Oracle Extends Fixed-Cost Offerings
Mid-sized, high-tech manufacturing companies that have delayed addressing Year 2000 compliance may have a new safety net to break their fall. Through a fixed-cost, rapid-implementation program being offered by Oracle Corp., manufacturers may cap the often-lengthy implementations and open-ended costs required to bring most materials resource planning (MRP) packages online.
Earlier this month Oracle unveiled the latest offering under its FastForward program, a discrete manufacturing application suite intended for high tech manufacturers. Called FastForward ManufacturingRPM for High Tech, the solution builds upon a series of other FastForward application suites that have emerged from the database giant since last September. Available suites include FastForward FinancialsRPM, FastForward Public Sector Sector FinancialsRPM and FastForward for ManufacturingRPM. The company plans to offer a process manufacturing package by the third quarter of this year. The company says other configurations may be announced throughout the year.
The "RPM" designates "Rapid Preconfigured Model," and means the products use standardized release 11 configurations of Oracle’s Enterprise Application suite developed by Oracle’s consulting organization. The FastForward program is designed for companies with annual revenue under $500 million and works on the premise of completing an implementation under a fixed-cost, fixed-time contract.
The high-tech manufacturing package, which has 30 user seats, carries a $575,000 price tag and includes licenses to financial applications and manufacturing/MRP modules, one year of Oracle’s OracleSilver support package and an educational component. The program promises implementation in a 90-day window or less through Oracle’s 10,000-person consulting unit. Alternatively, customers can contract with a local Oracle Solution Provider company. The package differs from the standard manufacturing package announced late last year with the addition of a quality control module.
Although the program is offered for deployment on both Windows NT and Unix systems, preloaded configurations are only available for Unix systems from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc.
To promise a fixed-price, fixed-time implementation, Oracle has taken steps to limit the extent of any implementation. A potential customer must complete a questionnaire to qualify for the program. Some of the limitations Oracle won’t handle in the fixed-price implementation include the following: multiple languages, multiple currencies and migration of legacy data from existing MRP systems. "We have the ability to do data migration for our customers, but to make the offering as straightforward as possible, we’re not including data migration," says Eve Milrod, Oracle senior director of mid-market business development.
While it may be a fixed-price program, one user found that there’s still room for negotiation. Dick Edwards, vice president of IT at Pony Express Delivery Services Inc. (www.ponyexp.com), was facing a year-end deadline to renew a contract for outsourced mainframe financial applications or find an alternative solution.
"We did negotiate the license fee on the products themselves, but the implementation is a flat-fee kind of deal," Edwards explains. "From their list prices, we got [Oracle] to commit some additional users -- that we will add later on -- at the current pricing structure."
"We implemented on Windows NT, which was new to us," Edwards explains. The company used Dell 2300 and 6300 servers in a three-tier configuration, and spent a couple of weeks working with the Oracle consulting team. "When they actually implemented the system, the actual load of the applications and database was fairly smooth because of that," he says. Two Oracle consultants helped the company go live in 25 days.
Of the experience, Edwards says he "would allocate more training time. Our user departments are trying to learn the applications as they do their work."
FastForward ManufacturingRPM for High Tech