5 Reasons Businesses Still Hate Enterprise Software

Houston, we have a problem: Businesses have major issues with the enterprise software they're paying millions of dollars to implement and support, according to new Forrester data. The solution? More software!

By Thomas Wailgum
Thu, March 04, 2010

CIO — Got Issues? Enterprise software sure does.

That's according to a new report from Forrester Research's principal analyst Paul Hamerman, appropriately titled Enterprise Apps Customers Have Issues.

[ Just how far will Oracle go to protect its ERP support Golden Egg? CIO.com reports | And an analysis of The Future of ERP ]

What issues, you might ask? Respondents to the 2009 survey (business process and applications pros from 111 enterprises) cite their top five:

1. High Cost of Ownership: 91% of respondents said it was a "significant" or "very significant" business problem.
Forrester Comment: "We believe that the concerns related to cost of ownership are primarily due to the installations of on-premises packaged applications, where internal support requirements and vendor maintenance contracts are a significant burden to IT shops, often causing other projects to take the back seat."

2. Difficult Upgrades: 87% said it was a "significant" or "very significant" business problem.
Forrester Comment: "While upgrading the packaged apps will extend their useful life and provide relief from vendor-imposed version support deadlines, the upgrade process itself is often disruptive and expensive."

3. Poor Cross-Functional Processes: 86% said it was a "significant" or "very significant" business problem.
Forrester Comment: "The issue results from the fact that enterprise applications have been designed and implemented as functional modules, whereas the real end-to-end processes span multiple business functions."

4. What the Apps Deliver Doesn't Match Business Requirements: 80% said it was a "significant" or "very significant" business problem.
Forrester Comment: "While packaged applications are mature in many of the core ERP areas (such as finance, procurement and HR), most customers still find gaps that must be addressed via customization or workarounds."

5. Inflexibility Limits Process Change. 75% said it was a "significant" or "very significant" business problem.
Forrester Comment: "Inflexibility tends to be more acute in older legacy packages, as well as modern packages that have technically complex tools for workflow and business rules configuration."

Gee. That's it?

The staggering intensity of dissatisfaction, coupled with the idea that enterprise software is a not just an IT concern but a real business problem, doesn't just beg the question—it screams the question: What, then, is enterprise software actually doing well right now? (Perhaps that's in Forrester's next report.)

Unfortunately, Hamerman offers an (unintentionally) ironic and sobering fix for all the app issues that are ailing companies.

"Better technology will address some of these concerns over time, as better process configuration tools and flexibility appear in the packages," writes Hamerman. "Most customers, however, will not see significant improvements unless they invest in major upgrades or replacements with next-generation packages."

More software investment? Given all the aforementioned business app issues, that shouldn't be too hard to get approved in next year's budget.

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