Reach Out and Integrate

American Management Systems melds third-party wares into its own product line.

American Management Systems Inc. (AMS) has been notable among integrators for developing its own family of software products. Now, it is welcoming other software packages into the fold.

In recent months, the company has unveiled a series of linkages between its products and those of prominent e-business software providers. AMS last June began offering Aribas Ariba Buyer module as part of AMSs Momentum and FFS financial management products. In April, the company adopted Epicentrics portal software to provide access to its federal applications.

And last month, AMS rolled out the Federal eBusiness Suite, which integrates offerings from such com-panies as FreeMarkets and Siebel Systems into AMSs financial and procurement products.

Zip Brown, VP of AMSs eGovernment Solutions Group, says the company has decided to "buy"—via partnerships rather than build when it comes to expanding into such fields as e-purchasing. That way, AMS gains access to software from a company "whose purpose in life is a certain niche" and has the resources to keep its products best in class, Brown says.

AMSs outreach strategy is timed with the maturation of enterprise application integration (EAI) and portal technology. "We were looking at what is now called EAI a couple of years ago," says Brown, who adds that the market was not mature enough to embark on a product integration strategy. AMS thought it best to wait out the vendor shakeout. "The burden is on us to do the due diligence on product … viability," Brown says.

Brown also notes that AMSs open architecture product development approach allows it to make "trade-offs of building versus buying."

AMS provides first-level support for all of the products that integrate with its own. "We assume the responsibility to resolve first-line issues ourselves," Brown notes, adding that the company will call in its partners when necessary.

While Browns scope of operations is in the government sector, AMSs product partnering philosophy can be found elsewhere in the company. For example, it is teaming with EAI vendor WebMethods in both the government and communications space.

Overall, partnering is a key AMS approach. In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the companys objective is to establish "an extensive network of strategic alliances" to provide solutions and extend AMSs presence in its target markets. Those target markets are new media and communications firms, financial institutions, state and local governments, and federal agencies.

For AMS, it is partnering with a product twist.