Legacy Software Review: Epicor

epicor
It seems that the opportunity for growth with Epicor cannot be denied. As we see it, Epicor is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, with financial health and strong leadership that forecast good things to come for this Tier 2 ERP vendor.

It seems that the opportunity for growth with Epicor can not be denied. As we see it, Epicor is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, with financial health and strong leadership that forecast good things to come for this Tier 2 ERP vendor. What remains to be seen is what the best path forward will be for Epicor's legacy customers.

Backstory

For nearly 50 years Epicor has striven to provide customers with industry-specific software solutions and services. Epicor was known as Platinum Software Corporation until 1999, when it decided to rebrand based on its size and offerings.

From humble beginnings as a software provider for manufacturing businesses, Epicor's growth helped establish its place in the market as a supply chain and manufacturing software provider. Epicor software is designed to assist organizations in improving control of inventory and field teams, namely manufacturers, distributors, and service companies.

However Epicor has also experienced the growing pains of a transition to the cloud from legacy software.

A Look at Today

Epicor has told current on-premise customers that they will be supported for as long as they want.  In itself, this claim communicates to customers that they are cared for, and that Epicor is not looking to force organizations to transition before they are ready to do so. This seems to be a competitive trend for ERP providers. IFS and Epicor are being patient with their customers in the transition to the cloud. Now that the two providers are going head-to-head in this race, neither can withdraw this offering without losing some customers who are not willing or ready to transition to the cloud. 

Evaluating Epicor Cloud Offerings - Prophet 21 and Kinetic

Epicor's Prophet 21 has been on the market for over 30 years; however, it did not provide a native web application for it until 2017, when a cloud-first initiative signaled a forward-facing approach to building a modern ERP solution. Epicor has since held semi-annual releases of the latest Prophet 21 versions, with the most recent update, Prophet 21 2021.1, promising improved user experience and expanded revenue opportunities.

With all of that said, the focus is on Epicor ERP, which officially became known as Kinetic on June 10, 2021. Kinetic is marketed as having the ability to maximize momentum and profitability as Epicor's only true multi-tenant cloud solution. Its latest release claims to improve on current offerings in six areas: user experience, eCommerce, document security, EDI integration, spreadsheet integration, and regulatory standard support.

Of interest is the Epicor Virtual Agent, or EVA, which can be likened to Apple's Siri in that it is readily available to answer questions and perform routine tasks. Kinetic ERP users benefit from Epicor’s Application Studio, which Epicor claims is essentially a no-code solution for detailed personalization and customization of Kinetic software — and our initial impressions of this functionality are favorable.

Considerations for Current Customers

As we often tell our clients — regardless of what software they are currently using — your first step in evaluating legacy software should be to thoroughly consider your strategy and your organization's unique requirements. When it comes to existing Epicor customers, you will have to figure out if your company will go to a public cloud infrastructure or a private one — or even a hybrid. This decision will ultimately have the greatest effect on how you will run your applications following the go-live.

The decision to embark on this journey should not be taken lightly. The process involves a considerable investment of time and resources, and you need to be certain that your people have the time to be active players in the venture. The purpose of moving to more modern ERP systems is to change the way that things are being done. It requires that stakeholders participate in an exhaustive, extensive process, and map out the way that the new system will benefit the individuals’ roles and the company as a whole.

It is vital to the success of your company that you select a strong leadership team to serve as the advocates and forerunners for your ERP journey. Without such, the job will assuredly struggle to be a success, if not completely fail.

Our independent ERP consultants want to help evaluate your unique needs and empower you make the best decisions for your organization. Contact us today for an individualized ERP consultation.

Get Expert Help From Our ERP Consultants

Juliette Welch: Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's webinar Legacy Software Review: Deltek, Epicor, and IFS.

Shawn Windle is one of our speakers for today. Shawn is the Founder and Managing Principal of ERP Advisors Group based in Denver, Colorado. Shawn has over 20 years of experience in the enterprise software industry.

