Phil Dawes, the brains behind Coda - the financial applications specialist that Baan bought last year - has become one of the last of its top managers to quit amid rumours that the unit is up for sale.
After spending 10 years at Coda, Dawes departs this weekend to become head of research and development (R&D) at Kalamazoo, which sells applications to motor dealers. He had spent his last few years at Coda leading its R&D effort and presenting the internal ?godfather face? to the workforce.
Dawes said: "There comes a point where you have to decide to stop banging your head against a brick wall."
The move means that most of the top management Baan inherited with Coda has now gone, with the exception of Richard Anning, who remains as product marketing manager, and Steve Pugh, who is returning from Baan Americas to fill Coda?s top slot.
But there would now appear to be a question mark over Coda?s future, particularly because the planned integration of Coda Financials with BaanERP has been axed, triggering rumours that a sell off plan is being implemented.
Neville Merritt, marketing director with manufacturing systems supplier, SSI, a former CODA partner, said: "I was under the impression the planned sale is common knowledge."
And he added that Baan?s sales people were struggling to do their jobs, largely as a result of the firm?s financial uncertainty. "I can tell you that partners are the only ones doing deals, he said.
As to whether SSI would be interested in buying Coda itself, Merritt said: "We?d have to see where the price went."
Dawes also admitted that times were tough and that partner relationships were very important to keep sales ticking over. But with regard to any potential sale, he said: "Mary Coleman assured the UK last month that Baan has no intention of selling CODA ? but that could always change."
But Sheila Gibson, Baan European marketing manager, said: "We have no plans to sell Coda. We have received very good feedback on the Coda product and technology." She continued: "Coda was impacted somewhat by the restructuring activities that occurred in the fourth quarter, but we have now finished training our entire sales force on the product. We are working on a better positioning of the Coda product and Baan Financials."
When Baan acquired Coda last July, executives had confidently stated that integration between Coda Financials and BaanERP would "take a matter of months ? in the meantime, we will use Codalink, an interfacing tool that allows Coda to connect to a variety of other application systems."
But eight months on, they have changed their tune. Dawes explained: "Baan saw a new business opportunity in the stand alone market and decided to user Coda?s expertise in development to concentrate on producing a better product."
But Coda Financial?s role is now uncertain because BaanERP already has financial functionality of its own.
This would seem to indicate that Baan?s strategy of providing customers with ?best in class? offerings that it promised to integrate in future, has failed, and Baan now has to decide where and how best to make money from its product portfolio.
Industry watchers and competitors alike have always considered integration to be an ambitious project, however.
James Holincheck, senior enterprise resource planning (Erp) analyst at Giga Information Group, for example, said Baan?s six month delay in integrating its human resources acquisition, Meta4, had not done it any favours.
"We felt that it was critical for Meta4 to get its products out in the US market quickly to capitalise on the momentum of the Baan partnership. The product was delayed and its formal rollout was not until the fourth quarter of 1998. Baan's troubles in 1998 have diminished the value of this relationship," he explained.
Elsewhere, Baan customers were sceptical that the firm?s Moopi supply chain planning product, which it also acquired in 1998, would work in a BaanERP environment.
One major Danish customer that cannot be named for contractual reasons said: " We are not convinced that Baan has integrated this product into the ERP system and our production planning system depends on this."
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