Is MAPICS Getting the Magic of PLM? Part Two: Strategy
Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: July 21 2004
over two years, MAPICS, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAPX),
possibly the largest global provider of extended enterprise applications for
solving the challenges of discrete manufacturers following the acquisition of
its former competitor Frontstep (see MAPICS
To Leap Forward In A Frontstep Way), has shown signs of significant
change and a persistent number of its historically recognizable and invariant
tenets of operation. During the same time, the vendor has continued with the
painstaking process of producing and executing a strategy going forward that
would pragmatically blend the company's traditional values and success factors
with new approaches to stay in tune with market trends.
that end, on May 5, MAPICS announced it recently acquired the MAGIK!
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution, from
its longtime partner—Ceimis Enterprises of Laguna Hills, California
(US). This former strategic extension solution has purportedly been well received
by a number of MAPICS customers and is already integrated with the MAPICS
ERP for iSeries product.
MAPICS remains in an acquisition mode owing to a somewhat bitter pill of assimilating
the MAPICS ERP for Extended Systems product (derived from the
acquired former Pivotpoint's Point.Man product), it is not
likely that MAPICS will opt for another direct enterprise resource planning
(ERP) competitor's acquisition. MAPICS had to make a crucial decision to do
provide a smooth migration path and conversion tools to MAPICS SyteLine
ERP release 7, rather than embark on redevelopment of the product per
se (although the suite will nevertheless continue to be supported for users
that choose to stay on it).
is Part Two of a three-part note.
One described recent events and began a discussion of the market impact.
Three will discuss challenges and make user recommendations.
headline is that MAPICS has been trying to leverage the best from each platform's
camp to create advanced extended-ERP applications that would readily connect
to various enterprise system packages. These strategic extensions, such as CRM,
Web portals, and e-business applications will ideally be shared by both ERP
foundations. Namely, in addition to its ERP products, pre-Frontstep MAPICS had
also offered extensions that would be made available to both the iSeries and
Extended Systems ERP products, such as MAPICS SCM (from former
Thru-Put), and an enterprise asset management (EAM)
product called MAPICS Maintenance & Calibration (former Maincor
like solutions worth mentioning include a business intelligence (BI)
product MAPICS Analytics, and MAPICS Portal.
Although some of these come from strategic alliances (such as, the Access
Commerce's Cameleon Product Configurator, the FRx
financial reporting product, Vanguard Solutions Group for BI
add-on modules and Magik! PLM, MAPICS emphasizes that all of these are under
original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreements, with MAPICS
owning product upgrades and support so that the origin is effectively transparent.
One recent change though is that the relationship with Vanguard has stepped
back from a true OEM relationship. Moving forward, MAPICS has recently expanded
its partnership with Cognos introducing MAPICS Enterprise
Business Intelligence for iSeries through an OEM relationship.
the other hand, the following extended-ERP offering from MAPICS SyteLine ERP,
which is mostly provided natively, or also in a tight OEM fashion from long-term
partnerships, was comparable to the MAPICS above set: SyteLine APS,
SyteLine CRM, SyteLine Business Intelligence
(a partnership with Cognos), SyteLine Business Process
Management (a partnership with Cobre), SyteLine
Workflow Automation (a partnership with former Keyfile,
then known as Lexign and now eiStream), SyteLine
Configuration, SyteLine Data Collection, and
SyteLine EDI (often using Sterling Commerce
translator or information broker, but with the options to other EDI providers
as well). Except for FRx, Cognos, and Sterling Commerce, which are beyond MAPICS'
means and desires, look for more acquisition in the future that would resemble
the MAGIK! PLM one. All the above components incorporate Web services technology
to simplify integration and information exchanges with other systems. Thus,
the idea is to extend these to both iSeries and SyteLine users through a "develop
once, deploy twice" strategy.
