Legacy Software Review: Oracle E-Business Suite

When Oracle announced that it would be continuing support for E-Business Suite through the next decade, it helped satisfy immediate concerns about sunsetting the platform. However, this fact remains true: Oracle’s focus on innovation will remain on NetSuite and Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP.

When Oracle announced that it would be continuing support for E-Business Suite through the next decade, it helped satisfy immediate concerns about sunsetting the platform. However, this fact remains true: Oracle’s focus on innovation will remain on NetSuite and Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP.

In this article, we examine the future of Oracle E-Business Suite and provide guidance to existing customers on how to proceed with their use of Oracle E-Business Suite modules, whether that be to stay the course, consider an upgrade, or evaluate new options for ERP systems.

Oracle EBS has been an ERP stalwart from the beginning. The ERP industry as a whole is familiar with Oracle, and its products have maintained a reputation of dependability by satisfying the needs of multiple industries, including manufacturing, financial services, nonprofits, and government agencies.

Despite its undeniable success, E-Business Suite is a legacy product that will no longer benefit from new development, and questions abound regarding the end-of-life for Oracle EBS.

Risks Inherent to Maintaining Oracle E-Business Suite

Those individuals and companies who grew up using Oracle EBS can be sentimental when it comes to parting from their original loyalty to this software. Long-time users have become familiar with the way the application looks and feels, making it difficult to migrate to a new platform.

Thus, company leadership can find itself asking the following question: if EBS is working now, why upgrade to a cloud ERP?

The answer: there are four significant issues to consider regarding Oracle legacy software that can make a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line.

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

When using a legacy application, especially one that has been customized, it is necessary to consider what might happen if a disaster affected your information technology systems. There are many issues that could unexpectedly present themselves, such as a power outage, a system crash — or even a fire that destroys the building which houses the server and its backup drives. Either way, it is inevitable that risks will present themselves, so be prepared to respond accordingly.

Waste of Resources & Loss of Functionality

There is an opportunity cost associated with not having modern software. Such simple and fundamental tasks as mobile receipt scanning and real-time expense management are beyond the scope of legacy software, which often requires the use of manual processes and the assistance (and expense) of an in-person accountant. As for more sophisticated processes, there is no comparison in terms of how much time and money a cloud ERP can save by providing up-to-the-minute feature functionality.

Financial Expense

When considering Oracle E-Business Suite financials it is important to remember that sometimes what is even more expensive than opportunity cost is the monetary cost of maintaining legacy software. Such systems require the support of highly specialized software experts — which becomes challenging and pricey as time goes on. Simply put, the older an application is, the fewer people will be experts on that application. The technology of Oracle E-Business Suite is no longer being taught, and it is rapidly outdating, with an unfamiliar look and feel that users are no longer comfortable with using.

Inability to Upgrade

Despite Oracle continuing support to certain versions of E-Business Suite, a business that procrastinates on updating it will soon be unable to complete updates altogether. We have seen it happen where an application is far enough behind on software updates that its owners will have no other option but to complete an entirely new implementation. Organizations that are unable to keep up with maintenance risk missing out on legislative updates, regulatory updates, security patches, and bug fixes.

The Future is in the Cloud

Oracle is discouraging their reps from further sale of EBS, persuading companies to move onto more recent cloud software. And so, while Oracle E-Business Suite is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, there is a hopeful future for those who want to stay on the Oracle platform to take advance of its newer Cloud ERP applications.

Is it the Right Time to Move to the Cloud?

Every situation is different, but these three considerations are universally helpful in determining the right time to transition to the cloud.

  • Strategy: How does a change in enterprise software support your strategy? Is your company growing significantly?
  • People: Are your people ready and willing to take on a new ERP implementation? What are the long-term benefits of this implementation?
  • Processes: Are your business processes straightforward, or do they require a lot of customization? What is our upgrade path? When do we want to have this completed?

Depending on your answers to these questions, you may or may not conclude that now is the time to move to the cloud. If the organization is not growing, or your business processes are highly complex, you may want to hold off for now. But, if you’re planning a lot of growth, your team is savvy, or your processes are simple, it may be time to consider a move.

The transition from EBS often occurs when there is a material shift taking place in the organization. Perhaps the business model is changing, or there are newer, younger people coming into the organization that have no experience with Oracle EBS. Commonly, a move to a new ERP occurs after a change of leadership within an organization. Take a look at your own company: is there a new CFO, Director of IT, or other upper-level executive? If yes, change may be in the air.

