Oracle Corp. boasted famously in television advertisements earlier this year that implementing its own e-business software saved it $1 billion.
But Mickey McBride has a message for anyone looking to reap such savings from Oracles 11i suite of business applications: Wait.
"The upgrade was a difficult process," said McBride, manager of financial applications at IMCO Recycling Inc., in Irving, Texas, which completed an upgrade to Oracle 11i for financials and process manufacturing applications in late April. "There were a lot of bugs, a lot of things they still need to perfect. The longer you wait to upgrade, the better off youll be."
From the start, the upgrade was problematic for IMCO. Even loading the software took 36 hours beyond the 72 IMCO had allotted for it. Then came the bugs.
"We had a lot of problems testing it because of the high number of bugs," McBride said. "As soon as wed get through testing it, theyd ship another patch and upgrade, and we had to start all over again."
Customer support, though it has improved, was spotty at first, McBride added. "At first, it was like they were just learning it along with us," he said.
Once the system was up and running, its performance was a disappointment.
"The biggest issue was performance," McBride said. "We had the same back-end hardware and desktop hardware, but performance took a big hit when we went from 11.0 to 11i. You would expect the client to be faster on the desktop, but its quite a bit slower. Its disappointing. We wanted a whole lot of functional benefits. We got a couple of little things but not a lot."
McBride said IMCO jumped to 11i too soon. But he also blamed Oracle, of Redwood Shores, Calif., for releasing a product well before its time.
"They definitely released it early. It had thousands and thousands of bugs," McBride said.
That said, if IMCO had to do it all over again, it might delay its implementation but would still choose 11i. McBride said it is the best fit for the companys needs among applications from SAP AG, Baan Co. (now Invensys plc.) and J.D. Edwards Co.
"Long term, [Oracle is] a solid company," McBride said. "Theyve got the database business, too. Its not like their applications business is the whole 9 yards like with the other companies. They have world-class financials. And their process manufacturing module was the closest fit to what we were doing."