PeopleSoft Building Muscles To Overcome The Rough Patch Part 4: Challenges and User Recommendations




PeopleSoft Building Muscles To Overcome The Rough Patch

Part 4: Challenges and User Recommendations

P.J. Jakovljevic - June 25, 2002

Event Summary

At the beginning of 2001, PeopleSoft Inc. (NASDAQ: PSFT), one of the largest enterprise applications providers, ebulliently indicated its continued interest in rounding out its product portfolio through favorably priced acquisitions. Instead, the company recently unveiled a number of new products developed either internally or via alliances. It is likely its recently tamed new revenue generation has played a part in the company backpedaling its bullish attitude on acquisitions.

Recent announcements include:

New Products

  • PeopleSoft eSettlements Part of PeopleSoft's Finanacial Management Solution

  • General availability of PeopleSoft Enterprise Service Automation (ESA) 8.4

  • Expansion of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions

  • Supply Chain Management Solutions Strategic Sourcing and Trading Partner Management (TPM)

  • Next generation Enterprise Portal

  • CRM solutions for Government, Insurance, Energy, and High Technology

Alliances

  • Vigilance Supply Chain Event Management

  • Agile Software Company Comprehensive Product Life Cycle Management

Financial Results

This is Part Four of a four-part report on recent PeopleSoft announcements. Part One detailed the announcements. Parts Two and Three discussed the Market Impact of these announcements.

Challenges

A tall order still remains PeopleSoft to convince the market that its domain expertise in manufacturing-oriented environments should be taken seriously. Although PeopleSoft has already achieved a strong presence in the supply chain space, owing to its ongoing commitment to this sector and due to focusing its solutions on only a handful industries such as: CPG, High-Tech, and Wholesale-Distribution, it still possibly occupies the Top 5 place (at best) in the supply chain marketplace as a whole. While the product still lacks depth in complex manufacturing, it may lend itself well to the lean/flow and mixed-mode manufacturing. To that end, as the company is apparently keen to change the competitive landscape, and having a huge pile of cash, it still has to do a much better job at disseminating the message and making the market aware and serious about its manufacturing expertise.

It appears that a real magic bullet to attract smaller enterprises is yet to be produced, although the company has successfully addressed marketing and selling to both large and smaller enterprises lately (see PeopleSoft Supply Chain Is Music To Mid Market Ears). PeopleSoft sells directly into accounts above $500 million revenue, and partners with consultancy and technology partners (e.g., KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Compaq, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Sun) in the mid market.

Still at this stage, one cannot find many compelling reasons for a small or midsize enterprise to go for PeopleSoft as opposed to, e.g., Lawson, Microsoft Great Plains, or Navision and an army of manufacturing-oriented smaller ERP vendors. While fixed time and cost solutions delivered packaged from pristine laboratories do have their appeal, SMEs are becoming increasingly savvy to ask for more than just these cookie-cutter implementations. And there is a number of obliging smaller vendors with immaculate vertical focus and knowledgeable channel. Recent SAP moves to deliver more than accelerated watered down solutions (see SAP Tries Another, Bifurcated Tack At A Small Guy) and its quandary to recruit channel partners and overcome the barrier to entry will not pass PeopleSoft either.

There are still a number of smaller vendors with impressive broad functionality and an easy-deploying product owing to their original focus only on manufacturing, IFS and QAD being only two. These vendors do not burden a small manufacturer with any unneeded functionality or with a complex, spaghetti-like code base, as a non-manufacturing ERP vendor would likely have had to produce after deciding to expand into manufacturing, likely via a number of acquisitions. The example that PeopleSoft has recently combined the code lines for its commercial and Education and Government (E&G) financial and HRMS products may be great news for these customers as they will benefit from getting some previously unavailable best of both worlds functionality. It is completely a different case for small manufacturers having to figure out how to disable that irrelevant, bamboozling stuff.

All in all, although on the right track, PeopleSoft has to be careful that it does not overstretch itself and lose focus going forward. While it has yet to execute the assimilation of a slew of software products, which it recently acquired and/or partnered in order to fill the gaps in its SCM, CRM and collaborative e-business infrastructure offering, it also remains under pressure to fill other outstanding product functionality shortcomings such as transportation management, data mining/Web analytics, complex discrete and process manufacturing, and/or private trade exchanges (PTX). Additionally, the earlier acquisitions/alliances still represent only improvement rather than complete solution filler.

As a summary, while one cannot find flaws in PeopleSoft's recent moves, and while one can rest assured of the company's delivery of its endeavors, it is also not very likely that the stellar 2001 will be repeated in style this year 2002 will likely be the year of staying in a good shape.

User Recommendations

PeopleSoft will be a fierce contender in a number of industries, and is generally worth considering in HRMS, financial, CRM, PSA, and supply chain enterprise applications realms it offers an attractive product portfolio, with dedicated ongoing service and support. Existing PeopleSoft customers should certainly consider the new offering, but bearing in mind the nascence of the offering and with looking at what the other vendors have to offer. We recommend identifying your clear e-business strategy and conducting a thorough comparison-shopping, at least for the negotiation leverage sake.

As for potential customers, PeopleSoft remains a very strong contender in enterprise application selection processes within the following industries: utilities, healthcare, service providers, financial institutions, public sector, insurance, higher education, high-tech/electronics, wholesale distribution, and consumer packaged goods (CPG). It should be on a short list in any selection where HRMS system, financial modules, CRM, and e-business/self-service are the main pillars of an enterprise application. However, since the company has been touting the significant manufacturing and supply chain product enhancements within its new release, current and potential users are advised to inform themselves about these, particularly in the above-mentioned industries of focus. Enterprises, both existing and prospective PeopleSoft customers, should include PeopleSoft on their short list when evaluating SCM packages featuring strong collaborative B2B e-commerce features.

PeopleSoft's current users should react positively to the company's recent acquisitions and to future prospects, in principle, as the product expansion should allow them to address many of their outstanding needs. Existing and prospective customers should evaluate the add-ons emanating from the acquisitions/alliances as a way to add value to their existing applications whether with an interim integration solution now or by waiting for PeopleSoft to supply a generally available seamlessly integrated solution. Therefore, question PeopleSoft's officials to obtain the firm delivery schedule of intended offering.

As with all new releases, users should employ a critical approach in their evaluation of PeopleSoft 8.4 in light of still unproven technology (e.g., mobile CRM synchronization) and request the company's written commitment to promised functionality, length of implementation, and seamless future upgrades, particularly for recently announced offerings. In any case, reckon with a significant increase in technical skills of your IT department, particularly in XML, HTML, Internet security/firewalls, LDAP, JavaScript, etc. As for the recent alliances, insist on long-term commitments to product integration and/or guarantees of replacing equivalent software in case the partnerships dissolve for some reason in the future.

More comprehensive recommendations for both current and potential PeopleSoft users can be found in PeopleSoft - Catching Its Second Wind From The Internet; Part 3: Predictions and Recommendations and "Collaborative Commerce": ERP, CRM, e-Proc, and SCM Unite! A Series Study: PeopleSoft

 
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