JD Edwards pushes CRM and ERP integration

J.D. Edwards & Co. last week announced a series of enhancements to its business applications and detailed work it’s doing to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) applications it bought last fall an effort that was applauded by users who did their own integration in the past.

At its Focus 2002 user conference here, J.D. Edwards introduced upgrades of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management applications in its suite, which was renamed J.D. Edwards 5 last month. The company also said it plans to add support for Web services technology .

But one of the hottest topics at the conference was the ongoing integration of the CRM software that J.D. Edwards acquired through its purchase of Charlotte, N.C.-based YouCentric Inc. in November.

J.D. Edwards said it has already tied some of its ERP applications to YouCentric’s call center and sales force automation tools. The integration of the CRM software is due to be extended to other back-office modules and the company’s supply chain technology starting in September.

Mitch Myers, vice president of operations at FWMurphy in Tulsa, Okla., said the tight integration plans are so appealing that the maker of industrial gauges and switches is ripping out an installation of Siebel Systems Inc.’s CRM applications and replacing them with the J.D. Edwards software.

Don’t Wag the Dog

FWMurphy bought the Siebel applications two years ago, when J.D. Edwards was reselling them instead of offering its own CRM products. But, Myers said, there was no prebuilt data integration available to connect the Siebel software to the J.D. Edwards-based ERP system that FWMurphy uses.

That would have forced the company to hire a consultant to develop a customized interface, Myers said. Using ERP and CRM applications that have been tied together by J.D. Edwards should reduce the potential for interface-related problems when FWMurphy does upgrades, he added. “We feel ERP is the dog, and we don’t want to let the tail wag the dog,” Myers said.

Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., a maker of recreational vehicles and mobile homes in Riverside, Calif., built its own connectors between Siebel’s software and its back-end systems, said Fleetwood CIO Todd Inlander.

Fleetwood runs J.D. Edwards’ ERP applications in some business units and plans to migrate over the next two years to J.D. Edwards 5 for its corporate systems, which now use a mix of homegrown code and applications from Lawson Software Inc. in St. Paul, Minn. But Fleetwood will keep its Siebel installation because of the money it invested in that software, Inlander said.

J.D. Edwards CEO Bob Dutkowsky said the Denver-based company initially partnered with San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel because it’s the CRM market leader. But J.D. Edwards decided to buy YouCentric after it had trouble integrating its applications with Siebel’s software, he added.

Siebel “was the wrong product for J.D. Edwards” because of the latter company’s focus on midsize users, said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Daly City, Calif.

The YouCentric software looks to be a better fit with J.D. Edwards’ installed base, he said.

J.D. Edwards lost US$179.8 million in the fiscal year that ended in October but returned to profitability in its latest quarter. Greenbaum said the company appears to be moving out of turnaround mode and making progress in positioning itself as a customer-focused vendor. “They’re not ramming too much technology down users’ throats,” he said.

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