EAM versus CMMS: What's Right for Your Company? Part Four: IFS and Intentia Responses




Vendor Responses

Although both vendors, IFS AB (XSSE: IFS) and Intentia (XSSE: INT B) are showing surprising resiliency in a difficult market, they are often still regarded as just regional rather than uniformly global players. For example, still nearly two thirds of IFS' sales are in Europe, almost a third is in North America, and it has sporadic single digits percentages elsewhere in the world. Conversely, while Intentia might have better recognition in Australasia then IFS, but it is still a fledgling vendor in North America, while both vendors are stalwarts in Europe.

The reason why IFS has made many more inroads in North America (with a 300-strong customer base) than Intentia could in part lie in the fact that IFS has long established a local marketing center there and thus can deliver a better-attuned message. As previously mentioned, IFS is also more aggressively moving forward with a partnership strategy to further grow its business outside Europe. To date it has tackled vertical markets in various regions (and even countries like China through a joint venture with IFS UFSoft) where the barriers to entry are reasonably low.

However, if IFS truly wants to be a global player, it will have to bolster its image as a company with strength in the target verticals, regardless of its location. A possible remedy to IFS' global image predicament and the long run high cost of direct selling could be a greater shift of focus to its still relatively undeveloped indirect channel, which will be executed through a number of announced market and industry-based partnerships. This focus on the underdeveloped indirect channel has been a major success factor for many mid-market vendors.

Also, as the vendor becomes eligible for future larger deals, IFS is also likely to become more focused on strategic partnerships with some of the large system integrators and consultants (such as CAP Gemini Ernst & Young, IBM, Atos Origin, or NEC) in order to cover larger multinational customers. While IFS' opportunistic "can do" corporate culture and responsibility for most of its own implementations have served it well during the early years of its ascendance, the endorsement of the above-mentioned partners should help it establish credibility more quickly in IFS' given markets than it could ever do it on its own.

On the other hand, Intentia has been tardy to partner with any non-IBM technology provider, and its partnerships in the past have been rather reactive to a sporadic opportunity or customer request than really strategically proactive. While Intentia's direct model helps it with the customer intimacy in a way similar to IFS (except in Asia where Intentia utilizes channel partners), nevertheless, the direct model hampers Intentia's faster expansion through distribution channels, visibility, and noise created by system integrators (which, in fact, will likely have promoted the competitive products).

Last but not least, one common streak that is pertinent to this article is that both vendors' roots stem from the maintenance and asset management arenas of some twenty years ago. For Intentia, this area was in aerospace and defense (A&D) and for IFS, it was the utilities sector. Both vendors seem to be returning to their roots in their quests to return to prosperity. For example, during its early years, IFS had built up specific expertise in relational database technology, and linked this with the knowledge of preventive maintenance, which it had acquired in connection with assignments in the nuclear power industry. This resulted in the development of IFS Maintenance, the first software product of IFS, which was launched in 1986. However, only in 1990 did the vendor release the first version of its flagship product, IFS Applications.

Thus Intentia and IFS should have a significant head start compared to some ERP vendors that have belatedly chosen to support maintenance management by developing add-on plant maintenance or asset management modules to their existing product suites. Rather than developing scheduling, project management, inventory management, purchasing, quality management, and other core maintenance capabilities, Intentia and IFS will have adapted their existing work-order-centric manufacturing functionality to support these maintenance needs. Other enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors might have addressed these capabilities by acquiring a computerized maintenance management (CMMS) or an enterprise asset management (EAM) package and integrating it into their product suite. However, the downside here is that these solutions typically will not have the seamless look-and-feel nor the unified data and architecture of the internally developed ERP and EAM modules.

On the other hand, some best-of-breed CMMS/EAM vendors may provide applications program interfaces (API) between their products and selected, usual-suspect ERP suites. Nonetheless, these are subject to true strategic intentions and cooperation between these disparate ERP and CMMS/EAM solution providers.

This is Part Four of a four-part note.