Jim O'Donnell is our guest joining us today. Jim is a veteran technical writer and journalist who has written about enterprise applications since the 1990s. Since 2015 he has covered the world of enterprise computing, including ERP, CRM, EAM, Industry 4.0, and other technologies for TechTarget’s search SAP and search ERP sites. Prior to joining TechTarget, he worked as a contract technical writer and has previously covered enterprise applications and technology for IDG and Penton Media Publications. Jim lives and works out of his home just north of Boston.

On today's call, we will discuss Deltek, Epicor, and IFS legacy applications, as well as provide our feedback from attending the Epicor Insights 2021 Conference this week. Welcome, Shawn and Jim. Thank you for joining us.

Shawn Windle: Thank you.

Jim O’Donnell: Thanks for having me.

Juliette: Yes, happy to have you. Today we're going to continue our series review of legacy software applications focusing specifically on Deltek, Epicor, and IFS.

Shawn and Jim, I know you both just attended the Epicor Insights Conference this week, so I thought we might start by having you share your insights on Epicor and what you may have learned or found out about at the conference this week. Jim, I might throw it to you if you're ready to go.

Jim: Well actually I was just discussing with Shawn, I did not actually attend — I was briefed by Epicor previously, but Shawn attended, so maybe, Shawn, you should kick it off and I can throw in any comments after you.

Juliette: Good, my mistake. I apologize about that.

Jim: Oh it’s no problem.

Shawn: That's no problem.

I know as we were kind of preparing — Jim, I'm like well did I — I got into some good sessions and I do think my general feeling coming from there was sort of an influencer’s track that I was on, so I got to meet with some executives which was fantastic and sort of hear what's happening at a high level, but then even got into some very detailed discussions with some great people. And then it was great to actually walk the floor and talk to some of the exhibitors to hear what's going on — some of the implementation partner people, some other software partners, and then a little bit with prospects.

So, my insights are probably pretty like in the trenches, right? That's what I think our whole model as an organization is. So as usual, I would say if we get something wrong, let us know and I really mean that. Whether somebody hears this conference who is on right now or in the future, if there's something that we say that's incorrect, please let us know.

We actually had one software vendor recently do that and it was great and it led to them actually being included in some deals that they wouldn't have been. So, I'm going to put that that kind of condition out there, too.

And then like Jim said — I'm excited to hear what he has to say — I'll share my thoughts, but he also had some very specific briefings, too, so I think between us we're going to have some good insights, that’s the bottom line.

Now here's what I heard. I'm excited. I mean, Jim and I were just chatting through this that, you know, I'm kind of an excited guy anyway — but for enterprise software, not for all things. Sometimes I'm very nervous and I feel like I'm going to throw up sometimes when I talk about enterprise software because it's hard, but I think the Epicor conference was really good.

I think there was a lot of really good indicators — we talk about this a lot that I look for indicators because it's really hard to know what's really going on. But if you can look at the things you can see and they point in a direction to certain things — so there were four things that that I saw and Shaun, our Digital Marketing Manager, and Ashley, who's our Marketing Analyst who just started with us recently — we were talking about this yesterday.

Overall, the organization of Epicor is really healthy. Financially we had a quick briefing from the CFO —he's relatively new — it was a great year, lots of good free cash flow which is super important to fund whatever kind of investments are going on. So, I think that was a really good indicator.

I do think the leadership team was pretty cool — like very impressive people who have great background, they've been through many different organizations, technology companies, software companies, all that, and sometimes I have to rely more on my gut than something objective. But I think they're really committed — like I think they're really committed to the existing customer base and then the new customers out there. So, that that really was cool for me to hear that. Because I hadn’t always felt that way about Epicor, about the leadership.

I ended up working under one of — it was a lady who was a CEO at one point and she was a board advisor at one of our clients and I had a chance to talk to her about what had been happening at Epicor in sort of the 2010s and she gave me a pretty good insight on that. So, I really felt like this leadership team though, was really they're all in in making Epicor go right. And frankly, they should be because they got a hell of an opportunity. They’ve got really good opportunity as individuals and as a team to really high perform. They could really do very well personally and for the company and for the market, so that was great.

