Wednesday Apr 23, 2014

The Death of the RFP?

by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

IT buying processes have evolved over the last decade to leverage the power of the internet. For many, it has not evolved fast enough or far enough. The traditional software buying process (as I describe in "The (R)Evolution in IT Buying Behavior) is ponderous, expensive, and produces variable results. Buyers and vendors alike are frustrated.

The Role of Enterprise Software Review Sites 

Enterprise software review sites—such as Software Advice, G2 Crowd, and TrustRadius—are to IT buyers as sites like Amazon, Yelp, and Expedia are to consumers. Online advice & reviews—with some caveats—works exceptionally well for consumers. The question many IT buyers are asking now is, “What role should software review sites play in my buying process?”

To find answers to that question, I interviewed experts in the Oracle community as well as the founders of several software review  sites. I learned they can serve as a valuable source of information and influence as part of a comprehensive and balanced selection process. Buyers seeking fundamental knowledge during early stages can save time and money when trying to get to a short list of vendors. Likewise, user reviews can swing the pendulum one way or another when everything else looks equal. And the weight placed on any advice will vary based on each IT buyer’s circumstances.

The Basics

Not that long ago, vendors, industry analysts, and consulting firms were seen as the exclusive gatekeepers to knowledge.Now, software review sites are intended to bring the power of knowledge to all IT buyers by providing access to vast resources of online product information and reviews.

But buying enterprise software is not the same as renting a hotel room for a night. With the power of knowledge comes responsibility. IT buyers seeking online advice need to understand how these sites work.

Buyers want three types of information:

  • Functional—what does the solution do and not do?
  • Comparative—how does one solution differ from another?
  • Experiential—did the solution deliver value to users as expected?

Each software review site provides some blend of these via a combination of three formats:

  • Directory—a repository of vendors and product information gathered from publicly-available data, vendors, and reviewers
  • User reviews—a crowdsourced forum reflecting the experiences of product users
  • Analysis—validation and assessment applied by the resources of software review sites, both people and technology
Ultimately, software buyers will determine the fate of each site. One way or the other, their actions will or will not drive revenue to each site and determine its financial viability.

In this series:

  1. The (R)Evolution of IT Buying Behavior--including steps in the traditional software buying process
  2. The Death of the RFP?- the basics on software review sites
  3. How Software Review Sites Are Like Apples-including how such sites are not all the same
  4. A Two-Way Street for Software Vendors?-including why you won't find every product on every software review site

Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

Thursday Apr 17, 2014

People First! The Priority for Midsize Companies


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

Early in my technology career, I conducted an ROI assessment to help a very large customer update their HCM business processes across seven operating entities and tens of thousands of employees.

Their HR department was a room full of desks, each covered with stacks of blue paper cards. A legion of clerks each spent forty hours a week transferring hand written data from the cards into a main frame system. The scary part? The decision was to be based entirely on anticipated cost savings, not benefits. That was only a dozen years ago!

HR used to be at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to IT spending. Today, Human Capital Management and Talent Management solutions are surging to the top of the priority list at both midsize and enterprise companies. Finally, everyone seems to agree that people are a company's most important asset.

I asked Richard Atkins, EVP of Oracle Cloud applications for UK based Certus Solutions, what is driving investments in Oracle's Human Capital Management.

 "Cloud has changed everything," says Atkins. "We used to work almost exclusively with large enterprises. Now, most of our new clients are growing midsize companies with global operations. Our Cloud solutions enable them to deploy best practices fast and affordably. It's that simple."

Certus works with clients in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and India. Most are either replacing a Tier 2 solution or have never had an HCM solution in place. In some regions, best practices for recruitment are a priority while, in others, the focus is on internal talent management.