Part One defined EAM and CMMS.

Part Two discussed integration concerns.

Part Three began the analysis of two major vendors.

Summary

A key advantage of EAM software is its integration with other modules. If you are considering replacing legacy manufacturing resource planning (MRP) software with ERP II and EAM software from a single vendor, which both IFS AB (XSSE: IFS) and Intentia (XSSE: INT B) provide, the integration issues are typically disposed of by the "one-stop-shopping" approach. Companies looking to replace their legacy system or upgrade to a full functioning and integrated ERP and EAM/CMMS software should definitely include Intentia's Movex and IFS Applications offerings on their shortlist of vendors. These vendors' respective functionality footprints; technological innovativeness and expertise; and sharp vertical focus should be attractive to mid-size and large global enterprises within the asset intensive industries.

Based on our earlier analysis, both vendors' EAM capabilities go head to head. If one has to point some fingers, IFS seems to excel at engineering areas like configuration management, engineering change control, project management, content management, and work process definition, while Intentia's bright spots include components and equipment tracking and valuation; integrated production and maintenance planning; integrated reliability centered maintenance (RCM), warranty tracking; material management; and customer service preparation and execution.

Medium and large discrete and process manufacturing enterprises with strong engineer-to-order (ETO), EAM, and maintenance, repair, and operation-oriented (MRO) requirements should evaluate IFS and Intentia. IFS' and Intentia's respective industry foci varies significantly in different geographic markets, therefore industries might benefit from considering location when evaluating these vendors. IFS' targets remain in the upper middle market of $50-500 million (USD) manufacturing sites (with 100300 employees), although it is rapidly increasing coverage of larger enterprises, where Intentia has long established itself. Larger global corporations with diverse businesses; complex multiple-platforms technology and scalability requirements; and a need for strong central corporate financials, human resources and distribution functionality, may expect to find IFS Applications' unevenness across the entire functionality specter.

However, companies that are looking for best-of-breed solutions may still find it too cost ineffective to decouple components within these products and slot them in with their existing systems, despite these vendors' respective claims of leveraging an extensive number of XML-based APIs in their products, along with the Movex e-Collaborator or IFS Connect integration software to customize the interface to their requirements. In any case, these claims might be worth checking out.

Also, you would be well advised to plan the implementation of these software components in a multi-phased, multi-year approach. Commit to purchase the full ERP and EAM suite to obtain the best discount pricing but set user expectations of for the long haul. The best strategy would be to properly and realistically calculate the expected and tangible benefits of each module, bearing in mind that an individual module capability can be oversold. Then, let this analysis influence your implementation planning.

If you are satisfied with your current manufacturing software and want to realize the benefits of EAM, development of an integration plan and subsequent interfaces will be a major phase to complete. Beware of EAM vendors explaining the ease with which these interfaces can be constructed and modified in the future based on new software releases. This is a case where the proof is in the doing. Contact industry specific references, that have taken this approach, and determine the true cost of the interfaces.

Finally, the primary benefit of EAM is the reliability-centered maintenance. Let's face it: any process that can help you improve what you are doing now and enables you to do it better in the future, is the best thing since sliced bread. Providing data to feed back into a process can only increase operational revenues and decrease maintenance expenses.

About the Authors

Predrag Jakovljevic is a research director with Technology Evaluation Centers, Inc. (TEC), with a focus on the enterprise applications market. He has over fifteen years of manufacturing industry experience, including several years as a power user of IT/ERP, as well as being a consultant/implementer and market analyst. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and he has also been certified in production and inventory management (CPIM) and in integrated resources management (CIRM) by APICS.

Joseph J. Strub has extensive experience as a manager and senior consultant in planning and executing ERP projects for manufacturing and distribution systems for large to medium-size companies in the retail, food and beverage, chemical, and CPG process industries. Additionally, Strub was a consultant and Information Systems Auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers and an applications development and support manager for Fortune 100 companies.

He can be reached at JoeStrub@writecompanyplus.com.

 
comments powered by Disqus