Ford abandons Oracle procurement system

Ford Motor Co. is pulling the plug on a four-year-old procurement system based on Oracle Corp.’s software and switching all purchasing operations back to the mainframe applications that the newer technology was designed to replace.

Ford has invested unspecified millions of dollars in the system, which was dubbed Everest and built around Oracle’s databases and business applications. But Ford spokesman Paul Wood this week confirmed that the automaker has decided to shut down Everest and return the purchasing processes that were being run on the system to a set of custom-written mainframe applications. “We completed an evaluation of all the production and nonproduction procurement systems and made the decision to transition back to the proven, current system,” Wood said.

Dot-Com Era Origins

The development of Everest began in 1999, at the height of the dot-com era. According to Wood, the project was separate from Covisint Inc., a Web-based business-to-business exchange for the automotive industry that Ford and Oracle helped create. Covisint is now owned by Compuware Corp.

Wood said Ford started to go live with the system in 2000. He declined to say how many suppliers or internal business units the system supports, but he noted that the technology is widely used in some form throughout Ford.

Wood also wouldn’t comment about any problems with the system. But sources indicated that Everest was hampered by poor performance.

Ford now plans to migrate some features from Everest to its mainframe system, using in-house developers. Wood said the company had continued to run the mainframe-based procurement software in tandem with Everest.

Oracle issued a terse statement about Ford’s decision to send Everest to the scrap heap. “Oracle continues to support Ford on its back-to-basics strategic initiatives and IT projects,” the statement said. “Given our desire to honor a nondisclosure agreement in effect, it would be inappropriate for Oracle to comment on any specifics.”

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