PeopleSoft to push upgrades at user conference

A year after its release, PeopleSoft's flagship Web-based collaborative product, PeopleSoft 8, has yet to catch on with the majority of PeopleSoft users.

In addition to rolling out wireless and portal technologies, the software firm said a big thrust at its user conference in Atlanta next week will be persuading the remaining holdouts to upgrade to Version 8. Only 2,000 of PeopleSoft's 5,000 customers have started implementing Version 8.

Diana Kimmel, a business solutions director at Sprint Corp., is one of those users PeopleSoft will be trying to sway toward an upgrade.

Sprint now uses a highly customized version of PeopleSoft 7.5 for internal supply chain transactions, said Kimmel, who explained that she's trying to make the business case to upgrade to Version 8.

"With any software upgrade, there is a bit of the unknown," she said.

But analysts warned that the softening economy and slashed corporate budgets will likely make Version 8 a tougher sell for some companies than most other migrations.

"Customers must vet plans for PeopleSoft upgrades against other demands on limited funding," said John Hagerty, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research Inc.

But it's not just the economy that's holding some users back. Those who have begun to upgrade have hit bumps in the road, according to a recent report from AMR, which warned of "rumblings from PeopleSoft 7 users whose upgrades are taking much longer than expected, meaning they may not be live on Version 8 when Version 7 support ends."

In addition to pushing upgrades, PeopleSoft is also expected to unveil a development tool kit to more easily enable wireless access to enterprise resources.

The company also said it plans to announce a chief financial officer portal, as well as recruiting and services automation modules. And as part of a midmarket outreach, PeopleSoft says it will roll out customer relationship management (CRM), sales and marketing, and procurement and distribution modules specifically for medium-size enterprises.

Portals are of particular interest to Carol Bogardus, director of human resources IT at Genentech Inc., a San Francisco-based biotechnology firm.

Genentech went live last month with PeopleSoft 8 human resources payroll and benefits modules and is now exploring PeopleSoft's CRM, workforce analytics and recruitment products.

"Our plan is to begin to roll out self-service applications, and portals play a big role in that," said Bogardus.

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