Targeting Services Firms

Lawson's enterprise software upgrade offers tools for operating and tracking business services.

Lawson Software Inc. is ready to push into vertical services but faces competition there from larger ERP developers such as PeopleSoft Inc.

At its Conference and User Exchange here this month, enterprise resource planning software maker Lawson introduced an upgrade to its flagship Lawson.insight suite that includes enhancements for operating, managing, tracking and understanding services-related businesses.

Lawson.insight 8.0.2 has 14 upgrades—from analytics to adapters—with several focused on professional services and some geared toward Lawsons other targeted industry verticals.

For systems integrators and other professional services businesses, Version 8.0.2 features a Connector for Siebel eBusiness Applications that integrates data from Siebel Systems Inc.s customer relationship management software with data in Lawson.insight.

A new application in the suite, Project and Activity Accounting, enables users to track daily project activity, as well as value and recognize revenue for ongoing projects.

An integrated connector to e-marketplaces, purchasing networks and exchanges, called e-Procurement Service, was also touted as an enhancement for services companies.

An e-Recruiting app automates candidate applications and selection processes in online systems.

A Purchasing Analytics application geared for all of Lawsons vertical markets includes key performance indicators to drive efficiencies and lower supply chain costs. An e-Workforce Analytics application for health care companies offers real-time analysis and reporting on work force performance.

The connector upgrades include adapters for Entrust Technologies Inc.s public-key infrastructure security software, BMC Software Corp.s Patrol network management solution, BEA Systems Inc.s Tuxedo transaction processing solution and Microsoft Corp.s Application Center server management software. Finally, Lawson introduced a Java-based Open Application Development Environment.

The 8.0.2 upgrade is scheduled for general availability in August.

Lawson, of St. Paul, Minn., also announced a partnership with Eisner Technology Solutions LLC, which helps customize applications for health and professional services customers.

The Lawson upgrade came a week after PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., purchased SkillsVillage Inc. to make inroads in the services industry. Observers said the $32 million acquisition helped bolster PeopleSofts supremacy in human resources management and general services automation.

Lawson officials said they are confident that their offerings will stand out to professional services customers.

"PeopleSoft is our No. 1 competitor," said Dean Hager, executive vice president of Lawsons Global Products division. "But we know how to do verticals. We just dont build a solution ... and try to sell it. There are so many intricacies. The problem with professional services is its not about a specific industry but [about] process planning."

Some of the Lawson faithful who attended the conference had already compared Lawson with PeopleSoft and other ERP vendors. Not surprisingly, they liked what they saw from Lawson.

Tom Wierimaa, director of financial systems at Looking Glass Networks Inc., of Oakbrook, Ill., liked the new Java development environment because, he said, it suited Lawsons architecture. He had compared Lawsons overall package with other ERP software.

"Oracle [Corp.] showed us Web-based [software], and PeopleSofts was good but new," Wierimaa said. "Lawson showed us a complete Web system thats been around for a long time."