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This is a continuation of the ebizQ's "Talking with…" series, in which we "meet" with software company executives. These interviews provide insights into disruptive technology for other suppliers and investors as well as users.

On the morning after the big game, it's always easy to see why it didn't turn out the way you had hoped. The reason enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) software working together did not meet everyone's expectations is just as simple. No one could believe it at the time, but it's not surprising in retrospect: "Businesses wanted it their way, not the software's way."

ERP encouraged users to change the way they did business. It succeeded, especially during the Y2K scare, but hit a brick wall at the firewall. SCM was supposed to step in and tie an enterprise to its customers and suppliers. During the 1990s, dozens of SCM companies emerged but most were acquired by ERP suppliers. The do-it-our way design and development philosophy prevailed. Business process management (BPM) is the next great try at getting it right. BPM takes the opposite approach -- automation that adapts to the way you do business.

One of the biggest advocates of the new approach is Jan Baan, ironically one of the biggest advocates of the old approach. Baan adds customer relationship management (CRM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) to the mix of enterprise applications that should eventually join ERP and SCM under the BPM umbrella. His Baan Company grew during the 1990s to become the sixth largest ERP supplier before it was acquired by Invensys in 2000. Baan's progression from "do it our way" to "have it your way" is an instructive story in disruptive technology for suppliers and users alike.

Separate data from process

The journey began when the concept called the Customer Order Decoupling Point (CODP) was added to Baan ERP. The idea of CODP is to link production planning to actual customer orders rather than sales forecasts. Engineering and logistics were tied in later. Although the concept is heavily related to the product supply chain, it can be translated to the services supply chain as well.


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