Financials Software Gets Overhauled

Oracle is giving a global spin to its financials software suite with new features for international companies. PeopleSoft is merging the commercial and government versions of its financial apps.

Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc. are developing new tools to help accountants balance the books more efficiently.

Oracle is planning to release next month Version 11i.7 of Oracle Financials that will further extend the software suites capabilities to manage global business, officials said. The upgrade includes enhanced functionality in 10 areas, including a new global tax requirements feature in the AP (Accounts Payable) and AR (Accounts Receivable) modules, a cross-currency application in AR, and enhanced global inter-company data sharing in the General Ledger module.

Other capabilities include an invoice-receipt matching feature in AP, document sequencing enhancements in AR and a re-runnable depreciation feature in the Fixed Assets module.

Along with the upgrade, Oracle will finally roll out its Daily Business Close portal, which the Redwood Shores, Calif., company announced at its European AppsWorld conference in January. The software, as its name implies, allows management to view key business metrics on a daily basis

Separately, Version 8.4 of PeopleSofts namesake financials suite, which will be unveiled this week, combines code from both the private and commercial sector versions of the software. This expands the suites Web-based architecture to public sector users and bolsters the accounting capabilities for commercial companies, according to PeopleSoft officials, in Pleasanton, Calif.

The native Web architecture in the public sector version of PeopleSoft Financials 8.4 will let the City of Oshawa, Ontario, move forward with its portal and business process integration plans, according to Dave Mowby, manager of application support for the city. He is also interested in the Chart Field Configuration utility in Version 8.4.

"That allow you to rename and reorder chart fields in a general ledger and you can disable and remove chart fields you dont use," Mowby said. "When we put in PeopleSoft, we had to go through a learning process of what you call this, PeopleSoft calls that. Now we can go back to what everyones used to."

By repurposing code from its public sector suite in Version 8.4 commercial companies will get a more proactive accounting system akin to what many public sector agencies adhere to. This adds a commitment control capability to alert department managers when theyre department is getting close to a specific budget cap.

Keith Malmborg, Project Manager for Human Resources and Financials at Santa Clara University, said Version 8.4 goes a long way towards closing budget and reporting gaps in 7.5, the version of PeopleSoft Financials that the university currently uses.

"Prior to this release there was a commercial financial version and an Education and Government version that was often referred to as the BCM, or budget checking module," said Malmborg, in Santa Clara, Calif. "That was an inflexible and rather finicky module. It did a pretty good job at the basics of allowing an organization to track and monitor, but made it difficult to really meet the reporting needs of an organization."

With the 8.4 release – and the merging of the code – the commitment control functionality provides a welcome replacement for BCM, "with more options to do a better job," according to Malmborg.

Finally, the 8.4 upgrade provides a single instance of data across different databases. This answers rival Oracles single database approach that provides access to real-time data and enhances all related processing activities.

"Were waiting for PeopleSoft to go to the concept of physical integration," said Malmborg. "I dont think being in the same database is the answer. Having integration points between applications so that you have near real-time integration through all todays messaging techniques – so you can have all the logical integration you would get from one database – [is the answer]."

Malmborg believes that when all of his iterations of PeopleSoft software are on PeopleSoft 8.4, the issues of separate databases will become moot.