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A less complex R/3 from SAP

SAP's new intranet applications suite cuts back the complexity in an attempt to give more users access to core software product R/3.

    German enterprise software maker SAP will attempt to give more of its users access to core software product R/3 with the release of Employee Self Service Intranet Application Components 2.0 later this year.

    SAP debuted the new intranet applications suite at the Technical Education Conference for Developers in Atlanta this week. The new package allows users to enter, change, and manage information within R/3 through a Web browser interface. It also enables them to execute a broad range of human resources, purchasing, and finance tasks, according to the company.

    SAP, like competitors PeopleSoft and Oracle is starting to create Web-accessible and Web-based business applications.

    "We're trying to make R/3 more accessible to the masses. The latest release really empowers the employee," said Robert Wennig, SAP's director of advanced technologies. SAP is continuing to meet the needs of existing users while alleviating the complexity of R/3 for a "new class of casual users," he added.

    The suite is compatible with R/3 3.0 and higher and requires a Web-based Windows NT Server 4.0 which supports both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator browsers running on any supported client system, including network PCs and computers. It is also compatible with R/3 servers with supported systems, such as UNIX, OS/400 and Windows NT, according to the company.

    Building upon the first version released last year, release 2.0 adds finance and purchasing features, and broadens Intranet application components by 70 percent, or from 10 to 17, according to the company.

    Employee Self Service Intranet Application Components 2.0 includes a suite of Web pages that can be integrated into existing corporate intranets. These pages can be modified to match the existing intranet design using the template applications and toolkit that SAP already provides, according to the company.

    Giga Information Group analyst Byron Miller said the new release directly competes with Peoplesoft's Employee Self Service Modules. "It also extends into some new areas, like training enrollment, and travel. Now these can be connected to the Internet and looked at by employees. It definitely opens up R/3 to more users."

    Other new areas addressed in the software include purchase registration with catalog integration, benefits enrollment, new hire events, banking information, cross application time entry, and international travel receipts.

    The new Purchase Requisition With Catalog Integration application allows an employee of a company to order office supplies by browsing multiple catalogs, selecting the items they want to order, opening purchase requisition forms, and creating the requisitions directly in R/3. The company points to this task as one example of the software's use, and claims the process eliminates paper forms, catalogs and retyping of hard-copy orders and instructions.

    The new applications suite is scheduled to be shipped to customers at the end of the year, and the components will be licensed based on SAP's existing Internet and intranet user-based pricing strategy.