PeopleSoft moves to make a better World

In a move aimed at keeping its new installed base happy, PeopleSoft Inc. is rolling out a refresh of the green-screen-based World applications it inherited last summer with its purchase of J.D. Edwards & Co.

PeopleSoft announced Thursday a Web-based front end to the World applications, along with other enhancements to the higher-end EntepriseOne lineup. This move appears to come in response to requests by a number of World customers who don’t want the software simply treated as a cash cow while PeopleSoft migrates them to its other products.

“This is a boost,” said Dave Siebert, World general manager. “We’ve been able to, as part of PeopleSoft, get more resources and been able to add more people to development.”

Among the new features coming to World is a Web graphical user interface, which was the most requested feature from World customers, Siebert said. That will be available at the end of the month. All together, PeopleSoft is adding some 250 other enhancements, mostly focused on ease of use and regulatory compliance.

Among some of those changes are tightened integration that will allow sales order information to be fed directly into the World manufacturing and distribution management software, which should help companies improve planning and supply chain processes, said Siebert.

The simple fact that PeopleSoft is willing to make an investment in World is good news, said James Berlekamp, applications manager at tableware maker Libbey Inc., which runs a full suite of World software, including human resources and payroll. “We’re pleased PeopleSoft has brought some new vigor into the World line, and we want to take a look and see what they’ve done.”

He said J.D. Edwards had allowed the World line to wane, forcing Libbey to write some of its own bug fixes and enhancements.

Hypothetically, the new Web GUI could cut down on administration costs, Berlekamp said, adding that he would like PeopleSoft to consider enhancements to make World’s existing warehouse and inventory management software more efficient.

A number of users said they are encouraged by the new focus, although they see the regulatory and core function enhancements as a matter of course, according to John Matelski, a board member of the Quest user group, which represents former J.D. Edwards customers.

Matelski, deputy CIO for the city of Orlando, conducted an informal survey of 10 World customers and found that the “overriding sentiments from the World community seems to be that they are pleased that long-awaited progress is finally being made.” This also means that customers may start seeing some return on the maintenance dollars they have invested, 70 per cent of which PeopleSoft is supposed to have earmarked for development. That effort “has been lacking in recent years,” he said.

At the very least, customers see the enhancements as a sign that the World product line won’t be “phased out and that customers (won’t) be forced to migrate to the Enterprise or EnterpriseOne product lines, which in most cases would require significant cash outlays for infrastructure upgrades, hardware replacements, data conversions, consulting and other migration related expenses,” Matelski said.

“Any movement in this space is appreciated,” said Gary Riley, a Quest member and a systems analyst with telecommunications provider Matanuska Telephone Association Inc., based in Palmer, Ala. He said that he’s interested in the Web GUI and feels the distribution and sales order enhancements “are a long time in coming.”

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