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.

Gartner Quadrant Reports BI Split

Business Intelligence

February 1, 2011 from InformationWeek – “…IBM, Oracle and SAP (along with Microsoft) remain in the analyst firm’s prized upper-right Leaders Quadrant. And they still dominate BI marketshare, the report finds. But non-IT buyers are gravitating to easy-to-use data discovery tools, which moved up in the report…

“These data discovery alternatives to traditional BI platforms offer highly interactive and graphical user interfaces built on in-memory architectures to address business users’ unmet ease-of-use and rapid deployment needs,” Gartner reports…”

180 View – You can also read the entire Gartner report compliments of SAS, which placed in the leaders quadrant. From SAS’s website, there is a link to Gartner is a good place to start when considering investing in enterprise software. As you will see, there are many highly rated business intelligence systems making it a challenge to pick the right one for your company. We will be publishing our own survey in April through the CAmagazine, which will contain additional information on many of the leading business intelligence systems.


Best practices not always best

Business Process Analysis

October 22, 2010 from The Enterprise System Spectator – “…The term best practices has at least two major and totally different definitions, and second, in many areas of business, there is not generally agreement on what are the best practices…”

180 View – This is good article that reflects our philosophy. The major vendors and consulting firms always pitch best practice to their prospects and clients and that they are the source for best practice. I often see proposals that are based on the assumption that best practices will be applied to an implementation. But some processes are strategic in nature and best practices may not apply. In other cases, the costs to implement best practice outweigh any benefits.

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Top ERP predictions for 2011


December 21, 2010 from ComputerWorld – “1) ERP gets serious in the cloud, 2) Third-party maintenance in limbo, 3) ERP goes social — yes, social, 4) Mobility, 5) The buying spree continues, 6) Oracle Fusion Applications hit the market, 7) Microsoft Dynamics starts making serious waves

180 View – These predictions sound reasonable but we think the biggest story has nothing to do with the technology. We predict that the economy will have the biggest impact on ERP. It looks like things are thankfully getting better and the ERP vendors and implementers will be swamped with work in 2011.


ERP: Is High ROI and Low TCO Possible?

Business Case, ERP

December 2010 from Aberdeen Group – “…The focal point must now expand to include Return on Investment (ROI) of ERP projects in order to justify continued investment and maximize business benefits. What can the average company expect to pay for ERP and the resultant business benefits that can be derived from a successful implementation? Read this valuable and insightful Aberdeen Report…”

180 View – The article does provide some interesting information including average cost of ERP by company size. However the respondents purchased their ERP systems on average about 7 years ago so the numbers reported are higher than they would be today for license costs. The article also includes a service to software cost ratio by company size which is also useful information. Aberdeen claims that a 1:1 ratio is the average for most of the implementations. However this ratio is not in line with what we have seen. Vendors are prepared to discount their license but not their implementation services, which tends to increase the ratio. As well, one would expect that more complex implementations would have higher ratios than 1:1. Aberdeen also looks at the benefits of an ERP system and provides other useful information. Although Aberdeen admits that some companies are unable to quantity benefits, they also claim that “Best-in-Class” companies achieved 100% payback on their investments in one year and the majority (60%) achieved it in three years. How they arrived at these numbers is a mystery considering the difficulty of quantifying benefits and the time it takes to implement systems.


Update on Microsoft Dynamics products and plans


November 11, 2010 from The Enterprise System Spectator – “…1) CRM is where the action is, 2) Microsoft Dynamics serious about going “all in” on the cloud, 3) Microsoft not afraid to compete on price…”

180 View – The update from The Enterprise System Spectator is based on their attendance of a Microsoft’s Dynamics Fall Analyst Event which we did not attend. However, we run into Microsoft Dynamics frequently in our ERP selection projects. Although Microsoft is pushing the cloud, we still don’t see much progress yet. When it comes to price, Microsoft is not alone in competing on license price. I did attend a Microsoft event a number of years ago and thought that Microsoft Dynamics was going to be very successful in the ERP space by offering its business partners a technology platform and marketing in exchange for extending their system to specific industries. I thought this was an excellent strategy but I have not seen very much evidence that the strategy is working.


Building the Simple Enterprise


November 7, 2010 from TechCrunch – “…And while no one explicitly desires cumbersome technology, we keep buying it because we’ve built a strong correlation between the number of features a solution has and the likelihood it will solve our problem. That, and you won’t get fired. While building or adopting the most feature-rich service looks great on paper, in practice it means that customers have signed themselves up for technology that can never be upgraded, unhappy end-users, and (paradoxically) inertia to move off tools that required so much time to implement and experts to maintain….”

180 View – The author, Aaron Levie, is a 26 year old CEO of who was written up in Forbes on January 26, 2011 – see It appears that he has been successful in applying his keep it simple approach to his file storage and collaboration system. It will take a lot more effort to do the same for ERP, which is complex almost by definition. The definition of ERP is automation of business processes across departments and many ERP systems span multiple industries. So an ERP system needs to handle lots of complexity out of the box. However, this is not to say that the user interface needs to be complex or that ad-hoc enquiries or adding fields should only be done by programmers.


Choosing the Right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System: How to Avoid the 7 Fatal Flaws

ERP, Software Selection

October 18, 2010 from CDC Software – “…One can never know everything there is to know about the complex details of an ERP system before purchasing that system. So one must know which questions to ask the vendors. Sometimes we don’t ask a question because it seems too detailed. But sometimes we don’t ask a question because it seems too obvious and we end up sadly surprised when learning to use the ERP tool! For example, every business in the world requires that a General Ledger has an ability to check for a balance between the debits and the credits before posting the entry. This is clearly an obvious question which does not need to be asked. So what are the obvious questions which SHOULD be asked?…”

180 View – We included this article despite the fact that it was authored by an ERP vendor because 1) It raised a good point about whether to ask the “obvious” questions and 2) It should be useful for process manufacturers thinking of selecting a new system. Our comments will be just to the first point about the obvious questions. We don’t include the obvious questions in our RFP’s as the systems we consider will cover the basics. The vendors that receive our RFP’s typically have hundreds if not thousands of clients such that the basics would need to be included. The author of the article suggests that including a requirement about debits equaling credits does not need to be asked. We agree but would you believe a prospect just relayed the story that one of the leading mid market systems that they had recently purchased had that exact problem? We are not sure of the cause of this problem yet but we anticipate that the problem resulted from a combination of inputs and conditions not normally encountered. Although you may not catch obvious requirements missing in the selection process, the implementation process should include tests that mimic the various combinations of inputs and conditions that would occur when the ERP system goes live.


Larry Ellison’s 10-Point Plan For World Domination


January 3, 2011 from InformationWeek – “…While a handful of IT companies are hoping to play the dominant role in shaping the business-technology landscape in the coming decade, Oracle and CEO Larry Ellison stand alone in their willingness to state that strategy publicly in blunt, uncompromising, and stop-me-if-you-can terms.

IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and SAP are the other major contenders—and we’ll dig into each of their broad approaches and corporate visions in forthcoming columns—but none has been as forthcoming as Ellison in spelling out what they’ll do, when they’ll do it, how they’ll do it, and to whom they’ll be doing it…”

180 View – Part of the plan is “Oracle’s planning a slow rollout of its long-delayed Fusion apps this year, but Ellison was bullish about the prospects those products will have in the context of Oracle’s overall strategy.” It will be a huge challenge for Oracle to be successful with Fusion and at the same time be successful with their other ERP applications. Microsoft had a similar strategy many years ago but abandoned it in favour of enhancing its existing ERP systems.