Panorama Asks All the Right Questions in ERP Research Except One


My recent blog post about Agresso taking on SAP in ERP (you might have thought I was just whining about "no news" in that post) led me to a series of ERP reports by a group called Panorama Consulting. The reports are free for download off their Web site.

(I think you have to fill out a form, the equivalent of an old-time "bingo card." Does any Web site have the equivalent of a bingo card? That's the send-me-info process in those old-fashioned things called magazines where you only filled out your information once - or better yet, attached your mailing label - and then got information in the old-fashioned mail about every subject you circled?)

Panorama talked to over 500 of you, so that's what makes the reports worth reading, in my mind. The reports provide a good implicit list of questions to ask when you begin your next ERP upgrade, even if I don't agree with some of the answers Panorama found in its research.

My disagreement is possibly a methodology issue. In terms of suppliers, Panorama says it talked to a representative sample of suppliers. That is, it said its reports' supplier distribution matches a Gartner market-share study, with SAP leading Oracle and Microsoft, followed by everyone else that claims to be an ERP supplier in a distant fourth place called "other." But Gartner's measurement appears to be share by revenue dollar, whereas a distribution by installation in the small and medium-sized business space (the objective) would probably put Infor first followed by Microsoft.

That's why I wouldn't put much stock in the findings about length and cost of implementation. The variability would tend to have little to do with who the supplier is and more to do with the scope of the ERP upgrade. Oracle probably has the most consistent results because it has the most consistent marketing focus in terms of size of company targeted. Smaller Oracle prospects get sent to NetSuite (which used to be marketed by Oracle and which is owned by Larry Ellison). It is also unclear which brand of Microsoft and Oracle ERP systems are included in these statistics. A traditional Great Plains ERP package would go in much more quickly than a traditional Navision package. Ditto for a basic J.D. Edwards AS/400-based system vs. a big honking legacy Oracle eBusiness suite with all the bells and whistles.

It is interesting that so many Baan installations showed up after all these years; Jan Baan should be proud. Given an effort to target small and medium-sized businesses, I would have expected more Mapics, the granddaddy of all ERP systems. Also note that Baan is part of Infor, so Infor is far and away the leader of Tier II, as it should be as measured by revenue.

Also note that I used the term ERP upgrade two or three times above. The big question is:

"What ERP software was the respondent migrating from?"

There are no unplowed fields left. Even if all you have is Intuit QuickBooks, you are already an ERP user. So this is a measurement of upgrade costs as much as implementation costs.