October 04, 2011
Cloud ERP replacement looks for lift off
"Just imagine that all we do is get rid of all your hardware and IT costs. Do we need to talk about anything else?"
Rod Butters is talking up his company's cloud-based ERP replacement for the 3000-based MANMAN app suite. He's standing amid more than 40 IT managers and market experts at the CAMUS user group social, chatting it up in their stretch of the recent HP3000 Reunion. So far what he's got to say to get his share of attention is the stock promise of cloud-sourcing a system.
What's unusual is that Kenandy, Inc. is promising those things for manufacturing sites. Which are the hardest sorts of sites to lift onto the cloud, a strategy that comes down to massive bandwidth, endless storage, rock-solid servers and services from an attentive IT staff. That's your staff that Butters means to replace with Kenandy Manufacturing Management, "built for the Cloud." The software in the Kenandy Manufacturing Cloud app is built on Force.com, salesforce.com's enterprise cloud computing platform.
Terry Floyd -- one of the CAMUS user group officers who's spent a full 40-year-career advising, developing and supporting MANMAN to found The Support Group -- is high on the Kenandy promise. After seeing a 30-minute presentation at the CAMUS meeting, Floyd noted one big advantage to Kenandy: its design and development came from Sandra Kurztig, who's crept just a bit out of retirement after building the first generation of MANMAN.
Floyd, who had his own 90-minute briefing with Kenandy before the CAMUS meet, said that re-thinking is the key to making a new generation of manufacturing software. In a note on CAMUS.org
I think Sandra Kurtzig has done it again with the new Kenandy “no-erp” manufacturing applications. Kenandy was developed over the last year and a half using the SalesForce toolsets which really gave them a good head start. It will be very recognizable to any MANMAN/MFG user, having an Item Master, BOMs, Routings, WO’s, PO’s, demand management and MRP. Apparently Sandy wrote some of the code herself, just like the early days of MANMAN.
One of the roadblocks to putting classic ERP into a Salesforce cloud model is the customizations. HP 3000 sites were so locked in to customization that the MM II application included a Customizer tool. "A lot of people are rethinking all the crazy customizations they've done," Butters said. "This is where Sandra's experience makes a huge difference for us. If we didn't have her insight, this wouldn't be the same."
Kenandy's developers consider "what do you really need to do to make your inventory more effective?" By considering what things genuinely make a difference, people can back away from the complexity of ERP that's been running for decades.
More than four years ago we saw a MANMAN migrator embracing this kind of clean-the-slate thinking. Because this process manufacturer had to leave the HP 3000 platform, the IT manager was anticipating a streamlining of old software that had gotten bloated with this kind of complexity.
Butters claims that the other migration alternatives for ERP, such as SAP or Oracle, can take up to 16 screens to process an order. Force.com uses "a completely connected data model, so it only takes one screen. If you want to get to any piece of information it's probably only two clicks away."
Reliability is crucial to the manufacturing customer, since downtime is more expensive than anything except perhaps web commerce. Cloud apps don't have a spotless reputation at the moment; even Google's go down from time to time. But Kenandy gets the advantage of building on salesforce.com experience for reliability, Butters said. "They've been at this game for some time now, with lots of datacenters, full redundancy, full replication. They have a very managed way for you as a customer to decide when you want to take the new [upgraded] objects into your system."
The company's website suggests that traditional ERP systems don't hold up well "in the new reality of global supply chains. That's because ERP was built for vertically integrated manufacturing, when companies typically produced 80-90 percent of their own products' content, and manufacturing management systems didn't need to handle much beyond the four walls of the plant."
The company has been giving demos since early summer, and it has some companies which are making the switch to cloud-based manufacturing management. Butters wants prospects to sign into a webinar, because "that's an experience where there's actually somebody on the other end who can answer questions." Questions are certain to come up as manufacturers back away from complexity. At least there's the manufacturing insight from a classic founder, Kurtzig, to help with the answers.
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