Benefits of Upgrading to Cloud ERP

If you are still trying to determine if moving to a cloud ERP is right for you, consider these benefits:

  • Predictable costs that are usually more affordable
  • Always on the latest version
  • Reduced need for large IT staff
  • Mobile and remote accessibility

Oracle E-Business Suite has earned a respectable reputation for itself, but all good things come to an end, and now may be the right time for your company to step into the future.

For advice on whether your organization should upgrade from Oracle E-Business Suite, schedule a free consultation with an expert member of our team.

Get the ERP Vendor Guide

Juliette Welch: 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.

Doug Ham is our guest joining us today. Doug is a principal consultant with ERP Advisors Group. Doug has over 25 years of experience implementing and managing domestic and global enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management. His depth of experience across many applications and industries is truly unique in the enterprise software market.

On today's call we will discuss what the future holds for Oracle E-Business Suite and provide guidance to existing customers on whether they should stay the course, consider an upgrade, or evaluate new options for ERP systems.

Welcome Shawn and Doug. Thank you for joining me today.

Shawn Windle: Thank you.

Doug Ham: Thank you.

Juliette: Thanks for taking the time. It's good to see you both.

OK, so today we're continuing our series discussion on the different legacy software applications and E-Business Suite has been around for quite some time now and it seems to be a good fit for a lot of organizations because of what it does overall and what it can provide.

And before I dive into the questions for today regarding EBS, I was just going to ask quickly, what are your overall thoughts on Oracle E-Business Suite?

Shawn, do you want to begin?

Shawn: Sure, yeah, I can.

I was just looking to see if I could find when E-Business Suite was created and there's different things out here, so, Oracle initially launched its application suite with financial software in the late 80s.

So that's from Wikipedia. And you never know if Wikipedia is right, but these applications have been around a long time. I'm not going to date anybody like myself on this call but almost as long as we've been walking around here.

So, Oracle E-Business Suite has always been the stalwart in the industry.

And there’s other apps, we're going to talk about most from this summer, but Oracle was built on the relational database management system of Oracle, right? And then built the business apps on top of the database, and it works, and it is a solid product. It's a very good product. It's good in some industries.

When you think about services, even manufacturing, financial services, there are lots of industries that Oracle is really well suited for.

And a lot of nonprofits, government agencies, municipalities of different kinds around the world run their organizations on Oracle E-Business Suite, so we're talking about a solid application.

Now it has sort of come to the question, has it lived its life? Is it at the end of life?

We’re going to talk about that a little bit more today.

But you just know that's good software, right?

It’s industrial. Big Fortune 50 companies are run on Oracle all the way down to smaller organizations. We did an Oracle E-Business Suite implementation several years ago because of some feature functionality for government sort of support that it has.

So, we like the product, but like several other products at Oracle, it is somewhat considered a legacy application where the future is not very cloud-y for that product, and Oracle knows that and has rewritten the platform for Cloud called Oracle Cloud ERP.

So, what do we do when we're running Oracle E-Business Suite? That's what we're going to talk about today.

With that backdrop, we're talking about a really good app that works for a lot of industries, a lot of bigger companies, even down to smaller companies, government agencies.

Again, the software is very solid.

Juliette: Yes, well, anything good has to come to an end at some point, right? And then you have to be able to adapt and change with the times, and if it can't then something else is going to take its place.

Shawn: Yeah, and Oracle has adapted.

Doug will talk more specifically about this.

They've adapted E-Business Suite. But if you're buying a brand-new app today, would you go to E-Business Suite? Probably not.

Juliette: Right.

Shawn: So, there you go, and again, I'm always worrying about if people are listening and we're wrong. Please email us or call us. My cell phone number is everywhere online. Call me and tell me what we're doing wrong here.

Our impression is that Oracle reps don't get paid if they sell EBS.

Juliette: Interesting.

Shawn: And again, if I'm wrong, tell me, but that's what we have observed.

Juliette: Well, that leads me to my first question, Shawn.

You gave us a little bit of background on EBS, but can you dive in a little deeper? Then can you give us your thoughts on EBS versus how it compares to the new modern ERP systems that are out there?

