SAP bundles R/3, other apps in new ERP release

SAP AG is rolling out a beefed-up version of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software aimed at users who are daunted by the prospect of buying and installing a full set of the company’s applications.

Announced at the CeBIT 2003 conference in Hanover, Germany, mySAP ERP is the newest release of SAP’s flagship R/3 software. The product bundles R/3 with applications that were previously sold separately, including SAP’s portal and business-to-business marketplace software.

Deborah Schmidt, global vice president of enterprise solutions at SAP, said mySAP ERP users will also get built-in functions from other applications, such as tools for analyzing human resources and financial data. SAP is exploiting the NetWeaver integration technology it announced in January to add functionality to the ERP software without requiring users to buy licenses for all the pieces of its mySAP suite, Schmidt said.

She added that there will be special pricing for mySAP ERP but didn’t disclose details.

Tom Ackerman, senior director of business information systems at R/3 user Symbol Technologies Inc. in Holtsville, N.Y., said the plans outlined by SAP should provide increased integration capabilities and more user interface flexibility. Those are “two important elements which have been missing from traditional ERP offerings,” he said.

MySAP ERP also includes support for automating back-office administrative services, such as management of real estate, travel expenses and payments of commissions and other incentives, said Jim Shepherd, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston.

The new release is available now. SAP also announced a professional services automation application designed to let companies in service industries automate the management of their operations.

SAP rival PeopleSoft Inc. also used the CeBIT show to announce an integration move, detailing plans to provide links to instant messaging and collaboration technology from IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. in its end-user portal and other applications.

Paola Lubet, vice president of marketing for PeopleSoft’s AppConnect integration tools, said Version 8.8 of the company’s Enterprise Portal software will also include new capabilities to help IT managers develop intranet sites for groups of end users who need to collaborate with one another.

The portal upgrade will be available next week, although the instant messaging connections aren’t due until the fourth quarter, Lubet said.