Product-wise I saw a lot of good things. Again, Jim and I were just chatting about this that for — Epicor is very focused on certain industries and they know what they do well and they know what they don't do well and they're making the investments in the areas that they do well. And that's important, right? Like even — I'm probably stealing a lot of Jim’s thunder here — but if you think about a midsize manufacturing organization in North America, how inclined are they to move to the cloud? Well, there was COVID and we had to get people out of the office — okay, now it's the real deal, right? And I think that's why Epicor had such a good year last year. But a lot of folks don't still want to move. And it's not like you have to, we're not big cloud advocates — we will never be an advocate for a certain technology. But what we will advocate for is what's right for our clients. And it is the right thing to get out of your servers that are on-premise or dealing with like the hardware and the infrastructure software that runs on the hardware, the app servers, the database server — that's those are problems we just shouldn't happen anymore.

It's like I have a salad in front of me that I didn't get to finish before our call and I didn't have to grow the carrots, somebody else grew the carrots, put in the grocery store, and we got them and now I get to cut up the carrot to make it. That's sort of what — that's a strange analogy to cloud — but it's kind of true that manufacturing companies should focus on what they do best and maintaining servers and all that stuff inside of it is not what they do best. So, I think Epicor knows that, and they're making very specific investments to infrastructure, the tools, the platforms — so, that was great to see.

And then the fourth thing is they are putting their money where their mouth is in terms of apps — and I think, Jim, we even talked about this earlier last month where we did a piece together — really you invited us, which we appreciate that's why we wanted to invite you to one of our things.

The KBMax acquisition — they have a lady that runs their acquisition group and she was sort of throwing out a little bit of teasers for us and that's exciting to me because those are all the right indicators that you'd like to see for a software vendor because you could get into the whole private equity-backed and private and they're getting their recurring revenue — I mean, I talked to one of the senior executives about this and I was like it's a great short-term play, but long term what does this really look like for new clients — existing clients make sense — but new clients? And he said, look, we're in. I was like I believe you. I just really believe that that leadership team is there to do the right thing and I think they have a great, very committed customer base on the manufacturing side but especially distribution side with the Prophet 21 group.

I got to go to a dinner and I sat next to the Prophet 21 implementation partner and he was just — like he's paying his kids’ colleges probably, we didn't get to that level of conversation, but he probably paid for his kids’ colleges through his service and support to Prophet 21 — he was all in on that product and a really good person wanting to do the right thing in sort of the Pittsburgh area. That's what I want to see. I want to see people that are that are all in and I just I just saw that in all of those four areas that Epicor is really focusing in those areas, I think, doing the right things — they need to execute for sure. We need to get clients on Kinetic. We need to see what kind of problems the first ones run into — and I know they're through certainly that first alpha/beta testing and all that stuff, but I'm excited to see what comes and have even sort of — it's we haven't done a lot with Epicor for the years and we will be doing more with them because we have to because there's a great product there that I think could really benefit our clients.

So that's my call. We could probably wrap it up, Jim, but I think you're going to have some good stuff to share.

Jim: No, you're not saying much that — I haven't heard a lot to disagree with.

I think their management structure is really good. I think their investment in their product has been very well done.

As you said, they did a few years ago — they had this disparate set of products, they weren't really interrelated, they weren't really cloud ready, but they've invested a lot in making them that classic multi-tenant cloud product, which is really where I think you need to go for an ERP, especially for the companies that that's suited for — those small to medium sized manufacturers. They have to get to the cloud at some point and you sort of mentioned this sort of COVID imperative — let’s put that stamp right on that that this is not a theoretical thing anymore, this is something we really need to do, we need to have these advanced platforms, we need to have the flexibility of the cloud, we need to have the faster return on investment.

All those things that are critical — or the benefits of multi-tenant SAS — they have put into that what was formerly ERP 10 was their main ERP project, they kind of rebranded that as Epicor Kinetic coming out of — and this is one of the better parts to it — but Kinetic was their redesigned UX, right? So, they came and they redesigned it, I think last year or the year before they redesigned the UX and made it much more mobile friendly, made it much more consumer-oriented so you can have it on any device if you're on the plant floor, you can have your phone with you and have the Kinetic UX, so I think they're making a good move to rebrand what people got to know of as their new as their new UX as the brand of their ERP system. So, I think they've done a really good job in that that respect.

