PeopleSoft to focus on external supply-chain apps

PeopleSoft is again changing the development and marketing strategy for its manufacturing and supply-chain management applications, which have been slow to catch on with users.

PeopleSoft executives last week said they now plan to focus product development more on external supply-chain logistics and distribution uses -- especially for users doing business online -- than on internal manufacturing capabilities.

Craig Conway, PeopleSoft's president, said basic manufacturing applications such as materials-management and production-planning won't be ignored or dead-ended. "But we're not investing $US100 million to line up every capability against SAP," he added.

PeopleSoft didn't offer any manufacturing and supply-chain applications until 1996, putting it far behind rivals SAP AG and Oracle. And it's still "outgunned significantly" on functionality by the other vendors, said John Bermudez, an analyst at AMR Research.

PeopleSoft acknowledged that it has done a bad job of marketing the applications, which have been bought by about 140 companies, half of which have gone live.

One of those users is Acushnet Co, a Massachusetts-based maker of golf equipment that's running the manufacturing applications at two plants and working on rollouts at three more facilities.

PeopleSoft's functionality "was a little light compared with an SAP" when Acushnet picked the software last year, said CIO Peg Nicholson. But that wasn't a drawback for Acushnet, which was running the plants on spreadsheets and didn't want to overwhelm its workers with complexity.

Nicholson said she isn't worried about the change in emphasis at PeopleSoft. "They've done a good job developing the product to date," she said.

Thor Wallace, CIO at Cybex International in Massachusetts, had a similar reaction. "I'm not worried about the commitment level" at PeopleSoft, said Wallace, whose company uses the manufacturing and supply-chain applications at its fitness-equipment plants.

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