Public-Sector CIOs Debate: One Vendor or Many?

Keenly aware of staff and budget constraints, government IT departments wrestle with their mix of applications. Is it best to take as much ERP and CRM functionality as you can from one software vendor, or opt for a best-of-breed approach? This question came to prominence again recently as mid-market vendor Infor announced it will pay $92 million to acquire Hansen, a public-sector applications provider.

Infor plans to create an integrated suite for state and local governments, says Jim Schaper, chairman and CEO, in what he hopes will be a differentiator against SAP and Oracle. The suite will marry Hansen's revenue asset management software with public-sector functionality from two other Infor acquisitions—Datastream and Workbrain.

While Nelson Rivera, CIO for Monroe County, N.Y., sees a need for an integrated suite, he also wonders whether such software could really handle the demands of local and state governments.

"Integration or simplification of one's application portfolio is always of interest, but cost is a large factor" he says, "and there's the question of whether one 'enterprise' system is able to meet the needs of every department or area with minimal or no customization."

Monroe County—which uses SAP for financials, purchasing and HR—did months of customization. Monroe uses Hansen's software for workforce and asset management in its public works area. The county has no formal plans to consolidate on either SAP or Hansen, Rivera says.

In the city of Orlando, Fla., CSO and Deputy CIO John Matelski has been watching with interest Oracle's recent acquisitions. (Orlando uses Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 8.10 for ERP but hasn't chosen enterprisewide CRM.) "If used effectively, integrated applications will enable you to make your business leaner," he says. "They can streamline wasteful processes and put information in the hands of the right people at the right time."

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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