And there's a couple other you know interesting features that they brought on in the last couple of years. One is their digital assistant. They call it EVA — Epicor Virtual Assistant — which they call it the Siri for ERP. That's not the thing that's probably going to sell your system, not everyone’s going to need or want something like that. But to have that as a feature of your platform, I think it's showing where this is going to go in the future and it's adding functionality which is really going to be good for some people to have that ability to interact with the system hands free, and in a manufacturing environment it takes a lot of change management, it takes a lot to move people to get in the mindset of yes, we can use a voice activated ERP system. But a lot of people coming into manufacturing now — they've had Siri in their house for ten years, so they're used to it.

So, the whole change management piece of it is not as maybe a big deal as it was before. It's still really important, but the whole world of how people are interacting with their UX, which was very — I mean, there's still a lot of green screens out there in manufacturing environments, but they do have to — I think a lot of companies are changing.

And the other thing that I would — interesting newest feature they brought on was this Application Studio. It's a low code, it's called — I think it's literally called Application Studio — and it's an environment where you can go in and customize your system much more easily. It's a low code/no code environment. As you know, Shawn, I'm sure you know you talked to customers — one of the major issues, especially with upgrading is having all these customizations that once you implement your ERP, you have to go and customize it to take care of particular small changes or just things that you need that are specific to your industry. So having the ability through Epicor's virtual studio to make this an easier process, to make it faster, to make it less costly — because customizations for some of the more complex ERP systems like SAP, companies spend millions of dollars customizing their systems.

So, Epicor's got two advantages with their industry specificity. First of all, you’re building a lot of that customization with the industry specificity, and I know we talked about some of the industries that they're good for like metals and discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing, things like that. There are some really specific things that those businesses need. So, if you have a more general sort of generic ERP, it might be very powerful, but you you're going to have to go in and you're going to have to customize that for your particular industry.

So, at the core they do have some of that already, but then there are specific things within those industries that your company might do a little bit differently than someone else, so you really need that ability to customize and to have something like virtual studio — have it be low code/no code — it's a good advantage for them.

Shawn: Yeah, I agree. I think, Juliette, I think we could both say that.

I rely a lot on intuition and gut and all that stuff just doing this for so long. And then you know what you know even if you can't communicate it. And I do just feel like we're really — I think that organization is a really good time for the reasons that Jim talked about some of my observations, too, which is exciting, right? I mean, more options. It sort of kind of substantiates our existence, but it's true that not every app fits.

The suite of apps isn’t perfect for every industry, so it's important that we have vendors out there that care — they're doing something about it. I think we both say that's what we saw, which is great.

Jim: I will also point out to just one thing. Epicor does say that they will support their on-premises customers for as long as they want. They say they're not going to have anyone make a move before they're ready for it. I take them at their word that they will — maybe it'll come to a point where that won't be economically feasible for them as a company, but I think they will. They're pretty intent on making sure that the customers will have the sort of implementation that that best suits them. And that’s important.

Juliette: Well, it sounds great that Epicor was able to have this conference and share all this good information and get people excited for what's to come and what they're able to offer. So that's a good thing for sure.

Shawn: It was great to see people and like I actually hugged some people and I haven’t done that in a long time and I was like I think it's okay. So that was good. It was good to see people and have them excited.

Juliette: So, Jim, you have a very rich history as an ERP journalist. From your experience, can you share how ERP software has evolved in the time you've been covering the industry? I know that's a big question to ask.

Jim: It is huge. I started back before — the first company I worked for was called Lotus Development, I don't know if anyone remembers that. But they pioneered — they started in spreadsheets and in the 80s and in the 90s they came out with this software called Lotus Notes, which was this — before the Internet it was a way — they called the groupware so people could get together and share files and work on things collaboratively, which they couldn't at that time.

Well, of course the Internet came along and changed all that so that was the sort of the huge big bang was — first of all was the Internet, and then I think ERP — really it was probably around 2000, maybe in conjunction with Y2K, I would assume in the late 90s when companies wanted to consolidate all these hundreds or maybe thousands of little applications, they're all thinking there's some things, put them on one ERP system which was all integrated. And so that kind of took over in the 2000s and since then, it's really been the move to the cloud and they have all these on-premises customers that were the generation that moved on to these monolithic ERP systems that had all the functionality — the finance and the CRM and all the different functionality in one system.

