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Made2Manage Affirms Its Technological Astuteness Part 3: Challenges and User Recommendations

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: January 22 2003

Challenges

Although initiatives covered in Part Two of this note should, to our mind, contribute to creating increased demand and acceptance of the offering in the intended SME market, nevertheless, Made2Manage will have to address certain challenges in order to continue to thrive in this cutthroat competitive environment. The competition is flying from all directions: its peers (e.g., Epicor, Lilly Software, Syspro, MAPICS/Frontstep, etc.), the likes of SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft storming down the market, and from former accounting-only juggernauts going up the market (e.g., Intuit, ACCPAC, Best Software, and Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS)). Most of these competitors have much greater install bases and quite a leeway to ride through these difficult times on their recurring service & support revenue. To keep up with the competition, Made2Manage might therefore have a bigger need to enlarge its 1,600 corporate customers or 25,000 licensed users. This has not been happening lately to a degree the vendor would wish. Further, some of these competitors are either on par, or even ahead of Made2Manage in terms of porting their applications onto .NET, while many are not that far behind in the wireless devices deployment.

Consequently, Made2Manage global market awareness and presence remain quite insignificant in spite of the recent embryonic expansion in the UK via a sole VAR agreement with MacroScope Ltd, where the company has localized the functionality for the market. This is further aggravated by the fact that the product continues to exhibit minimal multi-national capabilities and to support only the English language. While this narrow focus has resulted in the delivery of the capabilities within the compact single product line mentioned earlier, it may still result in missed opportunities as companies are increasingly seeking true global providers for their supply chain management and collaboration requirements.

Also, the breadth and functional astuteness of Made2Manage's product offerings and the depressed stock prices of most software vendors lately (resulting with Made2Manage's market capitalization being almost only equal to its $16 million cash position) could make it an attractive acquisition target. One is indeed to wonder whether Microsoft might be deliberately remiss with deploying its own tools like MIT within its own MBS division, and rather letting the likes of Made2Manage fly the trial balloon first. And not only MBS has professed predatory aspirations lately the deep-pocketed likes of PeopleSoft or Best Software may find a price of Made2Manage quite worthwhile for its potential return in capturing the product capabilities and coveted market share in the SME segment.

Further, M2M's functionality across the board, although broad and well balanced, has not been recognized as a differentiator in the market as the company does not exhibit much of a vertical focus. It basically exhibits a generic ATO, engineer-to-order (ETO), make-to-order (MTO), make-to-stock (MTS) and mixed-mode discrete manufacturing chunks of functionality. Given the fact that some of its competitors offer a sharp vertical focus even to the precision of four- or even six-digit Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes within an industry, Made2Manage's above-mentioned technological advantages may soon be emulated and loose its differentiation value. The company should, therefore, try to interest its VARs into industry specialization and provision of vertical extensions. Also, non-ATO enterprises might not find complex enough ETO functions such as project management and serial effectivity, or batch manufacturing capability.

Further, the most crucial developments that should increase its market opportunity like the recent extension of multi-site and supply-chain management (SCM) functionality footprint, and the availability of Microsoft SQL Server edition of the product, have still been offered relatively recently and much later compared to its peers, although some scalability issues that have long plagued Made2Manages success in the higher end of the market might thereby be mitigated.

Still, to prosper in these depressed economic times, enterprises should grasp that the same technology that allows their customers and competitors alike to seek new suppliers from around the globe also presents the opportunity to offer their own products and services in new markets. The difficult economic conditions have, in fact, put additional pressures but also the opportunity for manufacturers to streamline operations and increase efficiencies in the most pragmatic way. Made2Manage seems to have positioned itself well to capture their attention with its above offering.

This is Part Three of a three-part note.

Part One covered recent developments.

Part Two discussed the company Strategy.

User Recommendations

Made2Manage's offering should have an appeal to SME discrete manufacturers operating in mixed-mode environments encompassing ATO, MTO, ETO and MTS, as well as with less complex projects and repetitive manufacturing functional requirements. Its sweet spot is manufacturers with revenues from $5-50 million (50 to 250 employees, although the system has recently been tested to even 500 users). Preferably but not necessarily, single-site North America and UK-based discrete ATO manufacturing companies and their divisions with up to $250 million-a-year revenue range and up to 200 concurrent users per site, should shortlist the company's value proposition, bearing in mind the competitive landscape.

TEC generally recommends including M2M in the long list of vendors considered for an enterprise application selection by the smaller mid-market companies. These companies generally are agile, but have a limited IT budget/staff, a conservative IT strategy, and less intricate mixed-mode discrete manufacturing, CRM and B2B e-commerce collaboration requirements. Organizations seeking a Web-based solution and out-of-box functionality with little or no re-engineering effort may want to inquire about the M2M's hosted offering. Fast expanding, multi-national and companies looking for a cross-platform support and deeper vertical functionality may benefit from evaluating other products at this stage.

Although Made2Manage essentially operates across many industries with no vertical focus per se, the industries that would most likely benefit from using its products (based on the company's success and references) are electronics, consumer products, industrial machinery, fabricated products, automotive supplier, computer and office equipment, medical equipment suppliers, transportation equipment, and rubber and plastic products. Existing users of earlier Windows product releases that run on Visual FoxPro database/development tool may benefit from querying the company's product strategy, product migration path, service & support, and/or scalability strategy state of affairs. Also, since not many standard application programming interfaces (API) exist outside of OEM-ed 3rd-party products, particularly not to non-Microsoft 3rd-party applications, enterprises wishing to interface Made2Manage with other enterprise application packages will likely have to develop the interfaces themselves or negotiate with Made2Manage to do the work (it remains to be seen how web services will help in this regard).

On a more general note, as users may increasingly need wireless and mobile devices deployment amid non-buying IT mindset, as well as rapidly evolving technology and continued device variety proliferation (e.g., smart phones, wireless PDAs, tablets, etc.), enterprise should take steps now to prepare for the inevitable wave of small wireless devices deployments in the not so distant future. In a long run, wireless access to enterprise applications and portals will become quite common, with solutions supporting both rich and thin clients, amenable to both connected and disconnected users. Thus, IT departments should start evaluating a selective use of wireless technologies to extend application functionality to mobile employees and/or business partners (without trying to replace full desktop functionality), particularly since costs will likely further diminish when major application and/or infrastructure vendors include the wireless/mobile technology as an integrated component of their application platform in the future.

Very detailed information about M2M ERP 5.0 SQL is contained in the ERP Evaluation Center at http://www.erpevaluation.com.

 
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