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Customer sues Epicor after ERP software project attempt ends in 'big mess'

Chris Kanaracus | Nov. 30, 2011
A would-be Epicor customer is taking the ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor to court over a "big mess" of a software project that it says ended up battering its bottom line instead of improving operations.

A would-be Epicor customer is taking the ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor to court over a "big mess" of a software project that it says ended up battering its bottom line instead of improving operations.

In January 2010, commercial outdoor furniture seller ParknPool began looking for a system to supersede QuickBooks, which it had been using for some time with success, according to a lawsuit filed Nov. 23 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The suit also names an Epicor partner, EstesGroup, which performed systems integration work on the job.

"QuickBooks was still working for us, it's just there was no growth potential," said Jim Fonner, administrative manager of the Lexington, Virginia, company, in an interview. "We were getting to the top of what QuickBooks could do."

ParknPool, which has about 20 employees, evaluated a number of systems and the final choice came down to Epicor and a product from Sage. Epicor got the nod after ParknPool came to believe it had a more tightly integrated system, he said.

An Epicor representative also told ParknPool that its current hardware setup would be sufficient and that a fully functional system could be installed fairly quickly, but neither promise held true, according to the company.

"Epicor said they could do it in seven weeks. We gave them seven months, and we got zero," Fonner said. "I couldn't even look at a profit-and-loss statement. We couldn't process orders. We were saying, 'QuickBooks is so much better than this' and we were paying $3,500 a year for it."

ParknPool is a "drop-ship" operation, wherein it acts as a type of middleman, keeping no items in stock. Instead, manufacturers, sometimes a number of them, ship orders once they are placed.

"Because we're a drop-ship business, we need to invoice our client after the last item ships, because they could ship from multiple locations," Fonner said. "The Epicor system couldn't deal with that."

Another snafu led to doubled commission payments for ParknPool's sales representatives, he said. ParknPool let the salespeople keep the extra money rather than deal with the morale problems taking it back would cause, according to Fonner.

Epicor also performed something of a bait-and-switch with ParknPool, initially saying that the company's need would be met with a specific set of software modules, but then saying that more were required after the project started, Fonner said.

For example, "we had to buy the manufacturing module in order for the payroll to work," he said. "We don't do any manufacturing. It was just a big mess."

Compounding matters was the fact that ParknPool was getting into its busiest season and needed a system in place by March of this year, according to the suit.

 

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