SSA Seeks Support from Synquest

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SSA Seeks Support from Synquest
S. McVey - October 1st, 1999

Event Summary

On Sept. 28, System Software Associates announced a joint marketing and development agreement with SynQuest, Inc. The deal will enable SSA to sell SynQuest Manufacturing Manager software to its existing customer base and to prospective customers globally. In addition, both companies will jointly develop software to integrate SynQuest Manufacturing Manager software with eBPCS, SSA's enterprise resource planning (ERP) application suite. The arrangement will target discrete manufacturing industry segments, which account for about 50 percent of SSA's installed base.

Market Impact

Occurring less than a month after rival mid-market ERP vendor J. D. Edwards announced a similar alliance, SSA's move is an attempt to reverse the lack of market enthusiasm for its Unix products, a major contributor to the company's financial distress. SynQuest offers a mature Unix-based supply chain management product focused squarely on the discrete manufacturing and high tech industries. Although SSA developed a Unix product as early as 1993, the first release, BPCS Client/Server 5.1, achieved almost no market acceptance. Version 6.0 followed in April 1996, but has accounted for less than 15% of license revenues in recent years. With flagging revenues from its large AS/400 customer base, SSA is desperately seeking acceptance of its Unix and NT platforms in order to stave off further financial decline. To be successful, SSA must combat offerings from more dominant vendors SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft and even Baan, all of whom are aggressively pursuing the mid-market. J. D. Edwards, though later to market with its own Unix-compliant offering, OneWorld (late 1996), has managed to make some inroads into the Unix market.

In the short term, SynQuest is unlikely to derive significant benefits from the alliance as the existing BPCS Unix installed base is very small. If the companies are successful in quickly integrating their products, then SSA gains an advantage only if it can convince its existing customer base to consider at least a partial move to Unix or NT. The success of the alliance depends heavily on new SSA Chairman and CEO Robert Carpenter's ability to improve execution of the company's product development organization.

User Recommendations

While current BPCS users should look favorably on the planned joint development, it will be at least six months before a stable integrated product emerges. At that time, only users in the discrete manufacturing, high tech, or perhaps automotive industries should consider purchasing SynQuest Manufacturing Manager. Mid-market companies that wish to move to an ERP system that contains integrated supply chain management capabilities should steer clear of SSA until it can demonstrate a return to financial viability.

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