By Doug Bartholomew For many manufacturers, finding and hiring contract workers is no easy chore. PeopleSoft Inc. hopes to ease that burden for its customers with the acquisition earlier this month of SkillsVillage. A software firm based in Sunnyvale, Calif., SkillsVillage automates the process of procuring both requisition and project-based service staff. Billing itself as "the leader in human capital management," PeopleSoft says it was logical for the Pleasanton, Calif.-based ERP software firm to take the lead in automating the process of procuring contract employees. "Our leadership in human capital and supply-chain management makes the move toward service procurement a natural fit," says Renee Lorton, general manager and vice president at PeopleSoft. The addition enables PeopleSoft to offer a complete system for identifying, selecting, and managing enterprise services procurement and staffing. Observers lauded PeopleSoft's move. "Acquiring SkillsVillage vaults PeopleSoft into the leading position in the very lucrative service automation market while other MRO vendors are struggling to survive," says Bruce Richardson, senior vice president at AMR Research, an information technology research and consulting firm in Boston.