"Our clients with global operations often need to cover both these scenarios,” says Atkins. “On the recruitment side, with social media and other options, it's almost becoming harder to find the right talent because there is just so much information out there. In areas where there still isn’t budget for hiring, internal talent management—like learning—is the priority. Oracle’s HCM cloud solutions covers all these needs for recruitment, social sourcing, learning, and core talent management. Clients have so much more information to make hiring decisions and to more easily spot the right people internally and retain the skills they need."

Growing Midsize Companies Want HCM Best Practices and Mobile

Certus clients are also eager to adopt best practices. "We rarely do requirements gathering anymore," says Atkins. "To our customers, the word 'standardization' is music to their ears. They want an out of the box system that delivers best practices quickly. They are encouraged by the ability of cloud solutions to deliver on that."

And mobile applications have massive appeal. “The kind of company looking at cloud solutions usually has a very mobile workforce,” says Atkins. “Senior management and, often, the entire workforce are working off smartphones and tablets. Oracle’s solutions work beautifully across those devices.”


Find out more about Oracle’s HCM Cloud And Taleo Cloud Service solutions if you’re ready to go mobile, enhance your learning programs, source talent socially, recruit more efficiently, or just replace your version of the blue card. See what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has to say about managing your most precious assets.


Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 

Wednesday Apr 09, 2014

Yummy! KIND Snacks selects Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Demantra to Support Business Growth


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

Oracle and KIND Healthy Snacks issued a press release yesterday, "KIND Healthy Snacks Selects Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle’s Demantra to Support Business Growth".

That's delicious news for several reasons.

First, KIND's  Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bar (pictured above) happens to be my favorite hiking, biking, and skiing snack. It's scrumptious and when you bite into it you see exactly what it's made of, unlike so many other energy foods on the market. You have to be careful how you pack it though, as I've melted a couple in my backpack on hot sunny hikes.

The press release states, "After evaluating more than a dozen different solutions, KIND selected Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 and Oracle's Demantra to help drive efficiencies and achieve the flexibility required to capitalize on the opportunities presented by fast growth and an ever-changing marketplace". Since I'm writing a blog series on “The (R)Evolution in IT Buyer Behavior” I look forward to learning about how KIND went about their selection process.

And finally, I'm excited that this is an Oracle Business Accelerator project. Again, from the press release, " KIND used Oracle Business Accelerators and the Syntax Accelerate Methodology to reduce the overall project risk and increase the speed of their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne application deployment".

That's a lot of good news from one press release. I'll enjoy a KIND bar at the top of Evergreen Mountain on my mountain bike ride in Alderfer Three Sisters Park this evening, along with a few sticks of red licorice and maybe a micro-brew beer. I know...there's no accounting for personal taste.


Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 





Monday Mar 31, 2014

“The (R)Evolution in IT Buyer Behavior”


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize

To understand how IT buyer behavior is changing, we need to remember where we’ve been. Put yourself in a time machine and imagine life in 1999--not that different to life in 1963 and the office of Don Draper in Mad Men. Men still wore suits to the office every day; women wore dresses. Except I don't think Don had casual Fridays. 

BTW- the image above is inspired by, "Mod Men : The World of Mad Men Through a 21st-Century Lens", by Doug Levy, Staff copywriter and editor for the Shutterstock blog.

Just like Don's office demeanor would not be appropriate today...IT managers shouldn't be making software selection decisions like they did in 1999. Back then, everyone was worrying about Y2K like it was the resurgence of the Black Death.

Back in the last century, Don Draper might have thought it was OK to knock back three martinis at lunch. And sometimes IT managers thought it acceptable behavior to spend a hundred grand and six months picking a software solution. 

Back then, here’s how the IT buying process proceeded:

  1. Appoint a Selection Manager
  2. Gather Requirements
  3. Write An RFP (Requirements Document)
  4. Circulate the RFP
  5. Review Responses
  6. Build a Short List
  7. Vendor presentations
  8. Negotiate
  9. Purchase

The trouble with this software selection process: takes too long, costs too much , and may produce inconsistent results.

