The Future of ERP: SAP, Plex and Rootstock

The Future of ERP: SAP, Plex and Rootstock

Summary: Cloud ERP suites are here. SAP Business ByDesign is re-entering the fray and players like Plex and Rootstock should compete well with them.


Much of the press the last few weeks has concerned SAP and other vendors as user conferences were everywhere in May. SAP, SAGE, Mercer and others invited me to events all on the same week. I went to an overseas client as I had a long-standing commitment.

Nonetheless, SAP’s Business ByDesign SaaS solution is again getting a lot of visibility. Fellow ZDNet blogger Dennis Howlett will be updating our opus on this product line very soon.

But I believe a different vendor deserves more notice: Plex Systems. They also had a user conference last month and this is a vendor whose SaaS ERP solution has been out for years and has, I believe, about 1,300 customers.

In the last few months, I have interviewed several Plex customers, Plex’s CEO (Mark Symonds) and even crafted a research report (with the help of colleague Tom Ryan) on the company. In all, this firm is hard to fault. In fact, I could only suggest that they:

- Make their PaaS development toolset available to systems integrators and resellers - Accelerate their rollout into other vertical markets

I can also state that much larger entities are looking to Plex as a replacement solution for older on-premise ERP solutions. I spoke at length with a CIO who is considering this across their North American and European operations.

While their install base has had a very North American focus currently, you can expect this to change soon. If you’re a SaaS scorecard keeper, Plex is a true multi-tenant solution.

Bottom line: This is one of those vendors to watch

Rootstock Software has an ERP suite built on the NetSuite cloud and NetSuite cloud development tools. I like them enough already that colleague, Tom Ryan, and I are planning a briefing with them soon. I ran into them at NetSuite’s SuiteCloud a few weeks back but our behind the scenes poking around suggests we need to learn more about them.

Rootstock, like Plex, has its roots on the shop floor, not the back office. In Rootstock’s case, the product uses the NetSuite applications (e.g., Financials, CRM and HR) while building out their own core products. If my notes from SuiteCloud are correct, the Rootstock software has 2995 custom fields, 93 database/tables and 202 suite-lets.

Bottom line: Vendors like Rootstock will be particularly disconcerting to older on-premise vendors. Their ability to create big, functionally rich application suites fast is their core competency: a competency that is made possible via a powerful platform as a service (PaaS). I would also add them to my watch list.

Topics: Cloud, Data Centers, Emerging Tech, Enterprise Software, SAP, Software


Brian is currently CEO of TechVentive, a strategy consultancy serving technology providers and other firms. He is also a research analyst with Vital Analysis.

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  • RE: The Future of ERP: SAP, Plex and Rootstock

    12 Steps to a Better ERP Launch?
    Carlos Lozano, MCS, MBA, Consultant

    Improved processes and a competitive edge are the destination, but how do you get there? Whether your business is entering a first ever enterprise resource planning (ERP) experience or considering a move to an ERP that more effectively meets current requirements, clear expectations and planning can improve your experience and near term success. The following steps will help you reach your goal.

    1) Quantify ROI expectations. Know why you are implementing a new ERP and what the results will be. These should be specific to the processes you are seeking to improve such as inventory, and the time frame in which the ROI is to take place.
    2) 100% organization ?buy in? is essential, including managers and non-managers. Buy in looks this way:
    A. Be willing to commit the time, information, processes and resources to making this transition successful.
    B. Keep the vision of improved competitiveness and profits at the forefront at all times.
    C. Accept that current processes will change and prepare to adapt to the new processes.
    3) Understand who owns the final responsibility for success.
    A. The company is the final owner of the outcome.
    B. Consulting partners facilitate success, provide tools and expertise.
    4) The CEO, COO or CFO assign individuals or a group as project managers and empower them to insure compliance, buy in and smooth process execution. Empowerment is a tool for addressing organizational resistance.
    A. Project managers should include key player from all departments and processes.
    B. Project manager should welcome individual input while conveying that they will have final decision making responsibility.
    5) Assume that the project will take time away from established resources for the project implementation period.
    A. Time impacts productivity.
    B. Time may require additional human resources allocation or redistribution on a temporary basis.
    C. Plan ahead to compensate for these changes.
    6) Stick to the initial scope of the project, unless a critical element has been overlooked, and save the ?wish list? for later.
    7) Acknowledge expertise gaps and bring in objective outside resources when necessary for first round implementation success.
    8) Assume that change is not easy but it is the way to growth. Let go of what isn?t working for your organization. The goal is greater efficiency and competitiveness. If the old way worked, your organization wouldn?t have launched on the path for a new ERP.
    9) Train to reinforce, test, transfer knowledge and insure the best delivery for your project. Training completes the cycle and takes the hypothetical to real world success.
    10) Make a clean break. Do not run parallel systems once you launch. This reinforces old behaviors and habits. Test the system before launch and make sure everything works before you Go Live.
    11) Allocate on-site support for the first 30 days or more after you go live. Do not assume that your human resources already know how to do their job in the new construct. It?s easier to identify and fix glitches earlier than later.
    12) ERP will not be painless but the process can be made easier by following these guidelines.

    Carlos Lozano, an entrepreneur and international manufacturing and ERP software expert, has launched two successful technology companies during the last 20 years. He is currently the CEO of ITS-Dynamics, Inc., with operations in Austin, Texas, Mexico and Chile, and the company is a leading technology partner both the U.S. and in Latin America. Lozano is an MBA graduate of the IPADE School of Business, considered one of the world?s top MBA programs. He may be contacted at or you may visit the company web site:
  • Plex has a laughable architecture

    Based upon ASP and architected with all the elegance of a hairball it will never scale to be a major player. Trust me I did a complete technical due diligence of the product. I wish "analysts" actually understood software architecture before they write articles like the above, but alas this has been this way for the nearly 30 years I have been in the software business and will probably never change.
  • Plex has a laughable architecture (Consona and Jeff Tognoni)

    First, let's be clear. jtognoni is Jeff Tognoni, CEO of Consona.

    I am Mark Symonds, CEO of Plex Systems, providers of Plex Online. Jeff claims to have done a deep dive on our technology. I was here in 2005 when we met with Jeff. I can tell you that Brian went way deeper with his questions than Jeff and his team were capable of. Further, that was five years ago. We are on to SaaS 2.0 now. 500 customers feel that our architecture, and our product functionality, is great.

    We are growing rapidly at the expense of many old-guard on-premise software companies. This clearly creates hostility in certain camps.