Companies bank on enterprise resource software to unify various tasks under one software banner. What they often overlook, however, is that the documents such systems produce aren’t always cost-effective, or even much to look at.

In fact, according to Norwell, Mass-based industry researchers CAP Ventures, as much as 21 per cent of the cost of an ERP rollout is spent designing and producing documents.

It was a fact learned by Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada, the country’s exclusive distributor of Harley motorcycles. Five years ago the company decided it was time for a systems change. It was mired in a world of legacy “piecemeal” computing, said Marco Del Monte, Deeley’s senior application manager.

At the time it opted for the OneWorld ERP package from J.D. Edwards (now PeopleSoft Inc.), but had hardly finished rolling it out when Del Monte realized that it highlighted yet another problem in the IT environment. Forms, specifically customer invoices and packing slips that the software was generating, were all text-based and plain.

“When you get into it, no one has a great (document) product out there in the ERP world,” Del Monte said. “We didn’t feel this was something we could produce for our customers…they looked like garbage.”

So Del Monte went shopping – already active in the ERP user groups, he asked “tough questions” of the document management vendors he studied. “There weren’t many that had that tight fit, that’s important to us,” he recalled. Deeley didn’t have the resources or desire to build in house. Also, they wanted to spend as little as possible to integrate the software into their environment.

Ultimately they opted for Wal