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.

ERP software survey 2011


August 2011 from CAmagazine and written by Michael Burns – “We are now in our 13th year for CAmagazine’s annual enterprise resource planning software survey. That is a very long time in software years. But while other programs come and go, ERP just keeps getting bigger, sweeping up more and more functions. This year, we added budgeting and forecasting, asset management and document management…”


Aging ERP: When Old ERP is Too Old


June 2011 – “Just prior to the turn of the century, many companies were in a rush to implement ERP systems as part of their investment in IT. Many of those systems have now been installed over 10 years without replacement. This research reports looks at the overall performance of companies and what improvements companies were still getting from their ERP systems.  Find out what the benefits are from newer ERP systems, and when you should consider an upgrade or replacement…”

180 View – The report recommends that it’s time to replace ERP systems that are over 15 years old unless it provides a unique competitive advantage. The report had a number of interesting charts. One chart showed that that ERP extensions are mostly purchased from the ERP vendor for recently installed ERP systems but mostly from independent third parties for the old systems. Having one throat to choke is an advantage. Another chart shows a significant improvement in the time to implement the newer ERP systems which should not be surprising with all the lessons learned and better tools. The largest systems now offer preconfigured solutions. Another chart showed that the newer system required a lot less customization than the older ones.


Epicor sued over alleged ERP project failure


August 11, 2011 from Computerworld – “Epicor is being sued by one of its customers over an ERP (enterprise resource planning) project that allegedly racked up five times its expected implementation costs, in the latest dispute of this type to become public…

The implementation costs were supposed to be US$190,000 but have reached more than $1 million, the complaint says. Whaley is suing Epicor for fraud, breach of contract, unfair trade and negligent misrepresentation. It wants its money returned along with additional money for damages…”

180 View – Unfortunately there are still failed ERP implementations. We believe that the problem is primarily people and not software. There is something seriously wrong with overruns of this magnitude. But overruns are avoidable. When there are unknowns and the implementer is unable to provide a firm price, we recommend that they be paid a fee to nail down the costs and prepare a project plan that includes the vendor’s time as well as the client.


ERP and the Cloud: What You Need to Know

Cloud Computing

September 26, 2011 from and written by Sage – “This whitepaper details why some SMB organizations are adopting Cloud-based ERP implementations and the benefits these solutions provide. Advantages include lower overall costs, better alignment between technology and specific business needs, scalability, ease of deployment and management, easier upgrades, anytime anywhere access, and high reliability…”

180 View – We were not aware of any ERP cloud based offerings from Sage so did a search on Sage’s website and found an interesting blog – What is cloud computing?. There is no mention of any of Sage’s ERP systems in the clouds but you can bet that Sage will be jumping on the cloud bandwagon along with just about every other ERP vendor. The blog does differentiate between SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service). I don’t the article did justice to the differences between these cloud formations. In my opinion, SaaS provides one instance of the software that is shared by multiple organizations using multitenant architecture. Traditional on premise systems need to be rewritten to provide SaaS. PaaS provides one instance of the software to one organization allowing specific customization but it will be more expensive. Any traditional system can be hosted using PaaS. IaaS includes not just software in the clouds but also any data, hardware, servers and networking components.


More ERP users are eyeing third-party support


August 8, 2011 from Computerworld – “A growing number of ERP software users are considering a jump to third-party support providers, according to new data from analyst firm Constellation Research…”

180 View – You may get great support from the third party, but you won’t get upgrades. This is probably ok for companies that are stuck with old versions of their software because of customizations. If you go this route, read the fine print of the contract to know costs to restart support.


IT projects are ticking time bombs

Project Management

August 21, 2011 from the Toronto Star – “Ambitious IT projects are ticking time bombs that can bring down corporations if they’re not carefully managed to come in on time and on budget, warns a study in the Harvard Business Review.

The Oxford University researchers examined 1,471 information technology projects, in private and public sectors, comparing budgets and estimated performance benefits with actual costs and results.

They had expected to find IT projects incur large average cost overruns, but they were surprised to see fully one in six projects — nearly 17 per cent — were so mismanaged that they had average cost overruns of 200 per cent, not factoring inflation, and delays of 70 per cent…”

180 View – IT projects usually involve unknowns and when selling or estimating time and budget, assumptions are made. So the solution is to try to reduce the unknowns by clearly defined scope and to expose the assumptions. It sounds simple, but it takes a lot of up front work to get this done properly before making a decision to proceed. As well, project failure should not be based on overruns. Project failure should be based on whether the project objectives are met.