Shawn: Yeah. Oracle E-Business Suite is this huge evolution in ERP. Almost anybody who has done anything in ERP — I mean I don't quite have as many years as Doug does an ERP, but I think I'm at 25 in July.

We both have done stuff with Oracle. If you've been around, you've done something with Oracle. You've implemented it, you’ve selected it, you ran it, you supported it, you did a big migration project with it.

Everybody has done something with Oracle, so it’s an extremely pervasive software around the world. But you've got that three tier client service architecture as the basis.

I won't get all technical, but you've got the database, the application layer and other logic, and then you've got the user experience layer, sort of modified over the years. But what's interesting was that when Oracle bought JD Edwards and PeopleSoft — and I was there for part it, at least through PeopleSoft buying JD Edwards — but you know I was like, “boom, we got all three of these products now, so what do we do?”

So, that was 2001, I think — maybe 2003 or 2004 — and the idea was that Oracle would merge all these products, and they would sort of middleware platform. What they would do is they would fuse these products together and that's where the phrase Oracle Fusion came from. And then we'd have sort of a hybrid platform that wasn't one of those three apps or JD Edwards World for that matter. And it was sort of going to be the new platform going forward.

So, all three of those, including EBS. It was sort of known even 15-20 years ago that there would be support for it, and we've got some updates on that today, too, but that it wasn't going to be the go forward platform for Oracle.

So that's what I'll say for now, does that make sense?

Juliette: It makes total sense and maybe Doug you can speak to that a little from your experience through the years. Then also, didn't you recently just have an upgrade project where you worked with E-Business Suite? Can you share with us a little bit about that?

Doug: Yeah, sure. Shawn laid it out perfectly.

I remember back — as Shawn said, we're going back 25 years or so now — but it was weird, Oracle financials was a best of breed financials app that you would consider during your selection as an option. Then they started acquiring companies, you mentioned the JD Edwards and PeopleSoft acquisition, and they also added other apps and they were kind of a Frankenstein there for a while. It was just a bunch of parts put together on the relational database platform, but they've come a long way on that, on the EBS side in terms of providing a suite, that’s — In fact, we just like we just went through with one client and they're really, on paper anyway, one of the only apps that provide that kind of breadth of solution where we were in financial services industry in this situation.

But anyways, I just wanted to add those to those comments to the history, but it's a really interesting historical timeline that Oracle has, and they're still here.

Anyways, yes, we did have a client recently who was in a situation where they had EBS implemented, and they didn't have a large IT department, and they got a little behind in terms of keeping the applications current, which is something we'll talk about, you have to do if you're going to do on-premise type implementation and management. But, they got a little behind and they had some changes in their leadership, and then they're starting to get hate mail from Oracle and things like that.

Edit that out.

Then they're trying to figure out what to do, and so we came in and provided some advisory services on how to proceed and how to think about a road map or a series of projects to get them out of that situation.

Juliette: Yeah, well, that kind of — I think we talked about this on our last call — that if you don't stay consistent with the upgrades, there comes a point where they won't let you upgrade anymore. Is that right, Shawn?

Shawn: Well, they let you upgrade, but it's just a brand-new implementation.

Juliette: Oh, OK.

Shawn: You can get so far behind that it's a whole new upgrade, so maybe we should just change apps, right?

That's sort of where that comes in. But there is one thing I wanted to say that Doug had mentioned, too. I think all the ERP people maybe get a little sentimental if they kind of grew up on the Oracle stack or they grew up on the SAP stack or whatever else it was — Doug did both, right? [He] did some Siebel work and stuff like that.

But when you look at how big the ecosystem of Oracle is, that's right, not just the company and thousands, tens of thousands — maybe even bigger now — of employees right now work at Oracle.

But how many people worked there? And how many people worked with these products? And how many partners were there? Like independent entrepreneurs who thought, I am going to go start a firm and we're going to implement Oracle EBS — I worked with some guys at Arthur Andersen Business Consulting who did that. They went and started a great firm, and they grew it, and then they all have gone off into different products.

That is the thing about Oracle that I love the most is that the company has really changed lives, not just entities, organizations, businesses who can actually run their business on Oracle — I think that was a motto back in the day as a matter of fact, “the largest enterprises run on Oracle” or something like that — but all of these individual peoples and families and men and women who've worked around this product that basically fed their families off of all this work with that Oracle EBS product. So, I get a little sentimental when I think about that.

