Infor Unveils ERP LX Feature Pack 2
May 29, 2007 Alex Woodie
Infor last week unveiled a new release of ERP LX, the i5/OS-based ERP suite it obtained last year with its acquisition of SSA Global. With ERP LX Feature Pack 2, the first release of the product under Infor, the company has added support for additional languages and currencies, time zone enhancements, and credit card processing capabilities. The company is also working to bring more capabilities to ERP LX in future feature packs.
ERP LX was launched two years agoby SSA Global as the consolidation platform for all of its i5/OS-based ERP products. The software is largely based on the BPCS application that was SSA’s original product, but also contains some elements of the PRMS, KBM, PRISM, and Infinium ERP products that SSA acquired during its resurgence from 2001 to 2006.
In addition to containing elements of these products, ERP LX was defined by SSA Global as the ERP upgrade path for users of these products, and the key role to its commitment to never sunset a product. In this regard, Infor has a lot of eggs riding in the ERP LX basket. But while SSA Global created the product to be its core i5/OS-based ERP product (with the former Baan product, or ERP LN, being the other), Infor has several other i5/OS-based ERP products in its bag of tricks, including Infor ERP System 21 (the former Geac product), Infor FM & HCM Infinium, and Infor ERP XA, the former MAPICS product.
In June 2006, just after Infor announced plans to buy SSA Global for $1.6 billion, SSA Global launched ERP LX version 8.3.1, a new release of the product that will form the basis for all future releases through 2009. At the same time, the company moved to a new release schedule, based on feature packs, that it hoped would minimize the disruption of upgrades in customers’ accounts.
“We recently took on a strategy of doing feature pack releases for ERP LX,” said Kari Miller, Infor’s product manager for ERP LX, in a Webcast on ERP LX’s roadmap available on Infor’s Web site. “What that means is each feature pack sits on top of the base ERP LX solution we provide . . . ERP LX 8.3 had all of the database changes we needed for the next several feature packs built into it.”
With FP2, or ERP LX version 8.3.2, Infor has made enhancements in three or four additional areas. The company has added new fields in the database so users can conduct planning activities more accurately by setting planning values by facility, and not using global values that are the same across the entire company.
FP2 also brings support for credit card payments and chargebacks (although customers will need to provide their own software or service for clearing card transactions with the bank). Support for credit card processing was added at the request of ERP LX users. Infor has established “special interest groups” where its customers can vote on what features the company adds to the product.
FP2 also brings several features designed to make it easier for companies to do business in different countries. The new time zone enhancements in FP2 give users the option of configuring transactions to automatically reflect either the user’s location and time zone or the default time zone used by the system. This feature is expected to be particularly useful at shops that have consolidated ERP installations for several regions onto one iSeries or System i server, but want to maintain the level of detail provided by exact time zone matches.
Similarly, FP2 introduces enhancements in the way that languages and currencies are displayed. The system can automatically detect which language or currency to display based on the language segment value or the region code framework.
One company making the move to ERP LX FP2 is Greif, the industrial packaging and services giant that’s based in Ohio and operates in more than 160 locations around the world. “The latest enhancements to LX will allow us to more effectively manage our global operations to provide our customers with unsurpassed service, ” says Ken Andre, Greif’s vice president, corporate controller, and CIO.
With FP2 now shipping, Infor is turning its eyes to the next releases of ERP LX, FP3 and FP4, which are due out in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Infor’s LX product roadmap shows these products bringing new features for companies operating in the automotive, life sciences, and consumer processed goods industries, including compliance elements, user interface enhancements, improved product lifecycle management, new lean manufacturing capabilities, and e-signature support, in addition to language and globalization enhancements.
But Infor is not all about new development. In fact, the company bases much of its enterprise software strategy on its capability to acquire the right companies. According to Sandra Rosseau, who works in Infor’s human capital management (HCM) division and participated in the ERP LX Webcast, Infor has an “acquire versus build” strategy when it comes to extending Infor’s core products.
“What this brings to you is the best that capitalism has to offer,” she says. “With our acquisition strategy we’re able to acquire some of the best in class solutions out in the marketplace today with the latest technology and incorporate them into our portfolio. We’re not stuck on an ERP development schedule as part of the process. What that allows is to get our products faster to market, and quite often we purchase a product that already has open standards, therefore there’s no proprietary language or platforms on these particular solutions.”
In particular, Rosseau says Infor has received a lot of good feedback with its HCM for iSeries solutions, which is made up of two former Infinium products and the Boniva talent management software that Infor acquired in 2005. “Take a look at the new Infor HCM solutions because we are definitely coming up strong and have some excellent solutions in the market today.”