Prescient, PeopleSoft Oil Up the Supply Chain

Companies' software updates help manage demand, supply planning.

Software upgrades from Prescient Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft Inc. make strides toward bringing the demand planning and execution components of SCM closer.

By integrating these two phases of the production process, businesses and manufacturers will be better able to understand the big picture when budgeting and responding to changes in demand for their products.

Prescient, of West Chester, Pa., will ship this month Version 5.0 of its namesake supply chain management application suite, formerly called XEi. Dynamic alerts within Version 5.0s performance measurement application enable the software to push active and dynamic reports to users. New constraint-based planning capabilities factor in material availability and equipment limitations for more realistic forecasts.

The upgrade also offers the ability to manage integrated demand and supply planning in both distribution and manufacturing organizations. With Prescient 5.0, production planners can view plans by resources and by products, at item and group levels, graphically, or via tables and grids. Planners can see full details of the forecast and replenishment plans and can work with multiple plans, officials said.

Version 5.0 further strengthens the link between planning and execution for makers of consumer goods by providing a link into Wal-Mart Stores Inc.s Retail Link electronic collaboration Web site. It also provides an integration tool that allows manufacturers to collaborate with retailers.

"Right now, we have Cognos [Inc.] Impromptu [analysis] tools sitting over an Oracle [Corp.] database, so when we want to review any reporting, we have to go to another tool," said Don Juliano, director of demand management at AAi.FosterGrant Inc., in Smithfield, R.I. "With Prescient 5.0, we could immediately turn around some reports."

Separately, PeopleSoft is reworking its production planning module to encompass a broader supply chain planning offering. The Pleasanton, Calif., company will release in the second quarter of next year a new version of its Supply Chain Planning suite that emphasizes linkages to business planning and budgeting and linking sales and finance to the supply chain.

Version 2.0 of PeopleSofts Strategic Sourcing module, also due in the second quarter, will create a closer link between supply chain planning and strategic sourcing. This will enable a planner, an engineer and a buyer, for example, to collaborate and participate on a request-for-quote bid, as well as enable the supplier to provide specific information in the process, officials said.

"It is absolutely essential that we [in business] pull it all together," said PeopleSoft user Jim Prevo, CIO at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., in Waterbury, Vt. "The advantage of having integrated [that information] is those data models can be understood," Prevo said. "PeopleSoft is on that path, [although] they arent there by any means."