Lawson Unveils “Skip Upgrade” for iSeries Customers
November 15, 2005 Alex Woodie
Lawson Software formally announced its “skip upgrade” program that allows its iSeries customers to upgrade from older versions of the ERP system directly to the latest version of Lawson’s software. Yesterday’s announcement means that the 400 or so iSeries customers on an older release will be able to bypass an intermediate step and go straight to the latest, greatest version 8.1, thereby saving time and money during the implementation process.
For many years, Lawson’s iSeries customers have had to wait many months or years before Lawson offered support for OS/400 with its newest ERP system releases. This delay was a source of concern and consternation for Lawson’s customers, a good number of which use the OS/400 version of Lawson’s applications (an exact number was not available). In 2002, the company pledged it would work to narrow that gap, and this year it took it a step further by committing to support all operating systems at the same time, which it will ultimately accomplish by offering all ERP systems in Java.
With yesterday’s unveiling of the skip upgrade program, Lawson’s OS/400 customers have a very promising opportunity to move to the latest version of the ERP system and benefit from the new capabilities that version 8.1 brings, including new portal self-service applications and other enhancements, says Vicki Griffith, industry markets sales director for the St. Paul, Minnesota, company.
“Our iSeries clients can take advantage of our development efforts of the past five or so years, allowing them to use self-service, Web-based applications, roles-based user interface, and many new modules and functionality such as lease management, absence management, international improvement in tax and currency, and many other features,” Griffith says.
Without the skip upgrade promotion, the 400 or so iSeries shops still on the version 7.2 release would have to upgrade to version 8.0 before moving up to version 8.1. Version 7.2 was first made available about eight years ago, while version 8.03 has been available for about four years, Griffith says. Lawson’s version 8.1 ERP applications have been available for Unix and Windows for about 18 months.
“People have had plenty of time to move up” to version 8.03, she says. “We’re just trying to make it simple for them to get caught up.” Lawson plans to end support for version 7.2 in May 2007.
One of Lawson’s OS/400 customers taking advantage of the new skip upgrade promotion is Dakota Electric. “We selected the iSeries skip upgrade because we wanted to eliminate the cost, labor, and frustrations of upgrading twice,” said Carla Henke, corporate controller at Dakota Electric, which participated in a beta version of the skip upgrade program. “With the ‘skip’ we’re only upgrading once, and are also able to move to the latest version in a short amount of time.”
Dakota completed its upgrade in a matter of days, Henke says. “We began the upgrade at 3 p.m. on Thursday, September 29, and had it completed at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 1. As a result, we’re already taking advantage of the technology’s features and improving our business processes,” she says.
The skip upgrade promotion also presents an opportunity for IBM to sell some hardware, since organizations often take the opportunity to upgrade their servers at the same time they’re upgrading their ERP systems. The good news is that Lawson and IBM teamed up earlier this year to preload Lawson’s software on an iSeries server (what is called an iSeries Solution Edition). The cost of upgrading can be reduced even more through other goodies from IBM, such as ServerProven rebates and long-term financing through IBM.
“The iSeries Solution Edition . . . coupled with the skip upgrade offer from Lawson allows our clients to benefit from Lawson’s latest application functionality and leverage a number of financial incentives in place,” says Bill Donahue, the vice president of worldwide sales in IBM’s iSeries business.
Version 8.1 may be one of the last versions of Lawson’s ERP for iSeries that’s based in RPG, as the company plans to standardize all of its ERP systems on Enterprise Java as part of its “Landmark” project. The first Landmark applications are due in 2006. For more on the move to Java, see “Lawson Unveils “Landmark” Project to Bring Apps to J2EE”.
In addition to the first Java-based applications, 2006 will be a busy year for Lawson as it tackles its integration with Intentia, another major ERP vendor on the iSeries platform. The companies, which in June announced a plan to merge, have been busy converting three years of Intentia’s financial data from Swedish accounting standards to U.S. GAAP standards, which the companies have characterized as “complex.”
It’s uncertain at this point how the Intentia merger will affect the Lawson product roadmap and the Landmark applications, which Lawson’s Griffith characterized as two different issues to tackle.