IT buyers today have so many more resources at their command--social networks, online peer groups, software review websites, and-most important of all-years of experience. Yet everyone I speak with tells me that RFPs are getting bigger, harder to produce, and harder for vendors to respond to.  Shouldn't the process be easier?

Next up...Enterprise Software Review Sites - What Role Will They Play?”

Next week, ll be sharing what I learned from conversations with the founders of three of the most popular and innovative software review and advice web sites:

In this series:

  1. The (R)Evolution of IT Buying Behavior--including steps in the traditional software buying process
  2. The Death of the RFP?- the basics on software review sites
  3. How Software Review Sites Are Like Apples-including how such sites are not all the same
  4. A Two-Way Street for Software Vendors?-including why you won't find every product on every software review site



Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

Wednesday Mar 12, 2014

"Spreadsheets are Perfect for Planning & Budgeting," said no one. Ever.


by Jim Lein, Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies

I started using spreadsheets for planning and budgeting a loooooooooooooong time ago when I was controller for a chain of ski shops. Pretty simple stuff. A couple of dozen lines.  I can't imagine what it must be like to use them today for complex budgeting, forecasting, and planning functions. It would give me an ice cream headache.

My colleague Jennifer Toomey, Sr. Director of Marketing in our Business Analytics Product Group, tells me that 75% finance managers still rely on spreadsheets for financial planning and budget control.

You want to hear something really scary?

Research studies have showed that vast majority of spreadsheets-88% in this study--have errors and those errors are costing companies billions

Thousands of growing companies have replaced spreadsheets with Oracle's top rated Hyperion planning and forecasting solutions. As of February 18, Oracle customers now have another option,  Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS).

Oracle PBCS is not simply Oracle Hyperion in the cloud. It’s a next generation SaaS solution that reflects a major architectural rework and a vastly improved user experience. Oracle PBCS delivers on the cloud's promise of simplicity, low upfront cost, and fast time to value expected of a cloud solution while delivering the enterprise level functionality previously found only in on premise planning and budgeting products. It runs on an Oracle Engineered Systems platform, and enables fast processing of complex calculations for large volumes of data through optimal use of Cloud memory and resources. 

I encourage you to download Jennifer's recently published whitepaper, "Accelerating EPM Deployment with Planning in the Cloud" or watch this video to learn more.


UK-based Oracle partner Qubix Now Offers an Oracle Accelerate Solution for Oracle Planning Cloud

This week, I also spoke with Paul Johnston, GM at UK-based Qubix International, about their Oracle Accelerate Solution for Oracle Planning Cloud. Qubix was the first company to implement Hyperion Planning in the UK and has completed more than 150 Hyperion and related customer engagements

Johnston says there is a large, under-served market of growing companies that don’t yet know about Oracle’s great story for planning and budgeting. Qubix’s new solution unlocks a pricing and delivery model that both provides a fresh way of communicating that story and makes robust planning and budgeting capabilities accessible to companies of any size.

“Our clients will see a 30-40% cost savings when compared to a traditional on premise deployment,” says Johnston. “Plus, a traditional on premise project spanned 4-6 months. We deliver Oracle PBCS in 30, 60, or 90 days based on which pricing tier the client chooses-Express, Professional, or Enterprise. The idea is keep it simple and affordable without compromising capabilities.”

Qubix's solution features pre-built apps—ready to go templates that are free to customers. These apps complement the work Oracle has done by transforming the Qubix engagement from a deployment to a collaborative “fit-to-gap"  analysis.

Visit Qubix's Planning in the Cloud page to learn more about their solution, including access to their new TCO calculator


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Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 

Tuesday Nov 05, 2013

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too: Industry Best Practices + Flexibility


By Richard Garraputa, VP of Sales & Marketing, brij

Richard joined brij in 1996 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with degrees in Information Systems and Accounting. He directs brij’s overall strategies of both the business development and marketing departments.

