In a move to help banks better serve their corporate customers, Advantage Systems Inc., a Boston-based information-technology company has upgraded Forte, its electronic cash-management product.

The new offering, Forte for Windows, utilizes a graphical user interface that both improves the way the software "looks" and provides corporate end users with increased functionality.

Because the software incorporates the Microsoft Windows operating environment and a relational database, treasury managers can share data across applications and interconnect with other functional areas in a bank's back office.

Focus Groups Were Used

Bank of Boston Corp., for example, had been using Forte's electronic cash-management services for nine years. Prior to the upgrade, the bank's executives conducted focus groups to determine what kind of front-end interfaces were most common among their corporate clients.

According to Susan Feinberg, Bank of Boston product-line manager, more than half of their customers said they used Windows or planned on using Windows in the near future.

"With the explosion of PCs and PC tools, our clients' corporate customers want screens that are easy to use and that don't look like they are behind the times. One of the key features of this Forte upgrade is that the entire corporate cash-management service gets a new "look," said Ms. Feinberg.

Screens Can Be Customized

In addition, Advantage customers can customize the new screens to their specifications. Banks also can choose what components of the Forte system they want to introduce at what time. "These capabilities enable banks to distinguish themselves in the marketplace," said Joey Brode, a vice president at Advantage Systems.

With Windows, the way bank customers use information has changed as well. Instead of downloading information from a bank, printing out a report and then rekeying the data into a spreadsheet program, users can now transfer the data electronically into other software programs.

Electronic Enhancements

In addition, the new upgrade enables corporate customers to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. "A bank customer who has finished one job and wants to start another doesn't have to hang up the phone and redial the bank. That user can simply click a button on the mouse and open up another window, "explained Mr. Brode.

With Forte for Windows, all enhancements are made electronically, eliminating the need to ship out upgraded diskettes to customers.

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