Training key to JD Edwards' ERP solution

Training is tightly controlled for JD Edwards' ERP solutions, writes Nick Langley.

Training is tightly controlled for JD Edwards' ERP solutions, writes Nick Langley.

What is it? Once JD Edwards made accounting software for mid-range systems. Next, it became one of the big five enterprise resource planning (ERP) suppliers. It appeared to have emerged unscathed by the difficulties that afflicted other ERP suppliers in 1998/1999, but earlier this year the company announced a major restructuring,...

with the loss of 800 jobs worldwide.

JD Edwards' focus is collaborative commerce - "c-commerce" - which is about enabling businesses to trade and work together over the Internet.

Where did it originate?
In 1977, in Denver, Colorado. JD Edwards was set up by three ex-employees of Grant Thornton. They created development and design tools, and concentrated on software for the IBM S/38, later replaced by the AS/400. With the introduction of Oneworld in 1996, it made its ERP software platform-independent.

What's it for?
Oneworld provides classic integrated ERP applications - manufacturing, logistics and distribution, accounting and human resources. Activera builds on that, providing an infrastructure for supply chain automation and integration, customer relationship management (CRM), procurement and online collaborative trading communities or e-marketplaces.

What makes it special?
The company believes that businesses should have the freedom to choose the tools and applications they need. "All great ideas do not come from one market-dominant supplier."

JD Edwards embraced industry standards while other ERP suppliers were still jealously guarding their application programming interfaces. And it actively pursued partnerships with leaders in other markets - Microstrategy in business intelligence, Siebel in CRM, Microsoft with Siteserver and IBM with Websphere Commerce Suite, for example. JD Edwards also backs standards bodies such as the Open Applications Group and RosettaNet.

How difficult is it?
ERP solutions demand weeks of training, followed by months of experience, backed up by relevant industry knowledge.

Where is it used?
In both SMEs and large corporations. Vertical markets include fabricated metals, automotive, utilities, consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, electronics, energy, chemical and other manufacturing disciplines, architecture, engineering, construction, mining, real estate, government and education.

Don't confuse
Activera, a plant automation system, with Aloe Vera, a plant extract, although both are supposed to be good for you in ways that nobody can precisely explain.

What does it run on?
Platforms include Digital Alpha, Sun Solaris, and Intel Windows NT servers, AS/400 HP 9000, RS/6000 and the Internet.

Few people know that
There is no such person as JD Edwards. The name is an amalgam of the three founders' first names - Jack, Dan and Ed.

What's coming up?
A trading exchange solution developed by JD Edwards, Sun and the Sun-Netscape joint venture iPlanet.


Acquiring ERP skills involves a major commitment, and you are not recommended to undertake it at your own expense unless you have a firm prospect of work at the end of it.

The question is academic for JD Edwards, since training is only available to employees of its customers. UK training takes place at JD Edwards' headquarters in Reading, Berkshire (0118-9091700).

Rates of pay

JD Edwards has succeeded in keeping its pool of skills strictly to itself and its partners - there is little or no fully independent freelance contract work. Consultants can look for £30,000 to £40,000 - and often a lot more. For candidates with the right project and industry experience, six-figure sums are sometimes mentioned.

Jobs tend to be handled by specialist agencies. Try Andersen, Klein and Associates (020-7629 5192), Burlington Computer Associates (020-8841 5566) or Artemis Europe (01732-851678).

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