Patience finally pays for Peoplesoft

After the crash and burn in 1999, PeopleSoft was not looking very well just a year ago. Until they introduced PeoplsSoft 8. And those who stuck with PeopleSoft are glad they did.

What a difference a year, a new lead-er and a new flagship product can make. Just ask the folks who are watching PeopleSoft. "I'd say the opportunities [for PeopleSoft experts and partners] is pretty fantastic," says Laurie Orlov, an analyst at Forrester Research. You almost feel like knocking on some nearby wood when Orlov lists the reasons she is feeling so rosy about PeopleSoft. You want her to, perhaps, whisper.

She points to the fact that PeopleSoft has more than 3,000 customers ready, willing and able to buy its "add-ons and upgrades," particularly the long-awaited and widely lauded PeopleSoft 8, which was released in September 2000.

"I think the ERP market in general is reviving," adds Orlov. "And, to my knowledge, PeopleSoft has been reviving since the summer. They bought a CRM company. They have new e-procurement software."

A number of PeopleSoft partners are equally confident, both about the attractiveness of the HTML and XML-based PeopleSoft 8 and the job at the helm being performed by the company's new president, former Oracle executive Craig Conway.

"We're very excited," says Kelly Griffith, recruiting manager for ClienTech Online Solutions in Orlando, Fla. "We're seeing a very strong demand for PeopleSoft."

As a result, PeopleSoft pros draw good salaries, and their paychecks are easily covered by the consulting fees they generate. public relations manager Susan Simcox says PeopleSoft consultants earn about 17 percent more than most IT consultants.

An informal salary survey by Sm@rt Partner found PeopleSoft specialists earn at least $60,000 per year—with top salaries breaking the $200,000 barrier. Low-end billing rates come in at about $80 per hour, but can soar to as much as $250 per hour.

While Scott DeGeer, VP of sales for CDG and Associates in Dallas, sees many customers leaning toward Oracle's ERP products these days, he believes PeopleSoft 8 will continue to be a big seller at CDG. "There's generally a tremendous amount of market demand," he says, praising PeopleSoft for pulling itself up by its bootstraps. "They stepped back and took a hard look at themselves, and realized they were going to have to come up with something totally new to reestablish themselves in this market."

Do The Math
New PeopleSoft Technicians:

salary$ 60,000

office space$ 7,000

benefits$ 10,000

training$ 5,000

total $ 82, 000

total days worked 240

optimum billable rate 80 percent or 192 days @ 8 hours/day=1,536 hours

1,536 hours x $80/hour=$ 122,880

profit $ 40,880

Top-Drawer PeopleSoft People:

salary$ 200,000

office space $ 10,000

benefits$ 15,000

training $ 7,000

total$ 232, 000

total days worked240

optimum billable rate80 percent or 192 days @ 8 hours/day=1,536 hours

1,536 hours x $250/hour=$384,000

profit $152,000

Smart Analysis

Formed in 1987, PeopleSoft enjoyed a dizzying rise to the heights of success by the late 1990s. Then it crashed and burned in 1999, when its stock price tumbled an alarming 78 percent. The company retrenched, spent a fortune on research and development, and introduced its new PeopleSoft 8 software last autumn. Those who stuck with PeopleSoft are glad they did, as the company's health is steadily improving and the new Web-based ERP application is selling like hotcakes. While some partners grumble about having to compete with the company's own sale force, most are smiling now that PeopleSoft's tachometer is again on the upswing. Still, PeopleSoft can't afford to rest on its laurels. Just ask the folks at Apple and Novell, which both stumbled after short-term comebacks in 1999 and early 2000.