How to Use the Brightwork Honest Vendor Ratings

Executive Summary

  • The Brightwork Honest Software Vendor Ratings are an unbiased explanation of vendors.
  • The logic for the ratings being is that software buyers can’t only review the application without also observing the software vendor.

honest-software-company-ratings

What Are the Honest Vendor Ratings?

  • The software company is one of the most important factors in the risk profile of any implementation.
  • Companies like Gartner rate software vendor (s), but they primary use size to differentiate the software vendor in their ratings. This will lead to the inaccurate conclusions because while large vendors have more “scope” there is much more to support, to application quality, and to other quality metrics than simply a vendor’s size. It tells you really nothing about the important factors such as whether the software vendor has extractive sales practices. Whether you can expect to be audited by the software vendor. How good the implementation staff of the software vendor rates, etc..
  • Gartner takes money from software vendors, and it makes the most money from the largest software vendors. This results in a strong bias against smaller software vendors, which are evident from their rankings.
  • The honest software company rating provides the long-term history of the software vendor list that is covered by this website.

Our Honest Vendor Ratings provides realistic ratings that actually impact how well the typical company will be able to derive value from the software vendor.

How Honest Software Company Ratings is Different

Honest Software Company Ratings looks at the vendor from more vantage points and provides the types of details on vendors that we have never seen at any other site that publishes this type of information. See for yourself in the links below.

Big ERP 
Vendor NameApplication
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPECC/R/3
Honest Vendor Ratings – OracleJD Edwards EnterpriseOne
Honest Vendor Ratings – EpicorEpicor ERP
Honest Vendor Ratings – SageX3
Honest Vendor Ratings – InforLawson
Small and Medium ERP
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPBusiness One
Honest Vendor Ratings – OracleJD Edwards World
Honest Vendor Ratings – ProcessProProcessPro
Honest Vendor Ratings – RootstockRootstock
Honest Vendor Ratings – ERPNextERPNext
Honest Vendor Ratings – OpenERPOpenERP
Honest Vendor Ratings – MicrosoftDynamics AX
Financial Applications
Honest Vendor Ratings – IntacctIntacct
Honest Vendor Ratings – IntuitQuickbooks Enterprise Solutions
Honest Vendor Ratings – FinancialForceFinancialForce
Honest Vendor Ratings – NetSuiteOneWorld
PLM
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPSAP PLM
Honest Vendor Ratings – Arena SolutionsArena PLM
Honest Vendor Ratings – Hamilton GrantRecipe Management
Demand Planning
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPSAP DP
Honest Vendor Ratings – TableauTableau (Forecasting)
Honest Vendor Ratings – Business Forecast SystemsForecast Pro TRAK
Honest Vendor Ratings – Demand WorksSmoothie
Honest Vendor Ratings – JDADemand Management
Honest Vendor Ratings – ToolsGroupSO99
Supply Planning
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPSNP, SmartOps
Honest Vendor Ratings – ToolsGroupSO99
Honest Vendor Ratings – Demand WorksSmoothie SP
Honest Vendor Ratings – PlanetTogetherGalaxy APS
Production Planning
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPPP/DS
Honest Vendor Ratings – DelfoiPlanner
Honest Vendor Ratings – PreactorPreactor
Honest Vendor Ratings – AspenTechAspenOne
Honest Vendor Ratings – PlanetTogetherGalaxy APS
BI Heavy
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPBI/BW, Business Objects
Honest Vendor Ratings – OracleOracle BI
Honest Vendor Ratings – SASSAS BI
Honest Vendor Ratings – MicroStrategyMicroStrategy
Honest Vendor Ratings --
IBM
Cognos
Honest Vendor Ratings – TeradataTeradata
Honest Vendor Ratings – ActuateActuateOne
BI Light
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPCrystal Reports
Honest Vendor Ratings – QlikTechQlickView
Honest Vendor Ratings – TableauTableau
CRM
Honest Vendor Ratings – SAPSAP CRM
Honest Vendor Ratings – OracleRightNow, CRM On Demand
Honest Vendor Ratings – InforEpiphany
Honest Vendor Ratings – Base CRMBase CRM
Honest Vendor Ratings – SalesforceSalesforce Enterprise
Honest Vendor Ratings – SugarCRMSugarCRM
Honest Vendor Ratings – MicrosoftDynamics CRM
Honest Vendor Ratings – NetSuiteNetSuite CRM

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

Software Selection

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Gartner Book

 

GARTNER-1Gartner and the Magic Quadrant: A Guide for Buyers, Vendors, and Investors

How to Figure Out How to Effectively User Gartner

Whether you are a software buyer, a large or small vendor, or are wondering how Gartner can help you make better investment decisions, this book will give you new insights to Gartner’s research. By studying the methodology behind such popular analytical tools like the Magic Quadrant, you will understand how a vendor earned its rating and whether or not the ratings are justified!