But now, going back to what you're saying about differences, so Oracle is based on the sort of a three tier, classic legacy architecture, and most of the applications are coming out right now are not that way. We're going to talk about this a lot this summer, that the cloud-based apps are fundamentally built different, they're just built for a different model. They're built for multiple companies to be in the same database, but security keeps them separate, and it's a much cheaper way for the vendors to maintain their products.

It's easier to deploy. The upgrades are a lot easier, but they're kind of forced. And they say “oh, you don't have to take them, you don't have to do that.”

Oh, that's not true. You're going to have to take them eventually. I was just on the on a call with the vendor this week and they're like, “oh, you don't have to take them right away.” So that's what gets away like you were talking about, Juliette, with this old “they won't even let us upgrade.”

That doesn't happen with the new architecture so.

So, there is this movement towards the cloud-based apps, and even Oracle's done that with cloud ERP.

Juliette: Yeah, so go ahead, Doug.

Doug: In that situation, and you brought it up, Juliette, to Shawn's point, it's just not part of their E-Business. I don't think they're unique in this. When I say this IT application management, maintenance, currency, all that, it's not necessarily part of their E-Business so they just got behind.

So, they're on EBS 12-1, and now they're getting these letters, and they have to get off of it or convert to the cloud as Shawn just mentioned, and then once that's premier support expires, then you have sustaining support, but you sacrifice a couple of — you take on some risk there with some lack of legislative and regulatory updates that you would typically get in the premier support.

You can do that, or you can stay on-premise and add what they call a market driven support which is some additional support that you can pay for the Oracle to cover those risk areas that I just mentioned. Or you can go to the cloud and kind of move in that.

So, in this particular scenario, just to close this out, they had a situation where they really didn't have time or resources to go directly to clouds.

We laid out a scenario where they could buy some time and stay current, minimize risk, and get to get to a currency, get up to speed, to get up to the latest version 12-2 and then continue to look at conversion to a cloud that made sense for them.

So anyways, I just wanted to close out that case study with that. That's the scenario we faced.

Juliette: That’s perfect. And with that said, Shawn I'm sure there's people on this call or just lots of businesses, CFO’s, organizations that are here asking, “hey, if it's not broken, why fix it?” And you know with nostalgia aside, what you mentioned, if it's doing what it's supposed to be doing, OK great, but I'm sure there's hidden costs or different issues with maintaining a legacy software. Can you speak to that a little?

Shawn: Yeah, there's probably three aspects to that.

The first one is — well, even before I get into those.

Actually, it is nostalgic, believe it or not, where I think a lot of organizations, IT directors, folks that are running these in-Oracle installations, it's not easy stuff.

So, if it's not working, they're like, “I got sales trying to get us over into whatever application, and there's this product over here and everything else. ERP is OK and accounting is OK. I'm just going to worry about something else right now, right? I got my job in the day and a night job. I don't want to add a whole ERP project that's going to get me fired if it doesn't go well.”

So, there is a little bit of don't fix what isn’t broken, but like you said, the hidden costs — maybe it's sort of a normal thing is what I'm just trying to say. That's why I wanted to go through that, it’s totally normal.

The three costs though, most folks don't think about.

The first one does go down to business continuity planning and disaster recovery that when you are in a legacy app, especially one that has been customized, you do need to think, “well what happens if the server goes down, the app goes down, the power goes out, all the normal stuff that business continuity planning involves.” But we see that a lot with Oracle EBS clients is that they're usually running on-premise. and there's a risk, right?

“Oh yeah, hey, there's a sprinkler head right above the server” — you know we had a client like that recently. That's not good if there's a fire. It could be on the other side of the room, or you take the backup drives offsite, right?

Well, I think most of the people that are, you know it, they understand this, but sometimes our CFO and office of CFO folks don't.

They're like, “Oh yeah, IT's got it handled, which is sort of like saying, you know, to your to your spouse, like I don't want to know what you're doing over there, right? You're like fixing the car, and it's a long weekend. You're going to work on the car and you’re going to mess it up, right?

So you better make sure that just because it is typically on-premise, there could be some risks there and hidden costs. Now there is also putting the software in the cloud, which is fine, but somebody still needs to maintain your instance in the cloud, right?

