Looking at the $300-Million-Plus 'Microsoft' BPM Software Contract at the UN

Dennis Byron

I can't help myself. I'm going to pile on late to the blogging frenzy related to "SAP's" pending "$300-million-plus" ERP enterprise software contract from the United Nations (UN).


The document on which all the news articles and blog posts are based (available from Fox News) is 51 pages long. I admit I did not read it cover to cover. I'm not sure if all the other bloggers and journalists did either, or whether they read it in context with a more typical $300,000 or $3-million or $30-million ERP deployment. So here's some random thoughts for what they're worth given my read time:


  • If -- and the contract has not been signed yet according to the document -- SAP gets the software-acquisition part of the contract, it only clearly realizes the license/maintenance portion of the $300-million-plus budget, somewhere between 5 percent and 8 percent of the total, about what you should expect even in a $300,000 ERP project.
  • So why is the deal not referred to as a McKinsey ERP deal or a Bearing Point ERP deal or an IBM Global Services ERP deal or by the name of whatever strategic-consulting/systems-integration professional services firm or firms ends up with the lion's share of the contract? (Presumably that might include SAP also, but not typically.) I guess it's because paying $1,000 an hour for a strategic thinker or integration consultant doesn't sound obscene in these days when banjo-hitting second basemen pull down a couple of million dollars annually. But nailing enterprise software suppliers with 80 percent gross margins and subscription maintenance contract policies that would make the Sears appliance division blush is just good fun.
  • How come the press is playing up a sentence in the UN report that says the project is behind schedule, comparing the deal to <strong>SAP's dispute with the dumpster guys at Waste Management</strong>.In context, the report clearly states that the reason for the so-called delay is that the UN General Assembly has not funded the project in the manner the UN Secretary General requested. That should sound familiar to all of you IT managers and staffers.

And although SAP doesn't have a signed contract yet, it was interesting to see that it looks like Microsoft is already making some money off the project. The report says

"The Team has put in place the tools necessary to successfully execute the design phase, among them a tool known as iServer."

Based on my quick read, iServer is the only software product other than SAP mentioned in the UN report. The design phase is called the Business Blueprint, a 15-year-old SAP marketing term, which the UN calls

"a thoroughly documented set of business processes and practices that defines a future operating state and acts as a reference for future design and user training."

And the UN defines iServer as an

"industry-standard... business process map repository and modeling environment."

So even if SAP isn't making any money on this deal yet, Orbus Software, the Microsoft partner specializing in "enterprise architecture and business process analysis for Office and Visio users" that develops iServer, is. Which I think means Microsoft, if you need to have Office and/or Vision installed to use Orbus' iServer. So how come the press doesn't call this the "$300-million-plus" Microsoft business process management (BPM) UN deal?


Oh well. Take a look at the report. Divide all the numbers by 100 and it might be a quick way to put your next proposal into the boss.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 16, 2009 4:53 AM erpuniversity erpuniversity  says:


Better get the best from list of available open source ERP softwares

Feb 26, 2010 7:33 AM Mike Bates Mike Bates  says:

Orbus Software is an independent Company which develops Enterprise Architecture software.

iServer, the core product allows the Visio and Office users to collaborate around a powerful central repository to model business processes and enterprise architecture.

The UN is mapping all processes in Visio using BPMN, with related documentation in Word and Excel. They then publish to HTML, allowing the integrated models to be reviewed and comments fed back to the team of business analysts through a browser interface.

iServer is being used extensively within the UN on two separate projects across the globe.


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