Government ERP Uniqueness

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-04-12 Print this article Print

The questions, however, will strike anybody who works in government IT as hopelessly naive. A whopping zero percent of AMS ERP software sales revenue came from nongovernment sales. To spell out the obvious, that means that AMS is nowhere, no-how a competitor in the same commercial market as SAP-Oracle-PeopleSoft. That "we make no ERP software sales money whatsoever from the commercial market" percentage is based on the fact that AMS software isnt just customized for the government sector; its built from the ground up for the government because the government is so vastly different from the commercial sector in its software needs.
Catherine Morales, vice president of AMS Public Sector Group, said the budgeting process through Congress and the federal government that determines how funds are allocated has absolutely no parallel in the commercial sector. That process, she said, determines types of requirements and roles around financial management that are vastly different from commercial-sector roles and requirements. Indeed, the uniqueness of government work is why AMS employs an army of government-certified accountants.
AMS has competed in the government marketplace for more than 20 years. In the past five years alone, the company has done 20 implementations, the most recent of which were the Library of Congress and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Sixty government organizations have implemented the companys ERP software. Although AMS does offer IT consulting for nongovernment sectors, it does not serve the commercial marketplace for ERP software at all. Dont get me wrong. Ive written about the DOJs definition of the ERP market before, and I believe now what I believed then: Its unacceptably narrow. But if youre going to point to software such as that from AMS as being a viable competitor for commercial-sector giants such as Oracle or PeopleSoft or SAP, youre not going to be able to concoct a convincing argument. Is Lawson Software a convincing competitor in the ERP commercial sector? More so than AMS, thats for sure. Its retail customers include L.L. Bean, Safeway, McDonalds and Target. In addition, it counts healthcare and, yes, public-sector companies as its customers. Scrutinizing the state of Michigans choice of Lawson Software could yield a better argument for hypocrisy and for a broader definition of the ERP market. Whether such a scrutiny will get Oracle out from under the antitrust screws is another question entirely, and to hear the answer, well have to stay tuned to the court trial when it starts up in June. Write to Lisa Vaas at Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997. Editors Note: This story was updated to remove a misinterpretation of AMS revenue stream. Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at for the latest database news, views and analysis. Be sure to add our database news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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