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8/11/2006
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More Than Skin Deep
Your ERP article shines the spotlight on only half the problem ("You Look Marvelous," July 24). I can say from experience, having just completed an ERP installation last year and now considering replacing that system, that much of the problem lies with the lack of talented professional-services personnel to help install and modify ERP systems.

For larger vendors, this stems from their hiring model, which is too heavily slanted to hiring IT graduates out of universities. For the midrange vendors we deal with, the problem is that their distribution model relies too heavily on value-added resellers to implement systems. These companies are measured more on sales productivity than on their ability to install and keep customers happy ... and it shows.

Until software vendors realize that industry knowledge is as important as feature/function sets, I doubt ERP will ever be much more than what your cover pictures it to be.

Randy Volters
Director of Information Technology

Don't Blame The Software

The rewrite of major ERP products to make the applications easier to implement is a welcome improvement. However, to assume that will preclude or reduce the likelihood of problem imple- mentations isn't warranted. I'll venture that close to 100% of all problem implementations, particularly those that have brought large corporations temporarily to their knees, weren't a result of complex software but incompetent project management and software engineering. Software is only software. It does what it's told to do and it works.

At Delphi, where I was CIO, we managed one of the largest and most complex implementations of R/3 in world. We only did hard cutovers and never shut a business down or hurt a customer, and rarely missed a schedule. I enjoyed similar success at TRW.

Too often, implementation incompetence has been covered up by blaming problems on complex ERP software.

P.H. Janak
Principal, Siesta Consulting
Siesta Key, Fla.

More Than Money

Alan Blinder states, "We should not view the coming wave of offshoring as an impending catastrophe. ... The normal gains from trade mean that the world as a whole cannot lose from increases in productivity" ("Offshore Infighting," July 17).

Sure, there are productivity gains that result in better bottom lines. However, what about the hidden costs related to offshoring when you lose the knowledge, the innovation, and perhaps the intellectual property in order to save some bucks?

While I'm not a protectionist, I'm about fair trade, not free trade. As a business owner, I'll continue to do a majority of our programming and other services rather than farm them out. If we're moving to a knowledge economy, then will outsourcing necessarily help U.S. companies enhance their knowledge or lose it?

Dan Schramm
President, Topiary
Chicago

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