Avon slams the brakes on SAP deployment, proving once again that enterprise software is hard

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News emerged this morning that Avon Products is scrapping a planned roll out of an SAP order management system and taking a charge of $100 million to $125 million. The Wall Street Journal had the story (registration required).

This should remind all of us that while everyone talks about the consumerization of IT, and while we understand the need to make our mission-critical applications as easy to use as iPhone apps, that’s a very tough job. After all, enterprise-resource planning (ERP) software — or in this case, order management — is not for the faint of heart. Avon Products disclosed the charges associated with the failed roll out in an 8K filing with the SEC yesterday.

An SAP spokesman told the CIO Journal, which has more here (again, registration required), that it worked on the back end of this project only. That leads to another point: Enterprise software is very heavily connected to other systems so it’s sometimes hard to figure out where things broke down, hence the finger pointing.

I’ve reached out to SAP for comment and will update as I hear back.

This is about way more than SAP — which is the ERP leader. It hits all the big guys — Oracle, Microsoft, CA, etc.  If you don’t believe me, follow Chris Kanaracus over at IDG News who has made pretty much an entire beat out of failed enterprise software implementations from Oracle, SAP and others.

So, the next time you see your CIO, give him or her a hug.

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