CMS Offers ERP Lite

Because enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations in large corporate accounts have reached a point of saturation, ERP mainstays such as SAP America Inc. ( and PeopleSoft Inc. ( are attempting to exploit other revenue sources, such as a relatively untapped "middle market" of corporate accounts in small- to medium-sized businesses. CMS Manufacturing Systems Inc. (CMS, has been an ERP stalwart in this marketplace for years, but with the introduction of CMS/400 Entry -- a "lite" version of its flagship CMS/400 software -- CMS is looking to make its ERP solution available to a new class of enterprise customer.

Like its bigger brother, CMS/400 Entry includes more than 30 integrated modules and provides functions similar to the base CMS/400 product, but features a much more agreeable $69,000 price tag that sacrifices only the "unlimited user" policy that is standard with vanilla CMS/400.

Analysts estimate as many as 10,000 midsize manufacturing companies may exist in the United States alone. These organizations represent a big opportunity for ERP vendors anxious to increase their user bases by growing new markets. SAP, especially, has been aggressive in pursuing these midrange accounts, introducing a raft of new initiatives: the Accelerated SAP (ASAP) methodology, TeamSAP and Certified Business Solutions (CBS) programs, among others.

But these big-time ERP players are discovering that in order to properly place their products in midrange accounts, they must often provide refined implementation methodologies and drastically shorten the installation process of the ERP software and its associated modules. CMS, on the other hand, has been custom tailoring ERP applications for the small- to medium-sized marketplace since its inception, a factor which some industry watchers indicate could give it an advantage in this burgeoning space.

"The fastest growing market in 1999 is the 500 employee and under manufacturer," agrees John Herlihy, director of global ERP solutions for small- and medium-sized business with IBM Corp. "Many well-known ERP vendors have struggled with delivering affordable yet complete ERP solutions into this space while CMS has focused on these growing, niche companies for years."

As far as features are concerned, CMS/400 Entry includes integrated EDI/Release accounting and e-commerce processing capabilities, in addition to standard ERP amenities such as: customer relationship management, materials and logistics management, manufacturing planning and execution, advanced planning and scheduling, tooling and maintenance integration, and financial management modules. CMS/400 also provides a GUI for Windows client machines.