Ray Thomas knew what he was getting into when he was hired at Beekley Corp., a manufacturer of medical devices
and custom luggage tags for the hospitality industry.
Thomas joined the Bristol, Conn.-based firm in 2003, a few months after 75-person strong company had purchased Siebel Systems' CRM application for about 40 end users. In Thomas' past experiences as a finance guy, he often wound up supporting IT initiatives.
"My predecessor had limited IT experience. I've had everything from Apple IIs to Macs," said Thomas, who is currently the acting director of operations. "They hired me in, and I realized they had a problem with the implementation. It was just an unfortunate happening."
Siebel simply had more features and functionality than a company the size of Beekley needed. The maintenance and support costs for the application only made it worse.
Big costs for a small firm
Currently running Siebel 7.0.5, Beekley has two support people in IT. Most of the support calls the company made revolved around changing a field here and there, speeding up response times or understanding why data was missing, Thomas said. For a CRM vendor like Siebel which serves large, Fortune 500 companies, a two-person IT staff calling for help with changing a field was not a top priority.
"When we called with a problem, Siebel didn't want to deal with the day-to-day stuff, they said, 'Ask a VAR or reseller," Thomas said. "We're a small revenue source for a lot of the VARs. We were not on the top of the list of priorities either."
Not only that, but Beekley had signed on to a short-lived cooperative initiattive between Siebel and Microsoft, who were pitching a combination of Siebel CRM and Microsoft's Great Plains ERP at the midmarket.
"I think ours was the one company [that] was selected for that," Thomas said.
It wasn't a good position for Beekley.
"We were charged at large corporate rates and wound up at the lower end of the pecking order," Thomas said. "I was basically paying support for Siebel and had to go outside and obtain tech support anyway."
After an extensive search, Beekley turned to a third party provider to support its enterprise application. According to Thomas, Rimini Street, a Las Vegas-based support provider, has cut Beekley's annual support costs by 50%.
"If you could throw all your wishes into a basket, that's what Rimini Street has done," he said. "They are responsive and much less expensive."
Support becomes Oracle-SAP battleground
Increasingly, organizations are paying someone other than their enterprise software vendor to support their applications. Rimini Street provides support for Siebel, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications, which all came under the umbrella of bought PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards, and then a year later TomorrowNow, which also supports PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applications.
SAP purchased TomorrowNow in 2005 to lure customers away from Oracle products and into the SAP software suite. SAP and TomorrowNow have since been shine a spotlight on third-party support. Thomas, however, is unconcerned with the lawsuit, since his support provider is not named.
"Upgrade costs are rather steep," he said. "The product does a great deal more than we need it to. We just need it maintained and flexibility added to it."