our recent briefing, MAPICS' executives acknowledged that almost all enterprise
software companies are either "hunting" or being "hunted". While the likelihood
of MAPICS being acquired is not very slim, the least MAPICS can do about it
is to continue its proven strategy and good financial performance, which in
turn results with a solid market capitalization (that is a multiple of its annual
revenue) as a deterrent to bargain hunting (i.e., the smallest possible price
for a largest possible market share increase) predators like SSA Global.
the contrary, that could not be said for Ceimis, whose financial performance
we do not know for sure due to its privately-held nature, but the company has
nonetheless had quite a subdued posture of late. If one is to judge that at
least by the (not so) recent press releases, they date back a few years ago,
such as the partnership with Microsoft Great Plains, which
has likely not been much active given the very recent alliance announcement
between Microsoft Business Solutions and Autodesk
to Bring Microsoft Business Solutions Closer to PLM). On the other
hand, MAPICS will have had quite a stake with MAGIK! being widely adopted within
its install base to let the product languish further or even worse, get discontinued.
What Is Driving The Market?
need for shorter product life cycles is being driven by competitive pressures,
customer demand, and the need to cut operating expense, and, in that regard,
product lifecycle management (PLM) products should give manufacturers
the tools to collaborate with trading partners for faster time-to-market, reduced
manufacturing costs, higher quality products and improved customer satisfaction,
as some potential benefits. But, given the relative immaturity of the PLM movement,
PLM often means different things to different people.
a detailed discussion of PLM see PLM
Coming Of Age: ERP Vendors Take Notice.
due to its deep engineering roots from the 1980s, it still often gets confused
with computer-aided design (CAD) or product data management
(PDM) systems. While CAD involves the use of high-resolution graphics in product
design activities, allowing quick evaluation and modification of the designer's
intent, PDM systems were originally developed as merely vaults for storing and
updating data, which replace paper-based processes and information storage with
a single, centralized data repository that enables authorized users throughout
a company to access and update current product information, while ensuring they
follow specific procedures.
the other hand, PLM, which is an overarching strategy (concept) of guiding the
product throughout its entire life cycle, entails much more than just PDM. It
allows collaboration amongst many constituents and successful planning and execution
of new product development and introduction (NPDI) programs. Namely,
a much broader mission of PLM would be to provide a panoramic "one version of
the truth" in terms of data and business processes associated with the product
from start to finish (i.e., from cradle-to-grave) to any involved party, such
as design engineers, manufacturing engineers, production planners, purchasing,
marketing, c-level executives, suppliers, and other trading partners.
still evolving category of software should help any manufacturing company deliver
a product and continually enhance it by helping it manage and automate materials
sourcing, design and visualization, engineering change orders (ECO),
and product documentation, such as test results, product packaging, and post-sales
data. The product development life cycle—conceptualize, plan, design, procure,
produce, deliver, service, and retire—naturally includes multiple people, operating
in multiple departments, and typically from multiple companies, each with locations
in multiple countries around the world. It should also help companies manage
through a mushrooming number of local, state, federal, and international regulations.
other words, at the core of any serious PLM initiative is typically a database
or data warehouse that handles and stores every important piece of information
that goes into making a particular product, such as formula and bills of
material (BOM) cards, packaging information, shipping specifications, regulatory
data, patent data, and so on. The emphasis is not only on how to design products,
but also how to manage the accompanying information. From there, all the constituencies
should be able to slice and dice data and create workflows to deliver specific
information to specific functions.
concludes Part Two of a three-part note.
One described recent events and began a discussion of the Market Impact.
Three will discuss Challenges and make User Recommendations. Link to Part One
is a research director with TechnologyEvaluation.com (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.
Brown has over fifteen years of experience in management consulting
and application software focused on the manufacturing industries. He is a recognized
expert in software solutions for manufacturers and has broad experience in applying
enterprise applications such as product lifecycle management, supply chain management,
ERP, and customer relationship management to improve business performance. Brown
began his professional experience at General Electric before joining Andersen
Consulting (Accenture), and subsequently served as an executive for software
companies specializing in PLM and process manufacturing solutions. He is a frequent
author and speaker on applying software technology to achieve tangible business
benefits. Brown can be reached at email@example.com.