Oracle Revs JDE EnterpriseOne and World
April 24, 2012 Alex Woodie
Oracle yesterday unveiled new releases of both JD Edwards ERP suites, including JDE World version 9.3 and JDE EnterpriseOne 9.1, at the vendor’s Collaborate 2012 conference in Las Vegas. The new releases contain hundreds of enhancements, with an emphasis on user interface improvements, enhancements to industry- and process-specific functionality, and continued regulatory compliance. EnterpriseOne also gets a new operational reporting tool, called OneView, while World now requires IBM i 7.1.
The simultaneous launch of new releases of both major ERP suites is a first in JD Edwards history, according to Lyle Ekdahl, group vice president and general manager of Oracle’s JD Edwards division. The launches demonstrate the amount of work that JD Edwards development team has been doing lately, he tells IT Jungle.
“In looking at it, we have done more in terms of product innovation in the last 12 months than we ever have in the previous 37 years of JD Edwards history in any 12-month period,” he says, referring to this release and preceding announcements, including new smartphone apps and the capability to access the entire EnterpriseOne app from an Apple iPad.
Many of the enhancements in JDE EnterpriseOne 9.1 are based on technologies introduced with EnterpriseOne Tools 9.1, which Oracle introduced last fall. That release introduced new features in the areas of user interface design, productivity upgrades, industry-specific capabilities, global operation enhancements, and regulatory compliance. EnterpriseOne, like most newer ERP systems (and unlike the monolithic JDE World), is broken into two major pieces, including an underlying technological foundation, and an application layer that sits above it.
EnterpriseOne 9.1 brings several GUI enhancements that end-users may find appealing, such as “rich hover” functionality that displays data without requiring the user to navigate away from the page, and predictive auto-suggest features in the search function. Users also have new options to customize their user interface. Since the Tools 9.1 launch, the EnterpriseOne user interface looks and feels like the Oracle Fusion user interface; even EnterpriseOne’s mobile and iPad interfaces are built with Fusion tooling.
Ekdahl highlighted four new functions that he expects will have big impact on customers adopting EnterpriseOne version 9.1. The first is a new voucher matching capability that should streamline the process of matching supplier invoices with purchase order receipts.
According to Ekdahl, the feature allows customers to set the voucher-matching function to automatically approve any invoice that is within a given percentage of the original purchase order (say 2 percent), and flag any invoices that fall outside of that range. While EnterpriseOne shops could have implemented this type of functionality through a third-party product, the ERP suite itself didn’t offer it.
Another money- and time-saving feature in EnterpriseOne 9.1 is a new project management function designed to boost visibility into manufacturing operation. The feature–which is more of a technique, like lean or just-in-time manufacturing, that has been embedded into all manufacturing components of EnterpriseOne than a new feature or screen–works by assigning a number to all the materials involved in a make-to-order manufacturing process, and then tracking that number against projected supply and recorded demand.
“It gives advance manufacturing customers a great deal of visibility and control in their processes and allows them to see things such as potential supply shortages,” Ekdahl says. “It allows them to compare different suppliers and quality from different suppliers that may make up a project. It allows them to set aside inventory by customer, to approve customer satisfaction, such as no stock out situations.”
Version 9.1 also brings a new work order mass maintenance feature allowing users to work with multiple work orders–dozens or even hundreds–at the same time. “Instead of dealing with each one of those as a service or maintenance work order, you can put in place a filter, based on the product, and group all hundred of those together, and deal with them in masse,” Ekdahl says. One beta adopter told the GM that this new feature will save two full-time-equivalent jobs per year, he added.
Better product tracking across the globe is the fourth area of enhancement in EnterpriseOne 9.1. Country-of-origin stickers are commonly found on produce in the grocery store. “People want to see that now within a manufacturing process. Where did we source this? Where did it come from? We might have restrictions of what countries we deal with and what kind of countries we take supply from, and then also what countries we eventually deliver supply to,” Ekdahl says. EnterpriseOne 9.1 also delivers support for Global Locator Numbers (GLNs).
