Enterprise System Spectator blog: ERP and enterprise system vendor evaluation, selection, and implementation.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Which Comes First, New Systems or New Processes?

Everyone agrees that business process improvement is a key success factor in enterprise system implementation. But, which comes first? Should organizations redesign their business processes before selecting and implementing new systems? Or should they first select a new software vendor and then redesign their processes to match how the new system does things?

This question comes up repeatedly in our vendor evaluation and software selection consulting services. Clients read about failed ERP or CRM projects, for example. They hear the warnings of executives from such companies, telling them to spend more time up front understanding their business processes. They hear about companies that go live but don’t achieve the desired benefits. They vow to do better. They don’t just want to implement a new system. They want to implement best business practices.

These are good reactions. When it comes to enterprise systems, anything that heightens the fear of failure is a good thing. The more business leaders are focused on business processes, the better.

But, how should business leaders deal with their business processes when implementing a new system?
  • Should they improve their processes before implementing the new system, so that the new system is not automating broken processes?
  • Or, should they choose the new system first, so that they can redesign their business processes using the best business practices that are embodied in the new system?

The answer is a little bit of both: the two should be done in parallel. In fact, doing all of one before the other—whether process first, or system first—will result in failure.

Read the full post on the Strativa website:
Which Comes First, New Business Processes and New Systems?

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by Frank Scavo, 11/16/2015 02:48:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!


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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oracle v. Rimini Street Lawsuit Verdict: Good for Third-Party Maintenance

Earlier this month, the jury in Las Vegas reached its verdict in the Oracle v. Rimini Street lawsuit, a closely-watched case involving third-party maintenance (3PM) in the enterprise software industry.

Although the jury awarded Oracle approximately $50 million in damages, the amount was far below what Oracle expected. Moreover, the jury found that Rimini Street’s copyright infringement was “innocent,” not “willful,” that Oracle suffered no lost profits as a result, and that neither Rimini Street nor its CEO, Seth Ravin, engaged in any tortious business conduct.

Assuming the jury’s verdict stands up against potential appeals, the case sets an important precedent for how 3PM providers should operate to ensure they are not violating the intellectual property rights of software owners. We expect customer use of third-party maintenance will increase as a result of this verdict.

Read this entire post on the Strativa blog: Oracle v. Rimini Street Verdict Clarifies Ground Rules for Third-Party Maintenance

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sage Puts Stake in the Cloud with Sage Live

Sage is one of the world’s largest providers of business applications for small and midsize organizations. Now in the cloud it has taken a big step forward, launching Sage Live, a built-from-scratch accounting system on the Salesforce.com platform.

This post outlines key features of Sage Live, the challenges it will face, and recommendations for potential buyers.

Read this post on the Strativa blog:  Sage Puts Stake in the Cloud with Sage Live

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

AscentERP Rises in the Cloud ERP Market

AscentERP is a cloud ERP provider building on the Salesforce platform, with a focus on manufacturing and wholesale distribution companies. Though not as well-known as other ERP providers on the platform, the company is doing some interesting work within its industry focus.

This post provides an update to our previous coverage of AscentERP.

Read this post on the Strativa blog:  AscentERP Rises in the Cloud ERP Market

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Monday, October 05, 2015

FinancialForce Expands Its Footprint in Cloud ERP

FinancialForce continues to show strong momentum in the cloud ERP market, and it is building out its product capabilities in interesting ways.

In this post, we provide an update on FinancialForce, based on interviews we conducted with its executives at Dreamforce, the annual conference for users of Salesforce.com. We also provide recommendations for buyers considering FinancialForce.

Read this post on the Strativa blog: FinancialForce Expands Its Footprint in Cloud ERP

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rootstock's Momentum in Cloud ERP

Rootstock Software is an up-and-coming cloud manufacturing ERP provider, built on the Salesforce.com platform. Last year, I covered Rootstock in a post about four ERP systems in the Salesforce ecosystem. This year, the annual Dreamforce conference gave me the opportunity to interview Rootstock executives and customers about the progress the firm has made over the past year.