You could have it running in a public cloud like Azure, or you can have it in your own cloud or whatever it is, but still the app has to be maintained, so there is a maintenance cost that goes with these products.

And it's not just software and upgrades and software costs, it's also the people that are maintained.

Juliette: Oh wow.

Shawn: And those people can get nostalgic, and they can want to stick it out because of their jobs.

So that's the first one.

The second one is a little bit of the opportunity cost of not having software that is more modern, that's handling things out of the box that Oracle E-Business Suite, when we implement it, wasn't able to do.

Something even as simple as expense management, it's a great example.

Lots of little — we use an app called Tally for expense management. We had another one, but they were very political in a wrong way, so we got rid of them, but that little app you take a picture, it scans in the app, it sends it to the accounting system, super easy.

Now, Oracle has I-expense, it's called, but that's a big product and then you got this little thing over here, big thing over here, little thing over here, and it's sort of hard to use I-expense.

You know it's built for very big — and you know lots of people in here thousands and thousands of people. What if I'm a little smaller? My employees aren't as sophisticated, whatever. We might not be using it.

Actually, the client we were at, Doug, I think they had I-expense. Or they had some people using it.

COVID changed it, but that's one thing you can get really easy functionality in some of these more modern-day apps.

And so then, if you're not using that well, then somebody has to help people with the manual process that they are doing, and maybe they're trying to do in Oracle today.

So you're losing money by putting money into maintaining kind of old processes that if you would just go to something that’s even free, it might solve that.

The product isn't being enhanced in the marketplace as a lot of other products are.

There is still product road map for sure, but are we really looking at sort of that really bleeding edge function that’s going to save your people time? Not so much.

It's kind of already — you know the basics are in so why change it?

And the third area of sort of hitting cost is definitely — well, there's a third and a half.

I just thought of one other that I really want to mention, which is not a lot of people coming out of school use the Oracle E-Business Suite.

Juliette: Oh, that's a good point.

Shawn: So now you got all these new people coming in like “oh, I don't really know how to use this. It doesn't look like my Wells Fargo site or Amazon.”

Juliette: Right.

Shawn: There is definitely a cost of getting people up to speed with how to flow through those screens, which again, a lot of client server based apps this is the same problem there, they just don't flow like some of the newer ones.

But the last one, and I think it's probably the most important, is: what does happen when Oracle does shut down support on your version? Like Doug talked about before. Like you said, sort of regulatory updates, compliance updates, 1099s get changed every once in a while, right? The vendors say “hey, you're paying support. Here's the fix for that.”

That's fine, but there is also security badges, and there's other bugs, believe it or not, after four years, there's still problems that are found in those applications.

So we have to — so by not getting those as your version is not upgraded, they’re basically sunsetted, to go back to our title.

The risk is that something major happens and your entire business is running on this product.

Frankly, that's the whole reason why we wanted to do this whole series this summer is because being at this last client, their whole business runs on Oracle E-Business Suite.

If that thing is down, I mean they are dead in the water.

It's not like, oh, we'll just pull out a pad of paper. It's like no, we can't find the serial numbers for the warranty items that we just got called in from the customer and they need 10,000 more and we don't know where they're at in inventory or when the factory is going to ship them. Or are they on the boat or are they wherever, there's nothing.

And that's where it's not OK.

Because the app goes down, something stupid, where some damn hacker does whatever and your business just shuts down and that's unfortunate.

That's when people get fired. That's when the “I told you so’s” come up and we should have, would have, could have and all this other stuff. And so just talk about it. Talk about the risk.

I think if there's one thing Doug and I would say is, let's just talk through what the risks are and then have a game plan for how to handle them.

There’s other support options in the market, like Rimini Street, that's like, “give us your tired and your weak and your poor ERPs.” And we’ll support them, and they do it. And they're great, right?

Fine. Go there. Figure out some option that's really going to cover your bases so that, again, that hidden cost of the app goes down and you're losing tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars you know.

Don't let that happen.

It just doesn't need to happen.

Juliette: Well, I think you mentioned it many times in there.

It's knowing your options. Just knowing what's out there and then you can make an educated decision for what's best for your company rather than being forced to make a decision because something tragic has happened, right?

Shawn: That's exactly it, yeah.

