analysis, big ERP, big maintenace, computers, worker

One of the bigger manufacturing business systems-related news of the past few years was SAP’s announcement that it is terminating support in 2025 for its widely used ECC 6 ERP platform. Rival Oracle, while not (yet) announcing an official end-of-life date for its JD Edwards platform, has reportedly been pressuring customers to migrate to its cloud platform while scaling back on JD Edwards R&D.

These situations have spurred speculation about both software giants’ motives, their commitment to global manufacturing industries, and the fate of their customers’ future technology needs as their offering for ERP software support dwindles. A few of the loudest voices come from large third-party maintenance providers that call into question the viability of these replacement ERP platforms (especially SAP’s S/4HANA), and offer a warning about the high costs of implementation.

But these “Big Maintenance” vendors’ broader complaint is that “Big ERP” vendors like SAP and Oracle built their business models on the ability to “lock in” customers, making them forever captive to one proprietary technology.

This has led to highly public dust-ups between the two sides, including some bruising legal battles. But it has mostly involved a lot of name-calling, some of it uncomfortably nasty.

Big ERP vs Big Maintenance

Here’s a sampling of what the large third-party maintenance (“Big Maintenance”) providers have to say:

(B)usinesses feel that they are being pressured into giving up their existing ERP system and moving on to another, just because the vendor can use this to grow its business. They’re right…but it should be the customer’s choice whether to move…” — Mark Smith, CEO, Support Revolution

In effect, by creating S4/HANA, SAP has produced the equivalent of offering its customers a smaller, faster car for commuting to work on streets that retain all the same speed limits as before.” — Rimini Street white paper

Big ERP, on the other hand, has shown restraint in the public arena (though the legal arena is another matter). But they have taken their swings at 3P maintenance providers:

Don’t put your software investment at risk with disreputable third-party support vendors…(that) can’t be trusted to ensure your technology investment is fully protected…(C)ustomers can’t take advantage of new technology to drive business innovation and growth.” — Oracle website

For manufacturers running older systems, and especially those nearing end-of-life support, this presents a big dilemma. Face the cost, complexity and long implementation of moving to a completely new, unproven Big ERP platform, or hope to maintain obsolete (or soon-to-be-obsolete) technology as long as possible?

Who Wins?

Who makes the better case — Big ERP or Big Maintenance? Could they both be right?

Well, there’s a big catch to this.

If these were the only considerations–cost, complexity, risk versus degraded functionality and security–it would be bad enough. But there’s much, much more. And the future of your company is at stake.

We live in unbelievably rapidly changing times. Market pressures, technological and competitive disruptions and ever-shifting global economic and political landscapes present challenges that cannot be ignored by manufacturers “chained” to Big ERP.

To thrive in this disruptive world–to be ready for the oncoming change, to quickly meet the new market demands, to fend off the new competition–you need to be an adaptive enterprise, one that is intelligent, connected and agile.

A Third Way: Adaptable ERP

That’s not going to happen with your Big ERP platform. Big Maintenance is right about that–you’ll be “locked in,” eventually stuck with inflexibility and customizations, unable to adapt. That’s after the many millions of dollars and long, torturous years of implementation.

And that’s not going to happen with your Big Maintenance contract. Big ERP is right about that–all that duct tape and chewing gum on aging infrastructure will get you a great-working VHS player for a few years. But what then? Then it might be too late.

What neither side will tell you is that there’s a third way. To become an adaptive enterprise, you need an adaptive ERP. You need a system that can be deployed globally for dozens or hundreds of sites, measured in months rather than years, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional Big ERP deployment, with no loss of functionality and capability. And one that is agile enough to meet your business needs today and tomorrow.

Does such a solution exist? If you’re caught in the middle of Big ERP and Big Maintenance, learn more by reading this exclusive report and solidify your thinking before approaching your next ERP project.

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