SAP revamps performance management suite

EPM 10.0 gives companies a slew of ways to crunch financial data

SAP is preparing to release a major revamp of its software for EPM (enterprise performance management), a subset of BI (business intelligence) that focuses on areas such as budgeting, planning and compliance, the company announced Monday in conjunction with the annual Sapphire conference in Orlando.

Business Objects EPM 10.0 consists of a wide range of modules, some of which SAP gained through acquisitions. The suite is now in "ramp-up" release mode with some customers and is expected to be generally available later this year, said James Fisher, vice president of marketing for EPM and finance solutions.

EPM 10.0 applies a common look and feel to the various components in the suite, improving usability and making training easier, said Bryan Katis, vice president and general manager of EPM solutions.

"The business users can own and maintain this with some help from IT," he said.

SAP is also aligning EPM 10.0 with its HANA in-memory database technology, which moves data to be processed into RAM instead of reading it off disks, providing a performance boost.

Other new features include support for mobile application delivery; analytic "scorecards" for topic areas such as CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning); and deeper integration with SAP's NetWeaver middleware and Business Objects BI software, according to a statement.

Under Armour has been using EPM software from SAP and is interested in upgrading to 10.0, although a date hasn't been set as of yet, said David Roberts, corporate manager of financial planning and analysis at Under Armour.

Like its peers, the sportswear maker is faced with increased pricing pressure, Roberts said. EPM tools give it a quick way to track and respond to factors such as day-to-day shifts in the price of commodities.

"Previously, we would have people running around with a ton of spreadsheets," Roberts said.

Under Armour has also been developing scorecards to track the performance of its vendors, according to Roberts. "We live and die on the performance of our partners," he said.

The usability improvements in 10.0 will be welcome and should help adoption of the tools at Under Armour, he said.

Sapphire continues through Wednesday in Orlando.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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