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Is there still life left in the old MAN(MAN)?
New Surround strategy takes center stage at CAMUS manufacturing conference
By Cortlandt Wilson
Is there still life in 25-year-old, so-called legacy software? Many users of the HP 3000 version of the MANMAN manufacturing business system say there is. In MANMANs heyday the key technology for manufacturing systems was manufacturing resources planning (MRP) a class of algorithm for matching available inventory and purchasing decisions to manufacturing demand. As MRP matured it became more integrated with advanced concepts for forecasting, planning, and shop floor scheduling, among others. Advanced concepts for integrating and coordinating business activity such as supply chain management led to the concept of enterprise resource planning (ERP). Todays MANMAN advocates are faced with pressure to move off so-called legacy technology and onto the advanced functionality of newer ERP systems. Many companies seem willing to pay the costs and shoulder the risks of implementing new systems, in order to get the added functionality and flexibility which the new technologies and applications promise.
While MANMAN lacks many of the advanced features of some
it was always an enterprise-wide management system. The
four modules that are what most users think of as
manufacturing (MRP), OMAR (Order Management/AR), accounts
and general ledger. The challenge for MANMAN advocates is
the business case that a MANMAN-based solution provides the
benefits of the competitive ERP systems at a notably lower cost
and level of risk. MANMAN consultants and vendors have
to this challenge with a diverse and expanding offering of
and strategic after-market solutions. These solutions
and surround the existing backbone of MANMAN functionality.
surround strategy extends the useful life of existing
without sacrificing the business requirements for
Bridging is what I call a surround strategy
that brings best-of-breed
solutions to MANMAN today that are already being used by
next generation applications from the BOPS
(Baan, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP).
The case for the surround strategies is fulfilling
for advanced functionality and flexibility without the high
and risk of ripping out and completely replacing existing
and technologies. Several years ago I predicted the growth and
emergence of a new kind of after-market products and
MANMAN. Reality has exceeded my expectations, and even a brief
summary of all the offerings would exceed the scope of this
Two lists of MANMAN-compatible products are available: a
catalog for members of the CAMUS International users group and an
online catalog hosted at my Web
The surround strategy and interfacing new technology was
theme of user talks and vendor presentations at this
International conference, held in February in Austin, Texas. On
the exhibition floor, for instance, attendees could see
from three of the five vendors of MANMAN-compatible,
sales order entry systems. (If you knew where to look, all five
of these vendors were represented at HP World 97.)
One of those order entry systems vendors was MANMAN itself, in the form of the MK Group (www.mkgroup.org), the independent business unit of Computer Associates which now owns MANMAN. Opal is a client-server development technology owned by Computer Associates that uses a screen scraping technology along with ODBC on its back end. At the MK Groups instigation Opal now can understands HP 700 terminal protocols for character and block mode screens. On the front end Opal provides your choice of either a windows client-server interface or a web-enabled interface. The MK Group has developed Opal versions of a few key MANMAN screens. MKs VP of Software Development Jeff Straw says that the MANMAN/Opal screens will be in beta test at a customer site in March.
The MK Groups newest strategic Surround partner,
Trilogy Development Group, was at CAMUS in force.
product was a product configurator an implementation
of a type
of artificial intelligence that ensures complex products
with all the right pieces and at the right price. Today,
sells a suite of integrated modules that support and automate
the sales and marketing process.
The MK/Trilogy partnership is so new that, as of late
the partners were still working out pricing to better fit the
midrange manufacturing system market. For its strategic
with complementary products, the MK Group acts as primary
with responsibility for first-level support. For its preferred
solution relationships, it only recommends and provides
for the third- party products.
The MK Groups family of complementary solutions
and solutions for product data management (part, BOM, and
document control), advanced planning and scheduling, plant
sales tax, end user reporting, and OLAP (analytical
warehousing). MKs Straw said MK is creating
The MK Group is a relative newcomer to the complementary
market. For the past few years long time third-party
consultants have been offering a growing menu of
solutions ranging from host-based programs designed to look
another MANMAN command to client server systems. Pricing on
of the solutions is often very reasonable. Some of the
are designed specifically to work with MANMAN. In other cases,
vendors provide interfaces to products that were designed
a business need such as service and repair, product data
advanced MRP, or data warehousing.
In many cases the MANMAN interfaces are created and
by experienced MANMAN consultants. In some cases the question
is not only whether to integrate a third party solution
but which competing pre-integrated solution to buy. All
means that MANMAN customers have a choice between applications,
types of integration (shrink-wrapped or
roll your own), and
MANMAN customers at the CAMUS conference commended MK
improved level of support, when compared to a few years
speak positively of a sense of guarded confidence in the
managers who have been showing up at such user groups all over
the US. Available functionality, strong support, and customer
confidence are critical success factors for a software company.
For CA, known for its tight, centralized management style, the
success formula may well be to leave well enough alone.
Cortlandt Wilson is a software consultant specializing in MANMAN on the HP 3000, and the co-chair of INTEREX SIGConsult and serves on the board of SIG MANMAN/Choices.