Extensity: Gobbled Up, but Not ForgottenBy Joshua Weinberger | Posted 2003-04-01 Print
Dossiers: Now that Extensity is no longer independent, but rather a division of enterprise-software company Geac, users might be forgiven for wondering to whom to make out this month's check.
Now that Extensity is no longer independent, but rather a division of enterprise-software company Geac, users might be forgiven for wondering to whom to make out this month's check. Except no one seems fazed.
If anything, UCLA's Rebecca Beatty suggests, "recently the support's been even a little bit better than before." During her 1999 implementation, Extensity switched out the lead person she'd been expecting to work with. "We never got that person back. It was a difficult period."
The state university signed a contract in mid-1998 (and UCLA's purchase order came the following year) but the first user didn't go live until 2002. (Extensity won out "because Concur wouldn't let us talk to a customer until we'd signed a contract"; Extensity provided a site visit.) Even now, only a fraction of the campus is on the system. "It's been a hard road, and difficult," she says.
Extensity "didn't quite understand what they were getting into with a university setting—and we didn't understand either." In the business world, for example, approvals by proxy "are the exception; in an academic environment they're the norm. Faculty don't do their own expense reports; they have others do it." As a result, "we've had to do a lot of customization," but despite it all, Beatty feels confident her 11,000 pending users will be up and running by year's end.
Office Depot's Cathy Kollman (a member of Extensity's customer-advisory board) says that "when I had issues they'd get their highest level people on it—but sometimes it took a little longer than I wanted." For Ball Corp.'s Mona Heffernan, there's "a little bit of control over the system that we wish we had. The kinds of fields the user will see, for example—we can't do that ourselves." It's frustrating, she says, that "we have to go to Extensity for that."
CH2M Hill's Mike Walker says his firm "was just going to recode an in-house application when we stumbled across Extensity" in 2000, but now a 5,000-seat license is held up at just 100 users. "It's not rolled out for a number of reasons," Walker says. Mostly, though, it's "because the cost of rolling it out—the user-education cost—is massive." To be of any use to them at all, he says, the system "requires a 90-minute training session."
Spirent Controller Phil Walton agrees: "It's education that's the bottleneck now— not the technology."
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