A scathing letter from a top shelf reference site, about "ongoing disappointments" with an SAP AG R/3 implementation, circulated to thousands of people in Australia this month.
Sent out to more than 55,000 members of the Australian Wine Society (AWS), the missive (dated March 1999) told of a member-backlash against "disappointment over deliveries, inappropriate billings, invoicing problems and other continuing dilemmas arising from the new computer system" the society installed in mid-1998.
In June last year, the AWS announced its intent to go live with the R/3 enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite following a six-month evaluation.
The site -- installed with the help of the Accelerated SAP template, a service designed to fast-track SAP's lengthy implementation times -- has since been lauded by SAP as a shining example of its commitment to the mid-market ERP space -- a highly-prized segment within an increasingly saturated marketplace.
According to a high-level AWS source, the R/3 installation still "runs like a dog," despite nine months of working with SAP to iron out the deficiencies after the vendor originally "oversold" the system's capabilities.
"At the end of the day, (SAP) put themselves up as experts in a certain area and said they could execute a range of tasks to support the business. They're a bit like salesmen everywhere -- they've oversold it.
So now, our system is experiencing serious weaknesses and it's severely impacted what we do," the AWS source said.
"Basically, (R/3) was going to respond appropriately to a number of transactions to drive the business and it runs like a dog," he added. "It won't perform and lots of things go wrong. We've been trying to get things right for about nine months now.
"I think we're now pretty close to getting what we asked for, but it still doesn't work well. If the sales operator wants to key in some business, they might have to wait 30 seconds, a minute or several minutes.
"You and I know that's not acceptable at the front end of a business," the source said.
Of most concern to the software vendor is its credibility within the much sought-after mid-market ERP arena. SAP has long held the AWS installation up as a benchmark for its mid-range offerings, but the AWS source said this praise is both unwanted and undeserved.
"We're certainly aware of (AWS being lauded as an example of SAP's mid-market excellence), but SAP has been instructed that that's inappropriate," the source said. "It's been instructed not to use our site in any more of its promotional material."
An SAP spokesperson whom Computerworld contacted declined to comment on the matter.