Peoplesoft is taking steps to put its house in order to try and move back into growth, after admitting that its commitment to quality and service had not been as good as it could be.
At its annual user conference in New Orleans on Monday, Craig Conway, the enterprise applications vendor’s chief operating officer said in his keynote speech that it had had seen a drop in customer satisfaction during two successive quarters.
"The proportion of customers who said they were extremely satisfied with Peoplesoft fell to 84 per cent. We made mistakes, I sincerely apologise and we need now to move on," he explained.
Mike Goija, the firm’s executive vice president of products and technology, also said that major releases had included too many bugs, that customers did not have enough information about how to tune application performance, and that costly upgrades were being shipped too frequently.
To try and correct the situation, however, Peoplesoft has initiated a plan that is due to be introduced on 1 January, 2000. The company will, in future, undertake testing on all supported platforms, introduce cross product line testing and offer a much broader beta testing programme prior to general product release.
Josh Greenbaum, principal analyst with Berkeley based Enterprise Applications Consulting, said: "Peoplesoft was right to be contrite," while Jim Holincheck, an analyst with Giga Information, continued: "It’s been a bit too positive in the past about future announcements without necessarily being concerned enough about the present."
But Ron Belt, an analyst with investment bankers, ABN Ambro, added: "People are fed up with ERP [enterprise resource planning], and its no different with Peoplesoft."
Users were impressed by Peoplesoft’s initiatives, however. Thor Wallace, chief information officer of Cybex International, a $130 million healthcare equipment company, said the general mood was one of relief.
"I know everyone wants to hear about ecommerce, but this was really good for us. It's very comforting to see individuals making personal commitments," he explained, adding that Peoplesoft had been shipping upgrades every three months, which was proving “brutal”.
PeopleSoft, like other applications vendors, has been finding it difficult to sell backbone enterprise resource planning products such as financials and human resources, particularly in North America where its traditional government and education customer base has frozen spending to deal with the Year 2000 problem.
As a result, the company is trying to find new revenue streams and part of that process means ensuring customers are satisfied enough to purchase add on products and services.
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