PeopleSoft launches Web-enabled upgrade for ERP suite

PeopleSoft Inc. has introduced a Web-enabled upgrade to its enterprise resource planning that will spare customers the chore of distributing proprietary client software to end users.

The newly launched PeopleSoft 8 includes 108 applications for human resources, supply-chain and financial management, all of which have been re-tooled for the Web. It also includes 59 new applications, mainly for call centre and Web-based customer resource management – which PeopleSoft acquired through its purchase of Vantive.

The new software, which took two years to develop, involved US$500 million in investment and the work of 1,600 programmers. To bring the product to market, the development team re-wrote 14,042 HTML pages of 7,225 distinct Internet-based transactions.

“PeopleSoft 8 gives PeopleSoft a commanding lead in the marketplace,” PeopleSoft president and CEO Craig Conway told 300 industry leaders at a launch event in New York earlier this year. “(It) is the only enterprise solution on the market that is pure Internet – zero code on the client, zero screen scraping, zero client-server.”

PeopleSoft customers say they are eager to take advantage of the Web-enabled applications.

“We’ll definitely use this,” says Kay Clarey, executive director of the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Investment Review Board – which selects and manages the department’s IT assets.

The Treasury, which has installed the PeopleSoft human resources application, had limited its use of PeopleSoft to a few hundred end users because it was difficult to distribute the cumbersome client software to individual desktops.

However, the Web-enabled PeopleSoft8 will let any authorized user with a browser make use of the application to either obtain or enter information over the Web. The Treasury also plans to deploy more PeopleSoft applications, such as financials modules.

PeopleSoft executives say Version 8 will provide organizations with the means to promote customer self-service, whether it is employees making address changes, or a trading partner checking on customer shipment status as part of the PeopleSoft supply-chain application.

“With the financials application, for example, you can check for funds availability on a real-time basis,” says Chuck Giraud, vice-president and general manager of PeopleSoft’s federal technology section.

Because the PeopleSoft applications can be linked together for workflow purposes, organizations can use the suite to accept purchase orders placed at a Web site, and then have those purchases automatically applied against a negotiated contract. That would result in a drawdown on a contract account, which PeopleSoft would compute and display to show the contract status.

Version 8 also supports XML, for customers who want to exchange documents or set up an XML-based search engine. PeopleSoft8 also includes a revamped version of the Vantive customer relationship management (CRM) software for call centre and Web-based CRM. These applications will provide a common view into a customer’s interaction history, whether it originates via the telephone or e-mail.

PeopleSoft, which has about 2,400 enterprise customers, prices its applications on a customer-specific basis. Typical deployments can range from several hundred thousand to several million dollars.