Many IT departments struggle to help their end-users with ad-hoc reporting requests. To address this on-going need, Oracle unveiled a new reporting solution, called JD Edwards EnterpriseOne One View Reporting.
“What happens today in many shops is that end users can’t navigate the complexity of the ERP data models, so they have to go to IT to get IT to build a bunch of specialized reports,” Ekdahl says. “That’s a huge burden on IT.”
Oracle’s solution to this is One View Reporting, a separately licensed product that’s based on Oracle’s BI Publisher 11g. The new software is used to generate day-to-day operational reports (not strategic analytics), and includes 178 pre-built reports. It works against the production EnterpriseOne database (DB2/400, Oracle 11g, and SQL Server databases are all supported), so no separate data warehouse is required.
“We’re delivering an environment that takes the complexity out of the data modeling for the end user, and gives that to them as a rich reporting tool with a whole set of content that we’ve pre-built for them,” Ekdahl continues. “We’re also providing them the ad hoc ability to not just mix and match [pre-built content], but to build their own reports.”
Not to be outdone by the EnterpriseOne side of the JDE house, the folks working in John Schiff’s World organization also have a major new release to talk about. Schiff, an Oracle vice president and the general manager of JD Edwards World, briefed IT Jungle on the latest updates to the venerable RPG-based app.
Schiff highlighted three major enhancement areas with World A9.3. For starters, the new application requires IBM i 7.1. Going forward, World will not run on anything older than what is now the current release of the IBM i OS.
“We really looked at the operating system very carefully and we’re adopting 7.1 as the standard for the A9.3 product,” Schiff says. “It has some great functionality, which we’re already starting to use in our security paradigm and we’ll continue to build out on our functionality.”
The pending end-of-support for i5/OS V5R4 in September 2013 contributed to Oracle’s IBM i support decision, Schiff says. “We’ve typically lagged a little in [forcing customers to upgrade their OS]. But we believe there are sufficient reasons to say to customers, ‘You really need to move to 7.1. There’s stuff in here that is going to give you a long-term boost in productivity, specifically around security.'”
The security enhancements in World A9.3 include new role-based security capabilities and a new security workbench designed to simplify and streamlines maintenance. “We’ve really made it simpler to do more approvals. We’ve made it much simpler to administer, while understanding that ERP security goes much deeper than a typical AS/400 or System i-based security,” he says. “It’s a slightly different animal to how IBM would be administering security. We try to work on the IBM security model, giving it a security workbench that makes it very simple to administer.”
World A9.3 also introduces several functional enhancements. For starters, it sports a new application integration capability that users can access directly from their Web or green-screen user interfaces. The integration gives users the capability to call an external Web-based program by pressing a function key, and automatically sending that Web-based app a parameterized URL.
The new integration feature could be used with Google Maps. If a customer service representative wanted to know a particular customer location, he could simply press a function key, and a Google Map screen would pinpoint it. This feature could also be used in conjunction with cloud-based applications, such as Oracle’s CRM On Demand software.
World A9.3 brings a range of industry-specific enhancements as well. Manufacturers will benefit from a method to enforce manufacturing processes and ensure that work orders are being fulfilled in the correct order. Distributors will also benefit from the new capability to generate customized price books for customers.
A range of other enhancements are part of this release, including: better reporting capabilities via exporting PDFs and importing XML through World Import/Export and integration with Oracle Publisher 11g; sub-ledger accounting capabilities; improved direct ship and transfer order distribution; expanded localization, specifically for Spanish-speaking countries; accounting capabilities for meeting European Union regulations; approval management capabilities for payroll and requisitions; the capability to assign and store bills of lading and shipping documents for later reference; and general ledger/item ledger reconciliation processes.
Customers running World A7 or A8 releases can upgrade directly to World A9.3. EnterpriseOne 9.1, meanwhile, supports upgrades from Xe and higher releases of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, and migrations from World A7.3 and higher.