SAP improves software for service industries

CeBIT: A software upgrade should help SAP show it is not as lumbering as some suggest

SAP will launch a new version of its supply chain management suite in June, the company announced at CeBIT in Hanover on Thursday.

The most significant new features are in the service-parts management component of the software. This is largely aimed at business sectors such as small scale manufacturing and distribution, which put a premium on getting the right components in the right place on a "just-in-time" basis.

According to SAP, the new software, mySAP Supply Chain Management Version 5.0, is able to efficiently manage even low-value components. It should help companies evolve traditional, linear supply chains into more flexible and dynamic networks of supply chain partners. A lack of flexibility has been a particular criticism of SAP manufacturing software in the past.

The latest version has industry-specific functionality, and companies and organisations using the new capabilities can increase their supply network productivity and profitability by "identifying and capitalising on sudden changes in supply and demand", SAP said.

These new tools should help retailers find a balance between increased customer service levels and lowered merchandise inventory. They can replenish products with long lead times and at the same time handle seasonal products and introduce new products with short product life cycles using historical information on similar products to forecast demand.

It is intended to work in industries as diverse as clothing, footwear, consumer products and the chemical industry.

SAP says there are now more than 32,000 companies running its software in more than 120 countries — from distinct solutions addressing the needs of SMEs to suite offerings for global organisations.