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SAP beats Oracle in Jefferson County

Memories of an Oracle implementation gone awry and a problem with compliance functionality led Jefferson County, Alabama to choose SAP over the Oracle E-Business Suite.

Oracle may have some strong E-Business Suite software modules, but the IT decision makers for Jefferson County, Alabama, aren't interested. Instead, the county has opted to go with Oracle rival SAP AG for its business application needs.

Jefferson County is in the process of implementing SAP's Financials, Inventory, Purchasing, Business Intelligence and Supplier Relationship Management software, said David Shockey, a systems analyst who is working on the SAP project as a security administrator. Later this summer, the county plans to deploy SAP's Human Resources and payroll applications as well.

Jefferson County is also an Oracle customer, running a few different versions of the Oracle Database, including 10g, 9i and, in one instance, Database 8.17, which is being used to support an older application, Shockey said. The county also uses Oracle Portal software.

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Despite its existing relationship with Oracle, Jefferson County opted to go with SAP after a yearlong evaluation process that included in-depth examinations of Oracle E-Business Suite modules and comparable SAP products. In the end, Shockey said, the county went with SAP despite the fact that it was more expensive.

One of the reasons Jefferson County IT decision makers chose SAP was that they became convinced that SAP would do a better job of helping them comply with local regulations.

"We have some processes here that are legally required, and SAP said they could do some of those things right out of the box, whereas Oracle and Lawson said that doing those things would require a customization," Shockey said.

Another reason the county chose SAP had to do with memories of an implementation gone bad.

"Oracle implemented their [payroll] applications for the Jefferson County School Board [several] years ago and it was a fiasco -- a horrible failure," Shockey said. "What was really bad about it is they went for several weeks without being able to pay people. A lot of people still remembered that, and it counted against them."

But Jefferson County plans to continue using Oracle's flagship database going forward.

"My experience with Oracle is that their database is just great. I think it's the best thing out there," Shockey said. "But their other applications fall short of what they advertise. They're not the only ones guilty of that, but from what I've seen, they're one of the worst offenders."

Oracle Financials, Human Resources lead the E-Business Suite pack

The most widely used Oracle E-Business Suite modules are Financials, Human Resources (HR) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), a new survey finds. surveyed 683 IT professionals who have a say in the IT decision making process at companies of varying sizes and found that 25% were currently using Oracle E-Business Suite modules in their organizations.

Among that group, the Oracle Financials and HR management modules of the E-Business Suite were the most popular, with, respectively, about 38% and 18% of E-Business Suite users saying they employ them in their organization. Oracle's CRM module took third place and is used by about 14% of E-Business Suite customers, according to the survey results.

Meanwhile, Oracle's Learning Management E-Business Suite module placed dead last at 6%. Not far behind were Oracle Service, Contracts, Logistics, and Maintenance modules with about 7% each.

The results of the survey seem pretty accurate and probably represent the "lay of the land," said Noel Yuhanna, an analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. It's not surprising that Financials and HR lead the pack, he said, because so many different types of organizations require those types of functionality.

Ray Wang, a business applications analyst who also works for Forrester, agreed.

"Oracle has always been dominant and strong in the Financials piece," he said.

Forrester also believes that some future version of the Oracle E-Business Suite will make up the business applications backbone of Oracle Fusion, the company's plan to integrate many acquisitions into a single, service-enabled and "best of" platform.

"We think that the Fusion applications will really be E-Business Suite 13, 14 or 15," Wang said. "It makes more sense for them to do it that way."

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