SAP, Microsoft Unwrap New Tools

The software giants tout new wares at the National Retail Federation Annual Convention and Expo in New York.

SAP AG and Microsoft Corp. each announced new software Monday at the National Retail Federation Annual Convention and Expo in New York.

SAP, of Waldorf, Germany, announced a new Web-based workforce management capability that will be part of its mySAP Retail offering. Meanwhile Microsoft announced a new BizTalk Toolkit for UCCnet connectivity. (UCCnet is a subsidiary of the Uniform Code Council Inc., the global standards organization that provides data registry and data synchronization services for product information.)

SAP customers using the Workforce management application can look to transform their labor scheduling into an analytical business management process, officials said.

Chain stores, for example, can use the Workforce application to schedule across store locations, or optimize scheduling of several stores in a similar geographic area based on traffic patterns.

The software also provides retailers with the flexibility to automate their labor scheduling in a centralized environment and perform statistical reporting.

Workforce utilizes an optimization engine that finds the best possible floor schedule for retail stores by balancing weighted variables such as staffing needs, employee skills, payroll requirements, employee availability and performance standards.

The Workforce management tool also has the ability to perform optimum employee schedules using configurable business variables and business data captured throughout the day.

The tool has capabilities for forecasting, employee data maintenance, reporting and analytics. Users can configure settings across their enterprise for multiple or individual locations, as well as conduct categorization and queries based on a number of attributes.

Forecasts can be generated based on such indicators as traffic, items, transactions and sales.

Workforce management with mySAP Retail will be available in the fourth quarter.

Separately, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., announced its namesake BizTalk Toolkit for UCCnet that allows retailers and their suppliers to connect to UCCnet as trading partners.

Companies using the toolkit, which is built on BizTalk Server 2002, also have the option of using BizTalks Orchestration tool to automate integration of incoming data from UCCnet with their legacy systems.

Some features to the Toolkit for UCCnet include pre-built support for all 62 UCCnet item attributes, an extensible architecture that supports custom attributes for pricing and promotions, as well as a table-driven architecture that helps enable quick changes without a lot of extra coding.

The Toolkit for UCCnet will be available by months end at no charge, with a caveat: its available to licensed BizTalk Server users from Microsoft Certified Partners or Microsoft Consulting Services.