PeopleSoft debuts Web-enabled ERP suite

PeopleSoft last week announced a Web-enabled upgrade to its enterprise resource planning suite that will spare customers the chore of distributing proprietary client software to end users.

Set to ship in September, PeopleSoft8 includes 108 applications for human resources, supply-chain and financial management, all retooled 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.

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

"We'll definitely use this when it's ready," says Kay Clarey, executive director of the US 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, has limited its use of PeopleSoft to a few hundred end users because it was difficult to distribute the cumbersome client software to individual desktops.

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

PeopleSoft executives say Version 8 will provide organisations the means to promote customer self-service, whether it be 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 technology section.

Because the PeopleSoft applications can be linked together for workflow purposes, organisations 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.

PeopleSoft says Version 8 will also support XML for customers who want to exchange documents or set up an XML-based search engine.

PeopleSoft8 will include a revamped version of the Vantive customer relationship management 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 2400 enterprise customers, prices its applications on a customer-specific basis. Typical deployments range from several hundred thousand to several million dollars.