SSA stokes Baan fires for MANMAN sites
CAMUS conference call unveils migration plan for
SSA Global Technologies wants to light a fire under
its MANMAN customer base, hoping to spark a migration onto Baan ERP
software and away from the venerable ERP application which runs on
hundreds of HP 3000 systems.
SSA purchased the Baan application suite and customer
base during 2003, after buying the MANMAN software and customer
contracts in 2002. Now the vendor is encouraging the MANMAN sites to
migrate to Baan as an interim step on the way to a new SSA ERP for
Open Systems, expected to be ready in 2006.
Some preliminary details on the plan emerged during a
nationwide US conference call set up by the CAMUS manufacturing user
group. Sue Peyton, the solutions manager for SSA, ran through a
prepared set of PowerPoint slides and then took questions from six
regional CAMUS gatherings.
Peyton fielded those questions while waiting for a
flight at an airport, so the customers only had 25 minutes to get
clarification on the MANMAN Futures part of the
presentation. The briefing set up for CAMUS also included advisories
for the MK and MANMAN/DEC customers who were attending the CAMUS RUG
SSA has been in acquisition mode for the last two
years, and the company believes it has purchased enough companies to
emerge as a survivor in the ERP field, which is undergoing
consolidation. The Baan purchase, according to Peyton, has let SSA
expand the number of industries which its solutions serve, while
maintaining a software solution which can serve more general
Its our objective to turn the ERP systems
themselves into the central hub for the enterprise, Peyton
said. We will focus our future development activities on
workflow processing, process management, event management and alerts,
elevating the process up out of the transaction base of the specific
This improvement to SSAs ERP solutions will
happen over a two to five-year window, in an evolutionary
manner. Even though the advice about Baan was the primary news
out of the call, the company wanted its HP 3000 customers to
understand that migrating to Baan ERP 5.0C, expected to be ready in
mid-2004, is optional.
By no means are we mandating that people move
to the Baan solution, Peyton said. Of course, if they
have a focus on process manufacturing, or industry drivers to
migrate, then its all based on specific issues.
MANMAN clients can stay on the 3000 and
homestead, Peyton added. We will continue to support you
beyond 2006. They also have a choice of moving to an iSeries
solution, or a smaller footprint environment.
Birket Foster, HP Platinum migration partner and an
attendee at the CAMUS meeting in Austin, commented that customers
would have to be migrating twice in four years if the
3000 shops moved to Baan, and then onward to SSAs new ERP suite
I would wait until they get the Open SSA done
in two to five years, and then take a look at it, Foster said.
His firm sells software and supports MANMAN HP 3000 sites which build
data marts for the information inside MANMAN modules.
SSA hasnt given those 3000 sites any hope of
seeing more features in the MPE/iX version of MANMAN. Support will
continue indefinitely for the application, but customers at the
meetings were left wondering how much support contracts might cost in
a few years. Several customers on the call were asking Peyton about
how Baan and MANMAN source code licenses will be handled in the
License questions were handled carefully by the SSA
official, who referred such questions to the customers sales
and contracts channel. These customers want source code under their
control to be able to continue customizing the application on their
own, outside of SSAs future plans.
Customers who want to follow SSAs integration
plans dont have much advantage to begin early. Whatever
the integration points are today, they will be the same
tomorrow, Peyton said. Baan software didnt have a healthy
reputation among attendees in the Austin CAMUS RUG meeting. Several
managers said theyd had experience with Baan as a company or an
application that wouldnt encourage them to switch.
Of two minds
During the same conference call, Peyton said that SSA
is preparing a homesteading fact sheet for 3000 customers
who dont want to move away from their ERP application. The
company also will offer extension products that will work with the
latest release of MANMAN, and we have begun discussions with HP
to try to come up with some equally interesting programs.
In May the company announced it would poll its users
to find out how many wanted a port of MANMAN to HP-UX. Only two sites
have expressed interest, and Peyton said in May the company would
need 150 sites committed to such a project by Dec. 31.
Since we are only five weeks to the deadline
for that decision, I have a very strong feeling this is not going to
take place, she said.
SSA has told the customers it will let them trade a
MANMAN license, user for user, for any other product in the SSA ERP
lineup on another platform. The company will do data conversion on
any standard data structures as part of this no-cost switch
although customers at the RUG meeting said few sites now have
standard data structures, after years of customization.
SSA located 467 customers to survey in July about the
sites plans to migrate. A little less than 20 percent responded
to the survey, and 36 percent of those companies plan to stay on
their HP 3000s with MANMAN beyond 2006. Another 29 percent will make
a decision about their transition by the beginning of 2005, and 27
percent of the respondents plan to replace MANMAN and their HP 3000s.
Fewer than a third of the migrating customers had even chosen an
Peyton said that a spring SSA survey of a different
set of customers showed more than half were planning to stay beyond
2006. The tendency seems to be that more people are planning to
replace their applications, Peyton said.
At the same time SSA is offering replacement software
for MANMAN, the company is working with HP to look at other
emulators that will allow you to run MANMAN on another
platform. Details on the emulation choices should be available
by the CAMUS conference in May, 2004.
While IT managers at ERP sites usually work to
minimize application changes, at least one at the Austin meeting said
hes welcoming the push away from the HP 3000. Dale Long of
RhinoPak, a Houston firm which packages automotive fluids such as
antifreeze and oil, said HPs sunset of the 3000 gives him a
chance to improve business processes at the company.
I want to move, but I need to make my
case, Long said. It will force us to change the business
processes. Right now, our processes are set up so every invoice is
manual. An invoice doesnt occur because we made something for
our customers. An invoice should be a system event, but its not
Customers at the Austin RUG meeting decided that at
the least, SSA had given them a negotiation point with other ERP
vendors by offering a no-cost license switch. While that is an
advantage in shopping for a replacement product, HPs decision
to stop supporting the 3000 is making customers leave applications
like MANMAN, programs which were working well enough to leave alone.
Valerie Stillwell, systems support manager at San Marcos, Texas-based
Thermon, said the HP decision will spark such moves.
When they announced the 3000 was going to go
away, I think there were a lot of companies whose management jumped
on that as a chance to change applications, she said.
Their IT staffs had been putting it off for years, saying the
system was stable. This kind of forced our hands.