News & Views

News & Views is published monthly by 180 Systems. Our objective is to provide recent articles to our readers on business technology topics. In some cases, our blog contains a title with a hyperlink to a source article, a quote from the article and our comments. In other cases, we have provided a blog without a hyperlink for original content by 180 Systems. We encourage you to post your own comments. You can also access our blog by topic.

Annual ERP software survey


September 1, 2010 from CAmagazine and written by Michael Burns – “Would you believe this is our 12th year for the annual CAmagazine ERP software survey? Over the years we have expanded our roundup to include more and more functionality. This time, we have done something entirely new. You can now complete an online survey about your requirements, then view the 10 best ERP systems for your needs based on percentage fit calculations. You can also drill down for more details on each system. The percentage fit calculation is based on your weighting of each requirement (user-defined fields, security, etc.) and each category (industry, technology or financial requirements)…”


An Appetite for Destruction: The ERP Implementation Lawsuits Continue…


July 5, 2010 from Panorama Consulting Group – “When working with clients, we often hear the perception that most ERP failures or lawsuits must pertain to SAP implementations. After all, Hershey’s, Waste Management, and a host of other high-visibility failures involved SAP’s ERP software. However, our research shows that there is no pattern to ERP failures and lawsuits, other that they happen more often than they should and no one ERP vendor appears more or less likely to experience failure than the others.

For example, two new lawsuits were announced in the last 30 days: one against Oracle and another against JDA’s i2 unit.

In fact, we looked at the most recent lawsuits to see if there was a pattern among vendors and software solutions. As you will see in the table below, there is no apparent pattern to the vendors named in recent legal matters. If anything, when expressed as a percentage of total client base, SAP and Oracle probably have a lower lawsuit rate than other vendors on the list. However, because large and high-visibility companies are more likely to embark on Oracle or SAP implementations, those organizations are more likely to receive attention when something goes awry…”

180 View – Panorama is a competitor to 180 Systems but we thought that their research was interesting enough to include their article. The 1st impression about the article is that there are not that many lawsuits when you look at their “Lawsuits Against ERP Vendors” chart. You will see that there are 4 in 2009, 1 in 2008, 0 in 2007, 2 in 2006, 0 in 2005, 1 in 2004, 2 in 2003, 0 in 2002…  I would have expected more despite the comment by Panorama that “that there is no pattern to ERP failures and lawsuits, other that they happen more often than they should.” Our perspective is that things are getting better as a result of lessons learned and better software. There are articles linked to each lawsuit and one of them contained the following insight “Buyers should make sure to “do due diligence not only on the vendor’s software but on the consulting organization that will be delivering services, whether the vendor’s own consultants or a third-party. Interview the proposed project manager and key consulting staff”


Best Practices in Extending ERP: A Buyer’s Guide to ERP Versus Best of Breed Decisions


May 5, 2010 on Toolbox for IT but first published November 2006 from Aberdeen Group – “The trade-off between Best of Breed functionality and ease of integration is no longer as simple as it once was. Over the generations, Enterprise Resource Planning has continued to expand, blurring the boundaries of core ERP functionality. The number of modules and the extent of functionality offered in the ERP suite have steadily grown over the past two decades. At the same time, the consolidation within the software industry is having a broader effect than just on ERP itself. ERP companies have also been gobbling up pure play or Best of Breed vendors that offer extensions to core ERP functionality. This is having a profound effect on the enterprise application vendor landscape and also on how ERP versus “Best of Breed” decisions are fundamentally made. More and more companies are exploring the limits of these boundaries and weighing decisions that balance integration efforts and the ability to upgrade to new releases against extended features, functions and advanced technology. …”

180 View – I recently used this article in a course taught at Ryerson University. The subject matter also continues to come up in client engagements. Decision makers still want to know whether to go best of breed or ERP. They also want to know what makes programs really integrated. In a chart in the article entitled Levels of Integration, Aberdeen does provide some guidance. For example, the tightest level of integration would be a module of ERP defined as “Single data base; no redundancy of data elements; built with the same development tools and infrastructure as core ERP.” Other categories are “Tightly integrated extension”, “Extension is loosely integrated or not integrated but sold and supported by a single vendor”, “Extension is loosely integrated or not integrated, sold and supported by multiple vendors”, “Extension is sold and supported independently by multiple vendors” Although the definitions are useful, they are not sufficient. You also need to consider the type of integration such as real-time or batch or whether it’s one-way or two-way. It’s a lot easier to import a transaction than to synchronize a master file such as inventory. Another dimension to integration is the tools/technology used. For example, it would be preferable to integrate using industry standard tools rather than proprietary tools that are not well supported. Finally, when integration does occur, you should be concerned about data integrity in terms of whether the integration complies with business and data validation rules.


Factors that affect ERP implementation cost


August 23, 2010 from The Enterprise System Spectator – “…SAP and Oracle are two well-know, so-called “Tier I” ERP systems. It is generally understood that these systems can support the largest, most complex, most geographically-dispersed organizations. They can support the widest number of industry sectors. They do this by incorporating a great deal of functionality for various industries, business processes, and local regulatory requirements. They are highly configurable. In other words, they are big pieces of software, or as I like to put it, they have a “big footprint.”

This complexity comes with a price. It means that to make use of the system in a specific organization, many decisions have to be made during the implementation. These decisions cost time and money to configure the software and test it specifically for the organization’s needs. This drives up the cost of the implementation.

SAP and Oracle are well-aware of this issue and have worked hard over the past decade to pre-configure their systems for specific industries and use cases. If a customer fits well into the vendor’s pre-configured templates (“accelerators” in Oracle-speak, or “best practices” as SAP calls them), much of the complexity of the software can be hidden from view. Customers that fall neatly into the vendor’s template can sometimes achieve very rapid and cost-effective implementations. Both vendors will gladly share references of such with prospects…”

180 View – I have used SAP to teach University students about ERP and it is a struggle for them (and me). But I can imagine that it would be a lot easier if the system was pre-configured for us, and I only had to work with a small number of programs within SAP. Although I have heard from the vendors about their pre-configured systems and fast/inexpensive implementations, I have not yet spoken to an actual client about it. SAP and Oracle still have a long way to go to get their message across.


Where have all the Project Managers Gone?

Project Management

August 2010 from Project Times – “It seems unbelievable that my clients would be struggling to find and retain excellent project managers in today’s economy – after all, aren’t we still emerging from a recession?  However, once there are multiple data points with a clear trend line, it seems prudent to face reality.  I have no doubt that those companies who find and/or retain excellent project managers will have a secret weapon to succeeding during this turbulent, “new normal” economy.  Why and how?…”

180 View – The article also discusses three qualities in an excellent project manager one of them being the ability to synthesize. The author, Lisa Anderson, has certainly demonstrated her synthesizing skills by being able to come up with the three qualities.