A startup blogged about their choice to go with hosted web apps instead of the traditional office suite in order to save money. It got me thinking more about a dilema I’ve had about deciding whether it’s time for me to start taking the company I work for away from Microsoft.
We’re in the market for a new ERP system and there is a shocking lack of big players targeting the small business market. I used to not be so bothered by this, but the consolidation of software companies that been going on for the past few years has made me wary. It wasn’t that long ago that the thought of Peoplesoft has a buyout target would have been laughable, but now you have to question every company. The big guys, Oracle and SAP, claim to have small business solutions, but they’re pricey and incomplete.
Microsoft seems to be taking their collection of business packages very seriously and their plans to consolidate Great Plains, Solomon, and Axaxpta into one system sounds promising. People may knock Microsoft a lot, but every complex system has problems. My hang up is actually one of the product’s strengths: integration. If we drop $150-200k into a system, we’re tied to it for a VERY long time.
Right off the bat we’ll need to upgrade to the latest version of Office (we’re running 2000) in order for the really flashy integration to work. I suspect in future revisions, we’ll be tied to new versions of Exchange and Windows Server as well. It just seems like an all or nothing relationship, and I don’t know if that’s the direction we should be going in.
On the other hand, there are several steps in the other direction that I could take… There are other vendors that I’m looking at that still run on Windows, or have web based interfaces, or there are solid open source alternatives… I guess I need to think about it in terms of what choice won’t lose me my job, and what can the company easily live with after I’m gone. Sadly the answer to those two questions is Microsoft.
I’m beginning to see how I got stuck with the crap collection of systems I have now.