In short, Rootstock is showing good momentum, nearly doubling its publicly announced customer count over the past 18 months. It is also building out its product offerings by developing its own native accounting applications and extending its business intelligence capabilities utilizing Salesforce Wave Analytics.

Read the full post on the Strativa website: Rootstock Rounding Out Its Cloud ERP Offerings.

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by Frank Scavo, 9/30/2015 02:00:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!


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Kenandy Has a Contrarian View Toward Two-Tier ERP

Salesforce.com is proving to be a popular platform for developing ERP systems, and its annual user conference, Dreamforce, has been a great way to catch up with all of them in one place.

Last year, I provided an update on the four ERP providers building on the Salesforce platform in a single post. This year, I want to provide an update on these, starting with Kenandy.

Unlike cloud-only ERP providers such as NetSuite and Plex, Kenandy is not interested in a "two-tier ERP strategy." The strategy of "two-tier" refers to the targeting of small divisions or operating units of larger companies that are running Tier 1 solutions, typically SAP or Oracle, at headquarters and in larger divisions. The cloud provider then targets its ERP solution for smaller divisions of the company with integrated to the corporate system, usually for shared services such as financials, central order processing, or cross-company supply chain management. NetSuite points to customers such as Jollibee Foods and NBTY (China) Trading Company as multinational companies implementing NetSuite in a two-tier strategy. Similarly, Plex boasts of Caterpillar and Inteva Products as success stories in two-tier ERP.  

Going against this trend, Kenandy executives say that, although they will not turn away two-tier opportunities, they would rather work in what they consider a more strategic role with customers. This means targeting (1) large enterprises for a complete ERP solution, or (2) serving as a more agile "orchestration" solution for new lines of business within large enterprises.

Read the full post on the Strativa website: Kenandy: Against the Tide of Two-Tier ERP

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by Frank Scavo, 9/30/2015 06:32:00 AM | permalink | e-mail this!


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Monday, July 06, 2015

More Than a Deployment Option: SaaS Is a Business Model

With the increasingly popularity of software as a service (SaaS), enterprise software vendors today cannot afford to be without a cloud strategy. As a result, traditional vendors have introduced various forms of hosted, hybrid, and SaaS deployment options. These co-exist alongside the vendor’s traditional on-premises license model.

But software as a service is more than just another deployment option, another way to consume software. SaaS is a business model. SaaS not only affects the product: it should drive the nature of how the provider does business, from how the product is developed and maintained to how it is sold, implemented, and supported. It should permeate the very culture of the provider’s organization.
How should the business model of a SaaS provider be different from that of a traditional software vendor? There are at least six aspects.

Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: Beyond Deployment Options: SaaS as a Business Model.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Big Changes at Microsoft Dynamics

In a letter to Microsoft employees today, CEO Satya Nadella announced a major restructuring of its business, including what is essentially a disbanding of Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), the group responsible for Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Dynamics product development teams will now report up into the new Cloud and Enterprise unit (see above)
  • Dynamics sales and partner relationship organizations will now report to Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer
  • Dynamics marketing functions will now be handled directly by Microsoft’s CMO, Chris Capossela, and his team.

Now, some observers and some competitors will be tempted to say that Microsoft is abandoning its Dynamics products. But, in our view, it would be more accurate to say that the Dynamics products are becoming a more integral part of Microsoft’s overall portfolio. There are three arguments in favor of this positive view of Dynamics.

Read the full post on the Strativa blog:  Microsoft Unbundles Its Dynamics Business Unit


by Frank Scavo, 6/17/2015 01:13:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!


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Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Problem with ERP Requirements Templates

Companies undertaking a new ERP vendor selection often begin the effort by using a standard template of ERP system requirements. Though requirements checklists may appear to be a time-saving way to get to a requirements specification, this approach can actually make the project longer and cost more than it should. Moreover, use of requirements templates can actually lead to the wrong ERP system being selected.

