PeopleSoft aims at international arena with upgrade
Readies for switch to euro currency in the next millenium
The upgrade adds new global supply-chain and manufacturing management functions, performance measurement features, and vertical-market enhancements.
"PeopleSoft 7.5 covers all the bases...It will enable our customers to automate their full range of business processes on a worldwide basis," said Dave Duffield, PeopleSoft president and CEO, in prepared remarks at the software launch here in New York.
Currently, only about 15 percent of PeopleSoft's revenue is derived from international business, according to Rick Bergquist, head of the company's long-term technology strategy.
"It's a global world...and there's no reason that 50 percent of our business shouldn't come from outside the U.S.," said Bergquist.
To enhance the product for global businesses and companies based outside the U.S., PeopleSoft has extended the manufacturing and supply-chain management applications with the range of languages and currencies that had been supported in previous versions of PeopleSoft's financial accounting, treasury, and HRMS (human resource management system) application suites.
The added flexibility will help the company's effort to expand beyond its traditional U.S.-based customers and challenge market leader SAP, of Walldorf, Germany.
Analysts warned that it will be a stretch for PeopleSoft to staff up overseas while maintaining the edge it has in certain aspects of its software. "PeopleSoft probably has the best architecture for internationalization," said Bobby Cameron, a principal analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, MA.
"With this announcement they're saying that they want to move beyond their traditional accounting and human resource applications and be considered like SAP is -- an international player in business management and manufacturing," said Cameron. "The biggest hurdle is for the company to expand with the same quality of service and support that they have gotten to be known for."
To that end, PeopleSoft will be staffing up offices around the world, particularly in Asia, Bergquist said. "The way the Asian economy is now, it's actually a good time to build up in that region," he added.
Reaching out beyond U.S. borders, PeopleSoft now supports French, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, German, and Japanese in its manufacturing and supply-chain management applications. Previously these languages were supported only in accounting and human resource applications.
In addition, PeopleSoft supply-chain and manufacturing modules now run on the IBM AS/400 machines.
Although to date PeopleSoft has let users work with multiple currencies in multiple sets of books, the financial modules now include accounting capabilities that are critical to successful European Monetary Unit (EMU), or euro, preparation, and transition, officials said.
PeopleSoft 7.5 now features euro functionality, including multi-book capabilities in PeopleSoft payables and receivables applications, for supporting the automatic conversion of transactions to the euro.
The euro capabilities include the ability to do the type of "triangulation" accounting necessary to convert existing currencies to the new euro currency. The European Union (EU) has laid out a triangular conversion process in which, for example, dollars have to be converted into euros, which then must be converted to German marks, at rates taking into account six significant digits.
The ability to keep accounts in multiple books, including current currencies, give users the ability to switch over when they feel ready, within the EU-sanctioned 3-year transition period from Jan. 1, 1999 to Jan. 1 2002, PeopleSoft officials said.
"I think this flexibility will help us against competitors such as SAP, because not all users want to convert over to the euro in a `big bang' approach," said Bergquist.
A new European payroll application gives users multi-language and multi-currency support for France, Germany and the U.K. PeopleSoft has partnered with Automated Data Processing Inc. in Europe to develop other country-specific capabilities and enhanced local functions for European Payroll. European Payroll - which integrates payroll functions for all supported countries into one module -- will be generally available in the second half of 1998.
In addition, PeopleSoft has added to the multinational capabilities of its Human Resources application with support for Belgium, the Netherlands, and Japan.
PeopleSoft has also expanded capabilities for previously available human resource applications for companies doing business in Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K. The new functionality includes diversity tracking, preferred language tracking and multi-lingual reporting capabilities.
PeopleSoft has added international functionality to its financial accounting application suite, including support for the Latin accounting model used in Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia. In addition, the interface for the financial applications also has been localized for Germany, Japan, and Brazil.
In the area of business process automation, PeopleSoft 7.5 adds a new treasury application for multinational company treasury units. This treasury application integrates three previously standalone modules: cash management, deal management, and risk management.
PeopleSoft is also launching a beta release of its new Performance Measurement module. This module integrates activity-based management data, into a performance management warehouse. The performance warehouse provides a data warehouse for the performance-measurement applications and integrates data with reporting options such as online analytical processing (OLAP) tools.
Other PeopleSoft 7.5 enhancements include:
PeopleSoft 7.5 will be available in the second quarter of 1998. Applications are priced starting at about $100,000 per application. Upgrades are delivered as part of the PeopleSoft maintenance plan, which is priced at 17 percent of the regular application pricing.
--Marc Ferranti is a correspondent with the IDG News Service
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