Understanding Gartner, It’s History, and It’s Incentives

Starting with the history of Gartner and how it compares to other IT analyst firms, this book gives a realistic assessment of the value of Gartner research to a company and provides ideas about other resources that could complement Gartner’s analysis. You will also have the tools to level the playing field between large, medium and small vendors when using Gartner’s analysis in selecting software.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: An Overview of Gartner
  • Chapter 3: How Gartner Makes Money
  • Chapter 4: Comparing Gartner to Consumer Reports, the RAND Corporation, and Academic Research
  • Chapter 5: The Magic Quadrant
  • Chapter 6: Other Analytical Products Offered by Gartner
  • Chapter 7: Gartner’s Future and Cloud Computing
  • Chapter 8: Adjusting the Magic Quadrant
  • Chapter 9: Is Gartner Worth the Investment?
  • Chapter 10: Conclusion
  • Appendix a: How to Use Independent Consultants for Software Selection
  • Appendix b: What Does the History of Media Tell Us About This Topic
  • Appendix c: Disclosure Statements and Code of Ethics

Honest Vendor Ratings – Business Forecast Systems

Introduction

Business Forecast Systems is a small software vendor that has been in forecasting since 1987. Business Forecast Systems is the type of software vendor that we typically recommend to work with. They are very concentrated on their application, and have continually been developing their application ForecastPro for decades. The money buyers spend goes to the actual product and not to marketing hyperbole. They are also privately held.

Quality of Information Provided

Business Forecast Systems provides good quality information during the sales process and in its documentation, blog, etc..

Consulting and Support

However our interactions with them support the fact that they are quite experienced and know their application as well as can advise how to best leverage the application, although we do not have the broad based information from a number of buyers on which to grade Business Forecast Systems.

Business Forecast Systems follows a remote consulting model, identical to the software vendor Demand Works and PlanetTogether where a few number of expert consultants get the application up and working and provide guidance primarily remotely. This means the implementation costs are low, and the consulting value is high. This model is also based upon the software being easy to learn. Business Forecast Systems also occasionally implements through consulting companies.

Internal Efficiency

Business Forecast Systems has high efficiency. They are small and have limited bureaucracy.

Innovation

Business Forecast Systems has a high innovation level. We predict that its software will reflect the best ideas in forecasting in the future.

Vendor Score

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Software Selection Package for Demand Planning

Honest Vendor Ratings – JDA

Introduction

JDA began their life in Canada, and in the retail software business before relocating to Phoenix, AZ in the 1980’s and are still one of the few software companies based in Arizona.

JDA has a viewpoint that they have the best software in the marketplace, and the rest of their customer base needs to wake up to this fact. For the application categories we analyze, our experience does not match JDA’s self-perception. I2 Technology, Manugistics, and Red Prairie were market leaders (actually i2 Technologies, Manugistics also made up a lot of things along the way), but companies that make it a primary focus to acquiring other software vendors are never in our experience technologies or innovation leaders. JDA is also a software conglomerate, although less so than Oracle as its acquisitions are more within the single area of supply chain management. There is also the traditional concern about reinvestment into the acquired applications. The most common strategy for acquiring companies is to buy customers and invest minimally in improving the acquired software. JDA is continually taking shortcuts and low-quality pathways in order to maintain profit growth. JDA is moving in the direction of having all developing in India, and only sales and customer-facing consulting jobs in the US. That may sound great to Wall Street, but inevitably will cause a schism in the company as the people that “know” the products are not in the same country as where the clients are located.

Quality of Information Provided

JDA is a very sales oriented software vendor and the information they provide is of slightly below average reliability. This is the standard practice with all software vendors that focus on growth through acquisition, quality declines, and they become less desirable and far more political places to work. While far more sustainable in its origin, JDA has moved more to an Oracle sales culture.

Consulting and Support

JDA offers average slightly lower than average consulting and support, but because their solutions are generally not recommended or implemented by the major consulting companies they offer a decent value.

Internal Efficiency

JDA has a great deal of bureaucracy. Secondly, JDA is rapidly becoming primarily an Indian company – with just customer facing roles being domestically staffed. Our problem with predominantly Indian companies is that they are unstable. This has been proven over and over again with the flameout of i2 Technologies (the Enron of enterprise software) and companies like Infosys, Wipro, which have the feel of the disaster response after Katrina. (Although we do rate one Indian software company as very high potential in ERPNext because they are small and we think can buck the trend.). Certainly, a number of software vendors have Indian operations, but what JDA is doing is different in its scale, and one concern is that JDA is doing this to hide revenue weaknesses simply by reducing its costs. Customers a noticing the decline in support and the more complex and frustrating communication that are due to JDA’s job shifting to a low-cost region. Customers also note that the fact that fewer and fewer JDA resources actually live in the domestic country has not reduced the costs of JDA’s software or consulting.

