PeopleSoft Delivers Oxymoron In 'Supply Chain in a Box'
Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: December 29 2000
PeopleSoft Delivers Oxymoron In "Supply Chain in a Box"
At its annual user conference in late October, PeopleSoft trumpeted the
availability of its revamped supply chain management solution ambitiously
titled, PeopleSoft Supply Chain in a Box. The new solution combines applications
for customer management, e-commerce, order fulfillment, planning, and
supply chain analytics and delivers them via multiple channels including
an Internet portal and handheld devices. PeopleSoft claims the "Box" automates
a large variety of business functions from managing sales leads to planning,
filling orders, and collecting cash. Customers will be able to check the
status of orders, account balances and payment histories, and place orders
to Mike Frandsen, Vice President and General Manager of PeopleSoft's Supply
Chain Division, "PeopleSoft Supply Chain in a Box is a completely new
way of implementing an end-to-end supply chain solution. This pre-assembled
solution can begin paying back a customer's investment immediately." Though
the software may enable the stated functions, the proposition that it
can deliver them in a pre-assembled, pre-packaged and pre-configured manner
stretches the limits of imagination.
PeopleSoft Supply Chain in a Box is hardly the first supply chain software
product promising pre-packaged functionality and rapid deployment. Pure
play supply chain management vendors like i2 Technologies and Logility
have offered configurable pieces of the overall supply chain puzzle for
many years, but have never offered a complete solution "in a box". One
reason is that these solutions, like the supply chains they support, are
possibility of shrink-wrapping software to represent and support a supply
chain, really a network linking a company's internal operations with external
suppliers and customers, is not easy to believe. To us, a package that
comes "in a box" is ready to install and run, with at most an hour or
so spent choosing parameters from a predefined list or using a simple
configuration wizard. Can a product that claims to automate business processes
across enterprises really arrive in a box? Such a packaged suite of applications
would have to seamlessly touch critical points within the systems of all
of a company's trading partners and produce immediate benefits. Would
that this was so, but we fear that the claim is incredible even in the
era of XML and wireless communication.
announcements by ERP vendors aimed at cutting a way into the supply chain
management market are common, of course, and PeopleSoft's claims are no
less extravagant than others are. The announcement may serve to attract
attention in the short term, but only proven application of its supply
chain solutions will enable the vendor to contend on an equal footing
with SAP, J.D. Edwards, and Oracle.
We are sure that there are small organizations with simple supply chains
for which the product might well run "out of the box." But in general,
users would do well to take PeopleSoft's claims with a vein of salt and
maintain realistic expectations regarding the challenges they will face
in integrating their supply chains. Don't buy this or any other system
on the basis of such over worn vendor hype as "immediate return on investment,"
"rapid deployment," and "seamless integration out of the box." Do a careful
selection process and ask each bidder to provide a realistic estimate
of the time and cost of installation; give preference to those vendors
who will back up their estimates with rebates or free services.