Just lately it's really been a move to the cloud and I think that's where things are going no matter whether it was a public cloud or private cloud. The specific nature of the cloud transformation has been evolving as well.

But in general, I think just to put a 30-second, sort of put in simply form, there's been the concept of digital transformation which I've seen right from the start.

I mean in the beginning, digital transformation is a sort of amorphous term, it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, but I remember back in those early days, digital transformation was literally taking like traditional paper-based processes whether they were sending out invoices or even email — you used to send people physical notes or in publishing you would have cut and paste was a little process, so taking those processes and making them digital was the first sort of digital transformations, but now it's become to mean something much more transformative where companies can take those old business processes and not just make them digital, but really fundamentally change them so they can have different business models that can go for.

If they want to sell their products as a service, what they call servitization, they need to have the process, the applications, and the infrastructure in place that can support those kinds of moves. And that's not going to happen with those old on-premises ERP systems. That’s going to take the move to these new modern advanced ERP systems, as we're seeing with Epicor and IFS and all the other vendors.

On that — we're not talking about them specifically —but the company I cover a lot, SAP, has a term called the Intelligent Enterprise and it's another amorphis term, but it's really this concept of using data in ways that are advancing your business in ways that weren't possible before. I mean, I think that's the big changes I see.

Juliette: Well to think of how far we've come like, how far can we continue to go? So Shawn, we do a lot of talking about the different software applications, but I think it's important to maybe touch on the different implementation partners for these particular software applications.

Can you share with us a little bit of what you are seeing from the different implementation partners for these specific applications we're talking about today?

Shawn: Yeah, yeah, so we've talked about Epicor from an application perspective. And I'm trying to sort of tie together a couple things that came up at the conference, too.

I went out of my way to meet with a couple Epicor partners that we've worked with in the past up at the exhibit hall and just to check in and see how things were and good. Really good. Like really, really good for them. And I think this is sort of applicable to probably — the IFS channel we're getting to know better, right? And then Deltek for sure. We've done a lot of work there. Jim can talk to more on the IFS product itself, too, we'll get to that in a minute.

But much like the transformation on the software, sort of in parallel there's transformation with implementation partners. And it sort of comes from a point of it's sort of hard to watch the software vendor get into a recurring revenue model and not want some of that recurring revenue yourself. And so, we see a lot of implementation partners writing boltons or very like — not just vertical industries but like maybe subvertical or a very niche sort of solutions for sort of very micro vertical focus.

I’m thinking of one vendor that's written a solution for electronics recyclers. Like is that a distributor? Is it a manufacturer? Like what is that, right? But now boom, they've written an app and then they're able to sell that app to multiple kinds of organizations like that, so that's one big change, I think, Juliette, is the implementation partners are looking for that value-added step and starting to build that very subvertical — sort of microvertical I should say — focused solutions which is exciting and actually Epicor — the leadership team — talked about that this week, and they need and want that from their partners. So that's a big one.

I do think another one is consolidation. We could look to SAP like even — we're in the middle of an SAP evaluation, and at least one of the partners changed ownership in the middle of the evaluation. So, we see that in a Microsoft Channel and have for several years — the Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations people especially are just getting eaten up, gobbled by the next global group.

But I think in the Epicor space, I think there's probably — I remember there was a partner we used to do a lot of work with that has branched out into some other apps as well.

And when we go to a partner — like we were just doing a sponsorship call with a client last week and we had the implementation partner and the software vendor relationship execs we were talking to and I said on the call with my client, I'm like, I like it when an implementation partner just does one. You are all in again. You got to make it go right and you know what? If you're not able to make it go right with that vendor, go to another vendor. Now that being said, we do have some vendors that support and work across multiple vendors, but I personally like that and I think like in the Epicor channel, I think we're seeing more and more of that for sure.

Now Epicor has professional services, too, and I think we got a little bit of clarity on sort of, does Epicor professional services do the implementations or partners? I think they're tending more towards the professional services over a certain revenue size, so that's fine, because then the software house has the best people that know their apps supposedly. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

I won't drop any names even though I want to because of the frustration we've had with some of those professional services groups recently.