Companies looking for new ERP systems spend so much time comparing features and functions of software products but too often short change the value of their own processes.  Company managers I meet often claim that they are implementing a new ERP system so they can perform better and faster.  When asked how, the answer is often “by implementing best practices”.  But the term ‘best practices’ is frequently used to mean ‘doing things the way everyone else does them’ rather than a starting point or benchmark to build upon by adding your own value.

Of course, implementing standardized processes across an enterprise is an important step in improving operational efficiencies.  But not all companies are alike.  Do you ever tell your customers “We are just like our competition and have no competitive differentiation”?  Probably not.  So why should the implementation of your business processes be just like your competitor’s?  Even within the same industry, companies differentiate themselves by leveraging their unique expertise and approach to business.  These unique aspects—the competitive differentiators that companies use to thrive in a crowded marketplace—can and should be supported by the implementation of business systems like ERP.

Modern ERP systems like Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne have a broad and deep functional footprint designed to integrate a company’s core operations.  But how can a company take advantage of this footprint without blowing up their implementation budget?  Some ERP vendors claim to solve this challenge by stating that their systems come pre-configured with ‘best practices’.  Too often what they are really saying is that you will have to abandon your key operational differentiators to fit a vendor’s template for your business—or extend your implementation and postpone the realization of any benefits.

Thankfully for midsize companies, there is an alternative to the undesirable options of extended implementation projects or abandoning their competitive differentiators.  Oracle Accelerate Solutions speed the time it takes to implement JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution based on your unique business characteristics, getting your new ERP system up and running faster without forcing your business to fit a cookie-cutter solution. We’ve been a JD Edwards implementation partner since 1986 and we now leverage Oracle Business Accelerators—cloud based rapid implementation tools built and maintained by Oracle. Oracle Business Accelerators deliver the benefits of embedded industry best practices without forcing every customer in to one set of processes like many template or “clone and go” approaches do. You retain the ability to reconfigure your applications—without customization—as your business changes.

Wielded by Oracle partners with industry-specific domain expertise, Oracle Accelerate Solution implementations powered by Oracle Business Accelerators help automate the application configuration to fit your business better, faster. For example, on a recent project at a manufacturing company, the project manager told me that Oracle Business Accelerators helped get them to Conference Room Pilot 20% faster than with a traditional approach. Time savings equal cost savings.

And if ‘better and faster’ is your goal for your business performance, shouldn’t it be the goal for your ERP implementation as well?

Established in 1986, brij has been dedicated solely to helping its customers implement Oracle’s JD Edwards solutions and to maximize the value of those customers’ IT investments. They are a Gold level member in Oracle PartnerNetwork and an Oracle Accelerate Solution provider.

Wednesday Feb 01, 2012

Oracle Partners Worldwide Deliver Expanded Portfolio of Oracle Accelerate Solutions for Midsize Companies

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies continues to gain momentum.

Read the full press release HERE.  

Monday Nov 21, 2011

Follow Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies on Facebook

Click HERE to go our page and 'like' it.

Register for the webcast, " Modernizing Applications - The Top IT Project" Wednesday, November 30, 9:00 a.m. PT / 12:00 p.m. ET

 

Due to the realities of the 'New Normal' economy, many midsize companies are replacing or upgrading their legacy enterprise applications.

Larry Simcox, Sr. Director of the Oracle Accelerate Program Office, will lead a discussion on the 'why' and the 'how' featuring an impressive list of panelists: 

  • Eric Kimberling, President & Chairman, Panorama Consulting
  • Lyle Ekdahl, GVP & General Manager, Oracle's JD Edwards Enterprise Applications
  • Jeanne Lowell, VP, Oracle's E-Business Suite Strategy.


Click HERE to register.

Monday Nov 14, 2011

Oracle E-Business Suite and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne are well positioned in Nucleus Research Technology Value Matrix

 

 Both E-Business Suite and JD Edwards are ranked high for usability and functionality.

Download the report HERE.


Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies is now on Facebook

 

 Like it if you'd like...

Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies

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