The ARC Advisory Group
has a good overview of SSA Global's release of Baan ERP LN. Baan had been working on this next generation version, prior to the SSA acquisition, but the effort had been hampered a lack of focus and missed delivery milestones.
In addition to its large customer base, one of the main attractions of Baan for SSA was the completely new platform, Baan ERP 6.0 (code name Gemini), which Baan was on the verge of releasing prior to the acquisition. Upon acquiring Baan, however, SSA management took a long hard look at Gemini and decided that it just was not ready for prime time, postponing release to a later date.
ARC lists the main enhancements from a technical perspective, including a thin-client browser-based user interface, a service oriented architecture (SOA), and support for web services standards such as SOAP and WSDL to promote ease of integration.
But ARC points out that the biggest story concerning Baan is what this new release means for the Baan installed base:
SSA has often been chastised for simply being a company that is acquiring distressed ERP companies, stripping them down to lower costs and making healthy margins off of the maintenance contracts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This release is the clearest signal yet to the market by SSA that it intends to be much more then just a graveyard for distressed and disparate ERP systems.
One of the primary reasons SSA delayed the launch of Gemini was that this product, as architected by Baan, provided absolutely no clear migration path for a significant majority of Baan’s customer base who were still on version IVc4. SSA correctly saw the danger in releasing this product early as many Baan customers would have more then likely fallen into the arms of a competitor. And SSA did not stop with addressing only the needs of Baan’s customer base.
In addition to providing a clear and smooth migration path for Baan customers on version IVc4 or later, ERP LN has been architected to also provide a clear upgrade path for both the ManMan and MK installed bases [i.e. two legacy SSA products that SSA is not investing much in--Frank]. Simply put, with ERP LN SSA has consolidated the three discrete ERP solutions into one, single unified source code base. While Baan customers should be pleased with this upgrade, both ManMan and MK customers will be elated as they now have a truly viable upgrade to bring them forward.
ERP LN will be offered to all existing customers on maintenance as a standard upgrade (e.g. no cost for the software itself). SSA spent a significant amount of effort to insure that upgrades go smoothly developing several implementation tools to accelerate, as well as simplify, the upgrade process. The product has been fully vetted at a number of Beta sites, the largest currently live with over 1000 users.
I attended an SSA road show in Southern California last year, and there were a lot of Baan users in attendance that were quite vocal about their concerns for SSA's support. The release of this new version should go a long way in addressing those concerns.
Although right now SSA is mainly targeting Baan ERP LN at Baan's existing customers, it will be interesting to see whether this new version gets Baan in the door for new deals. Baan has always had Tier I functionality for its targeted verticals, such as aerospace and defense, automotive, hi-tech electronics, industrial equipment, make-to-order and even engineer-to-order manufacturing. But with questions about Baan's future, it's been quite a while since I've felt confident enough to short list Baan for new clients. Maybe it's time to take another look.
I know there are quite a few SSA and Baan readers of the Spectator. If any of you have any first hand experience with this new Baan release, please let me know.
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