29 April 2010

Fire! (and Ready, Aim . . .)

I read Evan Levy's blog post with enormous interest today. Why?

The conversations and challenges he describes regarding organizations looking for an MDM vendor are hauntingly familiar. I have similar conversations in the BI / ERP arenas where FMT Systems conducts most of its work.


As with Mr. Levy, I find myself asking clients and prospects, "What are you trying to accomplish?" The answers to this question are various, as might be expected, which of course leads to a discussion of priorities, business process automation issues and concerns, as well as suitability of different tools for specific user communities.


Then comes the inevitable question, "Well, what do you think of [insert vendor name here]'s offering for (BI/ERP)? We already have their [insert product name here] and maybe we should look at them first."


Actually, no -- organizations should be looking at their needs and requirements first! Think about which tactics will enable your company/agency/enterprise's strategy and meet its goals. Then select the best tool for accomplishing those objectives. All of us have seen the reverse scenario in action and it doesn't work.

26 April 2010

Musings from Collaborate 2010


It seems that while some of FMT Systems's colleagues were at the Oracle user conference last week, a question arose. "What does FMT Systems think about Oracle's product User Productivity Kit (a.k.a. UPK)?" As an organization we have tried to find something we like about this product and it simply hasn't occurred.


Some History


UPK was actually one more step in PeopleSoft's long journey to uncover a suitable online training tool that would speed the process of developing training materials for its ERP product. When Oracle purchased PeopleSoft, UPK was being licensed for use from a third party. Oracle was obligated to continue that agreement as part of the purchase. Further, Oracle hadn't gained much traction in the training arena for its Tutor product. So some wise soul within Oracle decided to push Tutor as a business process and SOX compliance tool and use UPK as its training tool.


Strangely Oracle is in the same position now with UPK that it is with its Tutor product. The foundation of both software applications relies upon technology owned by third parties. In the case of Tutor, it's Microsoft, and historically this has caused interoperability issues. For UPK, it's Adobe.



Training Perspective


The software market for rapid development of training materials is still highly fragmented, yet one major player stands out (no, not Oracle) -- Adobe. The company's purchases over the years have continually strengthened its position in the documentation and training arena. Adobe owns Framemaker, Flash, Shockwave, and Captivate, to name a few; all of these software tools were developed by companies that Adobe later purchased and successfully integrated into its product line.


When Oracle UPK is compared against Adobe Captivate, I fail to understand why any organization would purchase the former over the latter. Captivate does everything that UPK will and it is astonishingly less expensive ($700/seat versus $10,000/seat).


I also hear the question you are asking. "What about Oracle's pre-loaded content?" Isn't that a reason to purchase UPK? I don't think it is. FMT consultants have worked with that material and most of it ends up being deleted because it doesn't apply to the customer's environment. Why pay $100K (in the instance of EBS R12 purchasing and procurement content) for material that isn't usable for your environment?

Captivate, due to its design and technology foundation, is a broader based tool. It can be used for more than software training material development. Further, Captivate's user interface is easier to use and more efficient. FMT implementation team members have used both UPK and Captivate, and we prefer Captivate for all of these reasons.


Finally when our clients ask for our suggestion regarding which tool to use for rapid material development for ERP training, we recommend Captivate. Which tools do you use for rapid training material development for your Oracle EBS or PeopleSoft environment? The consultants at FMT and I would love to hear about your experiences.