Delivering on its promise to continue supporting the PeopleSoft product line, Oracle Wednesday unveiled several upgrades of PeopleSoft applications that will help customers bridge the gap to Oracle's Fusion generation of software due in 2007 and 2008. The new applications include release 8.9 of PeopleSoft Enterprise Supplier Relationship Management, Enterprise Supply Chain Management, and Enterprise Financial Management.
Oracle is battling it out with SAP to become the top enterprise application maker in revenue and sales. Since Oracle's $10.3 billion takeover of PeopleSoft in January, customers have been concerned the Redwood Shores, Calif., software maker would renege on its promise to support PeopleSoft products. But company executives dismiss the criticism. "This is the release we committed to, pre-merger," says Rich Rodgers, Oracle's VP of financial application product strategy. "It's a clear sign of Oracle's commitment to continue to invest in the PeopleSoft product line. It's a launching pad to the applications we'll develop under project Fusion."
PeopleSoft Supplier Relationship Management 8.9 is optimized for sourcing from multiple suppliers and provides tools for modeling total costs and assessing the risk associated with specific purchases. The application has built-in procurement best practices and simplified requisitioning rules.
But at the core of this application is PeopleSoft Supplier Contract Management that provides standard legal terms for creating supplier contracts and the ability to enforce them through standard procurement processes across an organization. Supplier Contract Management includes a Centralized Terms Library that gives legal and procurement departments the ability to create, maintain, and reuse standard contracts. It has authoring tools, contract policies, and the ability to automate contract clauses. The software contains enhancements built on best practices to help organizations automate business processes.
Supply Chain Management 8.9 includes the new Sourcing Optimization and Total Cost Modeling feature that allows users to apply sourcing polices and constraints to supplier bids and use total-cost models that factor-in hidden costs. The Fulfillment Inventory Engine, also in SCM 8.9, has been re-architected to help reduce order-processing time from minutes to seconds, according to Oracle. The vendor says it also added new functions for wholesale distributors to better manage supplier rebates and commissions.
One of the more interesting features within SCM 8.9 is the ability for suppliers to automate vendor-managed inventory tasks. It lets suppliers manage relationships with their customers to whom they provide vendor-managed inventory services. In industries from electronics to retail, suppliers are taking on responsibility for monitoring and tracking inventory levels on a daily basis at more specific locations or stores and automatically replenish goods as needed. It's a fully automated process to track inventory and trigger replenishments, rather than entering an order to generate an invoice to plan out shipments.
Inventory data feeds through EDI or XML connections for each store location into the SCM system and is matched against expected inventory levels based on historic sales at each store or location. It automatically triggers inventory replenishment and generates an order and shipping request in the warehouse, as well as an invoice using Oracle financial apps. "It circumvents a number of steps within the order-to-cash process," says John Webb, Oracle's VP of supply chain application product strategy.
PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial Management 8.9 helps automate and streamline compliance processes. Enhancements in the new version include cash flow statement automation; expanded features that can help companies adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards accounting rules and local regulations. It also can improve testing and audit trails. PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial Management 8.9 integrates with other PeopleSoft Enterprise offerings, such as PeopleSoft Enterprise Internal Controls Enforcer 8.9.
Through PeopleSoft Enterprise Service Automation 8.9 (part of Enterprise Financial Management), customers have new project management capabilities for full project lifecycle management, from project selection and planning, through execution and analysis, to help identify project risks. Customers also gain visibility into both financial and operational assets, adding to existing features for asset depreciation and asset capitalization. "If you look at the cost of IT assets and property within large enterprises, it is a very high cost item on their balance sheet," Rodgers says.
Much of the new IT asset management capabilities come from the J.D. Edwards applications that PeopleSoft acquired shortly before it, in turn, was bought by Oracle. The J.D. Edwards software had strong features in enterprise asset management for manufacturing sites and equipment, as well as real estate.