German software company SAP today announced enhancements to its flagship transaction processing software, R/3, which is due by the end of the year.
R/3 is used by companies across many vertical markets to automate a wide range of business processes. Version 4.0 will feature functions specific to the retail markets and public sector organizations. It will also add components for human resources, product management, and treasury management departments.
The company is also retooling R/3's Business Engineer configuration process, which uses a series of questions about a company's infrastructure--for example, the travel and reporting activity of a sales team or a division's billing procedures--to automatically configure itself. Using the system administrator's answers, R/3 customizes itself without taking the entire system offline. Previously, Business Engineer would recommend changes, but the changes would have to be tested offline and then implemented manually, according to SAP vice president of global marketing Guenther Tolkmit.
R/3 4.0 will also help convert deutsche marks, francs, and other European currencies into the upcoming "Euro" pan-European standard. European countries are tentatively scheduled to switch to the Euro standard by the turn of the century. SAP will also help retrofit Euro conversion for older versions of its software.
Separately from R/3, the company will release the Business Information Warehouse, a data warehousing solution that comes preconfigured with business rules for several vertical markets. The info warehouse will offer options for users to store and retrieve information using either R/3 or third-party query and analysis tools that support SAP's business application programming interfaces, Tolkmit said.
Pricing for R/3 and for the Business Information Warehouse is based strictly on number of users. Both will be available by the end of the year.