PeopleSoft Decries SAP’s Flexibility Claim

“Flexibility” is not a characteristic that can be claimed by its chief rival, SAP AG, for the software it supplies large corporations, PeopleSoft chief executive Craig Conway said Tuesday.

“I have never heard a customer rave about the flexibility of SAP,” said Conway at the PeopleSoft Leadership Summit in Las Vegas. “I have heard (the process of adopting SAP software) described as pouring concrete.”

That description was supported by such PeopleSoft customers as Edward P. Rogel, senior vice president of human resources for paper producer Weyerhauser. But SAP’s chief executive Henning Kagermann last week told a gathering in New Orleans of thousands of its customers at its annual users conference that the road map for future versions of its enterprise planning and management software includes increasing support for more collaboration between businesses; more productivity for users; and more flexibility in how its software can be used to adapt to changing needs of large customers.

Conway scoffed at that notion. “Just because you say it’s true, does not make it true,” he said.

PeopleSoft chief technology officer Rick Bergquist said that PeopleSoft’s software is more easily adapted because users can develop new functions by expressing their needs in rules, rather than having to write new programs in explicit code; and, by reconfiguring the PeopleSoft software they’ve already deployed to take advantage of different features that already exist.

SAP, for its part, said its software has been built to handle some of the most complex tasks facing large enterprises — and customers recognize that.

“Customers are tired of childish vendor vs. vendor combat,” SAP vice president William Wohl said, in response to Conway’s comments. “What customers want are real results.”

Conway acknowledged that PeopleSoft is still playing catchup to SAP, the acknowledged leader in supplying software that helps manage complex operations of large businesses.

But, citing such new products as programs that help manufacturers adopt the “demand-driven” manufacturing and distribution approach of computer maker Dell, Conway said that PeopleSoft would soon catch up.PeopleSoft’s “Assault on Mount SAP” will take one more development cycle, Conway said.

Size-wise, it may take more than one product development cycle. SAP’s revenue for the most recent 12 months was $9.0 billion, compared to $2.5 billion, according to Media General Financial Services. SAP’s net income was $1.4 billion, compared to $70.8 million for PeopleSoft.

“Customers tend to vote with their wallets,” said Wohl, of SAP. “The market’s test is pretty evident.”