Anyway, you know fast growing — sometimes the service is first thing to go out so watch out. But that's some of the big changes that that I'm seeing.

And it really is interesting to — we're talking about three vendors today, Epicor, IFS, and Deltek, and Deltek, especially just last week there was a major announcement that one of the one of the partners —who always was our go to partner for Deltek — they just got fired by a partner that does multiple different types of apps and they're really making more of an industry play.

So that company called Action bought Central Consulting Group and I was really surprised to see that. Like I haven't called or talked to anybody to find out what's going on, but I think Action is saying we want to dominate in architecture, engineering, and construction, and we have multiple products to support that including Deltek and the other products that they support, some Infor products and things.

So, the implementation partners are evolving as much as the software vendors. That's the bottom line.

Juliette: Well, they need to in order to be able to help their clients because what else would they be good for, right? They need to know the latest and greatest to be able to help, right?

Shawn: That's right and bring more value, yeah?

Juliette: Yeah, exactly. So Jim, speaking to some of the existing customers running on Epicor and IFS, can you share some factors that they should consider if they are looking to upgrade?

Jim: I think they probably have to figure out — they have to get their cloud strategy right. I mean, that's the sort of the first point. How are they going to go? Are they going to go to a public cloud infrastructure? Are they going to have some private? Are they going to go with hybrid? I mean I think that's the key point, because that's really going to have the most effect on how you're going to run your applications afterwards, right?

I think just having the right requirements for the system because you are going to invariably change your business process. The whole point of moving to these more modern ERP systems is you don't necessarily do things the way you did before, so going through and doing a very exhaustive, extensive process, an analysis of the way your processes are working now and kind of mapping that to the way that they can work or they will work with the new system — I think that's critical. And yeah, and you have to take into account things like change management and getting the executive buy-in to make sure that everyone on board because these are big changes across a lot of these companies. I mean I think they’re going from a way that people have worked for 30 years, 20 years, sometimes maybe more, to a new way and a new way of interacting with this system and new things, new capabilities of these systems. So, I think that taking into account things like change management and executive buy-in is really important.

Juliette: Right. Shawn, can you continue on and share your insights about Deltek legacy software and existing customers, what they should consider?

Shawn: Yeah, and it dovetails perfectly to what Jim said where it comes back again to the cloud strategy that an organization wants to take but, but it's also what are the problems that they're trying to solve? Like what're engineering firms, construction firms, architecture firms, and other professional services firms — we have a client that's a multinational services firm right now that's coming off of Deltek, and when I think about what is driving them through that process, they had done a little bit of an analysis with Deltek professional services to say, okay, what would it cost to move to vantage point which is the new cloud-based solution there, a browser-based app. And it was pretty material. It was a major change because they had customized their existing Deltek Vision, and so there was a lot of work that was going to be required to get up to, basically the next iteration of whatever software they were going to go to.

And a lot of the firms on Deltek are going through a lot of changes — they’re industry changes, there’s a lot of consolidation. Our client happens to be sort of a private equity portfolio company that is a platform, meaning the PE is using this organization to go around the world, I mean literally into islands I never even knew existed around Fiji, not Fiji, but islands around Fiji, for insurance adjusting of all things.

And basically aggregating these organizations onto a new platform and standardizing business processes and digital transformation, like you could work your way into the phrase digital transformation or you could say it up front. But that's what they're really looking for, and they need a cloud-based solution to do that with multinational currencies and translations and you can imagine. And so, when they start to look at that level — they may have been a smaller firm in the past — now going to this whole new level and so it’s a question of can Deltek support us or not? And it could. The new version could, but there was so much changes that that's why they brought us in to say, well, what else is there? What else can we do in the market? So, we've had some pretty big engineering firms come to us with that same situation where they're told “your product is sunsetting, that you're running, meaning it's going to termination of support” (like we've talked about all summer long, right?).

Juliette: That's right.

Shawn: But again, Deltek’s being responsible, here's the migration pathways how we get there. But most clients, I think are doing the upgrade, right?