In this post, we identify the problems with the use of ERP requirements templates and outline a better way for specifying requirements for new ERP systems.

Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: The Problem with ERP Requirements Templates.


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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Oracle Sued by Customer over Source Code Access

Oracle was hit by a customer lawsuit earlier this month in conjunction with its MICROS Systems business, which Oracle acquired in 2014.

The dispute involves access to the source code for the MICROS Open Commerce Platform.  Aero maintains that when it licensed OCP, MICROS (not yet acquired by Oracle) knew that Aero intended to build customizations and new features to integrate with OCP.

Aero alleges that MICROS personnel represented that Aero would have ongoing access to OCP source code in order to build its customizations and maintain them going forward.

Although we do not yet know all of the facts, there is a lesson in this case for companies seeking to become digital businesses.

Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog:
Oracle Sued by Customer over Access to MICROS Source Code

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Web Commerce: The Great Equalizer

Since the mid-1990s, it’s been easy to see how web commerce has disrupted many traditional business models. Early on, Amazon disrupted traditional bookstores, and Netflix disrupted video stores. More recently, Uber is disrupting the taxi industry, and AirBnB is threatening the traditional hospitality industry.

But what’s not so apparent is how web commerce has become the great equalizer for small businesses. This is true in at least three ways.
  • Market presence. Traditional marketing channels, such as broadcast media, print advertising, and direct mail, required substantial budgets. Today, a small supplier with a well-designed and well-functioning e-commerce website and good natural search results can rank right up there with major brands. 
  • Global reach. Prior to the commercialization of the Internet, it took substantial investment for a supplier to grow its business internationally. But today, even the smallest manufacturer can be found by prospects in overseas markets. Using international distributors and third-party logistics, small suppliers today can more easily serve buyers around the globe.
  • Cost efficiency. Economies of scale still count in making and distributing physical products. But a well-functioning e-commerce site that is integrated with back-end systems, such as ERP, can cut costs for small suppliers. Combined with cloud systems on the back-end, small businesses can enjoy productivity gains from information systems without having to support a large IT staff.
In other words, an entrepreneur with a business concept or a fresh product design can start a business and scale it in a way that was not easily done twenty years ago.

Small Companies Acting Bigger

In NetSuite's most recent user conference, CEO Zach Nelson touched briefly on this point. He said something to the effect that, with its integrated ERP and e-commerce capabilities, NetSuite was helping small companies act bigger. (He also said that it was equally important to help large companies act smaller, but that’s a thought for another post).

I made a note of Nelson’s remarks, and didn’t think much about them until I attended a reception for press and industry analysts later that evening. There, I found myself chatting with John Baker (CEO) and Alan Blackford (COO) of Thos. Baker, a supplier of outdoor furniture. They told me that NetSuite was working on a video about their business. After the reception, Baker sent me the pre-publication video link and I found it an inspiring story.

In the video, Baker tells how he had been commuting to his tech industry job in Seattle for many years, but he aspired to do something interesting that would allow him to work close to his family on Bainbridge Island. So, he started his outdoor furniture business to combine his interest in technology with his interest in design.

Baker points out that setting up web commerce for this sort of business is quite complex. His operational strategy makes extensive use of outsourced manufacturing, with furniture frames stocked in the warehouse on Bainbridge Island, the cushions from a supplier in Alabama, the umbrellas from California, the fire pits from Tennessee. Though the supply chain is complex, but the integrated system allows the firm to appear to its customers as if it were a much large company. When we are talking to our customers, they are comparing us to companies that are somewhere between 40 to 400 times our size,” he said.

Click the image below to watch the video. It’s a promotional video for NetSuite, of course. But it’s an inspiring story nonetheless.


Just how small is Thos. Bros? I believe the firm has just five employees, and all of them appear in the video.

