One of the thrills of working as an analyst in ERP for TEC is that I get to evaluate many different ERP systems and business products. This time, I assisted my peer, Sherry Fox, for the certification of Ramco’s human capital management (HCM) product. Its HCM product is part of a complete suite of products that falls under Ramco’s Enterprise Series 4.1.
Ramco returned its request for information (RFI) for HCM, and as analysts, we compared it against the combined responses of other vendors within the HR space. Ramco responded to the RFI with almost total support against all criteria. There were several flags against various supported entries. (Flags are more often signs of superior functionality.)
TEC’s way of certifying any vendor—including Ramco—is fair and impartial. Over the years, TEC has created an RFI form tailored to HCM, which has been completed by many vendors of HCM products. TEC has a database of the responses that correspond to the RFI. Through the gathering of such data, we know statistically when an RFI criterion is industry “supported,” whether it is a “customization,” or if it holds some other status. In cases where the general industry response is different from the respondents, the software “flagged” that response.
The next step in the certification process is to verify the RFI by constructing a validation suite of criteria that the vendor must demonstrate. The “supported flag entries” mentioned above are also included. TEC sends this validation list (or demo script) to the vendor two weeks prior to the certification meeting. This validation list is required in order for the vendor to demonstrate that the level of support for a particular functionality is as it has claimed. We also include other items that are essential to HCM functionality. As analysts, we play the role of examiner, with a “show me the functionality; I want to validate your responses” approach.
Overall, the Ramco certification went very well. Ramco’s analysts demo’ed the product. There was not one aspect of HCM that they did not know or demo. Not once was there the response of “I’ll get back to you.” Every “flagged” item that we noted as supported passed the test.
In validating over 200 entries, we noted the following:
I found this demo to be a great user experience. At its conclusion, I almost wished that we had a few more hours to enjoy the show.
From what I know of Ramco is that they build their systems using proprietary tools - Virtual Works. So much for open source. This makes support a problem - its either their partners or fly in someone from Mumbai.
Another problem with their systems is that they are very processor hungry - get a bank of SEQUEL servers.
VirtualWorks is a development platform used by Ramco. It allows for fast delivery with critical control on quality over the entire SDLC - from process modeling thru requirements to engineering and deployment and change management further on. By no means can the software product - the output of this delivery process, can be termed ‘proprietary’. It would be a normal application as any developed using traditional methodologies on a platform of choice- J2EE/ .NET/ or even using open source middleware/ RDBMS. Regarding support, Ramco’s practice has been to provide the first level contact from the regional offices and depend on the next level on support from their headquarters in Chennai - rarely any case of ‘fly-in’. Normally any Enterprise scale software could give an impression of being ‘processor hungry’ in the early stages of implementation. But these are occupational realities which every implementor knows experiences, that fade away with optimization and fine tuning.
In a reply to both commentators, I would like to clarify that my role is to validate the vendor’s claims. At the same time, after 40 years in Information Technology, I have a sense of a nicely designed user interface. Ramco’s interface is well done, and navigation was easy and well organized My experience tells me that when the interface is nicely designed, that the code “under the covers” is also well done.
Nowhere did the vendor stipulate that the code is open source. And for commentator # 1, the Ramco system can be designed to run from an in-house installation or from a remote site. Any ERP system of worth uses SQL. Many tables in the SQL schema serve for validation or to manage other static information pertaining to local requirements.
With software such as the ubiquitous webex, or other, a technician, anywhere in the world can log onto your terminal to watch your demonstration of use. With those means, debugging or training can be done without the travel and hotel costs associated with sending in a trainer.
I have to concur with commentator “Inquisitive” and have nothing to add except to state that I work for TEC, and I have to be fair and honest in writing any comments and in completing certifications.
[…] would come from Halogen Software, Kenexa, Lawson Software, SucessFactors, Oracle PeopleSoft HCM, Ramco? Systems, Softscape, Workscape, Kronos, and so on. In the recently unveiled “Integrated Talent Management […]