More OneWorld users file claims against J.D. Edwards

Three more companies that bought early versions of J.D. Edwards & Co.'s OneWorld enterprise resource planning (ERP) software have submitted arbitration claims against the business applications vendor, adding to the five cases that came to light last year.

The three additional users, who filed for arbitration between November and this month, claimed that the OneWorld suite has been so troublesome and bug-ridden that their installations are in limbo. The companies all said they have yet to decide whether they will keep the J.D. Edwards applications or switch to another vendor.

The new cases are similar to the five that began going to arbitration last spring (see story). One of the earlier filings resulted in Arlington, Texas-based Doskocil Manufacturing Co. being awarded $2.3 million in damages by an American Arbitration Association panel (see story). Denver-based J.D. Edwards, which contractually requires users to seek arbitration when legal disputes arise, said it has settled one of the earlier cases but wouldn't disclose any details.

Whatever problems early adopters of OneWorld may have faced, the software is now as stable as any other ERP system on the market, said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Daly City, Calif.

But the fallout from early OneWorld rollouts continues. Sprague Energy Corp., an energy products distributor in Portsmouth, N.H., said in an arbitration document obtained by Computerworld this week that it suffered more than $10 million in damages because of problems with OneWorld's stability and the cost and length of its implementation.

Sprague began installing billing, finance and other OneWorld applications in 2000 and then switched to J.D. Edwards' Web-based OneWorld XE software a year later. But after working on the project for more than two years, Sprague was only able to bring OneWorld XE partially online by the end of last year, the company said in its filing.

Paul Scoff, vice president of law at Sprague, declined to comment further on the problems the company encountered. But he said the portions of the ERP system that Sprague is using had to be heavily customized to make them work.

The Flexitallic Group Inc., a maker of industrial gaskets in Houston, spent more than $3.7 million on a OneWorld project and was "almost brought to its knees because of promises made and not kept" by J.D. Edwards, said CEO Ray LeSage.

According to arbitration documents in that case, Flexitallic bought OneWorld in 1998 but found that the suite "could not operate as a fully integrated system." That and other problems prevented the company from rolling out the software across its operations, the filing said.

Gerald Birin, president of Amherst Technologies LLC in Merrimack, N.H., said issues with a OneWorld system that was installed in 1999 are forcing the IT products reseller to maintain a separate system built around IBM's UniVerse database in addition to the J.D. Edwards software. Amherst Technologies has to manually consolidate its books between the two systems, Birin said.

A spokesman for J.D. Edwards wouldn't comment on the pending cases. But he said the company "stands by the quality of its software and will vigorously defend any claims to the contrary."

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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