ROI Systems - A Little ERP Fellow That Gets By

ROI Systems - A Little ERP Fellow That Gets By
P.J. Jakovljevic - June 11, 2001

Event Summary

In May, ROI Systems, Inc., a privately held provider of extended ERP solutions for small to medium size manufacturing enterprises, hosted its annual InterNational Users Group Meeting (INUGM) in Minneapolis, MN, USA. The symposium's 57 breakout sessions, user exchange room, opening session and exhibitors provided a multitude of opportunities for ROI's clients to learn about industry trends, manufacturing strategies and product-specific "how tos".

The conference also served as a launching pad for ROI corporate announcements about product direction and for showcasing e-enhancements to its flagship MANAGE 2000 extended ERP software suite. Four 20-year loyal customers were also honored at the event.

The highlight of the conference was the message that ROI is paving the way for its clients to embrace e-business and worldwide connectivity. "We have the tools and are ready to assist our clients every step of the way," said Bill Pisarra, ROI's EVP of Marketing. "We realize that software providers today must show true leadership in helping their clients cost effectively deploy e-business functionality to their customers and distributors. We are providing leading-edge technologies, such as XML, Microsoft COM+ and Microsoft .Net, in MANAGE 2000. We are showing our clients ways to deploy XML and messaging technologies that empower them and allow them to leverage this technology for their own benefit now."

Many of the breakout sessions at the 2001 conference included explanations of the new architecture and advancements in ROI's recently launched Release 7.0. Demonstrations of field service, advanced planning and scheduling (APS), purchase consignments, Web sales order processing, Web service request management and many other applications available with the new release, as well as the n-tier architecture, XML-based menus and documentation, were reportedly enthusiastically received by the attendees. Of particular acclaim was a demonstration of how quickly and easily the new Web pages provided in Release 7.0 can be personalized and customized.

Market Impact

The 'slow but sure wins the race' mantra of ROI Systems' corporate strategy has been paying off. Indeed, throughout 23 years of its privately held operation, ROI has constantly remained profitable, debt-free, and has never had layoffs. That is in a sharp contrast with the IT industry trends where "flash in the pan" products/companies have been the name of the game, and recently profit has become an abstract notion for smaller enterprise applications vendors.

For more than two decades, ROI Systems has managed to deliver strong discrete manufacturing functionality and excellent customer support, although at the deliberate expense of much slower-than-market growth and moderate new technology introduction. While the company cannot be regarded as a thought (or any other) leader in the market and while its customer base amounts to less than 1,000, almost exclusively North American enterprises, the permanence and experience of ROI's staff and the less dramatic upgrade path of the product offerings may be compelling incentives for companies to opt for the vendor. Expanding incrementally, with modest goals and close attention to the bottom line, and leveraging tried-and-true business model, partnerships and customers has been the ROI's formula of success.

The company has traditionally made every effort to ensure an easy and bug free migration path when introducing new technology and/or product releases. Possibly unique in the industry is the fact that all its customers are running on the latest product version release, which cannot be touted by e.g. Lawson Software, MAPICS or Microsoft Great Plains that are renowned for a good customer service, let alone the Tier 1 vendors, which customers still run on several generations old product releases.

ROI may continue to be successful even in the current economic slowdown should it successfully address the concerns of smaller manufacturers, who are often intimidated by the perceived complexity of enterprise applications. These smaller manufacturers still have a need to get on board with fundamental e-commerce capabilities. Nonetheless, the room for improvement remains. Namely, ROI has still seemingly been inactive regarding applications hosting/ASP and on-line exchange (marketplace) initiatives, which should be appealing to its target market. Look for announcements along these lines some time in the future.

User Recommendations

Technologically less aggressive small to mid-size discrete manufacturers in North America and other English speaking countries, with a need for production planning, engineering, finance, sales, service, business intelligence, and e-commerce functionality would benefit from evaluating the ROI Systems product offering.

More comprehensive recommendations for both current and potential ROI Systems' users can be found in ROI Systems Catching Up With e-Commerce, and ROI Systems, Inc.: Will Slow and Steady Remain in the Race?

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