What is your ERP’s Legacy?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is key to integrating all areas of a business. It controls the financials, the inventory, the purchasing and the ordering. There are a lot of ERP software vendors. The market though has consolidated in the past few years since the Y2K upgrade fever and the downturn of the software market.

Now ERP is undergoing a resurgence and many companies are looking to either purchase new systems to replace a collection of disintegrated systems or to upgrade an older ERP system that just doesn’t cut it anymore. With the market consolidation, there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions of software companies. These acquisitions often result in the name of the company being revised and the software being renamed to something “more modern” or catchier to the ear.

One such software is Infor’s Syteline. At one point it was Symix Software’s Syteline. Then it became Frontstep. Then it was acquired by Mapics. Then Mapics was purchased by Infor. Thus Syteline the product has had a lot of masters. The core functionailty has remained relatively unchanged through the transitions. It has gone through some serious upgrades though along the path, including a switch to the .NET programming platform.

Baan is another software solution that has been through the wringers. But where Syteline continued to upgrade, Baan laid dormant for a couple of years. Baan had some financial difficulties and then it was purchased by a British company Invensys. Invensys held on to it for a while and then Baan the software was ultimately purchased by Infor. Under the hood, it is still relatively the same code base, although a lot of new functionality has been added.

On other fronts, older legacy software is becoming upgraded. Take JD Edwards World Software. It has a lot of clients who were running on the old green screen software for a long time with minimal upgrades. A few patches. Then in the past few months, Oracle, the new parent to JD Edwards finally released a comprehensive upgrade.

A key point to understand is that while many systems seem to be modern, you need to look at the history behind the software, especially if you are about to purchase a new ERP system. Key answers to find out are the history of the package, the customer base of the software, and the industries it typically serves. Often people will buy software and find out it was meant for a different market. Find out too if the software has remained on a consistent upgrade path. Some software systems have been completely rewritten in modern languages while other systems have had a window dressing interface applied, while the underlying engine is still antique code. Dig deep and hopefully you will be sure that you are not buying the proverbial pig with lipstick.

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