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What you should seek after a merger

HP 3000 customers migrate through a field of choices these days. And these are days of consolidation in the applications industry, especially on the platforms of Unix and other enterprise-only solutions. We keep hearing stories about the gap between promises and performance, between deadline and delays, while 3000 sites search for replacement applications.

This kind of disconnect rears its head highest when a prospective supplier gets acquired. Terri Glendon Lanza, one of the ERP community's top consultants, used the MANMAN mailing list to share an article from the APICS News about what to expect and what to ask when your new app provider, creating a replacement application, suddenly gets a new parent.

Lanza quoted the article Does Anyone Care by Al Bukey, founder of ABCO Engineering

The client asked me to provide advice on how to handle the situation when mergers and acquisitions cause the recently acquired vendors to respond late and have their decision-making capabilities interrupted, despite repeated assurances. The comforting words and assurances from the vendor that everything will be for the better should be taken cautiously.

Support is promised for every acquired product, at first. MANMAN, the ERP solution of longest tenure in the 3000 community, even got a "we'll support it until the bolts fall out" pledge from new owner SSA Global several years ago. SSA is now part of Infor, and we're not sure where all those bolts have gone today.

Bukey summarizes this kind of situation and tells what to expect:

Eventually, this new software vendor will ask its customers to move to the new platform or encourage them to do so by increasing the cost of support and maintenance. Sometimes the support will be completely cut off, or some other impediment will arise. While support may continue to be offered in some form or another, the cost will reach a point where most companies will have to decide to change from the current situation.

In some cases, when the acquired or merged company has a strong offering and a satisfied user community, a slightly different approach may be taken. As a client, you will get support regardless.

No company is immune from an eventual merger or acquisition, therefore, no decision is safe today. This is one of the reasons end users steadily push concepts such as open source and standards. It is also a strong driver of new technologies such as the new service-oriented architecture (SOA) where the hope is that any new functionality needed in the future may not necessarily have to come from the original supplier.