SAP has attacked the notion that the R/3 system is not open by releasing thespecifications for some 170 business application programming interfaces (BAPIs), whichhelp third-party applications interact with R/3 directly.BAPIs are simply, sets of methods that allow external applications to collaborate withspecific R/3 business objects, such as customers, accounts, or employees.The fact that the R/3 data is addressable through these callable methods, (BAPIs) givesthe third party application vendors a lot of flexibility to build supporting applications for the R/3 system.In a similar manner, Baan provides an offering called OrgWare that is based on the use of a tightly integrated business-modeling tool, combined with business-specific templatesthat help to automatically configure the software to suit specific operational needs.Baan is currently in the process of enhancing this tool with new setup wizards toaccelerate software implementation on the Windows NT platform.
ERP vendors already deliver comprehensive suites of application modules that supportmultinational deployment, Year 2000 compliance, and the Euro (European singlecurrency).But each vendor is trying to extend the reach ofits software and make it more like anapplication platform than a suite of modules.SAP is already ahead in this race; its R/3 product is one of the few that can be managed,centrally using popular platform management tools from vendors such as Computer Associates (UniCenter TNG) and Tivoh (TME),
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All the ERP vendors are now capable of delivering specialized variants of their applications to service vertical markets such as government, healthcare, financial service,or retail environments. Some vendors are also moving into more specialized areas, suchas supply chain management and demand forecasting or sales automation and marketing.PeopleSoft bought Red Pepper Software to enhance its supply chain offering while Baanrecently acquired Aurum Software for its Aurum Customer Enterprise suite of customer relationship management tools.To strengthen its financial modules, Baan also teamed up with Hyperion Software tolink Hyperion's financial accounting, budgeting and reporting solutions to Baansdistribution and manufacturing modules.
Improving decision support has been another focus of almost all the ERP vendors.Baan is linking its applications to the Gentia product (from Gentia Software Inc.) to provide OLAP capabilities, and for the setup and monitoring of key performanceindicators.JD Edwards teamed up with Information Builders to deliver a data mart, based onInformation Builders Inc.'s.SmartMart suite'of database access middleware, data transformation, reporting, andOLAP tools.By: M H Lakdawla3