Saturday, December 13, 2008

ERP in the different industries

I have been blogging about the very specifics of ERP for sometime now. For instance, my blogs have tackled not just individual vendors like SAP, Oracle, Baan, Saleforce and Microsoft also their individual components as well.

I remember having blogged before about the individual SAP xApps and how each of them have been designed to leave smaller footprints and that some of them have been design for specific industries. One such example I pointed out was SAP xApp Integrated Exploration and Production (SAP xIEP) for the oil industry.

I like to point out how ERP in general has been received in the different industries which have positive effects in the ERP implementations.

In the Manufacturing Industry, ERP has greatly given benefit by increasing the efficiency, quality and throughput of complex manufacturing processes. Before the advent of advanced ERP software applications solutions, the manufacturing industry has been plagued by problems coming out from inefficient management of communication. With ERP implementation, all barriers to communications have been torn down and those such complex areas of manufacturing like supply chains, ware house and logistics have been closely linked and coordinated. Also, in the past, customers would have to go from pillar to post just to make an inquiry about the status of the products or any query about technical problems and difficulties. ERP has helped track down product status so that both customers and the company will not be wasting time digging through records or running from one department to another. The Manufacturing industry is biggest industry to benefit from ERP.

In the Insurance industry, ERP has seamlessly integrated three general areas into one efficient working group. These areas involve the company, the insurers and the insurance agents. With ERP for the insurance industry, transactions and monitoring of performance of the agents can be easier. ERP has helped speed up coordination between agents and insurers. In the area of government insurance, ERP has eliminated or minimized red tapes and bureaucracy as decisions are so crystal clearly based in database data.

ERP has benefited the Healthcare industry by efficiently managing large government hospitals and sorting out hundreds and thousand of clients and different degree of medical attention. In some really huge hospitals, an ERP that focuses on the vertical market segment is commonly implemented. Of course, the healthcare industry has accounting and human resources too so they the bigger the company in this industry is, the more it would need ERP.

In the Hospitality industry, ERP are used by big hotels and resorts. It is very common for world wide chain of hotels to implement an ERP to keep track of operations from different geographic locations. Even in the local level, hotels have different sections like housekeeping, food and beverage, customer service, and many more. The hotel and resort industry is one of the most personalized industry in terms of transactions so data should be fresh and updated all the time to avoid embarrassment and eventual loss of customers.

So there it is. Whatever the industry, will always have a solution.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Onwards with Duet

About a year ago, SAP announced its first Duet customer, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC). This company is the operator of a 532-mile-long toll highway system with $580 million annual toll revenues and 2,300 employees.

The PTC purchased Duet from SAP but the business solution Duet is a collaboration of SAP and Microsoft and Duet can be bought from both giants. This application enables SAP back end systems to connect with Microsoft Office front end products like Outlook.

Any company wanting to implement Duet needs to meet certain pre-requisites. They need to have a running implemention of mySAP ERP 2004, NetWeaver, and Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows Server 2003. If any of those mentioned is not present, then Duet cannot sing.

As was proven by Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), they have experienced benefit from implementing Duet and they are still foreseeing long term benefits coming. But for those who are just starting to implement Duet from scratch, it could be a daunting task just like any other solutions intended for long term beneficial effects. Many of the SAP customers who have been joint customers (both SAP and Microsoft) have already been using Exchange Server and Windows Server so implementing Duet could be an incremental investment. Duet exposes employees using certain scenarios to data which have been pretty difficult to get to or hard to be trained on during the past.

For SAP customers who have been considering an upgrade to mySAP ERP, there might be certain incentives if they want to include Duet but the product is still sold separately.
The Duet Version 1 and the upcoming value packs contain several user scenarios that can be easy to access without having to leave the Microsoft Office environment.
The Time Management scenario is designed for employees needing to record work and corresponding billable hours with the help of Microsoft Outlook calendar and the appointments will then be automatically synchronized and updated with mySAP ERP.
The Budget Monitoring scenario is for managers who want access to financial decisions so they can make sharp moves. They can use the budget monitoring, alerts for budget variances and postings, transfers of budgets and posting adjustments functionalities for doing their responsibilities.
The Organizational Management scenario is for all employees and managers to work on HR related tasks and get connected through Microsoft Outlook.

Other business scenarios include Leave Management, Travel Management, Reports and Analytics, Sales and Management, Purchasing Management, Demand Planning, Recruitment Management and Contract Life Cycle Management

I hope this beautiful duet can move on for many years. Perhaps one may ask which vendor to buy duet from (SAP or Microsoft). Well, customers can of course buy Duet from either company. But potential customers are encouraged to discuss with both vendors so they can be advised based on their other existing products from SAP and Microsoft and they are totally have their choice of procurement of the products through whatever channel they really want. They should also know that both vendors are giants in the industry and support can be easy to come.

Linking business process analysis and SOA

Last week, Oracle announced that they have enhanced the version of its business process analysis software so that it can give better collaboration between the business processes modelers and implementers.

The Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite will be the first "closed loop support" for business analyst and IT collaboration, sharing a common process model format with the Oracle SOA Suite according to Oracle in their website.

Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) has revolutionized the day information systems with distributed computing and modular programming serving very large and intrinsically unassociated units of functionality, which have no calls to each other embedded in them. The services try to mimic human functionalities such as filling out an online application for an account, viewing an online bank statement, or placing an online book or airline ticket order.

According to Amlan Debnath, vice president of server technologies at Oracle:
"The new business process analysis suite features round-trip engineering. What it lets you do is share the business process model with IT."

With this linkage, it would become extremely easy for a developer to make alterations to any business process which would then be shared with business persons.

The Oracle SOA Suite features a SOA execution engine which has the BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) that executes the modeling process done in the business process analysis package. This is an efficient feature wherein the IT users can view and modify business processes with the SOA packages while the business end users can build and change business models in the business process suite. Vital optimization effects in the Oracle SOA Suite and Oracle Business Process Analysis Suite integration are the seamless linking of business process analysis, execution, and monitoring tools.

In the past, it has been a common occurrence to experience round tripping problems when it comes with dealing with business persons modeling a certain process and then handing the said process to the IT department which is responsible for implementing the process. Oracle has addressed this problem by intelligently "sensing" what the business person means and what the IT person interprets the idea to be.

Analyst Bruce Silver said: "Oracle has created an intermediate format based on shared metadata between the modeling tool and the implementation tool, which is the SOA suite. You solve this round-tripping problem now because the model is not just initial requirements for the implementation, but it's a continuous business view of the business process throughout the business process implementation lifecycle."

Oracle Business Process Suite is a component of the Oracle Fusion Middleware Platform. The suite's main strength lies in its efficient modeling, publishing, simulating and optimizing of end to end business processes. It is based on open standards and hot pluggable architecture and can be used with both Oracle and non-Oracle application servers and packaged applications but is uniquely optimized for Oracle's family of enterprise Applications. The price of the Oracle Business Process Suite starts at $5,000 for five users.