Information technologists are fond of predictions in which the next big thing quickly and entirely renders the existing thing so completely obsolete that only troglodytes would cling to such outmoded technology. While this vision of IT progress may satisfy the egos of technologists, it rarely reflects reality. Mainframes didn’t disappear, for example. Although they long ago lost their dominant position, many remain key parts of corporate computing infrastructures. The IT landscape is a hybrid because technology users have varying requirements and constraints that can lengthen replacement cycles. Most business users of IT pay little attention to the religious wars of technologists because they take a pragmatic approach: They use technology to achieve business ends. This scenario is repeating itself in clamor about another corporate mainstay, the ERP system, which advocates claim will soon be redeployed en masse to cloud computing. That, too, won’t happen. I believe that ERP will increasingly become cloud-based, but it will be in hybrid cloud environments.
Topics: Microsoft, SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, Sage Software, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, Plex, Professional Services Automation
Convergence is the Microsoft Dynamics business software user group’s meeting. Dynamics’ core applications are mainly in the accounting and ERP category, descendants of products Microsoft acquired: Great Plains (now GP), Solomon (SL), Navision (NAV) and Damgaard’s Axapta (AX), to which Microsoft has added its own CRM application. It has been more than a decade since the acquisitions of Great Plains (which itself had already purchased Solomon Software), and Navision, Damgaard and the software applications family has evolved steadily if slowly since then. More recently, Microsoft has added cloud services that simplify and improve the connection between remote users and the on-premises core systems, as well as integration with Office365.
Topics: Microsoft, SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Consulting, distribution, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, Sage Software, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workday, Plex, Professional Services Automation
FinancialForce recently introduced FinancialForce ERP, a family of cloud-based software designed to support a variety of customer-centric businesses such as professional services organizations or companies that specialize in business and industrial distribution. Many of these types of businesses are midsize or small (having 50 to 1,000 employees) and can benefit from the integration of FinancialForce’s accounting, professional services automation, human capital management (HCM) and supply chain management (SCM) software. The company added the last two capabilities at the end of 2013 with the acquisitions of Vana Workforce and Less Software, respectively, which I commented on. Like FinancialForce’s, their software runs on the Salesforce1 platform, which means that integration of these elements was straightforward. It also enables companies that use or are planning to use salesforce.com for sales and customer service to simplify integration of those with the operational and back-office software, by enabling single sign-on, end-to-end process management and a single data source for reporting and analysis. This integration can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need to re-enter information into systems or to use spreadsheets, documents and email to manage processes. With all of the data available in a single system, creating reports and automating their distribution becomes easier. All of this, in turn, should cut the amount of time and effort spent on administrative and clerical functions and enhance the productivity of the organization.
Topics: SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Consulting, distribution, PSA, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Professional Services Automation, SCM
CODA’s Financials has a specific target market, from companies in the upper half of the midsize range to the lower end of the large range (that is, companies with 500 to 2,500 employees) in services (not manufacturing) businesses. CODA, the company, started in the 1990s and differentiated itself by designing ERP and accounting software to run on a multidimensional database rather than the more common relational databases of the day. This has proven to be an elegant approach, because businesses inherently have multiple perspectives from which to view and describe their operations. Some of the most common dimensions include products, customers, corporate business units, time and currency. Each of these can be defined in a hierarchy: Individual stock-keeping units are part of products, which are part of product families, which may be part of a specific brand. Days are parts of weeks or months, which are part of quarters, which are part of years. If the multidimensional database had been available in the 15th century when Fra Luca Pacioli codified double-entry bookkeeping, I’m certain the friar would have kept his books in this form.
Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), CODA, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, Sales Performance Management (SPM), financials
Cloud computing has changed the fundamental economics of business software, bringing new capabilities within reach of large numbers of small and midsize companies for the first time. Cloud-based ERP, for example, enables many midsize companies that in the past might have continued to use an entry-level accounting package to have more capable and sophisticated systems. The investment in software and IT capabilities to implement an ERP system on-premises is considerable enough that midsize companies often put up with a less-capable one. As well, midsize companies can now have their own call center operations because cloud-based offerings that support these operations require substantially lower up-front investments and have significantly lower operating costs than their on-premises counterparts. Consequently, a company that once outsourced all of its call center activities now has a greater degree of control of this strategic capability, often at a lower overall cost. The economic aspects of adopting the cloud are compelling, but there are other reasons as well. In some business software categories, even if the company has the IT resources and money to manage it on-premises, it makes better business sense to obtain this capability as a service in the cloud. For example, expense management is not a strategic process, and software users are often operating outside the company firewall.
Topics: Big Data, Operational Performance Management (OPM), ConnectWise, Consulting, NetSuite OpenAi, PlanMill, ProjectHelp, Projector, PSA, Unanet Technologies, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Professional Services, Professional Services Automation, Project Management