SAP spruces up its supply chain software

With version 5.0, the software maker takes aim at small-scale operations and puts a premium on flexibility.

Colin Barker Special to CNET News
SAP plans to launch a new version of its supply-chain management suite in June.

The most significant new features in the suite are found in the service-parts management component. This is largely aimed at business sectors, such as small-scale manufacturing and distribution, that put a premium on getting the right components in the right place on a "just-in-time" basis.

The new software, MySAP Supply Chain Management version 5.0, was unveiled late last week at the CeBit trade show in Hannover, Germany. The company said this latest version can efficiently manage even low-value components and should help businesses evolve traditional, linear supply chains into more flexible and dynamic networks of supply chain partners. A lack of flexibility has been a particular criticism of SAP manufacturing software in the past.

With the package's new tools, the company said, retailers can strike a better balance between increased customer service levels and lowered merchandise inventory, SAP said. They can replenish products with long lead times and at the same time handle seasonal products and introduce new products with short product-lifecycles using historical information on similar products to forecast demand.

The latest version has industry-specific functionality and is intended to work in industries as diverse as clothing and chemicals.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.