New applications aimed at managing complex orders

Supply chain software vendors i2 Technologies Inc. and Yantra Corp. are preparing to roll out rival order management applications designed for users who need to automate complex order fulfillment processes involving multiple business units or suppliers.

Dallas-based i2 confirmed that it plans to announce this month a new line of order management tools as part of an upgrade of its flagship supply chain suite. The company declined to comment further on the plans. But Karen Peterson, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said i2 is positioning the technology for use in integrating multiple order management systems.

Meanwhile, Tewksbury, Mass.-based Yantra is scheduled to release on Monday the latest version of its namesake multi-enterprise order and inventory management software.

The Version 4.0 upgrade adds new supply chain collaboration, catalog management and workflow visualization features, Yantra officials said. It also includes embedded application server software developed by San Jose-based BEA Systems Inc.

Boston-based AMR Research Inc. predicts that order and inventory management applications will account for 24 percent of total spending on supply chain management software by 2005. In addition to the likes of i2 and Yantra, enterprise resource planning vendors such as SAP AG and Oracle Corp. claim to have order management technology or related products that offer visibility and dynamic management capabilities across supply chains.

APL Direct Logistics, a third-party logistics provider in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of about 40 companies that have installed earlier versions of Yantra’s software. The applications allow APL to “more easily add customers, and that’s a competitive difference” for the company, said Sally Miller, its director of IT.

Miller said the software costs about US$850,000 and went into use last March, replacing an internal system that didn’t have alternative sourcing or back-order management capabilities. But, she added, APL could still use tools that would automate the calculation of domestic and international taxes and speed up the process of returning and exchanging inventory.

Logistics and transportation services provider Ryder System Inc. uses a mix of applications from vendors such as Atlanta-based Viewlocity Inc. to dynamically manage “order-impacting events” in its supply chain, said John Wormwood, group manager of e-commerce at the Miami-based company. The software helps Ryder deal with challenges such as order changes and sourcing problems, he added.