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PeopleSoft courts foreign markets

The company's upgraded business applications suite boasts a number of Euro-friendly features meant to appeal to the global market.

NEW YORK--PeopleSoft (PSFT) is courting the global business market.

At a press conference here today, the Pleasanton, California-based software company rolled out the newest version of its business applications suite, featuring expanded financial and global manufacturing and distribution capabilities, as well as additional support for European and Economic Monetary Union currency.

Due to be generally available in the second quarter of 1998, PeopleSoft 7.5 offers a number of new applications intended to appeal to foreign markets.

"There is a huge opportunity outside of America and now we are ready to exploit it," with 7.5, Dave Duffield, president and chief executive officer of PeopleSoft, said during his keynote this morning.

The enterprise applications package will have multilingual support for French, German, Spanish, and French-Canadian users and will expand support for the European Economic Monetary Union (EMU) for both accounts payable and receivable.

The Euro-friendly features are a direct result of the pan-European development and marketing alliance the company made with payroll and human resources giant ADP, company executives said.

Observers see the features brought by the agreement as a key aspect to PeopleSoft?s move into the global market where it's trying to battle German business applications giant SAP.

PeopleSoft also has added global human resources support to address the country-specific needs of the HR departments of its clients. Last month, PeopleSoft signed global consulting agreements with Andersen Consulting, Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group, KPMG Consulting, and Price Waterhouse in an effort to better support its multinational customers.

Foreign customers said they are encouraged by PeopleSoft's enhanced functionality for the global enterprise market.

"One of the areas that PeopleSoft has made a valuable improvement is in VAT [value added taxes] processing," said Peter Harvey, international finance systems manager for United Kingdom's health care company British United Provident Association (BUPA). "[The functionality] was there in releases 6 and 7, but it is only in 7.5 that they cover all the countries we are set up in." BUPA is set up in over 108 countries, he added.

On the manufacturing front, PeopleSoft has expanded its supply chain management offering, with the addition of Order Promising, Demand Planning, and Quality applications. The new release also features functional enhancements such as order entry for both standard and configured orders, the company said.

Order Processing works with PeopleSoft Order Management to ensure the product gets delivered to customers at the promised time by searching the whole supply chain to determine the best possible ship date for a customer order, considering existing stock, planned purchases and production, capacity, and raw materials. Demand Planning and Quality allow companies to manage demand forecasts and manufacturing and production excellence.

Analysts said the new enhancements to the manufacturing package are interesting because they are a direct result of PeopleSoft's acquisition of Red Pepper Software back in 1996. Red Pepper specializes in workflow and other supply chain management applications.

"We see the Red Pepper integration as a very positive enhancement to the product," International Data Corporation analyst Dennis Byron said. "The Order Promising, Demand Planning, and Quality features are all critical to this manufacturing package."

Although PeopleSoft has offered global functionality in some of its product line since release 6, this is the first time it has offered global manufacturing and supply chain offerings, marking a direct push into the traditional customer base of European enterprise resource planning titans SAP and Baan.

The integration of Red Pepper technology helps distinguish the manufacturing package from SAP and Baan, PeopleSoft's vice president of technology Rick Bergquist said. "Red Pepper offers a proven product that differentiates us from being a 'me-too' product," in the global manufacturing market.

SAP recently announced a similar product called Advanced Planner and Optimizer--a complete suite of supply chain planning functions, and other key manufacturing enabling technologies, the company said.

In addition to the EMU, HR, and manufacturing enhancements, PeopleSoft 7.5 also adds platform support for IBM's AS/400.

In related news, PeopleSoft also launched PeopleSoft DirectPath, a software product and service that helps customers quicken implementation and upgrades of their PepleSoft systems. DirectPath is a combination of best practices, productivity tools, and product information for supporting PeopleSoft customers.