They don't even call us, they just do it because I think to Jim's point, they don't want to go through the change. They've been doing business a certain way — now we get onto a product that's more cloud-based. That's easy, let's just do it right. But those organizations that are changing are the ones like “oh we were having some problems before. Now you're going to make us go through an upgrade. Well, I'm going to go look.”

So, if I were an executive at Deltek, I would talk to every dissatisfied client, literally, I mean — but that's kind of guy I am — and some of them aren't going to do it, they're not going to make the upgrade. They need to switch, fine. But for those that are looking towards the cloud strategy, just like Jim said it perfectly, the technology cloud strategy, the requirements, the change management. If those all are in alignment with that upgrade, then just do the upgrade because it is easier to do the upgrade than to switch apps.

I don't care what anybody says, it always is and often we will recommend to our clients just do the upgrade. Don't go through this wholesale change and risk all the factors that Jim said to basically get into an app that does what your old one did, but now you're in the cloud — like, no, there's got to be some compelling reasons which usually goes back to — well we do that presentation, what to do when you're outgrowing your accounting software, and there's like four drivers, right?

There's change in market, legacy technology that somebody built a bunch of custom stuff and they're going to win the lottery — Erica, who leads our sales told me that she said she got a call from a client that literally had a legacy person who wrote a bunch of customizations and he died. And they're like, oh my god, we have no idea what to do, so I much prefer the lottery. If my wishes were true, there would be a lot of winners of lotteries of legacy technology customization people. And then change in leadership and then usually geographic reach expands. Those are good reasons to look at doing additional apps. And we can give you much more details if you want to just let us know.

Bottom line is Deltek is, I think in an interesting position — I really need to spend some more time honestly with their corporate to really see what the message and what's really going on — but from the trenches level with client stats that I'm seeing where either they're just doing the upgrade fine, but it appears to me that more customers are saying, I need to go look outside because I don't like that you're shutting me down. And different people different, like manufacturers versus engineers as just the mentality and the way people think is a little bit different.

I don't think engineers like to be told what to do sometimes so that's the other part of it. You have a whole customer base of AEC, architecture, engineering, and construction, people that are like, I want to do things my way, you don't get to tell me what to do. So, I think there's been a little bit of that backlash that they've received also. Tt's just tough customers with tough requirements.

So anyway, that's sort of rambling on and on, but the bottom line is that Deltek has a great customer base, and I think their go-forward is just a little bit less clear to me that the value proposition makes as much sense to upgrade than it does for say an Epicor or IFS.

Again, let me know if I miss something, please.

Juliette: Jim, from your research and your writing, can you offer an outlook of where you feel these vendors are headed here in the near future?

Jim: Well, I think I think we've covered a lot of that. Actually, I think from the companies that I followed more closely, IFS and Epicor, I think they're in in really good shape with their products.

I think their customer bases are taken care of as far as supporting the existing base and they're also being given the resources and the opportunity to upgrade and to make this digital transformation to their latest cloud product. Some of the some of the customers aren't ready for that. I mean we have to acknowledge that. And so, I think both companies are supporting that.

But I think the investment — let's say a little bit about IFS. They have a really good management structure, too. I've talked several times with their CEO for last couple of years, Darren Roos, who came from — most recently he was a high-level executive at SAP and he's really put forth a very ambitious program and a way to consolidate IFS’s products for — they were a little bit kind of parallel Epicor in the way that they had a bunch of acquired products and they didn't really work well together, they were sort of disparate, and they've unified those and written them entirely for the cloud.

Their suite is called the IFS Cloud Suite and it includes under a single unified platform, their ERP functionality, CRM, enterprise asset management, and field service management sort of all-in-one, as I said, under one unified platform. So, it does make for a less complex environment to administer. And they also have the functionality.

Some companies can really — you know if you're an asset management or you're an asset heavy company, you've got the EAM functionality in there, and if you do — field service management is really kind of a growing need for a lot of companies — so IFS has acquired a couple companies in the last few years that are expanding their capabilities for field service management. So, if you are a company that that's important to you, you should be looking at IFS.

Again, sort of paralleling Epicor a little bit, they're very manufacturing-oriented. They have industry specificity, I think they have four or five specific industries that they're going for, that their capabilities are sort of matched for. And they’re also sort of — actually they're a little bit more geared for companies that are a little bit larger than Epicor's customer base overall. I don’t know, Shawn, if you'd agree with that, but I think they're going for more of the mid-range to the smaller end of the large enterprise manufacturing space, particularly.

