customer pre-authorized debits can be exported and submitted to the bank in an electronic file, significantly improving the collection process.
Batch A/R This feature automates the preparation of the deposit slip and the general ledger transaction that moves the deposit from a clearing account to the bank account.
EFT for A/P Spire can produce the electronic file that is sent to the bank to pay vendors, simultaneously reducing costs and the exposure to fraud.
Unlimited Payment Methods There is now an unlimited number of payment methods in A/R, so processing payments from customers is easier and more accurate.

Integrated add-on Modules

Production Orders The Production Orders module is used by manufacturers to efficiently plan and execute production. Production Orders specify the quantity, components, and timing of goods to be produced, and utilize templates, or bills of materials, which can have multiple versions to allow for customization. Raw materials are committed to production, enabling proper management of inventory purchasing. Both the Requisition and Phase modules are fully integrated into Production Orders.
Service Orders This module is used by companies that need to track equipment, such as a garage that services cars. All sales and purchases are tracked against specific pieces of equipment; data such as odometer readings are recorded with each transaction. Some field names are customizable to match the type of equipment being tracked; an odometer reading could be changed to number of copies for example.

Technical Improvements

Data Conversion Virtually 100% of BusinessVision data is migrated into Spire, including information contained in BusinessVision’s WorkBook fields into Spire’s User Defined Fields.
Database Spire uses PostgreSQL, a more modern, faster database than BusinessVision’s Pervasive database.
API Spire has a comprehensive Advanced Program Interface (API), which allows third party developers to easily read from and update Spire. Software developers can seamlessly integrate e-commerce, warehousing, financial reporting and other custom programs.=
Program Updates Updating the Spire version is simple and efficient. Once the server has been upgraded with the latest version, work stations are automatically prompted to install the latest version.
Scalability Users can be added one at a time, not in groups of 5 or 10. There is no change in technology as a company grows from one user to up to 100 users.
Security and Backup Spire data is more secure than BusinessVision’s because it resides in a proper database that is password protected. Backups are fast and can be taken even as users are logged in.

If you are using BusinessVision and are not already working with a Spire partner and would like to upgrade, please contact me at  rita.bloem@rogers.com,