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Bank One Integrates Great Plains Automation

The nation's sixth-largest bank and Microsoft are teaming up to deliver an automated accounting and banking solution for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs).

The partnership opens the door for many small businesses that can't afford to purchase more expensive financial services enterprise software, such as SAP mySAP Business Suite or Oracle E-Business Suite.

Bank One, which offers customers its own cash management service, said it now includes an added feature-set using Microsoft's Great Plains 7.5 software, which includes electronic payables and receivables, check outsourcing and fraud protection services.

Kathleen Nugent, Bank One senior vice president, said customers need solutions that allow them to spend time on their core business objectives and reduce unnecessary administrative or technology processes that ultimately waste time.

The arrangement is a boon for Microsoft which, like many other major software vendors, is looking to garner attention with midmarket companies to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. And as a small company grows, Microsoft would be in a position to leverage its existing relationship in order to convince customers to adopt its own supply chain management (SCM) and customer relationship management (CRM) software packages.

According to analysts and software makers alike, now that many of the Fortune 1000 companies have already made their choice when it comes to an ERP solution, the next frontier for back-end software vendors is with industry-specific tools and in the SMB segment.

Wednesday's announcement is an extension of Microsoft's relationship with the Chicago-based bank. For some time, Microsoft's business solutions division has been pitching a Bank One commercial card, which lets the accounts payable department keep an eye on the expenses of traveling business people, and even set spending controls on individual cards.