Oracle partner struggles with Fusion, but gives thumbs-up

Mark Fontecchio

A Texas-based Oracle partner and PeopleSoft implementer is diving headfirst into Oracle Fusion Applications, getting a taste of what Fusion is like as it tries to sell the new application suite to clients.

What eVerge Group has found is that Fusion is a challenge, with its consultants struggling to let go of PeopleSoft and not being able to reverse engineer the application to learn its intricacies. But overall the company said the functionality you get from Fusion Applications is worth the difficulty.

Before we had PeopleSoft in-house, and we could do whatever the hell we wanted and boom, it would be done. So (our Fusion consultants are) a bit uncomfortable not being able to go in and not do anything they want with the product.

Esteban Neely, president, eVerge Group

In particular, eVerge is implementing Fusion Applications Human Capital Management, which includes HR and payroll functions. It expects to be live with it by April. Meanwhile, eVerge is also selling Fusion Apps. President Esteban Neely said the company is about to sign a contract with one well-known nonprofit organization that is an existing PeopleSoft user.

Fusion Applications is Oracle’s long awaited next-generation suite of applications, years in the making. It became generally available last fall, though early implementers have been using it for about a year now. Make no mistake about it, though: In the eyes of Oracle end users, Fusion Applications is still very new. In a recent survey by SearchOracle.com, only 8% said they would adopt Fusion Applications in 2012.

Fusion Applications includes several modules. HCM is one; others include customer relationship management (CRM), Financials, and Supply Chain Management. According to the SearchOracle.com survey, only 25% of those upgrading to Fusion Applications planned to do a full upgrade. Almost 44% are going to do it module-by-module, while the other 31% don’t know.

For eVerge, implementing it is largely about learning the product’s details so they can turn around and sell it. The company, based in Plano, Tex., partners with Oracle on projects for PeopleSoft, Siebel, Oracle Business Intelligence and Hyperion. Neely said the company has “several hundred clients” and has as many as 70 active projects going at once.

“We had two consultants on the PeopleSoft practice that we moved full-time to the Fusion practice,” Neely said. “So we’re learning as we go. This is forcing the two guys to really go through it and get their hands on it.”

Oracle says that Fusion Applications can be used in-house or hosted in one of Oracle’s data centers. Thus far companies are largely opting for the hosting model, pushed both by Oracle and the burdensome infrastructure requirements for building it in-house. And eVerge is no exception.

Neely said that going with the hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) model has been difficult, especially for his PeopleSoft consultants that are used to being able to dig around in the applications.

“Before we had PeopleSoft in-house, and we could do whatever the hell we wanted and boom, it would be done,” Neely said. “So they’re a bit uncomfortable not being able to go in and not do anything they want with the product.”

But overall Neely said the SaaS model is a good one because when he looks at his customers with PeopleSoft, he has found that “going live is easy but staying alive is not.” Having PeopleSoft in-house means having to apply patches yourself and doing more maintenance.

“Once you go live with SaaS, the organization knows it is somewhat limited in what it can do,” he said. “But it can focus on other applications rather than on maintenance.”

View the next item in this Essential Guide: Fast food chain forgoes R12 for Oracle Fusion or view the full guide: Making the switch to Oracle Fusion Apps

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