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October 31, 1999

Baan Closes the Loop: Puts CRM into ERP, Adds Analytics

By CBR Staff Writer

By William Fellows

Baan Co NV is promising to deliver the most highly integrated ERP, CRM and supply chain solution at BaanWorld in Austria this month to suit the needs of modern net-centric industries where it says the only constant is change. It’s a highly appropriate paradox given that Baan itself has learned that it applies just as much to the ERP world it inhabits as any other industry.

In 1998 Baan broke up what it considered to be a monolithic ERP program into components, believing that a modular approach to ERP was more suited to manufacturing industry needs. It bought other companies to provide CRM, logistics and data management, but effectively left them as standalone applications. Now under new management and a project originally codenamed Corelli, Baan will tout a completely integrated end-to-end set of products from the desktop to the back-end.

Baan has integrated the existing version of its FrontOffice CRM application from the acquisition of Aurum Software into new versions of Baan ERP and Supply Chain. It likens the approach to selling Microsoft Office versus the individual applications. It’s wrapping them up in a new Business Intelligence Suite that combines the Broadbase database with templates it has written that provide data extraction services. Additional templates can be custom built. It will offer an OLAP client to perform analysis on the data that it has built using Top Tier Software’s Insight business intelligence portal. The difference from conventional OLAP tools, Baan claims, is that its application can provide a complete history of all transactions associated with a particular query to better inform decision makers where the impetus is coming from.

Baan has also extended its DEM modeling, configuration and workflow software to support additional metrics from Benchmarking Partners which show organizations which processes and goals must be changed to achieve a particular performance mark and some idea of how to get there. It sounds very similar to the metrics Lawson Software is building into its human resource management software from Saratoga Systems. A new Baan user desktop environment includes a portal, work environment and modeling tools.

Baan denies that it’s shunned the portal concept entirely but says it doesn’t plan to do it the SAP or Oracle way. Instead says it’s working on a portal that customers and suppliers can use on to of Baan. It’s not going to create a marketplace or community for product exchange.

Baan says the newly integrated suite of products will offer users a better competitive advantage than other opportunity-to-order and order-to-product systems in business-to-business transactions. It’s order promising done right, the company claims. Conventional profitable-to-promise systems might offer a customer the ability to pay an extra $200 to have a product delivered in one day rather than in the normal six weeks. Often that won’t dovetail with a company’s manufacturing schedule which means it will have to be special ordered. Baan says its system can offer much finer grain approach so that customers might be offered the ability to get a product delivered one week earlier for each additional 10% cost in the price of the product. A company pays according to need and the supplier can provide the product as well as maintaining its production schedule.

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