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Oracle updates partner management tools

New features in partner relationship management package promise closer collaboration with suppliers and distributors.

Oracle debuted the latest version of its partner relationship management package on Wednesday, placing an emphasis on companies looking to establish closer ties with their suppliers and distributors.

The database software and enterprise applications specialist said the new partner relationship management, or PRM, package will help companies better utilize third-party distribution channels through improved business intelligence tools and stronger integration with its other products.

The new version of Oracle Partner Management, which is sold as part of the company's product line for managing customer relationships, is also meant to help companies increase the volume of business on which they can collaborate.

"Companies increasingly want to address business process issues in order to work together more smoothly and as a result make more money," said Lawrence Lindsay, senior director of CRM (customer relationship management) development at Oracle. "They're looking at ways to decrease dependence on each other for conveying information and want to be able to have self-service controls built right into their systems."

Among the functional upgrades to the package is the addition of what Oracle calls its Channel Manager Dashboard, a portal-like user interface meant to give companies a better view of how their partnerships and shared applications are performing. The dashboard offers information such as how many closed or pending deals partners may have--and what sort of financial commitments companies may have to each other at any given point. Companies can also build their own benchmarks, which Oracle calls key performance indicators, for gauging how effectively they are doing business.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., company also added a second dashboard, specifically designed for use between partners, that promises increased ability for companies to better research and adjust operations to garner greater efficiencies from their business relationships.

Another feature promised in the new PRM software offering is Oracle's so-called Virtual Enterprise strategy, whereby the applications have been tuned to integrate more effectively with the company's other enterprise software. For instance, the company said better ties to its financial management software would give customers using the PRM package greater ability to ensure accurate accounting, legal compliance and compensation practices.