Agressos ERP Takes on Oracle, SAP, Microsoft

The European company talks up its Web-based, SOA-enabled product as it moves into the "people-related" enterprise resource planning market.

Theres a new enterprise resource planning kid on the block, and it appears to be spoiling for a fight.

The company, based in Sliedrecht, Netherlands, is called Unit 4 Agresso—a name that fits its overall attitude quite well, as it prepares to challenge powerful ERP market leaders Oracle, SAP and Microsoft.

Unit 4 Agresso is a $450 million provider of business and security software, with a large base of customers in Eastern and Western Europe, a company spokesperson said.

Agresso—minus the "Unit 4"—is the name of the North American subsidiary, which is based in Victoria, British Columbia. Agresso claims to be one of the fastest-growing providers of financial and business management software in a number of market segments, including local government, professional services, higher education and travel.

Agresso is achieving this growth by boldly undercutting the Big Three in pricing and by providing a highly configurable, Web-based ERP product for SMBs (small and midsize businesses) that is easy to implement and maintain, Shelley Zapp, CEO for American operations, told eWEEK.

"We are launching a holistic marketing campaign aimed at debunking the tall tales other enterprise software companies tell their customers," Zapp said. "Were telling potential customers that they need to stop listening to what the big ERP companies are telling you, that they are the only ones able to provide what you need on a daily basis.

"We never lock our customers into anything. You pay for what you use, per month, per seat, and nothing more. We dont lock anybody into long-term contracts or agreements, and we dont try to sell you more than you need to get your work done accurately," Zapp said.

Agresso handles only "people-related" ERP, such as human resources, procurement, finance and benefits. "We dont do product channel ERP, or warehousing, areas like that. We specialize in people, and aim to sustain, not constrain," Zapp said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifSAP and Oracle are battling for market share. Click here to read more.

Agresso offers a fully integrated suite of ERP solutions for companies in the professional services and public sector. More than 2,400 companies and organizations in 100 countries already deploy Agresso Business World for both operational support and strategic management, a company spokesperson said.

The companys role-based, Web services- and SOA (service-oriented architecture)-enabled solutions include financial management, human resources and payroll, procurement management, project costing and billing, reporting and analytics, and business process automation.

Zapp said the company will pursue market sectors such as finance, accounting and insurance; architecture, engineering and construction; IT services; nonprofits; and the public sector.

Agresso launched officially in the U.S. market in July.

The company is targeting an area that current ERP solutions cannot address, Zapp said: people-centered organizations that experience rapid change in their businesses.

"Any company that is rapid-changing and fast-growing is going to have a lot of people-centric ERP needs," Zapp said. "Those are the companies we specialize in, the ones we seek out. Thats where we do our best work. With Agresso, there is a tremendous opportunity to leverage business opportunities on an ongoing basis. We are looking for prophetic, fast-moving organizations that we call BLINC—Businesses Living IN Change—organizations whose managements are both bottom-line-oriented and focused on future growth."

/zimages/1/28571.gifMicrosoft puts its Great Plains ERP on the fast track. Read more here.

Agresso offers business process, workflow and reporting melded into a simple unified model, Zapp said. It also has the "agility" to change finance operations quickly and easily (for example, following a merger or change of internal operations structure) and have results in hours, instead of days, she said.

With more than 10,000 sites and approximately 1.1 million users, Agresso offers a unique, change-oriented architecture substantially different from those of current ERP leaders, Zapp said.

"We find that so many potential customers of ours are trapped by Oracle and SAP," Zapp said. "Were planning to open up that gestalt. Weve found that about every five to seven years, the big guys tell their customers they need to blow up their current systems and start over, buying all new software and hardware," Zapp said. "Who needs that?"

Oracle and SAP sources contacted by eWEEK declined to comment for this story.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...