Ford kills 'Everest' procurement software system

Despite four years in production and an investment of millions of dollars, the Ford Motor Co. in the US is pulling the plug on a major procurement software system built around Oracle's 11i E-Business Suite of applications.

Ford spokesman Paul Wood on Wednesday confirmed news reports from earlier this week that said Ford had decided to unplug its Oracle procurement system, dubbed Everest, and collapse its purchasing processes around its original custom-written, mainframe-based applications.

"We completed an evaluation of all the production and nonproduction procurement systems and made the decision to transition back to the proven, current system," Wood said.

Everest began in 1999 at the height of the dot-com era, when companies were routinely spending millions of dollars on software to automate their supply chains -- with varying results.

According to Wood, Everest was a separate venture from the Web-based automotive exchange Ford helped create, called Covisint. He described Everest as "very ambitious" but offered few details about its implementation.

The Everest applications started to go live in 2000 and continued with a "rolling launch," Wood said.

He declined to say how many suppliers or units the implementation currently supports but noted that the software is widely used in some form throughout Ford. He also declined to say what problems or inefficiencies were in the Oracle system, but sources indicated that Everest was hampered by poor performance.

It's now Ford's intention to migrate any relevant new features from Everest to its legacy system, using in-house development staff. The mainframe procurement software continued to run in coexistence with Everest, and company suppliers have used both sets of applications to handle supply chain transactions.

Wood declined to comment on how long it will take to shift completely back to the legacy applications or how much money Everest will ultimately cost the automaker.

For its part, Oracle issued a terse comment: "Oracle continues to support Ford on its back-to-basics strategic initiatives and IT projects. Given our desire to honor a non-disclosure agreement in effect, it would be inappropriate for Oracle to comment on any specifics."

A spokeswoman declined to offer further explanation.

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