Innovation

JDA is a serial software acquisition firm with a low level of innovation. They acquire firms and gain the support business, release marketing information declaring how they will grow the solution – use the term synergy repeatedly, and then cut the development of the application. This is not the way to develop or maintain an innovative company.

Vendor Scores

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Software Selection Package for Demand Planning

Honest Vendor Ratings – SugarCRM

Introduction

SugarCRM shows many of the textbooks symbols of growth that has been a bit too fast for management. Coming in at a lower price than Salesforce in the active CRM space clearly worked for SugarCRM. SugarCRM has essentially walked down a path that had already been cleared by Salesforce.

Quality of Information Provided

We rate the quality of information provided by SugarCRM to be average.

Consulting and Support

We rate SugarCRM as somewhat below average in consulting and support – however, the application is simple and does not require very much of each.

Internal Efficiency

SugarCRM became an obvious choice for companies that were looking at Salesforce, but wanted to cut their costs. This was a very intelligent strategy by the company’s executives to position itself versus Salesforce in these terms. There is a talent to being able to continually get your applications mentioned in the same breath as another, but then be a lower priced alternative. But aside from this strategy; SugarCRM does not seem to have a second act. One reason for this is the company has not grown internally with quality, and there is not a general agreement as to what strategy to follow next. In fact, aside from the basic nature of SugarCRM’s application, the poor management of the company makes us concern as to SugarCRM’s future ability to improve the product. SugarCRM is taking the short-term path to managing a company.

One major reason that SugarCRM is stagnating is that it is suffering from what we refer to as Harvard MBA Syndrome.

Innovation

SugarCRM has a low Current Innovation Level. Companies that can’t innovate traditionally move to acquisition (either acquiring or being acquired) and a marketing focus along with layoffs and outsourcing in order to keep their momentum going. by leveraging their credentials. Our overall analysis of SugarCRM leaves us skeptical with the future of the company.

Vendor Scores

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Software Selection Package for CRM

Honest Vendor Ratings – Base CRM

Introduction

Base CRM is a young and small new CRM vendor. They are currently roughly 100 people. Base specializes in small clients, however, this is because this is how new software vendors start out. From what we can tell, there is no reason Base CRM could not be used by larger companies, but it will take some time before Base CRM’s profile grows enough to interest these types of customers.

Quality of Information Provided

The information provided by Base CRM’s website is accurate. Information provided by things like the Base CRM implementation guide is quite accurate.

http://blog.getbase.com/quick-start-crm-implementation-guide

Recommendations from this guide include the f­­­­ollowing:

  1. Start slow using a bottom-up approach
  2. Outline just a few KPIs and identify sales activities that go along with them.
  3. Use Base’s Deal Importer to migrate sales data
  4. Keep the documentation simple
  5. Make the executives use it

This is all quite good advice. Another example is found in 5 Myths About CRM Software.

http://blog.getbase.com/5-myths-about-crm-software

“Customer relationship management software is often viewed as a necessary evil. It is the something that is better than nothing, yet thought of as expensive, underutilized and fragmented.”

That is 100% true, however, most CRM vendors will not tell you this. Base CRM does.

“Your CRM should be no different. If you only needed a simple repository of contact information, you’d use an address book. Your CRM must be more than that. Your CRM should add structure to your sales funnel and help your team track and close more deals. One great way to gauge the utility of your CRM is to look closely at how your team is using it. Your CRM should allow you to generate reports based on CRM activity. Not only will reports give you a clear picture of how your CRM is being used, it can also tell you a lot about where your sales approach is succeeding and in what ways it is failing. One promise of the CRM is that it empowers you to make data-driven decisions. Numbers don’t lie and your CRM should prove its worth with a solid ROI.”

Again, also true, but many software vendors would be happy to charge you for a full CRM system, while it is only used as a glorified address book. Base CRM seems to want to differentiate itself from these types of software vendors. (are you listening Oracle?)

Much of the information provided by the Base CRM website seems genuinely directed towards helping customers and prospects better implement and use CRM. This has been a consistent result of our research in the enterprise software space that the best software vendors not only focus on the technology but understand the subject matter better and have deeper insights than other CRM software vendors.

As for other areas of information provided by Base CRM, we do not have enough information to say one way or another.

Consulting and Support

We rate Base CRM as better than average in both consulting and support.

Internal Efficiency

Base CRM has developed a very good product, with a few number of resources. This says good things about their internal efficiency.

Innovation

The Current Innovation Level of Base CRM is high. We expect continued innovation from Base CRM.

Vendor Scores

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Software Selection Package for CRM

Honest Vendor Ratings – Salesforce

Introduction

One of the most interesting vendors to cover is undoubtedly Salesforce. Siebel was the early originator of CRM, but Salesforce has redefined the category as well as make it viable, and it seems like Salesforce is just getting started.

