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SAP enhances its PLM ERP software package with SOA

With the increasing importance of product lifecycle management (PLM), SAP will extend its enhancement package program to its SAP PLM offerings.

SAP took a page out of its ERP playbook today, announcing an enhancement package schedule for its product lifecycle management (PLM) products.

As product innovation becomes an important differentiator for manufacturers, PLM is spreading throughout the enterprise, expanding beyond just an engineering application, according to Roy Wildeman, senior analyst for Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research. SAP is hoping its products will grow to fill that need.

The PLM releases will make use of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and provide an end-to-end product that helps companies accelerate and simplify the "business of products" and improve collaboration in business networks, according to SAP.

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"SAP plans to weave in intelligent role-based content alongside greater flexibility through SOA in their PLM offering," Wildeman said. "This aligns with our vision of Dynamic Business Applications, where software systems enable greater process innovation through designing for people and building for change."

The first package of PLM enhancements will be available at the end of 2007, with new portfolio planning processes and portfolio management capabilities. In 2008, SAP will overhaul the PLM user interface to make it more user friendly, aiming to ease PLM adoption by reducing user training and manual activities to go along with additional collaboration functionality.

As it evolves, 2009's PLM enhancement package will improve integration product development processes and sport new product information management capabilities. In 2010, SAP plans to focus on "the assimilation of real-world information," according to its press release, including integration with digital manufacturing tools and improved RFID and barcode functionality.

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