Related Posts

NetSuite Enhances Its Manufacturing Functionality
NetSuite Manufacturing: Right Direction, Long Road Ahead

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Infor ERP Customers and the UpgradeX Roadmap

I was at Infor’s headquarters in New York City recently for Infor’s Innovation Summit, its annual event for industry analysts. It’s a good two day briefing, packed with a lot of information on Infor’s broad portfolio of products and its many new initiatives, along with access to all of its top executives.

One of my goals was to see what kind of progress Infor has been making on its CloudSuite program, and especially its UpgradeX initiative, which is aimed at upgrading Infor’s existing customer base to current versions deployed in the cloud. In our ERP selection consulting services, we often see Infor as the incumbent provider, so knowing the details of these offerings is important in understanding options for these clients going forward.

But Infor faces two challenges. First, it must convince a greater share of its 70,000 customers to upgrade to its latest versions. Then, if it does convince them, Infor will need to have the implementation resources trained and available to support those customer migrations.

Read the rest of this post on the Strativa website: Infor ERP Customers and the UpgradeX Roadmap

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

With Manufacturing ERP, the Best UI is No UI

Among industry analysts, there is much talk these days about smart devices. The story is that information technology is being embedded in a host of products, from your household thermostat to your wristwatch to your toothbrush. These smart devices can be connected to each other and to cloud-based systems, resulting in an Internet of Things (IoT) that enables a whole host of new products and services. They also throw off enormous quantities of data—big data—that can be analyzed for insights and predictions and further leveraged for information-based services.

All this is new and exciting. But there’s one industry where smart devices are very old news: manufacturing.

Yet, for the most part, today’s ERP systems do not leverage those smart devices on the factory floor. In the typical factory, the intelligence of the factory equipment is used almost exclusively by manufacturing engineers, process engineers, and quality assurance professionals to control production. But when it comes to recording transactions for production control, inventory, or accounting, they are often performed by human operators hand-entering the data.

Read the rest of this post on the Strativa blog: With Manufacturing ERP, the Best UI is No UI→

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Beyond Business Systems to Business Transformation

Over the past several years, we’ve seen a subtle shift in our consulting work at Strativa. Years ago, clients would ask us to facilitate an ERP or CRM vendor selection, a business process improvement project, or various types of IT assessments. Our consultants still do those types of projects, of course.

But today, increasingly, clients are asking us to help them in a more holistic way. Increasingly, they are not just looking for a new system or for business process improvement. They are looking to see how new technologies can enable new business models, how they should rethink their whole applications portfolio to support changes in their businesses, and how they should redesign or simplify business processes to take advantage of new technologies.
Enterprise Software Vendors Need a Broader Focus

I attend a number of vendor conferences and analyst briefings every year. My goal in attending these events is primarily to keep up on the latest capabilities of each vendor, so that we can best qualify them for short listing for our clients. As much as vendors like to talk about business transformation, most of what I see at vendor events is more narrowly focused on features/functions of vendor products. The best try to inspire their customers about the vendor’s product road map. The worst are just sales events, with networking opportunities and parties thrown in.

So, when I planned my attendance at Microsoft’s annual Convergence conference this week, I was expecting more of the same. But after the first keynote, something felt different.

Read the rest of this post on the Strativa website: Beyond Business Systems to Business Transformation


by Frank Scavo, 3/20/2015 01:16:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!


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(c) 2002-2015, Frank Scavo.

Independent analysis of issues and trends in enterprise applications software and the strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages of the vendors that provide them.

About the Enterprise System Spectator.

Frank Scavo Send tips, rumors, gossip, and feedback to Frank Scavo, at .

I'm interested in hearing about best practices, lessons learned, horror stories, and case studies of success or failure.

Selecting a new enterprise system can be a difficult decision. My consulting firm, Strativa, offers assistance that is independent and unbiased. For information on how we can help your organization make and carry out these decisions, write to me.

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