Juliette: Yes, so Doug, you touched on this briefly earlier about premier support for EBS.

Can you talk a little more in depth about depending on what software version or configuration an organization is running? Can you share with us your thoughts on that?

Doug: Yeah. It’s really nothing more than the premier support is the full package support; that's what Oracle calls it.

I didn't — and Shawn, you can tell me if I'm off base here, but from what I've seen, it's not unique across different applications.

They'll have a level of — different levels of support — and that's one of their highest levels.

And so, as we just talked about the key consideration is just when Oracle isn't providing their level of support that you're used to, you need to know what you're taking on as risk, and in this situation, just as an example, you know they were going to sacrifice critical fixes for SEV-1, SEV-2, incidents for newly discovered product issues.

And so, that may be OK for a couple of months, may not. Depends also on your IT staff. Who are you using to help support the application?

And so, and then the other thing, we've already touched on this a little bit, but just quickly, the security patches and updates. Those kind of stop and so do legislative and regulatory updates, payroll tax updates.

You have to look at all of the things that you might be missing out on, or you might be used to receiving.

And now you're not, and then decide once that goes away, what option makes the most sense.

Can you get by without those things and occur that risk for a period of time until you can figure something else out?

You know these are all real rubber meets the road kind of decisions that you have to make.

Or as we just talked about, do you get some additional support, an incremental kind of service that you can add to it to help cover some of those risks?

And then, I think Shawn mentioned this as well, but just in summary, there’s always providers out there that you can go to trusted providers and partners that will, for a fee, help you cover those risks as well.

Juliette: Right, well we just had a comment come in that I think fits perfectly.

It says, “I know that a lot of on-premise users think they are more secure because the server is in-house. What they don't understand is that they could never spend the type of money that a cloud company spends to secure their clients data and environment.”

Doug: That's true.

I mean, if you don't mind, Shawn, I'll just jump in because as you were talking that was a great discussion on the total cost of ownership. Really interesting.

On the other side of it, and that was a good question, it plays right into it, but I think there's a perceived — and this might be my ERP — on-premise, emotions coming out, but that's also can be a perceived lack of control in security or in the integration perhaps or you know in just the uptime.

Those are all kind of perceived and or real kind of situations.

Shawn: I mean, I think the reality when we look at Oracle E-Business Suite, and actually I have a lot of respect for Larry Ellison as a technology leader.

I think a lot of the decisions I watched to make over the years made sense, and even Oracle in general with acquisitions and the way they run their E-Business, it’s tough. I know a lot of reps that sell at Oracle, it's hard. It's a tough game, but it makes sense because they want to make money and that's great.

You want to make money? Well, you better sell really good software, the best software, and then people buy it. And so, there's a good model there.

And so, you can look at the movement and the money that Oracle has put into Oracle cloud. And it's billions and billions of dollars.

They've also bought NetSuite as another investment there, too.

And if you look at the growth and read between the lines on the press releases, there's a lot of growth happening on that product.

It could be a teeny tiny company, or it could be a huge company that's running NetSuite. We don't know the ins and outs of that, but Oracle's bet on the future is cloud. It’s a very cloud-based company. There's a ton of other products, infrastructure products, that most of these cloud apps — What do they run on? They run on Oracle Infrastructure.

So, you know Oracle is much bigger than just Oracle E-Business Suite, but for the purpose of the call because there's a lot of clients that are sitting on this product that are, like, “what did we do?” So, I think to Doug's point, keep those three key ideas in mind on what some of the options are.

Juliette: Right, well, with that said, from your experience, if you were brought into a client, what are the arguments that you would bring to the table for changing to a new modern ERP rather than having them stay with EBS?

Shawn: I had a great accounting professor, and he said the right answer to every question is, it depends. Except on his tests, he wanted more than just it depends.

Juliette: Of course.

Shawn: But it does depend.

For this particular client that Doug and I were just with, we said stay. And one of the reasons is, we look at the strategy, the people, the processes and the technology – our four little kaleidoscopes that we spent a lot of time with this week with another client. But we look at how does a change in enterprise software support your strategy? Are you growing a lot?

OK, you are good. And your people are pretty tech savvy and your business processes are pretty straightforward and you've got a good tech stack in place.

OK, well that supports a change, just generally and not just about EBS, but just generally. So we do look at those general components first.