And I think they're also starting — their outlook is that I think that they're going to be looking at more of the larger enterprises that they see themselves as competing more with the Oracle’s and Infor’s, kind of on that that level too, so I think that's where IFS is going. Epicor again I think that they've got a great product set and I think that their method of meeting their customers where they are is very helpful for their customer base.

Juliette: Shawn, do you have anything to share and add?

Shawn: I do, yeah, I think as we've sort of gotten to be reintroduced to IFS recently, there's a sales rep that's really taken some ownership to help us, which we really appreciate that a lot. It helps us immensely.

I think to your point Jim, you can't not look at that product for heavy asset, field services, and these other industries — it's interesting because it's an alternative to SAP. And we do see SAP starting to get their S/4HANA cloud strategy more clear — we didn't even talk about that term today.

Jim: That's a subject for another day.

Jim: And we probably need to do that. I don't know, did we — we did an SAP call early, it was one of the first ones we did actually, but even since then I think it's changed. We might have to do an update. Maybe we'll have you back for that one, Jim. It's great to get your feedback. But I'm really excited to see where IFS goes.

I think they are targeting these specific industries. We have a client actually that we had talked to them about — which was interesting because they had rolled out Maximo for EAM, which is a great IBM tool, like the top of the top — it's expensive — but their assets change out a lot, so our organization buys, well their parent buys, and then they maintain with services these assets and they’re heavy assets and then they get sold so they wanted Maximo to go with the holding companies.

I think there's the value proposition for the IFS people that are listening that it makes sense from a cost perspective, and to kind of spin out a separate instance in that because it is cloud software, it should work that way. So, I think they're in a good position, just like you said, Jim, they are going to go head-to-head with SAP and some deals, but I think there's a lot of companies that we're working with and organizations are saying I really — I want an alternative here for SAP. I'm not going to just go with it because it's the one and manufacturing that everybody goes with. I need to find alternatives.

I mean, we're working with a domestically US owned business by Swiss parent that has other holdings throughout the world. And Smith said SAP and the guys here said no. So, there you go. That's an interesting opportunity again to bring in an IFS, whereas there may have been more of a mandate towards SAP in the past, there isn't that much now because there are more cloud options and I think IFS is in a good position to be able to leverage that.

Jim: Yeah, and they have some interesting capabilities, too, that they've introduced. One in particular is they have a real movement for sustainability and offering functionality that can help companies meet requirements for carbon reduction, and so they have capabilities for that they've introduced, and they're also — things like enabling models for the circular economy where you can basically, you keep your manufacturing goods, you keep the parts or goods in the economy as long as possible.

So, there are all kinds of things that in your supply chain they have that brings into bear. You have to, just for a small example, you have to set up a maybe a reverse supply chain, so once the products are out and they're coming back and you're dealing with not recycling them per say, but you're putting them back into the products again, so those are the type of things that an IFS adding that capability to their software and their applications is going to be really important for a lot of businesses going forward.

Juliette: Right wow, well you both are such a wealth of knowledge. Thank you. Thank you for always sharing your experience and knowledge with us. I appreciate it.

Jim: Thanks, it's been great. Really interesting conversation.

Juliette: We'll definitely have to have you back like Shawn said. We'll find another time for sure.

Jim: Yeah, great. Thanks Shawn.

Shawn: Yeah, you're welcome. Thank you, Jim.

Juliette: Well thank you everyone for joining us for today's call. Please let us know if you have any questions.

We're happy to help in any way we can. Email us, call us, whatever works best. We're happy to help. Our next call is scheduled for Thursday, August 19th. We will continue our legacy software series focusing on Infor, please go to our website, erpadvisorsgroup.com to register and for more details.

ERP Advisors Group is one of the country's top independent enterprise software consultiing firms. ERP Advisors Group advises mid to large sized businesses on selecting and implementing business applications including ERP, CRM, HCM, business intelligence, and other enterprise applications which equate to millions of dollars in software deals each year across many industries. This has been The ERP Advisor.

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