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PeopleSoft upgrades come with Oracle pledge of continued support

Despite some continuing criticism of Project Fusion, Oracle executives were out in force yesterday pledging long-term support for two new PeopleSoft supply chain management apps.

As Oracle launched two new supply chain management applications today, executives stressed that support for PeopleSoft customers would continue until the arrival of Project Fusion in 2006.

The two products, PeopleSoft Enterprise Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) 8.9 and Supply Chain Management (SCM) 8.9 are immediately available from Oracle, and were described by company executives as applications designed to help customers create and enforce supplier contracts.

Rich Rogers, Oracle vice president of strategy and financial applications, said the two releases were indicative of Oracle's promise earlier in the year that the database giant would make good on its promise to invest in the PeopleSoft line.

"We expect a wide adoption of the 8.9 product line," Rogers said. "This is a long-term investment meant to get customers to Project Fusion."

Project Fusion is Oracle's initiative to combine into a single platform the "best of" technologies acquired from PeopleSoft Inc., Retek Inc., Siebel Systems Inc. and others. While most industry analysts have called the plan "doable," if a bit complicated, doubters have dubbed the initiative "Project Confusion."

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For Tim Minahan, chief services officer at Boston-based Aberdeen Group, the updated versions represented a new phase for the technology.

"The first phase of SRM focused on creating process efficiencies and highly competitive negotiation markets," Minahan said. "While effective, early SRM strategies -- and systems -- failed to provide effective controls for managing supplier contracts and capturing negotiated savings. Now enterprises have set their sights on adopting procedures and systems to ensure compliance and optimizing contract performance."

Minahan said the new version of PeopleSoft Enterprise SCM rounds out the PeopleSoft SRM footprint, giving customers a closed-loop platform for managing sourcing and compliance.

John Webb, Oracle's vice president of product strategy for supply chain applications, said the 8.9 version was designed to benefit PeopleSoft customers in three distinct ways.

First, he said customers can exploit more opportunities by using sourcing optimization and total cost modeling to source from suppliers that provide the best combination of cost, quality, risk and innovation. Second, customers can improve bottom line results by converting negotiated savings into realized savings with SCM. Finally, customers are able to utilize built-in procurement best practices for additional control over services spending.

At the heart of Oracle's PeopleSoft SRM 8.9 is PeopleSoft Supplier Contract Management, an application customers use to create and enforce supplier contracts. In the latest version of the product, customers can access native Microsoft Word Integration, PeopleSoft Enterprise SRM 8.9 integration, agreement management, contract authoring and a centralized terms library.

The PeopleSoft Enterprise SCM 8.9 contains enhancements focused around improving functionality for specific vertical industries, Rogers said.

He added that the two products were also targeted at helping customers better comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and other federal compliance acts.

"We know most companies have gone through the first round with SOX," he said. "What companies are looking at now is providing sustainable processes so that year over year there are fewer costs."

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