Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Whale(y) of a Software Problem

Two days ago I read this article in ComputerWorld about Whaley Food Service suing Epicor for a botched ERP software implementation. The budget for the project was about $200K, and the actual cost for a failed implementation exceeded $1M. WOW!

What was Whaley thinking? Personally, I believe there are VERY FEW companies that should consider an "on-site," IT-managed application solution these days. I think this belief is especially pertinent for smaller, service trade oriented companies.

Whaley is in the service trade space that DunnWell also serves. Whaley services food equipment for commercial kitchens and DunnWell services the fire suppression systems that "cover" the hot side food equipment. DunnWell uses NetSuite for our accounting and (minimal) inventory management needs. We use ServiceNET, an application we developed, for managing service delivery (the core of our business). NetSuite is a SaaS application, and we pretty much use a vanilla implementation with minimal customizations. ServiceNET is very much optimized for our service delivery business, and we control our destiny through our development investment.

Epicor offered Whaley an on-site, IT-managed solution that the article claims required many customizations to meet Whaley's requirements. This is a recipe for disaster - and the cooks delivered the disaster in fine fashion. To be fair, the project started in 2006, and SaaS darling Salesforce.com had not yet completely vanquished on-site software implementations to the IT junk heap. But today's lesson for service trade companies is important - do not accept large scale implementation and management risks for software solutions. The days of expensive, high risk software projects are over.

If you are in the service trade business, you should certainly be looking for software solutions to remain competitive in a world where delivering information to your customers, your workers, and your trade partners is probably as important as the service delivery workcraft itself. Both must be very good if you want to compete. But the system you select should just work, you should not manage it, and it should be online and integrated with a social-mobile world. If you haven't found it yet, stay tuned to this channel. We will help you get there.

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