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.

Manufacturer sues IBM over SAP project ‘disaster’


November 9, 2012 from Computerworld – “IBM has been slapped with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by chemical products manufacturer Avantor Performance Materials, which alleges that IBM lied about the suitability of an SAP-based software package it sells in order to win Avantor’s business…

IBM represented that IBM’s ‘Express Life Sciences Solution’ … was uniquely suited to Avantor’s business,” the lawsuit states. “The Express Solution is a proprietary IBM pre-packaged software solution that runs on an SAP platform.”

But Avantor discovered a different truth after signing on with IBM, finding that Express Life was “woefully unsuited” to its business and the implementation brought its operations to “a near standstill,” according to the suit…”

180 View – There are probably thousands of pages of documents that support both sides of the law suit and it would be presumptuous of me to state an opinion on the little information in the article. But what jumps off the page for me is that Avantor only found out that the system was woefully unsuited after signing on with IBM. Avantor should have figured this out before they signed any contract. Some organizations fall under the spell of “best practices” promoted by some of the vendors that claim their system has been preconfigured with the best practices for a particular industry. Best practices will likely be great for standard business processes but no so much for non-standard processes that provide an organization with competitive advantages. If an organization is going to adapt best practices, they better get ready for lots of changes to their existing business processes.


Avanade sued over alleged ERP project failure


January 3, 2013 from ComputerWorld – “A half-million lines of custom code wasn’t enough to produce a viable Dynamics AX ERP (enterprise resource planning) system for point-of-sale and RFID products distributor ScanSource, according to a lawsuit it has filed against Avanade, the joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture.

ScanSource reached a deal with Avanade in 2009 for an implementation of the Dynamics AX system, according to the suit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The project was supposed to cost US$17 million and take 11 months, but ultimately the cost estimate grew to about $66 million and it has failed to go live after three years, the suit alleges…”

180 View – And you thought you had problems.


Benchmarking: A Critical Element in Finance Transformation

Benchmarking, Business Process Analysis

February 6, 2012 from BusinessFinance– “Finance, like other key corporate functions, is under pressure to reduce operational costs while increasing the business value it generates for the larger enterprise. To do so, executives need reliable information that can help them understand whether they are accomplishing their objectives and how their performance stacks up against their peers. Such information can be acquired with benchmarking.

What’s surprising is that fewer than a third of finance organizations, according to Accenture’s own data, use benchmarking. That may be why, as reported in the Accenture report, “The Changing Role of the Finance Organization in a Multi-Polar World,” that only 29 percent of 350 survey respondents said they have a good understanding of where their organization stands in relation to finance functions in comparable enterprises…”

180 View – We agree with the importance of benchmarking but it’s not easy. It’s not easy to figure out which metrics, or to gather the data or find external benchmark data for comparison purposes. We have developed a benchmark tool at that will help. Check it out and let us know what you think.


RedPrairie to acquire JDA for roughly $1.9 billion

ERP, Supply Chain Management

November 1, 2012 from Logistics Management – “Supply chain and logistics software and technology providers RedPrairie and JDA Software announced today that two companies and its affiliates have entered into a definitive merger agreement…

An industry source estimated that combined revenues will be in the $1 billion to $1.2 billion range, which would make them the largest best of breed provider of supply chain management software..”

180 View – The consolidation continues but this time it’s with supply chain management (SCM) and not ERP, which for some may lead to the question about what is the difference between SCM and ERP. I poked around for a good explanation of the differences and found the following at – “ERP, or enterprise resource planning, is a software system that covers company business processes including purchasing, inventory, planning, sales order management and financial management. SCM, or supply chain management, can also refer to a software system or an area of management. SCM software can overlap with ERP business processes, but tends to be focused on flow of supply, value added processes, and distribution of product including warehousing and distribution centers.” In my opinion, SCM is a best of breed solution when it comes to very challenging logistics related to transportation and warehousing. It also applies when linking different organizations each with their own ERP system across the supply chain.


SAP Clings To A Dated Cloud Apps Strategy

Cloud Computing, ERP

December 3, 2012 from InformationWeek – “Back in the early days of cloud-based applications, they were seen exclusively as an alternative for small and midsized companies. But the cloud ceiling has been broken, and now even SAP admits that the cloud appeals to even the largest companies in the world.

