Infor ERP LX Adds Compliance and Language Features, SOA Enablement
October 21, 2008 Dan Burger
Manufacturers using the Infor ERP LX suite of products for process or mixed-mode environments have new features and functions available to them with the release last week of Feature Pack 3. At the top of the list are capabilities relating to regulatory compliance and support for multiple languages in a single instance database. The LX product line was once known as BPCS and is often referred to by that name. It’s a bastion of the IBM System i installed base.
Among the core business processes that are included in the Infor LX suite are manufacturing, logistics, channel management, customer relationships, supply relationships, and financial management. The integration of these products is designed for manufacturing environments ranging from highly customized, make-to-order through high-volume, repetitive, and standardized manufacturing processes. There are specific solutions for vertical markets such as the pharmaceutical, chemical, consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, and automotive industries.
In the areas of regulatory compliance and manufacturing quality control practices, Feature Pack 3 includes enhancements for managing raw materials and production. These should be a particular interest for companies subject to reporting Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) data to regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority. The enhancements include expanded electronic signature support for GMP programs such as inventory transfer, receipt of inventory, and shop order allocations. Additional compliance-related enhancements include support for writing electronic records to external media, the capability to print audit trails, and provide precise levels of traceability.
Infor added support for multiple languages in a single instance database, so that users in a global network can enter localized data into a centralized database and then that data can be used in documents written in other languages. It is expected to significantly reduce IT administration costs by allowing customers to consolidate multiple, language-specific instances into a single installation.
Other enhancements in Feature Pack 3 include changes to the way users can retrieve and filter data and an updated order to cash and Electronic Commerce Manager (ECM) processes. Feature Pack 3 also provides an inquiry function that provides users with a “consolidated snapshot” of data related to customers and vendors.
Feature Pack 3 is fully compatible with IBM i 6.1. It became generally available September 30, and the software upgrade is built into the cost of customer maintenance.
Although LX does not have any “Open SOA” components that Infor is developing for the future of its products (scheduled to arrive in January 2009), Feature Pack 3 is a technical preparation release for SOA enablement. Early next year, according to Kari Miller, Infor’s senior director of product management, there will be role-based home pages that make use of the SOA adapter that is in FP3. Current SOA-enabled products include a GA version of enterprise asset management and a beta version of warehouse management.
Coming in January, LX will include role-based home pages that have been developed under the product name MyDay. Miller says these will likely be for areas such as purchasing and warehouse management. MyDay is a Web 2.0 user interface capable of personalizing Infor applications to provide such things as key metrics and reports. Additional role-based capabilities for LX will be introduced incrementally during 2009, 2010, and 2011, according to Infor’s product road map.
Feature Pack 2 for Infor ERP LX was released in May 2007. The highlights of that release included added support for additional languages and currencies, time zone enhancements, and credit card processing capabilities.
ERP LX was owned by SSA Global before that company was acquired by Infor in 2006. In its current state, the software remains based on the original BPCS application, although SSA added features that were derived from its other ERP product lines.
The LX installed base is equally divided among three LX product versions: LX 8.3 is the base layer for the modern browser-based software that is being periodically upgraded with the Feature Packs. Infor also has LX ERP customers running Version 4.x and 6.x. Each of those installed bases has its own migration tool for upgrading to 8.3. As Infor rolls out its Open SOA products, they will only be compatible with LX Version 8.3, its future Feature Packs, and any subsequent versions of the software.