PeopleSoft gussies up inventory tools

The company readies a handful of software programs designed to improve coordination among manufacturers, suppliers and customers in the production of goods.

PeopleSoft is readying a handful of new software programs designed to improve coordination among manufacturers, their suppliers and their customers in the production of goods.

Among the new and updated products is a Web portal program designed to let manufacturers quickly track purchase orders and receipts, spot inventory problems, and assess suppliers' reliability. The so-called Buyer Workbench, available in May, is one of several new applications PeopleSoft plans to introduce this spring to help companies keep inventory to a minimum by aligning the flow of supplies to demand for their products, the software maker said Monday.

An update of PeopleSoft's supplier self-service application, for example, includes features that allow companies and their suppliers to coordinate their production forecasts and tweak plans in response to shifts in demand electronically, the company said.

Also among the new batch of applications is a program designed to help companies keep customers apprised of the status and delivery of their orders, including those for complex, customized goods. The so-called order-promising program, available by July, allows customers to make last-minute changes to orders.

In addition, a new version of PeopleSoft's market forecasting tools, available Monday, incorporates for the first time information about promotions, currency exchange predictions and a consumer price index to help predict demand for goods.

Lastly, PeopleSoft plans to release by July new software programs designed to work with an inventory tracking technology known as radio frequency identification (RFID). The RFID applications will help companies track the shipment of supplies to customers mandating the use of RFID, including Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense, the company said. The system is set up to keep track of where specific products have been and when, as well as who purchased and sold them, PeopleSoft said.

PeopleSoft competes with SAP, Oracle and Microsoft in the market for business application software designed to automate corporate accounting, human resources, manufacturing and customer service tasks. The company gained many of its manufacturing applications in the acquisition of J.D. Edwards last year. It's currently fending off an acquisition bid by Oracle.

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