Baan mounting a comeback

By Heather Harreld, InfoWorld |  Software

After hovering near bankruptcy last year, Baan is waging a comeback as major customers opt for upgrades, buoying the company to report its first profitable quarter after nine consecutive quarters of operating losses.

Baan, which was purchased by the global automation and controls group Invensys in September, is again focused squarely on growing the company to be a "major force" in the ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications arena after months of restructuring, Laurens van der Tang, Baan's president said. For the quarter ended December 2000, Baan reported an above break-even operating performance, with sales growing 37 percent compared to the previous quarter.

Baan announced Thursday that Boeing Commercial Airplane Group has upgraded its Baan ERP system across 21 parts plants in the United States, encompassing 31,000 users. The upgrade from Baan IV to the Baan V release included a migration of 500GB of airplane production data and 700 million data records.

"That's one of the largest implementations to happen in the world so far," van der Tang said. "It's probably the largest migration of its kind . . . in terms of a big company installing standard, off-the-shelf software for so many users to use as the backbone of their company."

In addition, Baan announced that Solar Turbines, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, has deployed Baan's remote Web-based solution to improve communications with field engineers. By integrating Baan's Service Remote 2.0 with its existing Baan ERP system, field service engineers can download service order information directly from the Web.

The recent announcements represent an important step on a "long, long road back" for Baan, said David Caruso, general manager for global manufacturing strategies at AMR Research in Boston.

"We saw very little defection over the past few months," Caruso said. "They will see a good chunk of their 6,000 customers buy upgrades. This to me is a solid step forward and not a great leap into the future."

While Baan may not find itself competing directly against top ERP vendors such as SAP and Oracle as it once did, the company will emerge as a solid alternative, especially in the manufacturing industries, he added.

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