SAP adds to supply chain, other products

SAP has announced other new additions to its product range during its European users' conference.

Just months after it launched its supply chain management product, SAP Advanced Planner and Optimizer (APO), SAP is previewing the next version, SAP APO version 2.0.

Supply chain software aims to manage all facets of a company's manufacturing processes, including its relationships with its manufacturing partners. SAP APO version 2.0 will add functions designed to extend strategic planning capabilities, SAP said, and the ability to integrate the Internet into these functions.

One new feature will be collaborative planning, which will use Internet technology to let supply chain partners view, share and synchronise information. Collaborative planning will include Web-enabled components, planning books -- which allow users to view and change information such as marketing activities and sales order forecasts -- as well as an alert monitor, which informs partners about important changes.

Another new APO feature, Purchasing Workbench, is designed to let users simulate company procurement processes so they can make decisions about vendors or product lot-sizes. Network design will also help users create proposals for supply chain networks, considering new locations such as plants, distribution centers and the transportation networks.

SAP APO Release 2.0 will be available in the fourth quarter on Windows NT with Oracle Corp.'s database or Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server, as well as UNIX with Oracle database.

SAP also this week introduced SAP Knowledge Warehouse 4.0, a product previously known as InfoDB. Knowledge Warehouse is designed to help companies manage unstructured information, including non-SAP-related data, and deliver the information in real time to those who need it, the company said. The product will be available in the third quarter.

SAP also announced a new program called ValueSAP, designed to help customers get more out of their investment in SAP products. SAP will offer customers a combination of products, training and services to help them increase productivity, SAP said. As a first step in this initiative, SAP is offering what it calls Continuous Business Improvement (CBI), a service where SAP will help customers identify and adopt business practices that increase their profitability and competitiveness.

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