Baan eyes the supply chain

Enterprise application provider Baan Co. NV is jumping into the supply-chain and product life-cycle management arenas with plans to tap its installed ERP base to grow business in these new product lines.

Baan joins traditional ERP stalwarts SAP AG, Oracle Corp., and PeopleSoft Inc. that have begun leveraging their installed base of back-office systems to gain ground in markets for systems such as SCM (supply-chain management), which typically extend outside a company’s four walls but rely on ERP workhorses for critical data.

The company unveiled Thursday a new SCM solution and dedicated a business unit designed to allow customers to optimize relationships between key enterprise processes of sourcing, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, and fulfillment, according to company officials. In addition, Baan rolled out new PLM (product life cycle) software aimed at helping businesses manage all aspects of the product life cycle within one virtual environment to enhance manufacturing processes.

iBaan for SCM combines software, applied business intelligence, and professional services to help organizations maximize and improve throughput, inventory utilization, supplier relations, performance, and logistics execution, according to company officials. The solution will be tightly integrated into Baan’s ERP solutions with functionality such as APS (advanced planning and scheduling) directly embedded in Baan ERP, said Joe Phelan, director of product management for Baan’s new supply chain business unit.

“In the past APS has often been sold as an add-on,” Phelan said. “What you had was an integration aspect where you had to transfer a lot of data from the ERP backbone. You can eliminate those steps, [and] you can have sharing of data and decrease the recognition time [to react to] events.”

To streamline supply-chain operations, organizations are looking for a holistic view of the supply chain that emphasizes the importance and dependencies of all trading partners’ interacting business processes, said Barry Wilderman, an analyst at Meta Group in Stamford, Conn. Wilderman continued that Internet-enabled solutions such as iBaan boost this supply-chain concept by providing the means for trading partners to collaborate interactively toward operational excellence, sharing information, and tightly integrating their business interactions.