SSA rescued by US buyer

Guy Campos

Users of resource planning software from SSA can look forward to future investment in product development following the...

Users of resource planning software from SSA can look forward to future investment in product development following the company's purchase by a US buyer.

SSA has been bought by the Gores Technology Group, which has raised research and development spend at nearly all of the 18 technology companies it has acquired in the last 10 years.

SSA's BPCS package is installed at about 400 sites in the UK, most of which are manufacturing companies. But the company's future seemed uncertain and product development spending dropped, following the slump in sales of ERP software in 1998 and 1999.

SSA's plight was so severe that, as part of the acquisition deal, the company entered voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US - 75% of the company's shares have been acquired by Gores with the $52m (£33m) proceeds used to pay off creditors. The company's shareholders received no recompense.

Analysts were unable to provide information on Gores Technology, as the company is relatively unknown. However Vanessa De Vere, European business development director at SSA, said the company had invested in SSA because its strategy of creating open, non-proprietary solutions was well-suited to integration with emerging e-commerce software.

She said, "ERP on its own will never be what it used to be, but it does have a future as the backbone behind business-to-commerce, business-to-business e-commerce and e-procurement systems."

Future business for SSA could also come from linking systems for made-to-order manufacturing planning projects to ERP installations.

De Vere said it was "unlikely" that the company would raise annual user fees for its eBPCS ERP package.

John Staley, chairman of the UK BPCS User Group, said the company's sale had removed some uncertainty. "The information we have received from existing SSA personnel is very upbeat, but we're still looking for additional information when the new management structure for the company is announced," he said.

Ovum analyst Duncan Chapple said SSA had greatly improved the interoperability of its product by redeveloping it using object-oriented programming. However, the full benefit of object-oriented programming had not been achieved due to retrenchment after the ERP sales slump.

He added that quality problems had also led to a slump in orders for upgrades.


Read more on Software development tools