SSA Global Technologies flagship BPCS V8 enterprise (ERP) software is now on general release, with what the company describes as additional, market-driven functionality, including specific ‘vertical’ industry products and over 100 enhancements.
It follows earlier launches this year of BPCS for Windows NT/2000, a web browser interface, extensions to its business intelligence analysis suite and the Process Manager business process optimisation tool – as well as the acquisition of Max International.
Functional enhancements include Lean Manufacturing Process (LMP), previewed by the company for several months and aimed at make-to-order and purchase-to-order organisations using cell manufacturing and ‘pull’ system techniques. SSA says it’s designed to enable higher speed delivery of products by eliminating wasteful activities.
According to Martin Ambrose, vice president of global product development at SSA, LMP typically cuts processes, like issuing works orders and the rest, from several 10s to just four. It involves some serious process change but it’s well worthwhile. And for SSA it might not stop there: Ambrose says the company is set to push harder on the business process re-engineering front. “I think we would like to take a look at the the Goldratt offer,” he said.
As for the ‘vertical’ modules, key among them are Trade Funds Management for marketing spend tracking, and eRecords support for FDA compliance and in particular the US 21 CFR 11 regulations for electronic signatures and the rest especially in the pharmaceutical industry (although it has relevance beyond in, for example, food and beverage). BPCS v8.1, due out later this year, will have extensions of this for electronic signatures and security, also key parts of 21 CFR 11.
Ambrose said the enhancements are the result of partnerships between the firm and its clients world-wide, that have been running for 18 months. SSA established what it calls Global Industry Guide Groups specifically for automotive supply, consumer goods and the pharmaceutical/chemical industries, and it’s these that have helped craft the new solutions.
“BPCS product development is focused on meeting client needs, backed by market drivers. Through the Guide Group approach we can reduce the need to retrofit software and thereby simplify migration,” said Ambrose. “This is mutually beneficial to our clients and SSA GT.”
Other key developments governed by the approach include software for speeding up order fulfilment processes (pick, pack and despatch), he says, and the development of cross-functional enhancements, like moving to managing MPS and MRP by exception and new plant asset maintenance management modules.
Beyond this, European Products Group (EPG) software which were formerly available as an add-on of three products (Nordic enhancements, three-way match, local statutory/business requirements for Spain and Italy) is now a core product. EPG extends BPCS financials in accounts payable, accounts receivable and billing products.
SSA GT has also expanded its gateway technology with the first of its Direct Data Gateways (DDGs), which offer direct connection for third party systems into the BPCS database. SSA says it compliments the current range of Semantic Message Gateways (SMGs) for building best-of-breed systems for manufacturing and business management and e-business initiatives.
CRM (customer relationship management) and supply chain optimisation (SCO) are still throgh partners Applix and Logility.
Author: Brian Tinham