Baan Builds Front-Office Bridge to SAP

Baan Builds Front-Office Bridge to SAP

In an effort to extend its reach, enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor Baan is building connectors to easily integrate its sales and service suite, BaanFrontOffice, with manufacturing and financial applications from rival SAP.

The connectors, which are due by next fall, are Baan's effort to beat SAP to the front-office punch, said David McKay, vice president of product marketing at Baan, in Santa Clara, California. SAP is promising its first sales, marketing, and customer service application suite, collectively known as Focus, at the end of 1999's second quarter.

New markets from SAP connectivity could also provide some much needed good news for Baan, which has weathered a major reorganisation, inquiries about its financial practices, sinking stock prices, and two stockholder lawsuits.

"There's really nothing negative to say about it; it's a smart move in a variety of ways," said Sam Clark, an analyst at the Meta Group, in Burlingame, California.

Baan is not the only company trying this strategy. Oracle also plans to integrate its sales and service applications into SAP's flagship R/3 manufacturing suite, as CEO Larry Ellison announced in October. Oracle officials point to a January release.

BaanFrontOffice applications were originally launched several years ago by Aurum, which Baan acquired in early 1997.

Now the company hopes to use the expertise it developed in building BaanConnectors to integrate Aurum and Baan modules to make similar SAPConnectors to R/3, said Eric Carrasquilla, a product marketing manager for enterprise integration at Baan's FrontOffice division, in Santa Clara.

Like the BaanConnectors, SAPConnectors should integrate "about 80 to 90 percent" of the BaanFrontOffice suite with financial and manufacturing functions, McKay said.

SAPConnector 1.0, which is due out in the second quarter of 1999, will provide basic linkage between customer information stored in BaanFrontOffice applications and the data on order and product status in R/3, Carrasquilla said. It will integrate the current BaanFrontOffice, Version 98.4, with R/3 Version 3.1, which was released early this year.

SAPConnector 2.0, due in the third quarter of 1999, will have broader connections between Baan's order and price-quoting functions and R/3's product information modules, such as materials specifications and price lists, Carrasquilla said. It will also handle the 99.2 upgrade of BaanFrontOffice and R/3's Release 4.0, which began shipping in the third quarter of 1998.

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