McVey - May 1st, 2000
Oracle Corporation officially released its Advanced Planning and Scheduling
(APS) applications recently with typical fanfare. The new addition to
Oracle's e-business suite, Oracle Applications Release 11i, targets companies
with extended supply chains that wish to collaborate with business partners
via online trading marketplaces.
four modules, Oracle Demand Planning, Oracle Advanced Supply Chain Planning,
Oracle Global Available To Promise (ATP) Server, and Oracle Manufacturing
Scheduling are a response to competition from SAP's Advanced Planner and
Optimizer supply chain suite as well as mature products from best-of-breed
vendors like i2 Technologies and Manugistics. Among the stated advantages
of APS over other planning systems, Oracle points to a single data model
that can quickly generate a single, global plan to encompass both high
level strategic planning and shop floor detailed scheduling, eliminating
time consuming data and plan synchronization.
Combined, the four modules represent a good move for Oracle and complement
key areas of its ERP suite with functionality of interest to its manufacturing
customer base. The single data model of APS, if proven to be viable, will
give it an advantage over other products, including those of Supply Chain
king i2 Technologies. i2 has amassed a suite of products largely through
acquisition and has struggled to stabilize a common data model upon which
to anchor the products.
Contrary to Oracle's marketing banter, however, APS still faces many of
the same synchronization challenges as other applications. These are especially
relevant for its global Available To Promise (ATP) application. Synchronization
is required at periodic intervals for any global ATP application, regardless
of the data model, to refresh ATP figures for use by global sales organizations.
for its larger clients with distributed enterprises, the APS Global ATP
Server competes directly with i2's Supply Chain Planner, which is more
mature in functionality that polls multiple sites for available capacity
brings Oracle into the Supply Chain Management arena, but Oracle is unlikely
to see significant revenues from it until calendar 2001. Before Oracle
can convince the marketplace of APS superiority, it must first give strong
incentives to its sales reps to wean them from selling proven SCM products
of other vendors. As Oracle gains more experience in the field, it should
consider rounding out its APS suite with advanced planning for logistics,
warehouse planning and optimization, and product lifecycle planning.
Because it is a new product, Oracle users should be able to secure attractive
licensing deals for APS in return for giving Oracle a proving ground.
Also, Oracle users should remember that APS is supported as an add-on
only for Oracle 11i and 10.7 and those with prior releases will be required
to upgrade to obtain the new product.
users have a multitude of advanced planning and scheduling packages from
which to choose and APS should not be the prime candidate on their lists.
Best-of-breed solutions from i2 Technologies, Manugistics, Logility and
others are currently superior alternatives due to the many years these
vendors have spent developing, implementing, and supporting supply chain
development efforts have undoubtedly produced a package that hits the
broad requirements of supply chain planning, but, its inexperience in
supply chain makes it difficult to deliver a solution as functionally
deep as the others.