Because if an organization isn't growing and the people are pretty static in what they're doing, not a lot of change, and the E-Business processes are super complex — that's how this one client was. They customized quite a bit in EBS and we're like, “You can do this in a different product, but you don't have to yet.”

Now, here's the stages that you could go through to get there, but often, when we go to a client that is running EBS — I'm trying to think of some of the unique things that we've seen — They may be behind on some upgrades like we've talked about. Then they want to get up to date. What drives this? It's a change in leadership.

Juliette: Oh, right. I can see how that would work.

Shawn: Where a new CFO came in — sort of like what we experienced, Doug — but any organization, usually somebody else comes onto the scene, a director of IT, CIO, CFO, controller, or whatever; usually one of those four people honestly.

And they say, “You know what? This isn't going to work. We’re growing, that's why I came in was because I'm going to help this organization grow, whatever that looks like. I can't do it with this app, and it just doesn't work; the functionality doesn't work.

So, they're going to come and hire us. That's where we come in to help them. They've got a sneaking suspicion, a feeling, a gut feeling, and then we come in and just flesh the heck out of that and say, “yeah you're right” or “well don't change because of da da da.”

But the case comes in for a move off of EBS when there is a material shift that's going to happen in the organization. Maybe the E-Business model is changing, maybe there's a lot more growth, a lot more users coming in, and new work people, younger people that have not been using EBS for 25 years like me, or coming in with a new strategy for the organization, so it's usually bigger decisions that drive it. It's not like you need this feature, Oracle E-Business Suite doesn't have it; therefore, you're going to switch.

Because it's a nightmare to get off that product. It just is. The data migration — almost every client we run into has built in integrations with their product, with their bank, with their manufacturers in China or their retailers; they sell to Walmart or whoever in the SPS Commerce is connected with EDI and is like all these – it’s like a spaghetti map.

So, to rip that heart out and then replace it with another, you really have to think through that, but it usually is when somebody says “I don't care what the risks are, it's the right thing to do for the E-Business,” and we will help them define what that means and get that that broad based agreement across the organization, but if there's not that one or two people that are really championing it, then it's risky because it's going to be hard and the dollars are going to be high. So, you have to really think through this about what that long term benefit is and does the organization value that long term benefit? If they don't, I don't know if I’d do anything. It depends.

Juliette: Yeah.

Shawn: Like Doug said, there's still those options, look at those other options.

Juliette: That's right. And Shawn you've been talking about this for years and that your objectivity of being able to go into a client or a business organization, what have you, and be able to tell them — like with this recent project, don't change software if you don't have to — but sometimes your hand is forced and you have to, and so you have to rip that band aid off and get it done.

Shawn: Yeah. Doug, again we’re going back —we're on several projects — but, if you think back to the one where they had the EBS, you had a director of IT, new CFO, they kind of came into a mess. There was a big audit going on in Oracle.

We can give you other tips on that later offline, especially Doug can.

But what do you think resonated with them the most about why not to change, but also what to do in the future? What do you think?

Doug: Yeah. We went through and we conducted interviews with the people that were actually using the application and that's always a part of our process, but in this situation, it was really telling.

It wasn’t like, “we can't stand this software, it's too clunky, it's too old, we're just using this part and we don't really know why.”

So, it ended up being a story that was more around optimization of what they're currently using and getting business value out of what they already had in place, and they were already paying for, as opposed to take on the risk of migrating to something brand new.

Yes, they were up against it on the timeline; they really didn't have time to do anything major in terms of converting to the cloud or even doing an upgrade. They couldn’t even do the upgrade in the timeline that they needed to do it.

So, that's why I keep going back to some of the things we were talking at the beginning, Juliette, is that the road map, though playing out a road map is really important, and I know it's kind of an overused term, but in my mind, it includes things like, depending on what your objectives are, includes things like your upgrade path — When are we going to have this? — It's a little project, an upgrade’s a little project. And when are we going to apply certain patches? When are we going to do this particular project to help optimize our billing system?

And then you lay those all out and manage it that way.

And I would argue, Shawn, that even in a cloud situation, that's a good idea, but it's definitely required in sort of the on-premise scenario that we were just talking about.

But it doesn't mean that just because you're on EBS or some of the older, more classic applications that that's bad, it just means that you have to look at all the factors involved and see what makes the most sense for your organization.

