More OneWorld Users Press for Arbitration

J.D. Edwards defends software

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 a list of five cases that came to light last year.

The three additional users filed for arbitration between November and this month. They claim 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 if 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 . One of the earlier filings resulted in an American Arbitration Association panel awarding $2.3 million in damages to Arlington, Texas-based Doskocil Manufacturing Co. Denver-based J.D. Edwards said it has settled another 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, 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 filing obtained by Computerworld last week that it has 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, then switched to J.D. Edwards' Web-based OneWorld XE software a year later. But after working for more than two years, Sprague was only able to bring OneWorld XE partially online at the end of last year, the company said.

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

Unkept Promises

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, Flexitallic bought OneWorld in 1998 but found that the applications "could not operate as a fully integrated system."

Gerald Birin, president of Amherst Technologies LLC in Merrimack, N.H., said problems 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.

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."

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Disputed Points

The three companies filing arbitration claims say that J.D. Edwards:

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Misrepresented the features in OneWorld and the time it would take to install the software.

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Shipped applications that were buggy and didn't perform at acceptable levels.

J.D. Edwards wouldn't comment about the cases, but:

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Said it has about 1,850 customers that are getting value from investments in OneWorld.

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Defended the quality of its software and said it would contest the arbitration claims.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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