Has SAP truly seen the light and will it now lead the cloud revolution? Unfortunately there are signs it’s still clinging to the belief that core ERP will forever remain on premises…”

180 View – What attracted out attention in this article was not about SAP. What was interesting was the adoption of cloud based solutions by larger companies – “the real story over the past two years has been breaking of the cloud ceiling, with companies like, NetSuite and Workday landing some of the largest businesses in the world as customers.

Take Workday, for example, which now has a pot of money to expand sales, marketing and R&D after a highly successful October IPO that raised $685 million. During an earnings call with financial analysts on Wednesday, Workday co-founder and CEO Aneel Bhusri said Workday’s Human Capital Management apps are already capable of handling the largest companies in the world, like Hewlett-Packard and DuPont, both of which recently signed enterprise-wide deals with the company.”


Supply Chain Technology: Will WMS take over the world?

ERP, Supply Chain Management, Warehouse Management

October 1, 2012 from Logistics Management – “The warehouse management systems (WMS) market is on a tear. In 2011 it grew by 10 percent over 2010 to nearly $1.3 billion, according to ARC Advisory Group, a leading supply chain management software analyst firm…

The “warehouse” concept is simple in theory. After all, how difficult can it really be to manage a cavernous space filled with racks, boxes, pallets, and forklifts?

In reality, the task is huge and requires the right mix of people, systems, and solutions to run smoothly. For many logistics professionals, the latter need is filled by a WMS, which is tasked with controlling the movement and storage of materials within an operation and then processing the associated transactions.

As WMS evolved over the years, the number of functionalities that these systems can handle has increased exponentially. Wave and batch picking, task interleaving (mixing dissimilar tasks like putaway and picking), automated data collection (ADC), advanced shipment notifications (ASN), cross docking, and slotting are just a few of the vital warehouse functions that today’s WMS can tackle…”

180 View – There are opportunities for significant business process improvement in those cavernous spaces which are not always well handled by ERP systems but don’t count on WMS taking over the world any time soon.


How to Optimize Your ERP System

Business Process Analysis, ERP

October 14, 2012 from The Enterprise System Spectator and written by Frank Scavo – “When it comes to ERP, most business leaders realize that it is critical to select the right system and implement it successfully. Likewise, when it comes to advice about ERP, most analysts and consultants focus on their attention on best practices for ERP vendor selection and implementation.

But very few analysts pay attention to what happens after the implementation. An organization will spend many more months using an ERP system than it will selecting and implementing it. A company might take three to six months to select a new ERP system and another year or two to implement it: but it will be using that system to support its business operations for seven years, 10 years, or hopefully even longer…”

180 View – I have often included articles from Frank Scavo as I appreciate his insight especially when his insight dovetails with our methodology. When we conduct our business process reviews, our documentation includes the processes, problems, cause of the problem (System, Training, Business Process, and Infrastructure) and the impact of the problem. Often the problem is not the system and even if it is the system, there may be a good workaround.


7 Top Business Intelligence Trends For 2013

Business Intelligence

January 25, 2013 from InformationWeek – “Many people seem to want to stick a sexier name on business intelligence, whether that’s “business analytics” or “big data.” To me, it’s still business intelligence, a top-priority technology that can help companies boost revenues, improve customer service or control costs by making better, faster decisions…”

180 View – I just finished writing our annual BI survey for CAmagazine which should be published in April. I too discussed BI trends but you will need to wait for that one.


Fighting the Dreaded Scope Creep

Project Management

January 28, 2013 from Project Management Institute – “Scope creep… two words that can bring a queasy feeling to a project manager’s stomach. How do we manage the stakeholder who wants just a little bit more out of a project when you know that “little” is in the eye of the beholder?…”

180 View – Scope creep can be deadly to a project if not handled properly. But it is inevitable that scope creep will occur. The designers of the solution are fallible and may miss important factors. More often than not, the designers rely on subject matter experts who fail to mention something important. As well, the nature of development is that good design ideas can occur at any time throughout a project. So don’t suppress the good ideas but do insist on having a scope management process. The changes need to be logged with a brief description including costs and benefits allowing management to decide whether a delay or additional costs are justified.