Juliette: Right. Well Doug with that, whether we're talking about EBS or not, just legacy software in general, can you speak to some of the benefits and features of upgrading to a cloud ERP?

Doug: Yeah, I think we’ve touched on a couple of them already, but the predictable costs and — I do actually like the idea that you're always on the latest version. It's a huge undertaking to be thinking all the time, what's my upgrade path? And I have to do these intermediate upgrades along the way.

And, in the cloud solution the idea is that you're always on the latest version.

So, the upgrades tend to be a little more, I don’t want to say transparent, but they happen and then you're always on the correct version.

I think — and Shawn was talking about the cost of ownership —Predictable, maybe potentially, you have to look at it long term, but potentially a little more affordable as well.

And then I also think you just don't have to have a large IT — it reduces your need to have a large IT staff and how to manage it in another cost area.

Juliette: That's a good point.

Doug: But I think those are some of the real pros and just one last pro.

Accessibility as long as you have the Internet connection, in theory you can get to the application.

So, Shawn we're working on whether our global client – for them, that's a real factor and they're going to get benefits from that for sure.

Because they don't have that right now, they have — talk about old — they have a very old application and they they've grown into a global organization and so they're dealing with those kinds of things, and I think accessibility is a real plus.

Juliette: For sure, well, I think just this past year has proven accessibility is huge with everyone working remotely and having access to the platform and everything they need, whether it's a report or what have you, the accessibility is huge. That's a great point, Doug.

OK, I think we're coming to the end of our time.

So, maybe just to wrap up a little bit other than “it depends,” is there anything that maybe we — one more little nugget you want to throw out there to end our call and I'll put that to both of.

Shawn: I could start on that.

It's not a clear-cut package on what to do or clear cut path on what to do for EBS. It really isn’t.

And I'm not saying that's because you need to hire us. No, it's just not that clear.

Partly because Oracle has made a stance that they're going to continue to support this product, at least certain versions through twenty-something — it changes, so I don't want to throw out a number. And when we get to twenty-something will they continue to do it or not? I don't know.

So, it's not like you have to change, but do you do the change proactively? Yes, something is going to happen in the future if you look at any business model, it's so expensive for an organization to support multiple software products. So, we know that that product is not going to be here in five years, ten years — hey, if you're the director of IT and your watch is done in three years or you're the private equity firm that just bought this company, you're going to get out of them in a year and they're on EBS, do you change? No, don't go through it.

But, if you're looking at future, if you're looking at growth, you're looking at a new business model, you're looking at new leadership, you're looking at some instigator that is towards more survival, higher survival, how do we grow? How do we make more money for shareholders? How do we offer better services to our constituents if we're a government or municipality, how do we do that?

Software has that capability and the apps have gotten better, much, much, much, much better over the years. And there's a lot that you can leverage, you just have to look at it proactively.

That's the biggest thing that I would say, Juliette, is, don't be surprised.

The people that listen to this won’t be because they're hearing it, but, all the folks that are on EBS — “Oh, I can't believe this da da da” — come on guys, if you didn't see this coming you've just been asleep at the wheel. Don't be asleep at the wheel. Have a plan. Be proactive. Look at the road map, like Doug said, and then just follow it and then be willing to get it wrong, maybe things change. But at least you have something that you're guiding, and you can tell your boss that you're watching out for.

Juliette: There you go, Doug, any parting words?

Doug: No, I think that's a good summary.

And yeah, just the idea of looking at your situation and then looking at — I'll say benefits and risks of the different models that you have available to you — and trying to do what makes the most sense for your business, both in the short term and then looking ahead in the long term at your road map and all that.

I think that's the key nugget from my perspective.

Juliette: That's perfect.

Well thank you for sharing your expertise and your knowledge.

I appreciate it, so thank you.

Shawn: Thank you.

Doug: Thank you.

Juliette: Yes, thanks for joining us.

Thank you everyone for joining us for today's call, please let us know if you have any questions.

Like Shawn mentioned, you can call us, email us whatever works for you, we're here to help.

Our next call is scheduled for Wednesday, May 12th. We will continue our review of legacy software, focusing on Oracle, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. Please go to our website erpadvisorsgroup.com for more details and to register.



Outro: ERP Advisors Group is one of the country's top independent enterprise software consulting firms. Advising 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.