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Manugistics beefs up offerings

The firm announces the release of its OneWorld product framework, an acquistion, and a deal to integrate warehouse management software into its product.

Manugistics is beefing up to stay alive.

The troubled Rockville, Maryland-based maker of supply chain management software made a slew of announcements at its user group conference in Washington this week, meant to bolster confidence in the company following its warning two weeks ago that it would post a loss its first quarter ended May 31.

Among the announcements were the acquisition of a company that makes advanced planning and scheduling software for the semi-conductor industry, the release of its OneWorld product framework, and a deal to integrate warehouse management software into its product.

Analysts said Manugistics' troubles and countermoves this week signal a trend within the entire supply chain product market as enterprise application vendors like German giant SAP encroach on their territory.

''All of the supply chain vendors are going to have to go this route to compete with the traditional ERP folks who are all coming their way from the other direction to get a piece of this action,'' said Dennis Byron, analyst at International Data Corporation in Framingham, Massachusetts.

SAP, PeopleSoft, Baan, and other enterprise application vendors are beginning to offer as a part of their core package the type of products that Manugistics offers.

Manugistics stock has taken a pounding since the company preannounced its quarterly loss. Share prices plummeted to $26 a share this week from $60 a share before the announcement.

The stock has rebounded slightly over the past week as Manugistics executives and customers gathered in Washington to discuss the future of the company and the direction it will take the next few years.

Manugistics announced it is acquiring Tyecin Systems, a Los Altos, California-based maker of advanced planning and scheduling systems for the semi-conductor industry. Tyecin counts among its clients Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. Of course, SAP also counts these companies among its customers.

The client list will cost Manugistics an estimated $9.5 million in a stock trade and pooling of interests. The purchase could also drive down Manugistics' earnings for a second quarter. Company executives said the purchase means Manugistics will take an estimated one-time hit of $3 million the current quarter ending August 31.

Tyecin's product, like Manugistics' product for other industries, uese historical data such as sales figures to plan plant production cycles. The purchase furthers Manugistics' push into vertical markets. In February, Manugistics bought ProMira Software in Ottawa, Canada, for $68 million. ProMira makes planning software for complex products in industries such as high technology, electronics, and automobiles. The agreement gave Manugistics accounts with a number of big name clients like Caterpillar, Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola.

Manugistics' other announcements included a product called Oneview, a framework or blueprint designed to let users track changes to their system and integrate different business applications with Manugistics5 software system. It is meant to allow easier collaboration both within a company and between a company and its trading partners.

Manugistics is also stretching its product's reach to the warehouse thanks to an intergration agreement with Catalyst International, a supplier of warehouse-management systems. The integrated product is designed to allow users to link warehouses with planning systems, two integral parts of supply chain management.