Salesforce is a deceptively large company. With easy to sign up and use service, relatively clear pricing and application trials, it’s easy to forget Salesforce is one of the larger enterprise software vendors, and with 10,000 employees and with their rate of growth, while already big they are destined to become one of the giants in the enterprise software space.

Salesforce has performed a number of acquisitions, but unlike most other software vendors that we have tracked, these acquisitions have been strategic rather than just buying customers or covering up for innovation deficiencies. Some of the acquisitions, such as the functionality that is currently referred to as Chatter (from GroupSwim in 2009) are very important components to Salesforce today.

Salesforce has developed experience in managing one of the largest enterprise software cloud applications in the world as measured by both the numbers of users who log in per day and the degree of usage.

Quality of Information Provided

The quality of sales information provided by Salesforce has declined in the past few years. The company’s sales vision is getting ahead of its ability to execute as many within Salesforce see the salespeople having too much control over the company’s direction. Salesforce has always had that problem (CEO Marc Benioff, is, of course, ex-Oracle), but is now more pronounced as more ex-Oracle salespeople have been hired and the Oracle Sales Model has been increasingly adopted. We have access to how salespeople at Salesforce are trained and compensated, and it is a perfect model for the dissemination of false information.

Consulting and Support

We rate Salesforce as above average in consulting as below average in support. Salesforce has the benefit of having few of its implementations performed by the major consulting companies. Salesforce implements too quickly, and no major consulting company could make enough money from them to “recommend” them as a solution.

Internal Efficiency

Salesforce is rapidly calcifying, and this is why we have assigned it a Current Innovation Level several points lower than it historical innovation level – essentially Salesforce is going through its innovation lifecycle faster than most other companies due to its growth – also the success of Salesforce has lead to Harvard MBA Syndrome (HBS). Salesforce today, has a significantly weaker management than the Salesforce of 5 years ago with more Oracle Sales Model influence (forcing short-term decision making) with fewer of the executives actually technologists. Due to all of this, Salesforce’s internal efficiency now only moderate. As is normally the case when a large number of ex-Oracle employees move to a new software vendor, the amount of politics, backbiting and tedious sales meetings has drastically increased leaving many of the earlier Salesforce employees feeling disenfranchised. For years, Salesforce marketed itself as the anti-Oracle, the “cuddly” enterprise software company that was going to break the rules, and now they are changing into Oracle.

Innovation

Salesforce is an innovative company in application platform development, which is in part masquerading as an innovative company in applications. We have tested multiple Salesforce applications and have not been impressed by any of them. However, their Force.com and the AppExchange is certainly innovative.

When one looks at Salesforce from the outside there seems to be a bright future, but when looking at Salesforce from the inside, it shows all the signs of a company who’s best days are already behind it at least from an innovation perspective, while their revenue should grow in a healthy manner for some time.

Vendor Scores

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Software Selection Package for CRM

Honest Vendor Ratings – Birst

Introduction

Birst is of the young and up and coming BI vendors. Birst was founded in only 2004 and they now have a solution that is a leader in the BI Heavy space.

Quality of Information Provided

Birst has risen to popularity on the basis of its innovation, combined with aggressive sales tactics. We consider the information provided by Birst to be generally accurate, except we do not think its proposal that it can meet all BI needs is not the best approach for any buyer.

Consulting and Support

Birst has very good customer support. Typically not an area of great emphasis, Birst has made support a primary focus

In a very short period of time Birst has developed a very good reputation for going live quickly. In fact, we estimate Birst to be the fastest implementing data warehouse. Applications like QliqView and Tableau can implement faster, but of course it is not an apples to apples comparison as neither are BI Heavy applications. This fast implementation time is actually more to do with Birst’s technology than any innovation in consulting, although their consulting consistently receives high marks. In an area where many customers report lukewarm feelings regarding consulting, Birst stands out with consulting customer satisfaction. However, Birst will tend to have an occasional report that is less than satisfied.

Birst is growing so quickly and we predict will into the future that getting sufficiently trained resources will be an issue. This means future implementations may be not as successful as previous implementations even through the application has not degraded. Furthermore, Birst management is taking business that they probably should not – for the simple reason that they lack the resources to successfully implement all of their new accounts.  This is true even though Birst is a cloud solution.

Internal Efficiency

Birst is a young company and is productive. It could not have developed the products that it has without high internal efficiency. Birst has a one of the strongest management teams in not only the business intelligence space, but in any enterprise software space that we cover.

Innovation

Birst has a high Current Innovation Level. Birst has superior and easier to use technology in data warehousing and other Heavy BI functionality its competitors, and it built this functionality in a very short period of time.

Vendor Scores

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Software Selection Package for BI Heavy