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ROI Systems MANAGE-s Well Past 2000 Part 2: Impact and Recommendations

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: April 4 2002

Event Summary

On March 13, ROI Systems, Inc. (www.roisystems.com), a privately held provider of extended ERP software systems, with its headquarters in Minneapolis, MN, announced that Indiana-based Core Business Software Solutions (CBSS) would serve as a business partner in its Midwest region. CBSS, a technology consulting firm, will distribute and implement ROI Systems' MANAGE 2000 extended ERP system. CBSS's decision to distribute ROI's MANAGE 2000 was reportedly based mostly on the system's demonstrated ability to address the needs of midrange manufacturers. According to Terry Coonan, co-founder of CBSS, MANAGE 2000's strong out-of-the-box functionality and tailoring ease, ROI Systems' stable presence in the ERP market for over two decades, and its high percentage of pleased clients convinced the group that this was a partnership that promised success for CBSS and their future clients.

This is Part 2 of a two-part news analysis.
 
Part 1 covered recent developments with ROI Systems and how the company was meeting its goals.

Expansion Continues

While the company cannot be regarded as leader in the market and as its customer base amounts to less than 700, primarily (90%) North American enterprises, the long-term tenure and experience of ROI's staff and the less traumatic upgrade path of the product offerings have not yet left any customer in the lurch. This fact may be a compelling incentive for companies to opt for the vendor. Expanding incrementally, with modest goals and close attention to the bottom line, and leveraging a tried-and-true business model, partnerships and technologies has been ROI Systems' formula of success. Its recent solid financial performance may put the company in the position of being able to move forward with its plans for further needed product enhancements, staffing expansion and company growth, at a time when many of its peers continue to struggle.

The company has always made every effort to ensure an easy and bug free migration path when introducing new technology and/or product releases. Probably unique in the industry is the fact that all its customers are running on the current product version releases. This state of affairs sounds like nirvana, as one might not dare to estimate how many companies still run on several generations old ERP product releases (e.g., SAP R/3 v. 3.1, Oracle Applications v. 10.7, PeopleSoft v. 6 & 7, J.D. Edwards' World Software, Baan IV, SSA GT's BPCS v.5, and so on).

A painless upgrade should be the case also with ROI's most recent version 7.0 of its MANAGE 2000 software suite, despite the fact that it now integrates traditional ERP features with customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and e-business collaboration capabilities. Release 7.0, which is based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML) for easier access, navigation, and global interfacing, is indeed a significant evolution for the suite, adding functions such as field service, Internet real-time sales order processing (eSOP) and status reporting, purchase consignments, work order splitting, Internet service request management, vendor-managed inventory (VMI), and expanded advanced planning and scheduling (APS).

ROI Systems seems to have benefited from the prudently cautious approach of medium-size manufacturers. They first strive to establish an enterprise wide infrastructure they can rely upon, before extending outwards. One good place to start these enterprise extensions would be order management, to ensure the process from customer interaction to shop floor execution is seamlessly made through a fully integrated back office. To that end, MANAGE 2000's eSOP module is a real-time order entry mechanism. It does not simply access a database in batch mode. It also does not hold captured orders for subsequent batch processing or manual reentry. Customer' orders can be entered as quotes for review prior to their conversion into orders or can be booked directly into the system. As the order develops, customers can view its contents, total cost and other details. They can also perform many required changes such as the item quantity, delivery dates, and ship-to address, and can recalculate the order afterwards.

This is only an example of ROI Systems' long attempt to provide the holistic, enterprise wide lead-time reduction approach, it refers to as the quick response manufacturing (QRM) concept. For that purpose, it has harnessed ERP, as a medium that should accelerate information through the entire enterprise and should supposedly provide instant access to information when it is needed and to those who need it. Engineering change order (ECO) control, vendor managed inventory (VMI), mobile configure to order (CTO) facility, available to promise (ATP) calculations, sales consignments/point of use (POU) inventory techniques, flow manufacturing concepts, repetitive order groups (ROG) planning/scheduling, master production rate-based scheduling (MPRS), distribution requirements planning (DRP), preventive plant maintenance scheduling, product change collaboration (PCC), EDI and electronic funds transfer (EFT), and manufacturing lead-time (MLT) management/monitoring are numerous examples of QRM practices that ROI Systems has instilled pervasively throughout all of its MANAGE 2000 modules.

The company may continue to be successful even in the current economic slowdown by successfully addressing the concerns of smaller manufacturers, who while often intimidated by the perceived complexity of enterprise applications, still need to get on board with fundamental e-business capabilities and to remain agile.

Challenges

Nonetheless, room for improvement remains within ROI Systems. Owing to its sort of a stealth operation and past modest but steady growth and with 20 sales and business partner offices in the US, Canada, and Australia, ROI Systems has achieved only a small market presence in general. This is reflected in limited brand awareness and an undeveloped worldwide channel outside the US. This is further aggravated by the fact that while its product exhibits basic multi-national capabilities it supports only the English language. The result may be a number of missed opportunities as some companies may be seeking global providers for its entire supply chain management requirements. Also, some customers still appreciate a dose of flamboyance and display of power from their prospective vendors.

Moreover, some MANAGE 2000 modules do not offer distinguishing intrinsic functionality (although there have been a number of readily available interfaces to 3rd-party specialist products) even within the "native" discrete manufacturing areas (e.g., complex project management & accounting, multi-national financial consolidation, quality management, forecasting, warehouse management, sales & purchase contracts, and contact management & marketing campaigns). The same holds for the human resources (HR) and payroll modules. Technologically, the product may not be the most suitable as a solution for complex enterprises, worldwide dispersed, with strong requirements on distributed infrastructure, security and so on.

Also, the company has been less aggressive in pronouncing its strategy for supporting Microsoft .NET architecture framework, whereas some competitors like Made2Manage, Epicor, Navision, Lilly Software and Microsoft Great Plains have (at least vocally) been busy delivering the first software components based on that architecture. ROI Systems also trails these competitors in its application service providers (ASP)/hosting, and private trade exchange (PTX) strategy and delivery, which could still be appealing to its target market. Nevertheless, given the above indications, one should expect enhancements along these lines some time in the future, should ROI start hearing louder voices of its prospective customers in that regard. Given that the vast majority of its customers are on the latest product release, they may be better off than the users of more advanced products on the paper but on years-old versions.

User Recommendations

The companies that would benefit from evaluating ROI Systems product offering are technologically less aggressive, small to medium (with $10-$500 million in revenue) repetitive and make-to-order discrete manufacturers in North America and other English speaking countries (or divisions of larger North American and enterprises from these countries), with a need for solid production planning, engineering, finance, sales, service, business intelligence, and collaborative e-commerce functionality.

The industries that would most likely benefit from using MANAGE 2000 are electronics & computer equipment, industrial & transportation equipment, fabricated products, wood & lumber, furniture, rubber & plastics, consumer products, and medical devices. Multi-national and companies looking for a much broader functionality beyond traditional ERP boundaries (e.g., more intricate CRM, or complex project management/engineer-to-order (ETO) functionality) from a single vendor may benefit from evaluating other products at this stage. ROI Systems should be included on a short list in selections within the SME manufacturing market where configure-to-order (CTO) assembly, repetitive/flow manufacturing, distribution, shop floor execution, and field service modules are the main pillars (bear a high importance) of an enterprise application.

 

This concludes Part 2 of a two-part news analysis.
 
Part 1 covered recent developments with ROI Systems and how the company was meeting its goals.

 
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