The South Bend, Ind.-based company has undergone a number of cuts in the past five years due to poor performance from some of its business. It now specializes in electrical contracting and large-motor repair. By the end of 2004, Koontz-Wagner was still looking to save money, so the chief financial officer (CFO) and IT manager sat down for a chat.
Rocco Calderone, the IT manager, was already worried about the roadmap for JDE, which had already been bought by PeopleSoft and was in turn acquired by Oracle. He wasn't sure if the company would continue to develop the software and hold up the support for it. So he and Paul Witek, the CFO , decided to look into third-party support for their iSeries 810 box, on which they run OS/400 V5R2.
By January 2005, Koontz-Wagner had signed on with TomorrowNow, which provides third-party support for JDE. Witek said the move saved Koontz-Wagner more than 50% off what it was paying for in-house support, though he wouldn't say how much more than 50%.
"What sold us on TomorrowNow was they had been doing third-party support for PeopleSoft for many years," he said. "We actually gave them a couple opportunities in early January of 2005 to help us solve some JDE issues that came up with the organization. They gave us top-notch service and solved our problems."
Witek said one of the problems with in-house support from JDE was response time. If they needed help, they called the support number and would then have to go through an initial line of people at the call desk. This took up valuable time that was better served solving the problem, rather than navigating personnel to speak to the right person.
With TomorrowNow, Witek said "you typically get a response, not in an hour or two hours, but within minutes."
SAP, one of Oracle's biggest competitors, acquired TomorrowNow -- shortly after Koontz-Wagner chose them in early 2005 -- to lure some of Oracle's customers into third-party support. TomorrowNow's CEO, Andrew Nelson, said their pricing is simple: Whatever you're paying Oracle for support, cut it in half. The Bryan, Texas, company claims it serves about 200 customers with third-party maintenance support for JDE, PeopleSoft and Siebel software.
Nelson said that most software companies are focused primarily on selling software licenses.
"They don't focus on providing best-in-the-world maintenance and support services," he said, adding that TomorrowNow is "not going to ask how many other customers are impacted" by a support problem, "or how it will impact development."
There is a catch, however. Users who choose to move off of in-house support for JDE are no longer eligible for licensing upgrades. That's not a problem for Koontz-Wagner right now. It feels like it could run its current version of JDE World for another five years, maybe more. In the meantime, TomorrowNow is helping them with software bugs through code corrections, which Witek said was much more than they expected to get from a third-party support vendor.
Eventually, though, the company will have to dissect its JDE World software to see if it's still working well for its business.
"It would be unrealistic to think that J.D. Edwards is going to solve our business needs seven years from now," he said. "We'll solve that problem in the future. In the meantime, J.D. Edwards is working fine."