Looking to ensure the long-term loyalty of its users, PeopleSoft Inc. last week announced extensions to some of its software support programs and said it plans to ship an upgrade of its finance applications in the fourth quarter.
At its Connect 2003 user conference here, PeopleSoft also introduced a set of tools designed to simplify the process of installing and upgrading its software. Company officials said the tools are part of a wider push to make life easier for users, a strategy that PeopleSoft has dubbed Total Ownership Experience.
Ted Weinrich, MIS manager at Larson Manufacturing Co. in Brookings, S.D., applauded the simplification initiative. "Hallelujah," he said. "It's what everyone should be doing."
Larson, which makes storm doors, uses about 20 of PeopleSoft's application modules. PeopleSoft has been repeating the simplification message over and over, Weinrich said, adding that it's now apparent "that there is a commitment at the executive level" to fulfill the promises.
The announcement of the support extensions was welcome news to Mike Rothgery, a senior manager of human resources applications at Paris-based Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. "Whenever they extend the support for nothing, you've got to like that," he said.
One more year
PeopleSoft said users with maintenance contracts will now be able to get scripts for easing upgrades to new applications for five years after the software they're using is released -- up from four years. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company also said it will increase from five years to six the period in which it updates software releases to comply with changes in tax laws and other regulations.
The extensions apply to application releases starting with PeopleSoft 8.0 as well as the J.D. Edwards 5 software that PeopleSoft bought as part of its August acquisition of Denver-based J.D. Edwards & Co.
Andy Allbritten, head of support services and worldwide sales at PeopleSoft, said the extensions weren't part of the company's effort to fend off a hostile takeover attempt by Oracle Corp. Oracle has said that it would support PeopleSoft's existing applications for at least 10 years.
The upcoming PeopleSoft Enterprise Financial Management 8.8 release includes automated configuration capabilities designed to help users lower their implementation costs, said Susan Foley Kane, vice president of product marketing for the finance software.
The upgrade will also add instant messaging support, embedded data analysis tools and on-demand processing capabilities that will streamline financial reporting and transactions, Kane said.
Entergy Services Inc., a New Orleans-based utility and energy services company, uses multiple versions of PeopleSoft's finance software and has done extensive testing of the 8.8 release. Steve Myers, manager of revenue and cash accounting at Entergy, said the upgraded applications will let him automate bank accounting and reconciliation processes.
Myers added that support for instant messaging is another big improvement. "We're constantly getting all sorts of requests in various areas," he said. "With instant messaging, you could answer those quickly and easily move on."
Stacy Cowley of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.